With this album, Savatage erases the memory of the good-but-unremarkable “Handful of Rain.” Dead Winter Dead is an Excellent, thought-provoking, tear-jerking rock opera about the war in Sarajevo and the toll it takes on people’s lives. Ultimately, DWD suggests, there is one force more powerful than fear and hate . . .Musically, DWD maintains a fine balance between hard-rock and more melodic, symphonic work, sometimes in the same song. Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) is a fine example — crashing guitar and screeching violins combine for a memorable rendition of a familiar Christmas carol. The other instrumentals jump out as well — the eerie Mozart and Madness, and the jubilant electric-guitar version of Beethoven’s 9th (called “Memory” here).There’s not a bad song on this album — Jon Oliva’s gruff voice is not as solid as Zak Stevens’, but fits the two tracks he sings. Every song contributes to the story, but stands alone as well. If you don’t get goosebumps at some point on the first listen (Mine was during the polyharmony on “One Child”), check your pulse. I only gave this four stars because, as good as it is, The Wake of Magellan is that much better.