Edge of Thorns is a concept album, with a lot of emotional depth. The lyrics cover such topics as shattered dreams (“Edge of Thorns”), self-mutilation (“He Carves His Stone”), and regrets of a lost love (“Conversation Piece”). The words would be meaningless if it weren’t for the emotional, melodic voice of Zachary Stevens. Criss Oliva helps drive the emotion home with his heavy riffs (“Lights Out”), fluid guitar solos (“Damien”), and soothing keyboard work (“Labyrinths”). The band’s greatest performance is the album’s title track, a theatrical, over the top production featuring a haunting piano introduction, followed by heavy guitars, and intense vocals. Keeping with their progressive style, Savatage experiments with a sitar on “Degrees of Sanity,” an instrument virtually unheard of in heavy metal. The album concludes with the band’s first acoustic ballad, “Sleep.” The song is about the death of main character of the album. Of course, that’s open for interpretation. On a sad note, following the release of Edge of Thorns, Criss Oliva died in a tragic car accident. Bottom Line: Edge of Thorns is a unique heavy metal “gem” that will challenge your view of what “metal” should sound like. It’s intense, powerful, and dramatic. I bought this album almost 10 years ago, because the cover was cool. Kind of silly huh? I’m glad I took the chance! Edge of Thorns exposed me to elements that I never thought would have worked in metal music. The combination of heavy guitars, piano, and operatic concepts helped me discover a new and fresh genre of music. Sure, the piano can be heard in plenty of power ballads, but Savatage took it to the next level, by combining it with faster, more powerful rock arrangements.