Savatage had put out three full blast metal attacks in a row in the form of Sirens, Power of the Night and The Dungeons Are Calling. After which they changed gears for this album which sees the band take a step back from the leather and spikes traditional metal fare of their previous offerings for a more acceptable commercially version of themselves. Not that this isn’t quite obviously Savatage for anyone who knows them well but for a newcomer who had merely heard the name Savatage as an inside tip from some more established metalhead this album could perhaps be somewhat of a confusion and fans of this mob have often pointed to this album as somewhat of a blip in the bands catalogue.
Specifically the points to consider when viewing this album in relation to their other albums is that the lyrics were somewhat dumber. The change in style can be viewed in a number of manifestations. Firstly there are songs like the title track that despite the dumb title is pretty muscular really even if the lyrical bent is the sort of tosh that Euro bands and third tier 80’s style Hollyrock bands have peddled relentlessly over the years, full of hollow sentiment about how ready to rock we all are and how you’ve gotta, well, Fight for the Rock. But all up, as I said, not a bad song musically and that carries the song a long way towards acceptance in a sort of numbskull way.
Other tunes on the album are more infested with the softer play for cash sentiments of much of this release such as Crying for Love although that’s not to deny the guilty pleasure that a number of these tunes can elicit in the listener as the band are not wholly submerged into a candy coated version of 80’s metal, the bands utterly metallic nature proving too strong to be totally watered down and thus we get a number of good riffs and melodies.
To be fair, some of the way this album has come to be viewed by the bands fanbase is to a certain extent unfair given it at least shows the band willing to stretch out and become more open to the use of slower structures that allow their songs to breath more. And it has to be said this expanded use of dynamics did pay dividends for the band on later releases. The simple fact is that this band had the talent to address a number of hard rock and metal styles – in fact also styles way outside of the hard rock universe, but here the transition is just too abrupt, the use of cheesy mid 80’s keyboards/organs and other studio trickery not really gelling with the music. Not to mention the cheesy band photos that were just so far from their previous look and the thing just doesn’t feel right. Though their cover of Wishing Well does provide a few chuckles….
But as I said, some good riffs and a few good ideas. But not the Savatage we were used to in the early days and nowhere near the more inclusive and interesting experience we became accustomed to in their later years.
For completists only.