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Poets & Madmen

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(9 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • No need for a lengthy review. If you’re a fan of Savatage or old school metal and you’re on the fence about this one – go ahead and jump on over. You’ll be glad you did. Jon Oliva is back in front with a vengeance. Any doubts as to his vocal abilites will be completely blown away. I never cared for Zachary Stevens either, so this is an album I’ve been waiting for since “Streets”.

    Posted on November 29, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I suppose that after releasing two all-time classic albums like Dead Winter Dead and The Wake of Magellan, and then losing vocalist Zak Stevens, Savatage’s 2001 release Poets & Madmen was bound to disappoint.

    Even though the dynamic duo of Jon Oliva and producer Paul O’Neill were still in place, the loss of such a dynamic vocalist (who left to form the very Savatage-sounding band Circle II Circle) had a big impact on the band’s sound. Oliva found himself in the spotlight as lead vocalist once again, which meant the album had to be more aggressive to suit his singing style. Songs like “I Seek Power”, “Drive” and “Awaken” are prime examples.

    Despite being more aggressive and for the first time in quite a while not featuring any instrumental tracks, Poets & Madmen is still a very progressive album. Songs like “There in the Silence”, “Commissar”, and especially the 10+ minute “Morphine Child” are complex, well-orchestrated tracks that compare favorably with anything on Wake of Magellan or Dead Winter Dead. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that “Morphine Child” is one of the better Savatage songs ever released. It’s also worth pointing out that “Back to Reason” was later used on a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album.

    Poets & Madmen is a bit uneven, and doesn’t work as well as a concept album as the band’s prior releases. Overall though, this is a very solid album with more strong moments than weak ones. It may have disappointed Savatage fans initially, but it holds up surprisingly well after a few years, and should be considered one of the band’s better albums. Though to be fair, I consider everything besides Fight for the Rock among the band’s better albums!

    NOTE: There are three different versions of Poets & Madmen, each with different bonus material.

    The standard version, released by Nuclear Blast, features the bonus track “Shotgun Innocence” which is, to date, the last Savatage studio track to feature Zak Stevens on vocals.

    The limited edition, released by SPV, comes in a neat box and features a live version of “Jesus Saves” as a bonus track, as well as a video clip for “Handful of Rain.” “Shotgun Innocence” is not included.

    The Japanese import has the same track listing as the SPV version, but without the fancy packaging. It’s priced a LOT higher though.

    I think the smart money is on the standard version. Live material and fancy packaging is nice, but I’ll take a new Zak Stevens Savatage track any day.

    Posted on November 29, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Poets & Madmen is not an easy disc to get into. Although the CD does have a Streets vibe to it, the vocal melodies are a bit difficult to digest. The verses tend to be very good–usually very smooth and melodic. But it is the super-aggressive choruses that are hard to take–at first.Jon Oliva, Savatage’s original vocalist, returns to the vocal helm on this release–he sings every song. Some may not like this as Jon is more gruff and aggressive than the recently departed Zak Stevens (who did most of the vocals on the last four Savatage discs). But it works–Jon sounds nearly as good as he did on Streets.The music is heavy. This is probably Savatage’s heaviest cd since Hall of the Mountain King. But do not make the mistake of thinking this is a throwback to Savatage’s earliest work such as Sirens or the Dungeons are Calling. The influence of more recent Savatage efforts is clearly present. In fact, Poets & Madmen comes off as a mix of Streets, Dead Winter Dead and the Wake of Magellan–only heavier and more aggressive.This disc is Broadway musical rock mixed with a heavy dose of metal.It took me a few listens of this release to really appreciate it. There are a few songs on this album that are instant classics–most notably “Commissar”, a driving, dark tune, and the epic “Morphine Child” which easily ranks among Savatage’s best songs ever. It took some time to get into this album (a day or two), but now I love it. It isn’t as great as Streets or even Dead Winter Dead and the Wake of Magellan, but it is still a good disc. It is a super-aggressive, hard-hitting and very dark album. In some ways, I guess Poets & Madmen does combine the best of Savatage–the early ’80s hard-hitting heavy metal and the ’90s Broadway musical hard rock–into one album.If you are into Savatage’s 80s albums, this album, though heavy, may not satisfy you. But if you’re into more recent Savatage work, Poets & Madmen, though harsh to the ears at first, will likely please you.

    Posted on November 29, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The New Savatage release “Poets and Madmen” is an overall impressive and entertaining effort from Jon Oliva + co. Featuring some of the heaviest guitar work Savatage has ever done {no offense to Criss Oliva R.I.P.}this band can never seem to dissapoint it’s fans. The main guitar duties are handled by Chris Caffery with some leads done by ex axeman Al Pitrelli, who has since left for Megadeth. Outstanding work !! for favorites I would have to list “Morphine Child,”Surrender”,and “Commissar”.

    Posted on November 29, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Those familiar with Savatage may proceed to the next paragraph. All others may find useful to know that Savatage although under the wider umbrella of heavy metal, their music is much wider. To be more precise Savatage may be characterised as a Symphonic metal band, which means that they are influenced by classical music. Their music is variant, their themes ever changing and their moods haunting. Their music was a revelation to me. I finally found heavy music that can send you to the stars with poetic, passionate and sometimes philosophical lyrics. Perhaps the strongest and most prevalent characteristic of their music are the brilliantly mastered rhythm changes, ‘waves’ that bind the subtlety of a flower with the power of the sun…Ok folks we are simply talking of amazing work here.The story is based on a TRUE event and on the impact that event had for the person who witnessed it. The CD begins with the whole story narrated (8 pages) and then the songs follow. Note that the songs are dispersed with poetry that is in addition to the music. Thus once you turn to the first song page, you start to read the poetic introduction of teh story (before the first song). “Gather around children as the light starts to dieand a story I’ll weave you for a story have I…where the living are dead and the dead quite aliveas they sleep in the shadows of us that survive”soon an incredible musical journey begins to a far away world that is so close to each of us.”Stay with me a while” is the name of the first song, that calls us to stay and listen to the story no matter how afraid we might be to face our responsibilities when we witness certain facts….”Somewhere in this universe of lost forgotten dreamsthe silence weaves a tapestry of once enchanted themesthe shadows listen carefully and question what it means…—Stay with me,For the little night that’s left to beFor a moment in a memoryThat time cannot defile…Stay with meWhere the night still offers amnestyAnd the ending is still yet to be tomorrow’s unborn child…Stay with me awhile”Note that the above extracts are not selected for being exceptionally poetic or anything…They just happen to be at the beginning of a conceptual album that is absolutely amazing till the very end… The lyrics are masterfully weaved with the music that gives them life. The music is unparalleled in passion and melodies, always following the rhythm and psychology of the story.I undoubtedly recommend it to anybody who is even slightly fond of Classic rock music or heavy metal or even heavy classical pieces! As for people who happened to like a few other Savatage songs…. go for it! It will be an experience…PS: We take what we give…The more time you give to this piece of art the more you will discover it…

    Posted on November 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now