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.