I started out as a fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and when I heard that they originated as a hard-rock/metal band called “Savatage,” curiosity got the best of me, and I bought this album. What can I say? Paul O’Neil continues to impress me. Much like the TSO albums, “Wake Of Magellan” is a concept album that tells a story, and to really get the full value of each song, you need to listen to the whole album, but it’s well worth your time. The music ranges from ballads to head-banging metal to theatrical (sometimes it reaches all of these extremes in a single song), and yet it somehow all gels together seamlessly. If you’re a TSO fan, as I am, and you’re trying to decide whether or not to risk buying a Savatage album, let me just say that you can definitely hear TSO’s roots in this album. Think of it as TSO on steroids, with distortion, but with no less talent. Yes it’s heavier and grittier, and whether or not you like that is a matter of personal taste, but this is an undeniably a great album. And Zak Stevens on vocals is terrific. The one thing I didn’t particularly like on the TSO albums is that sometimes the vocalists don’t have the greatest voices (Jody Ashworth’s overly operatic delivery as “Beethoven” on “Beethoven’s Last Night” is probably the only downside to that TSO album), but Zak Stevens’ voice fits the music perfectly here.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
My screen name says enough. I am the biggest Savatage fan. Everything from I can recite the lyrics to every song from “Sirens” to “The Hourglass”. Enough about me…. This album, is the most unbelievable piece of genius I have ever heard. I am a music major and have have studying music and theory or music since I was 5. The emotion-stirring lyics, spellbounding music, and legendary performers make this album a must to any Savatage fan…actually to any fan who wants to take a journey into the imagination and let the power of music take them there. Music is so much more than just noise…it is emotions that allow the listner to draw their own pictures. Jon’s growling vocals on “Paragons of Innocence” maes for the perfect enraged setting. Zakk has a wonderful voice and I think that he is the greatest asset the band has. After seeing Al Pitrelli play live, I can honestly say he the most underrated guitarist ever to exist. The entire band gives an absoltuely phenomenal performance. This is an album that you will not regret buying. The album opens with the calming sound of the ocean’s waves and a mystic-sounding piano..then BANG!! the guitars, drums, and strings jump in. Wqait, it has only begun….all of the songs are geniously told parts of the terror of the journay of Magellen and the storms he envcounters. “The Storm” opens with a calm sounding rain-shower. A peaceful and simple piano line enters and then…the storm begins. One of Al’s best solos is now displayed. The album concluded with the 8:00 “Hourglass” Just read the lyrics, that is enough….the song is incredible. The album also includes 2 bonus tracks. Jon singing “Alone You Breathe” & “Somewhere In Time” with just a piano and “Sleep” and the guitar solo of Al on “Stay” A completely divine piece of musical art is only way to describe this album.
Coming from someone with a love for geek-rock (They Might Be Giants, Semisonic, Refreshments), that’s saying something. Savatage is like nothing I’ve ever heard before. It’s not exactly metal and it’s not exactly prog-rock, somewhere between the two with a little Beethoven mixed in.Great concept, excellent songs. The vocal arrangements on this are stunning, especially when they get 8-10 overdubs harmonizing at the same time. Musically, the band is unbelievable — shifting time signatures from 5/4 to 4/4, overlaying 5/4 and 6/8, piling on guitar solos and piano riffs until you have a solid wall of sound. Even the delicate moments on the album are intricate and well put together.Individual songs will appeal to different people: “Complaint in the System” is modern rock, “Blackjack Guillotine” old school metal, “Anymore” sounds like an unreleased track from Tommy or Rent, and the title track — well, it’s all over the place, and it rocks.Great CD, something for just about anybody (except your weird cousin Earl with his Britney Spears CDs). Give it a listen, and thou shalt be rocked.
It’s hard to imagine that Savatage could get any better than their 1995 album Dead Winter Dead, but when they released the Wake of Magellan in 1998 the band did just that.
Like Dead Winter Dead, the Wake of Magellan is a concept album, this time focusing on three seemingly unrelated stories. O’Neill and Oliva weave the three together, while the band makes the story come alive. This is easily Savatage’s most epic and progressive album to date, as emphasized by everything from the powerful instrumental tracks to the intricate vocal layering. The Wake of Magellan is an album that recalls the very best of Iron Maiden, Rush, and Queen. This is also the Savatage album most likely to draw parallels with O’Neill and Oliva’s highly successful Trans-Siberian Orchestra project.
Founding member Jon Oliva once again contributes vocals to this album. His voice is perfect on those tracks where a little extra aggression is required, and serves as a nice counterpoint to regular (but never ordinary) vocalist Zak Stevens. Sadly, this album is the last Savatage release to feature Stevens on vocals. He has since launched a solo project called Circle II Circle, which should definitely appeal to Savatage fans.
While the album was extremely strong from start to finish, there are some standout songs that rank among Savatage’s best, including the title track, the Storm, the Hourglass, and Blackjack Guillotine. The beautiful instrumental tracks are just as impressive. There really isn’t a weak moment on the whole album, which remains my all-time favorite Savatage release.
The only difficulty lies in choosing which version to get. The domestic version features three acoustic bonus tracks, but the similarly-priced SPV import might be the better option. It has not been remastered, but the 2002 SPV reissue does have a few extras that make it worthwhile. It features 2 additional tracks – This Is Where You Should Be and an acoustic version of Desiree. The real bonus is that the liner notes have been expanded to include several pages of very detailed information about the band during this particular stage of their career. When added to the chapters from the other SPV Savatage reissues, you’ll get the real story behind one of the best (and most underrated) metal bands of all time.
Unfortunately, the SPV reissue does not contain the three acoustic bonus tracks from the regular version, so I have two copies of the Wake of Magellan on my shelf.
How do you explain Savatage’s sound to someone who hasn’t heard them? I find this difficult to do without getting into a ten minute description. Basically, they’re considered a metal band, but that’s too generic of a label for these guys, coz they go so much further. I sometimes hear them refered to as a power metal band, but that doesn’t quite seem fitting either. They never really get very fast or wild. I hear “progressive metal” used alot, and I guess that’s getting warmer. They’re not all over the place like Dream Theater or anything, but they certainly aren’t afraid to try things. I gave them a silly label called Drama Metal. The sound is like a metal Broadway play. It’s Welcome To My Nightmare-ish without the humor. In fact, these guys are 100% humorless. They’re probably a million laughs in person, but the music really goes for emotion-and achieves it! Moreso than any other band in the genre. They sing with such a passion. Sure, it sounds a bit over the top and over exaggerated at times, but this is a musical equivalent of a play here. And in plays, the acting has to be overdone to reach the people further back in the theater. Savatage obviously uses this same method in their music as though they are actually performing a Broadway musical on your stereo system. Their alter ego-The Trans Siberian Orchestra also does this, actually takes it a bit further. The best way to describe them in a few words? Metal guitars, piano, very emotional and poetic lyrics, operatic vocals(not the high pitched kind used in power metal). The Wake Of Magellan is a fantastic album to start with. Though not my personal favorite, it embodies all that is Savatage. Get it now. If you don’t like this album, then Savatage isn’t for you.