|Classic Review: Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King|
|Hall Of The Mountain King|
Label: Atlantic Records
Year released: 1987
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: May 2, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:Hall Of The Mountain King
The fourth album by the ‘Tage was their breakthrough, after the so-so "Fight For the Rock" Savatage needed a really killer album to get back in the groove. In a move that has become a pattern in their career, they released this, one of their best works, right when everyone thought they had given up the ghost.
"Hall" stands firmly between the older, more primitive works and Savatage’s later, more progressive sound. And it’s no wonder that "Gutter Ballet" – which came right after this - was so experimental. Here Savatage have taken their old formula about as far as it can go, which is to say "Hall of the Mountain King" was their best album up to that point. This is straight up power metal of the old-school US style, with the unique Savatage sound all over it. Criss Oliva, while not unleashed as he was on the later "Edge of Thorns", produced some signature ‘Tage riffs on "Legions", the epic title cut, and on "Strange Wings" – one of his best riffs ever. His leadwork rips through this whole album like lightning bolts in a storm. Unlike "Gutter Ballet", "Hall" is a very guitar-driven album, and Criss wouldn’t get a chance to shine like this again until "Edge of Thorns". I have never been a big fan of Jon Oliva’s vocals, but he sounds better here than he ever did again, and the music fits his voice much better than the more varied later works. Compared to their later symphonic leanings, as a four-piece here the band sounds tighter, rawer, and more energetic than they have since.
The CD has a great cover from Gary Smith, and cool art design inside. The lyrics are good, as is expected. Savatage have been pretty consistent lyricists for a long time (with the exception of "Streets" – Yurgh) and "Beyond the Doors of the Dark" and "The Price You Pay" – among others – stand out as very well-written.
"Hall of the Mountain King" is not as polished as their later albums, and not as raw as their earlier stuff, but walks the line between them very well. Great riffs, killer leads, and some just all-around great songs make this an essential 80’s metal album. A must-have.
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