|Classic Review: Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King|
|Hall Of The Mountain King|
Label: Atlantic Records
Year released: 1987
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: November 28, 2007
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
for:Hall Of The Mountain King
Rated 4.41/5 (88.16%) (49 Votes)
Fuck yes. This right here is the high water mark for US Heavy Metal, right up there with Jag Panzer's Ample Destruction and Helstar's first three albums. Hall of the Mountain King represents the end of an era for Savatage, and also the very peak of their traditional/power metal leanings from the early days; with a more polished, concise, sharp sense of songwriting and better riffs and choruses than they ever had before. This is just a killer disc of stripped down, brutally powerful old school Satanic Heavy Metal the way it was meant to be played, and its a shame that Savatage eventually "outgrew" this sort of sound, because it does rule.
Jon Oliva's vocals are the best here that they would ever be; a harsh, throaty rasp/shriek that fits the pugilistic, riffy Heavy Metal attack like a spiked leather glove. He's never been the most talented vocalist, but like Ozzy Osbourne and many others before him, no one else would've worked nearly as well with the music here. He sounds like he really means everything he's singing about; as if he believes that, beyond the feeble frame of reality, there lies a darker, more demonic and sadistic realm, where demons roam throughout the night, looking for prey. While I am quick to bash Oliva's performances on later, more "classy" albums, here I have nothing but praise for the man. His brother, the late Criss Oliva, shines here, as the guitar work is clearly the focal point of Hall of the Mountain King. The riffs here are amongst the best ever laid to disc for purely old school Heavy Metal, and that's not too much of an exaggeration. Catchy, fist pumping goodness is the order of the day here, just like Liege Lord, Riot and Jag Panzer and several other bands in the "second tier" of 80s metal. The solos are equally catchy, sinking into each song like a missing puzzle piece, never drawing undue attention to themselves and never overpowering the music. Oliva was at his prime here, and only Edge of Thorns would outclass this album for sheer style and class.
"24 Hours Ago" kicks things off with possibly the Best Riff Ever™, blossoming into a headbanging, fist-pumping, beer-chugging Heavy Metal song that is amongst the top 5 best that Savatage ever wrote. All of those lame, derivative bands like Powerlord could really learn something from this song, as it truly demonstrates exactly how to kick ass within the confines of this genre. I can't praise this song enough. "Beyond the Doors of the Dark" is another standout cut, ripping by you with an unholy, midpaced groove that sounds like it's being channeled straight out of Hell and into your speakers, with a shrieking chorus and fistfuls of more jackhammer riffage that will get your head flailing in no time. "Legions" follows suit, with a delightfully cheesy chorus, another awesomely devilish cut that you won't be skipping any time soon, and then we have the smashing, epic title track...I could go on all day about this stuff. There are no bad songs here and none you want to skip.
Every song is a lesson in how to do Heavy Metal the right way, and you need it. Hall of the Mountain King is a monolithic, powerful album that will never grow old or weaken, and if you don't have it, then you are no friend of mine. Highly, highly recommended.
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