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Back in the glory days of the 80’s, when Heavy Metal was the hottest thing around, Savatage was one of many American based Heavy Metal bands that produced highly acquainted albums like: Sirens, Power Of The Night and Hall Of The Mountain King. In 1986 the Tampa group released one of their most peculiar releases, yet a classic release, Fight For The Rock.
The reason this release is obscure is because since the band went under the name Savatage in 1983 till the release of Fight For The Rock the band produced two Heavy Metal studio albums that gave them the status of a Heavy act. Fight For The Rock brought some change in their music by infusing more Hard Rock and early Glamish influences, lyrics included. Many true fans of the band didn’t like this release because it’s some sort of a “slipping off the path”. Maybe because of the negative criticism the band releases, a year later, one of its heaviest releases, Hall Of The Mountain King. Yet, when thinking about it, this temporal change that surrounded the album can also be considered as a positive thing for other fans who do like Hard Rock or even Heavy Metal and of course new founders of the genre back in the day.
The one thing the true fans are right about is the production in this release. The first two albums and the EP, The Dungeons Are Calling, were produced with much higher quality than this one, but still the production here is not bad at all, it’s even quite good. There is a small issue of the mastering; Criss’s guitar has a low volume but still, almost like all of Savatage’s albums in the 80’s, he has his signature sound of a gloomy and dark guitar sound. In addition there are the drums that sound a bit mechanic in some songs, even for the 80’s.
The material in this album is presented as eight originals, two covers and one reissued song. The originals are largely pretty good with themes that are most recognized in Hard Rock and Glam Metal like love and relationships. But there are a couple of songs that convey the power of Rock N’ Roll like the self titled, “Fight For The Rock” and “She Is Only Rock N’ Roll” and there the songs concerning horror like “Edge Of Midnight” and “Hyde”. The two covers presented are originally from the bands Badfinger (“Day After Day”), an American classic Rock act from the 70’s and from the Hard Rock / Rock act Free (Wishing Well). The reissue is the song “Out In The Street” which was first introduced back in 1983 among the track list of the band’s debut, Sirens. The song’s old version is much longer and for Fight For The Rock it was recorded a bit differently.
The main stars on this album and probably in the band in Savatage’s greatest era were the two brothers, Criss and Jon Oliva. Jon, the vocalist and keyboards, is one of the greatest singers in Heavy Metal and one of the evil sounding ones. He can rise to high notes and use his morbid demonic voice. On this album he is a bit calm, in most songs, for some reason but he still delivers. As in charge of the keys he practices with high skill, producing a good couple of tunes with a pipe organ effect, to make the songs more mysterious and scary. Criss, the late guitarist (R.I.P, killed in 1993 in a car accident) , was one of the greatest guitarists in the 80’s in Metal and Hard Rock. His versatile and high ability contributed to the creation of magnificent albums. Fight For The Rock is another step in his wonderful career that was unfortunately cut short.
Fight For The Rock contains some great songs such that choosing the best of them is truly a hard task. Some focus needs to be given to some of them to summarize the effort. The opener, “Fight For The Rock”, is another true anthem of Rock and Metal – “…you’d better, fight for the rock n’ roll”. This track holds amazing riffs and solos and a mega chorus. “Cry For Your Love” is a Glam / Hard Rocker suitable for the era. “The Edge Of Midnight” and “Hyde” as the horror thrillers are very dark and good songs with organ pipe keys and heavy riffs. “Hyde” is about the 19th century monstrous fiend scientist. “She Is Only Rock N’ Roll” is another Rock and Glam anthem that joins the sexiness of “Red Light In Paradise”.
This Savatage effort should have been more credited. The band after all was still Heavy Metal and they have their latest releases to prove that. Fight For The Rock was and always will be a Metal anthem so “stand up, raise your fist cause you believe, we will never fade away, Rock is here to stay, let your torches light the sky!!”