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When Art and Metal meet... - 100%

icedray, April 26th, 2003

the result can be a work that can have an everlasting effect on one's perception of greatness. This happened to me the first time I heard Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell when I was a young boy. My immediate response was that I would never listen to music the same way again. I was overwhelmed by the contrast of beauty and aggression of the music and the various emotions it evoked. I knew that not just any music could accomplish such splendor.

However, I also realized that this would not happen with every metal album I would listen to. But, there were many that made me realize the greatness of metal. This is one of those albums. The difference is that this one did not hit me immediately like the others. As a matter of fact, the first time I heard it, I thought it was good......thats it. But, as time went on and with each listen, I realized the brilliance of this work. Now understand that Savatage are one of my fav bands of all time so the greatness of this album was not a shock. It was afterall the return of the Mountain King, Jon Oliva. Jon's voice is not what it used to be but it shines on this album. But, the key factor of this album's greatness is the songwriting. This is some of Jon and Paul O'Neill's best work.

It starts with "Stay With Me Awhile", a song that combines a loud chorus with a beautiful silent piano melody. It hits you like a brick and then immediately soothes you. This is followed by "There In The Silence" which has a heavy Iommish type riff and contains a great solo. The next three songs "Commisar", "I Seek Power", and "Drive" are a return to the old Sava sound circa Gutter Ballet and Streets. A sound that was quite forgotten a bit during the Zach era (which I also love).

Then comes the centerpiece of the album and one of the greatest songs of all time, in my opinion, "Morphine Child". Its bombastic and beautiful at the same time. The lyrics are some of the best they have ever written. The song just makes you bang your head and raise the horns and appreciate the form of art that is metal.

The rest of the album keeps up the level of greatness with some wonderfully written songs such as "Awaken" , "Man in the Mirror" and the soulful closer "Back to a Reason". Upon repeated listens, I realize that there are no weak moments on this album. As a matter of fact, there is a continuity of excellence that all blends into one wonderful piece of art that should be experienced by all metalheads.