without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
As often as my opinions have fluctuated beyond their 1989 opus Gutter Ballet, Savatage was once one of the most rock steady, reliable heavy metal groups of the Southern USA; the darker aesthetics they brought to hard rock fundamentals peeling off into an ambitious development that many bands would simply have been too fearful to attempt. I felt that the band was always under some sort of pressure, perhaps due to their own expectations, more likely from their major label (Atlantic), but the fact that they nonetheless managed to tough it out, remaining in the spotlight for such a long time without even packing tours or generating immense sales of their records, is a testament to the devotion of the Floridians.
Sirens was, of course, from a more innocent time, before the Oliva brothers evolved the band's course into its rock opera state, and yet there are still threads of almost theatrical elegance to how they crafted a number of the songs. After changing names form the far less distinct Avatar, they had begun to move in a moodier, dark direction that, like it's US, German and British counterparts, strafed the line between the arena mentality of hard rockin' sex thug anthems and the more aggressive speed and thrash that was only then beginning to emerge from a handful of scenes. Sirens still has a lot of natural groove to it, due to the writing style and performance of guitarist Criss Oliva, who to me always resembled a 'poor mans Randy Rhodes', but would inevitably become one of my favorite players of this precious period, due to his coordination of pure, molten riffing patterns, flashy but memorable licks and the escapism of his leads.
This debut wasn't the heaviest or most complex of their outlets. It didn't possess that same, vicious songwriting economy of a Show No Mercy or Kill 'Em All, yet it's still a hard-hitting classic, one of their career best, and despite the chunkiness of its production, it hasn't lost much luster through the intermittent decades. Like the ancient sewers and waterways that the elfin rogue children of its cover travel through, Sirens is a claustrophobic, cavernous sounding record, with a heavily processed guitar tone that mixes with the vocal reverb and other effects to create this echoing paean to evil. As a contrast, Steve 'Doc' Wacholz drums are mixed humbly, snapping and crashing along without that same level of vaulted atmosphere. The bass, performed here by an earlier member (Keith Collins) wasn't much of a presence itself, gently plugging along to support Oliva's churning rhythms, woozy octave chord slides, and gloomy clean tones.
Even more impressive than his brother, though, was Jon Oliva's barking, enraged inflection, one of the most unique in all heavy/power metal of the 80s, and a trait I've long considered a make it/break it factor in terms of my interest in their output. The man's style just exudes sinister intentions, like the villain in any classic play or horror film. The wolf man, stalking the wood behind you. Jack the Ripper, polishing his instruments while he waits for an unsuspecting lady of the night. MacBeth, eyes burning with the blood of his revenge. While some might have faulted him for lacking the range of a Halford, Dickinson or Ronny James Dio, for me he provided ample proof that the best singers are not always those with the 'prettiest' or widest capabilities, but those that make the best of what they've got. Jon can do delicate, and he can emit a shriek or two when it suits him, but it's this rabid, mad dog mid-range that, more than anything, made me such a fan.
Not all of Sirens aged well for me. In particular, the smutty "Twisted Little Sister" lacks an interesting hook, and the vocals and lyrics are beyond cheesy unless you really like your dim lit 80s S&M metal for the sake of burning its own candle wax. I also feel that the front half of the album is a cut above the rest. Deeper in, you've got "Living for the Night" and "Out on the Streets", solid enough tunes, but nowhere near as strong as something like "Sirens" itself, with its hypnotic, eerie clean guitars and bells that transition into a filthy dose of primal power metal that captured the threatening mythology of its subject matter. "Holocaust" and "On the Run" had a lot of that dirty, beloved hard rock groove, while "Rage" is borne more on Motörhead speed metal fix with some of Jon's higher pitched howls and screams. In general, though, I could listen today to almost the entire album with the exception of "Twisted..." and the later added bonus tracks, and still get the same thrills as I did in Junior High.
I wouldn't hold the production up alongside their finest works (like Hall of the Mountain King), since it seems mildly uneven and the rhythm section leaves more of a footnote than an impression, but as a debut for the Oliva brothers, you can't really go wrong here. In terms of complexity, it's not much more involved than Iron Maiden or the other serious entries in the NWOBHM field, but the band knew how to throw down a chorus, provide interesting verse riffing, and there are plenty of little licks to pick out there, thanks to Criss Oliva's ceaseless unrest for the mundane patterns a lot of also-ran metal acts were producing. Ultimately, while it's no American masterpiece, it's a damn good debut which an appeal that transcends generations, and I'd count at least the title track as one of their top 10-15 songs ever written.
“The beginning of the 80’s… yes, magic times for metal music. I was a kid at that time and I knew nothing about it. Fortunately everything changed and I can listen to this kind of music now. Writing about “Sirens”, there is a need to make mention of band’s history. Formerly known as Avatar, Criss brothers released Ep “City Beneath The Surface” with two songs. Then their label came down with the money (3000 bucks) for studio session (only two days!). The band recorded fifteen songs which were divided into two titles: “Sirens” and “The Dungeons Are Calling” (released as Ep in 1984). Unfortunately, Avatar was forced to change a name (due to Avatar in Europe with some official stuff). So Savatage was formed and “Sirens” saw the light of day.
The album is opened by the title song which is in fact a mine of information about the “Sirens” content and the Oliva style. This is their first breath in metal world, but it is obvious that this band is unique and not commonplace. Listen to the first song and let the sounds attack your mind! What do you hear? First of all: Jon Oliva and his demonic vocals, with ease he can modulate it from screams and shrieks to calm, subtle and sensitive form of singings. I can imagine that in those days metal fans could be in shock just like after listening to the GUITAR of his brother Criss. Even deaf person can hear that this guitar play has something splendid. Although his play is rather thrifty, it really impresses. The rhythm section is on good level, the specific production (comparing to the present times) helps to admire all the sounds and vocals.
Yes, title track is a classic for Savatage, it is published on many live/best-of albums, of course no wonder, because it is perfect heavy metal hymn (opened by mysterious introduction), rather short and dense with very interesting guitar lead and surprising end (about 2:28 the song calm down, after 30 seconds the main riff appears with demonic shrieks of Jon). The second song “Holocaust” has a marvelous riff, it is not a fast track (see title!), but the basis here is this guitar masterwork. Total metal holocaust! Then “I Believe”. The ballad guitar opening (with Jon vocals) turns into heavy, sharp riffs and amazing guitar lead (and look at rhythm section work!). Something wild! The song is maintained in mid-tempo with four thrilling Criss solos, at the end song starts to hasten. The best song on the album? Probably yes. The next song “Rage” is like a prolongation of “I Believe”. Very fast, very short, this is real firecracker! Four songs passed away and I have to write that the second part of “Sirens” is weaker a bit. It is not bad stuff, but the differences in quality of songs are perceptible. Especially “On The Run”, “Twisted Little Sister” and “Out On The Streets” (ballad with hard guitar chorus). In turn “Living For The Night” and “Scream Murder” are better, with very interesting riffs and multilayer guitar lead. These songs hold high level of “Sirens”. My cd (reissue record, 1994) also contains of two bonus tracks: “Lady In Disguise” and “The Message”. The first song is like a better version of “Out On The Streets”, it has fine intro with preferable Jon singing, but “The Message” is very good composition, I can compare it to these best two songs from the second part of the album.
Through releasing this album (and forthcoming Ep), Savatage proves some things. Firstly, they are new force in metal world, secondly, they are many-talented and brilliant. And in future they showed some kind of patent to create heavy metal masterpieces, despite of two weaker albums (“Power Of The Night” and “Fight For The Rock”). The main advantage coming from this first effort of the band: this music is timeless and it never gets outdated nor boring.
“Sirens” is the beginning of the metal way of Criss brothers… The way I will follow…
After ripping apart Savatage’s “rock opera” Streets in another review, I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the band’s early material to remind myself of why I got into them in the first place. What better place to start then with their criminally underrated debut Sirens? A catchy and consistent record, Sirens showcases the band at their most raw and uninhibited: qualities that despite their implications result in some of the band’s most forceful and effective material.
Sirens is one of Savatage’s strongest efforts, mostly because they’re not fucking around with weighty lyrical concepts or symphonic elements. These songs nine are just straightforward heavy metal tunes that work, which is really all you can ask from a band that claims to play heavy metal. The Oliva brothers are in top form here: Jon is surprisingly menacing throughout (he throws in those wild yelping noises from time to time) and he shows incredible charisma during “Out on the Streets” and “I Believe” while Criss demonstrates why the metal community should be missing him more than they do. The man sports a mean guitar tone and has an ear for a good riff. Overall sound? Imagine a melding of early Twisted Sister, Anvil, Metal Church and a bit o’ Dokken (in a melodic sense) and you’re on the right track.
Most of the songs chug along at a steady pace (“Holocaust,” “On the Run”), but there are a few that dare sprint into speed metal territory (“Rage,” the back half of “I Believe”). “Out on the Streets” plays the part of power ballad, but it’s actually surprisingly memorable. It turns out that when Savatage cut out all of the monkey business, they’re actually damn good songwriters and that when Jon Oliva doesn’t overdo it, he’s actually quite a good vocalist.
It’s a shame that this album never caught on because if it had, Savatage might not have dabbled in the various commercial and theatric experiments they’d embark upon over the course of the next decade. Regardless, Sirens stands out in the band’s catalogue as one of their better achievements.
I discovered Savatage through "The Heavy Metal Collector's Guide, Vol.2" by Martin Popoff. In it he gave this, Savatage's indie debut, a perfect 10. Still being relatively new to metal at the time I began searching for this thinking it would be good and knowing how highly recommended it was by a man who is somewhat of an authority in metal. Well I was wrong... this isn't good... this is amazing!
I've been into metal (especially older varieties) now for about 3 and a half years and this is still one of my all-time favourite albums, and it contains my all-time favourite song.
Sirens - The opening and title cut to the album. This track is at times chilling, but always ferociously heavy. The short intro uses a simple yet melancholy guitar riff accompanied by what I believe to be chimes and a bell. After approximately 25 seconds, Savatage kick things into high-gear. The searing vocal presence of Jon Oliva's always unique technique delivers the lyrics about the demonic sirens attracting ships to their island and butchering the sailors therein. Screaming lead work, effective drumming, solid bass work. This song is very nearly perfect. My all time favourite song and already the album has paid for itself. 11/10
Holocaust - a faster, more energetic song, but not quite as heavy in my opinion. This one really showcases the drum work of Steve Wacholz. Another good, although not quite as haunting, vocal performance from Jon Oliva, and more wicked lead work from his late brother Criss. 9/10
I Believe - Great mid-pacer. More great and unique vocal work from Jon. Another showcase of Steve's very solid drum work. Solid all around. Lyrically well written (in a sort of sci-fi/apocalyptic type theme. 8/10
Rage - Fastest song on the album. This one approaches thrash territory at times (definitely not a bad thing). This one just drips with energy. Jon gets a bit screamy and whiny at times, but the vocal performance is still very good. The place this song really shines is the lead work. Criss giving us speed conviction and power with every note. 9/10
On The Run - another good slower song. Nice groove and cool, creepy lyrics. Jon's vocal performance on this track is nearly as bracing as on the title track. More great soloing and riffing from Criss with the rhythm section of Keith and Steve being very effective at providing that groove. 10/10
Twisted Little Sister - Odd lyrics to this one. But still good performances all around. Definitely not my favourite song here, but still decent. 7/10
Living For The Night - Another high-riding, energy soaked speed run. Good (not great) Vocal work, more solid drum and bass driven groove. Great headbanging tune. 9/10
Scream Murder - The energy of "Rage" meeting the chilling "Sirens" half-way. Great lyrics, great vocals, great lead and riff work, and the continuing presence of a solid rhythm section keep the whole thing from crumbling under it's own barely contained energy. Another master-piece of a song. 10/10
Out On The Streets - Saving the worst for last. It's not a bad song. But definetly not great either. Power-ballad thing going on. Fluffy, Heart-break centered lyrics. Maybe it's meant to be a nice breather after the absolute skull-crushing power of the previous 8 tracks? I don't know... 6/10
There you have it. All around this is one of the best albums I've ever heard and it's definitely the best debut. Everything right down to the production values (Which absolutely kill just about any other indie release from '83) just scream power and metal. If you can pick this up, in any of it's forms, it's well worth the investment.
Many great 'metal' albums hit the stores in 1983 and many of them overshadowed Savatage's debut album 'Sirens', however none of them were better. Sirens shows a band in it's earliest form, struggling to break out of their native Florida, and what should be a naive album compared to what they would do later on. However, the epitome of Savatage lays in their early work, albums that laid the groundwork for many bands to follow. Only their second release, which is only an EP, bests this one as the 'best' of any Savatage album, no matter the era.
Sirens introduces the world(those outside of Florida) to the birth of a legacy otherwise known as Savatage with, of all things, an acoustic guitar. This heavy metal anthem kicks in moments later with the first of many legendary riffs that are displayed throughout. The lyrics are sick and demented but hold no candle to ones depicted in later songs. There is no solo, but the eerie breakdown in the middle is a rather splendid contrast to the brutality of the song.
Holocaust begins with an incredible high-hat run before crushing into a brutal three-note riff, indicating from the start that this was Steve's turn to shine. Already stunning us with the use of an instrument not commonly heard in 'metal, with chimes, he shows why he has earned the nickname 'Killdrums'. The song is great but is bookend by the best song on the album and the fierce opener. The solo is long and loud and very nice with the lyrics being awfully pessimistic. However the climax is the sudden explosion that leads right into the epic...
I Believe, a song of so many styles and diverse ideas, that it almost comes off as a whole new song midway through. Each transition is done crisp and perfectly, which is astounding when you consider how young the band was. This song is the best on the album and those most fierce, it's brutality lays in the crushing rhythm section and Steve Walchoz's often out-of-time drum patterns are signature here. Another thing giving every second of this song diversity. The intro is soft and warming, signaling a ballad, but almost a minute later the music explodes with exceptional brutality. Jon's voice is demonic throughout and at the time stood alone to every other singer in the business. After another exceptional solo by Criss, a slowed down riff underlines a demonic robotic voice, then a horrid scream. The song erupts into full-on thrash death metal with another head banging solo before two more short verses and an abrupt end. One of the best metal songs has now ended...
After three head banging classics, one would think, WITH SAVATAGE, that a ballad was due, but not in these days. Early Savatage albums feature no tracks that can be categorized as 'easily forgettably', or in other words 'ballads'. Rage takes the brutality and pace set on the previous track to new heights. The chorus is primitive but Jon makes up for this with awesome wails, the solo is another speedy one, but it's the drum and guitar breakdown afterwards that grabs you. 2:41 seconds of demonic soaring screams and head-banging, fist-pumping, skull crushing metal mayhem.
A change in tempo goes follow on On The Run, but it's hardly noticeable once the drums kick in, this song has perhaps the best drumming of any on the album. The song is a mid-pace burner with excellent vocals, music and shows that the band can tone it down and play one-dimensional. Song as such usually don't live up to an artists true potential but Savatage made them look easily, the song isn't bad but it doesn't stand out as everything else.
Twisted Little Sister is only a tad bit faster than On The Run and it's equally as melodic. The main riff is crisp and catchy and will satisfy any carnal instinct, which is what the whole song aims for with the title. Not many bands in 1983(or 1981 when this song was first being played) sang of such tasteless and horrific things in their lyrics aside from Savatage. But even without the lyrics this song picks the album back up after the predecessor took the album down to earth.
Living For The Night brings us back to the brutal crunchy death metal type riffs, that still bring elements of melody and rhythm to them. What sets this song aside from the others is it's simplicity. Intro, Verse, Chorus, Bride, Solo, Verse, Chorus, Outro seems typical, but Savatage shows once again why with Criss one-dimensional or even 'typical' songs were easy for them. The solo is brilliant as expected and the vocals are sun in high register, but not quite as high as the earlier songs or the next...
Scream Murder picks up the pace only hinted on by Living For The Night, but hadn't been displayed since Rage. The lyrics are back(had they ever left?) to the demonic horror-movie style with a tale of a victim being chased down 'dark alley ways' and where they will breathe their 'final breath'. The song has excellent gallops and rhythm throughout but it's true strength is the vocals and the Gothic story they portray. Jon takes you with him in the mind of the diabolical, as well as the scene. As his ending screams almost sound like someone being murdered and screaming due to the act. There is also a ton of tasteful licks throughout as Keith Collins keeps everything in perspective with an awesome bass line.
Scream Murder could've ended the album but Savatage might have wanted to appease the faint of heart or the skeptics(critics) that a band as heavy and evil as them could not play an emotional ballad. Out on the Streets erases all doubt and became forever known as the benchmark for any Savatage ballad, everyone has been measured again and have failed. Never again will a Savatage ballad be this emotional and inspiring, and it makes the reworked version on FFTR look like Lionel Ritche covered it. Jon's voice is beautifully woeful, which is perfect for the sad lament that he almost tears in the words. The chorus is effective due to his voice reaching new heights, with every word sung with so much emotion and heartache. But the song ups the standards for ballads due to the greatest guitar solo ever recorded by the late Criss Oliva. After three cries of denial Criss takes the next 30 seconds to demonstrate how to properly play a guitar solo in a soft setting. The improvising by Jon to end the song is almost effective, giving the song uncharted depths of despair as it fades out to a breathtaking climax. Some may say to place a ballad at the end of an album with such brutality was wrong but I find it to be a masterful statement that no matter what Savatage did in these days, it turned gold.
Overall Savatage's first album is a winner and an honest testament of what to expect on later releases. However it comes in no way close(not that any of them do) to the greatness of their follow-up EP. But this one ranks as my second favorite, due to the special place it holds for me.
Sirens is undoubtably one of the 80's most acclaimed underground classics ever. Jon Oliva and co unleash their powerhouse force of flashy guitar licks + solos, sturdy consistent bass playing, and slamming drumming. Jon's voice is abit immature but i think that just adds to the whole atmousphere of the album, and is nowhere near as squieky as Hetfield era Kill Em All. Jon's contains one of the most unique voices ever, and i must give the man credit for being an innovator. His voice on this album can range from a banshee like yelper to a lower pitched singer, and at times very mellodic (see Out on the Streets). Brother Criss Oliva is simply put a fucking mammoth on the 6th string guitar and I cannot disagree with anyone who would put such a label on him. The sheer brilliance and professionalism he puts into his playing puts others to shame. When this first came out it was beloved by alot of metal fans and i can totally see why, because there was nothing quite like it at the time of it's release (1983).
Sirens has alot of ballsy, brute powerful songs that have alot of diversity and catch your attention quite easily. Savatage really started accomplishing a cult status right away with their debut and can you wonder why? Take a listen and just dare to tell me this isn't some inventive stuff for the early 80's. This took Heavy Metal to the next level in my opinion, and adds that more extreme touch of aggresion to it. The thing i like most about the album is the attitude of the tracks. They all display a life like meaning that all of us can relate to in some way or another. Read the lyrics, and you should get something out of each track. Twisted Little Sister, is almost sadistic, Holocaust is horrifing, and Out on the Streets is Depressing. Check that fucking guitar solo out on the track "Out on the Streets" fuck that is touching. Pure Genious. This is definatly a Darker album than most would expect. The themes are about murder, war, lust, and sorrow etc. Basically everyone is bound to get something out of Sirens weather it be for the better or worse. But in the end im sure no one can say this album is all bad.
If you were wondering the line for this album was Jon Oliva : Shrieks of Terror, Criss Oliva - Metalaxe, Steve "Dr Killdrums" Wacholz, Keith Collins - The Bottom End. For a debut album this is mighty fucking good and who knew that Savatage would grow to be even more godly in the future? For a band to last this long surely is a feat in and of itself. In conclution if your a fan of classic metal albums, and are lacking in a Savatage record this is the one for you. There is nothing lacking about this album, and i suggest to get the Silver Anniversary Edition, for the Remasters are much cleaner.
He's gonna take it out on YOU!!!!
Best Tracks: Sirens, Holocaust, I Believe, Rage, On the Run, Living for the Night, Scream Murder, Out on the Streets
This, to me, is the best album that Savatage released during the 80's. The band started their career on a high note when they released "Sirens" to the masses and they were never really able to equal this album until "Streets: A Rock Opera" came out in the early 90's, although it sported a fairly different and more "mature" style.
The album is a classic through and through, traditional metal with a good sense of what works and what doesn't...plus the solos, oh man don't get me started on the solos. You could already tell that Criss Oliva was going to be one of the better metal guitar players.
The album is midpaced and upbeat for the first two tracks "Sirens" and "Holocaust", both being signature Savatage tunes and Jon Oliva still jokingly complains in interviews about having to sing "Sirens" for the millionth time in concert. The third song, "I Believe", starts out soft and then goes into something in the same vein of the first two songs. "Rage" comes next, fast and in your face double bass. The rest of the album kind of follows the same ideas for the rest of the album, midpaced and heavy songs with awesome riffs, sweet solos and strong vocals. The last song, "Out on the Streets", is the only deviation as the album's only ballad. It's a very good song and works as the last track on the album.
There's not too much that you can say to describe this album aside from "heavy metal" and that "it rules!". So to describe the album I would have to say, that this is heavy metal and it rules!!!