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From the Stage to the Eternalness - 92%

Tlacaxipehualiztli, May 9th, 2013

At the beginning I have to declare one thing: I detest all the albums called ‘best-of’. This album “From the Gutter to the Stage” is also such a ‘best of’ compilation, but fortunately, it contains the second disc. And I’d like to write some words about it, because there is no sense to make mention on the tracks set recorded from 1981 to 1995 (but with no “Fight for the Rock” and “Dungeons Are Callings” songs). Each Savatage supporter knows these immortal classic tunes by heart. In turn the content of the second disc was (almost) completely unknown for me…

The band didn’t place any filler songs, live well-known performances or something like that. The first two songs were recorded during “Edge of Thorns” session and originally put on Japanese version of this album as bonus tracks. And, believe me, I didn’t need many careful listenings to say that both “Shotgun Innocence” (with great rapacious opening) which is in fact the last piece recorded by Criss, and “Forever After” (with fantastic guitars as always and very interesting vocal interpretation) are just another pearls in Savatage discography. These superb metal compositions perfectly fit to the “Edge of Thorns” genius because memorable yet still sense paralyzing magic is once again in these tracks. And with these songs the final rate of “Edge of Thorns” isn’t lower! Ok, let’s leave these times and move towards something older. The next one called “This Is Where You Should Be” is taken from “Hall of the Mountain King” session and was never released before. And in my opinion it isn’t good track for this album, but I cannot call it as a weak song! Quite the contrary, this track is another (yes, yes…) wonderful Savatage metal hymn. It is a ballad with rather simple song structure, but while listening to it, I enter another dimension of musical feelings, for sure it is caused by top-notch Jon vocals (as always, by the way…), he shows very expressive way of singing from sensitive sighs to haunted almost blackish screams, but this indelible impression is well-known from all the previous album. In addition Criss plays stunning solo lead lasting about thirty seconds. Simply: hats off to these MEN. Also I have to mention about fine guitar work in the background with the first motive appearing about 58 second of the song. For me another everlasting piece of heavy metal masterpiece.

The entirety is closed by “D.T. Jesus”, an alternate version of the song with the same title from “Streets” album. Surely this one is the weakest here, but it is not a weak track in general. The root cause? Gospel-like women singing in the chorus. Simply I don’t like such chantings and this thing is absolutely unacceptable here, maybe this track is proper for Trans-Siberian Orchestra? I mean, with no female vocals, this track gets back its value, even if Jon has changed some vocal lines (melody) as compared to the original version. Another thing is completely different sound production. It is very unique in Savatage history, and it seems to be as light as air (not metal in general), but I didn’t find any signs of softening of the whole.

Well, it is hard to rate this title. When I think about “From the Gutter to the Stage” content, maximum mark comes to my mind. But as I pointed out earlier only the second disc would be checked out with the final opinion. Only almost 18 minutes, but impressions are still the same, when I met them for the first time and now. Maybe I would change the track order from the oldest track to “Edge of Thorns” session. Maybe. So what do I want more? On the end there is a need to write about front cover which is integral part of the whole. The white Criss guitar with two red roses. This simple, modest yet most beautiful cover illustration made by G. Smith really tugs at the heartstrings…

Words are simple, so let the tunes speak. This is immortal.