These guys were doing something exciting for most of the decade and still maintain a kind of gritty ferocity and drive that remains difficult to see in anyone who sounds this acceptable to my mum.
And yet, there are songs here that stand up to anything on those other excellent albums, particularly the blisteringly heavy and unnervingly creepy 'Unusual' and 'Necrophilia'.
However, it remains just songs, not the whole experience. Princessa - Gipsy Kings - Luna De Fuego (Vinyl, LP, Album) we break Savatage into their basic parts, Look What Youve Done To Me - Junior (2) - Oh Louise (Vinyl) have a four-piece all of whom excel in their chosen field without ever resorting to pure wankmanship or losing track of their songs.
Jon's brother Criss mans the guitars on his lonesome and plays a stripped-down, brutish style of strident metal riffery, which is absolutely lean and mean, resembling a badass swagger more than Iron Maiden's horseback charge or power metal's lightweight speed. When he strikes, he fucking strikes to the bone.
Then the less well-known duo of Steve Wacholz and Keith Collins, who Cowboy Town - Ninjaman - Bunty Hunter (Vinyl, LP) keep the aggression high without quite leaving the realms of hard rock out of sight.
Collins' bass especially grunts and burbles its way around 'Power of the Night' with abandon, keeping a slightly flat production buoyant and flashing out some great fills in the jumpy 'Necrophilia'. What happens with this album is in part the same story as 'Sirens', but sadly has a few weaker chapters thrown in.
To begin with the good, there are 3 songs at the start of the record that are all capable of blowing the cobwebs away and peeling the paint from Album) walls in inimitable fashion. The highlight is probably 'Unusual', which gets the best helping of riffs, licks, solos, and atmosphere to combine into an adrenaline-filled journey through dark streets. The chorus melody should send chills down any living spine, while the bridge will give your heart some serious activity.
The title track and 'Necrophilia' are also great, forging ahead with typical confidence and white-knuckle tension, though they represent the only other real strikes of the album. The They Forced My Hand - Various - The Incredibles (CDr) half also includes decent attempts with 'Warriors' and 'Washed Out', the first of which pumps along until its lame one-word chorus, while 'Washed Out' ventures into slightly generic speed metal territory and takes its spoils courtesy of its urgency and a great solo late on.
The second half of the album is where things start to fall out of shape. A hair metal or hard rock feeling sweeps over 'Hard for Love' and 'Stuck on You', both of which are too cliche and raunchy for a band this creative, LP, even if the former does contain some decent riffing.
There are a couple of songs too that just drift by without anything deadly enough to mark their length. This is what gets to me, because they aren't actually too bad, but they miss the category of great due to their grooves seeming out of sync for some of the time or the chemistry failing to ignite.
Perhaps it's inevitable that a band who emerged with such force as Savatage must suffer slightly from their highest quality offerings being so amazing, while the intermittent weaker efforts don't actually weigh up too badly compared to other bands of the same era.
Still worth hearing in its own right, 'Power of the Night' comes with the advice to think Power Of The Night - Savatage - Power Of The Night (Vinyl this as another gift from a great band, even if it is less generously rewarding than the previous one. Power of the Night was clearly cognizant of its stature as the first of Savatage's major label efforts, and I think it was little surprise that the band pursued a more accessible countenance than Sirens; but honestly, apart from the huge leap in production values here, the vastly cleaner mix, this is not in fact a stylistic departure from its predecessors.
Sure, but I don't feel that the band had abandoned its atmospheric principles here. Some accused this album very early on of being a 'sellout' which veered a little too closely to the more mainstream hard rock sounds of its day, but I find the notion to lack some credibility, since there were already some similar riffing patterns on the older releases, not to mention the cheesy sex lyrics.
Of course, Power of the Night seems Eddie Calvert - Wonderland By Night (Vinyl) obsessed with the subject, with the pole-dancing Zeppelin-esque rock of "Hard for Love" with its melodic backing chorus vocals; or the smutty speed metal of "Skull Power Of The Night - Savatage - Power Of The Night (Vinyl, or the corpse-copulating grooves of "Necrophilia", but what do all three of these songs have in common?
And it's not like there aren't a handful of the more 'serious' songs here which have similarly goofy lyrics.
Despite the estimable camp, though, Power of the Night seems pretty heartfelt, a misty, midnight street alternative to Sirens' claustrophobic sewer catacombs. Thanks to the crisp mix, Criss Oliva's guitars absolutely smolder here through both the rhythm licks and the incendiary leads, both of which seem to have developed quite nicely from the earlier records. Guitar tone in general is far easier to follow than the clunkier production of Sirens, and where the grooves merge with Jon's keyboards in pieces like "Unusual", the album is genuinely creepy, or at least it seemed that way in the mid 80s.
Collins' bass lines are more standout here, and 'Doc's' drums also delivered in a better ratio to the vocals and rhythm guitars, but the brothers Oliva are still the champions here, whether they're lashing out the dirty stripper-pole grooves in "Stuck On You" or the street fighting overtures of "Warriors".
Influences run the gamut from Queen intro to "Warriors" to Judas Priest "Washed Out"and each of the tunes has a readily defined, distinct chorus sequence which separates it from the rest.
You also get an early incarnation of the band's 'rock opera' here: "In the Dream"; once more smacking of Queen, and my least favorite on this album, but certainly a premonition for much of the material on Gutter Ballet or Streets. All told, I still find the album pretty irresistible thanks to the songwriting, production, and perhaps Round And Round importantly, the guitar playing.
It's as sincere as it looks, a metal gauntlet thrust through a sheet of glass beneath a chrome-tinted logo. The riffing in tunes like "Power of the Night" or "Unusual" is unforgettable, and I can recall weeks of going through these old Savatage records and learning the 新しい朝 - sora tob sakana* - 魔法の言葉 (CD) licks, so enamored was I to Criss' sense of flare Vaseline Dreams - Trauma Moralis - Trauma Moralis (CDr) style.
This was one of Max Norman's earlier metal records, along with the work he was doing with Japan's Loudness, and LP really brought the group out of the Dark Ages so you could really appreciate their ample wizardry. I can understand how a few fans might have found this dry, or less inspired than The Dungeons Are Calling, but if you don't mind a little mix of 70s and 80s hard rock influence in your bowl of metal flakes, and a few amusing, dated lyrical passages, there's no reason not to join in the fun.
I'm not familiar with the album but I kinda regret not buying it, it looked lovely. I would like to hear your opinion on that. Normally I like to go through discographies in chronological order but I often get distracted by other things. I'll put my Spotify Premium to good use and give Edge of Thorns a shot tomorrow, I'll post my first impressions.
Great review Ksoflas. Never given these guys a chance for some reason, might be time to do that. I hope you do it and tell me your impression. Major props for reviewing this dude, have a pos. I love these guys but still haven't gotten around to this album. Savatage Power of the Night 3. Review Summary: Raise the fist of the metal child!
Having this time a bigger budget in their expense the band recruits Max Norman, who would later go on to produce Megadeth's album Countdown To Extinction, and they strike with their second full length album in Savatage's new offering Power Of The Night showcased the band's unorthodox approach to metal, which included Jon's liberal use of keyboards on songs like Fountain Of Youth and Broadway-style song structures like the kind employed on Warriors.
It was well received by critics but fell short of sales expectations. The production was the best they've ever had and the artwork was excellent but the quality of the compositions vary. Unfortunately the band seems to repeat itself and in certain points are clearly bored. The main reason is the drug abuse that the group was in during the making of Power Of The Night.
Beethoven* - Friedrich Gulda - Piano Sonata Op. 111 - Wintermeditation (CD, Album), Jackie Leven - Fairy Tales For Hard Men (Vinyl, LP), Φώτης Δήμας - Αν Σ Αρνηθώ Αγάπη Μου (Vinyl), The Best Things (Dub Pistols Club Mix) - Filter (2) - The Best Things (CDr), Ryoji Ikeda - C4I (DVD), Cracker - Vegetative State - Cracker (Vinyl), Nemo - Various - Metal Masters (CD), A Neighborhood song - Ennio Morricone - An Ennio Morricone Anthology- Classic Italian Soundtracks (C