Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King review
|Album:||Hall Of The Mountain King|
|Release date:||September 1987|
01. 24 Hours Ago
02. Beyond The Doors Of The Dark
04. Strange Wings [feat. Ray Gillen]
05. Prelude To Madness
06. Hall Of The Mountain King
07. The Price You Pay
08. White Witch
09. Last Dawn
11. Stay [1997 Edel Music CD reissue bonus]
12. Hall Of The Mountain King [live] [2002 SPV CD reissue bonus]
13. Devastation [live] [2002 SPV CD reissue bonus]
14. Castles Burning [acoustic version] [2011 EarMusic CD reissue bonus]
15. Somewhere In Time/Alone You Breathe [acoustic version] [2011 EarMusic CD reissue bonus]
This is one hell of a dark album. On any given Savatage album, there is a lot of gloom, but Hall Of The Mountain King is the most murky of all. Not in an evil way, but more in a cold, desolate way. They type of feeling you'd get on the bottom of the ocean, watching a sunset in Antarctica, or on some distant mountain top, shrouded in clouds. This is helped by the massive amount of chorus on Criss' guitars. Even the catchy, radio ready songs like "Strange Wings" and "The Price You Pay" have a healthy dose of melancholy to them.
But those radio friendly hits are only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the material here is all winning, and much darker. "Beyond The Doors Of Dark" is probably the most sinister sounding of all, with that eerie intro, and off kilter shuffling main riff. I'm not too big a fan of "Prelude To Madness," but in context it works, leading up to the title track. And that's an epic tune! The midsection, with its melodic breakdown is quite possibly the highlight of Savatage's career...there are not many riffs as haunting and pensive as that one! "White Witch" turns up the speed, showing that Savatage was indeed a thrash metal band at one point. Amazingly, this is their weakest moment on here, but it's far from actually weak.
Hall Of The Mountain King reminds me a lot of another nearly perfect album of power metal, aptly called Power Metal by Pantera. The production and quality of songwriting on both this and Power Metal are very, very close, with this being more grandiose, and Power Metal being more straightforward. And of course, this does have kick ass solos oozing out everywhere. Criss never played a bad solo. Technically perfect and chock with feeling...goddamn, was he good!
It's not a stretch to say that this is Savatage's best album. Nothing else sounds like this--it is unmistakably Savatage. This is epic without the lameness of gnomes and trolls, and operatic without the frilly shirts.
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