Savatage - _Poets and Madmen_
(Nuclear Blast, 2001)
by: Adrian Bromley (8 out of 10)
Very few bands in metal music have been as successful at making concept records as Florida's Savatage, who are one of the few bands making metal music that have the talent and control to stay focused and weave a wonderful tale for us to follow. Take for example the plunge we took into a drug-ridden world of _Streets: A Rock Opera_ (1991). That was mind-blowing work, and still stands as one of my favourite albums of all time. While the band has crusaded a lot of other ideas over the years since _Streets_, I haven't been as intrigued with much of their work of late as I have with the new album _Poets and Madmen_. Yet another journey by a group of musicians about an insane asylum (see Midnight Syndicate), the new album (as the bio says) "explores the dangers of not looking deeper at the individuals, objects and incidence that surround all our lives". A big round of applause must go out to Jon Oliva, who returns to the frontman role for this record (though now they have Damond Jiniya, who replaces departing singer Zak Stevens). He does an exceptional job at bringing an older-era flair to the band once again, something chipped away when Stevens began fronting the band in the mid-'90s. While the power of the record relies on the structure of the story, which is quite a good read, the music of Savatage seems to have become a bit more toned down and thus gives the mood of the record a really simple glow of aggressiveness. There is a lot of keyboard work from Oliva here as well. It still sounds tight (listen to the track "I Seek Power" and "Awaken") and it is good to see Savatage still keeping their wheels turning and making quality music. I guess it is true what they say: storytellers never seem to fade away.

(article published 13/5/2001)

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