Review: Savatage

“Poets & Madmen”
(Nuclear Blast)

With “Poets & Madmen”, Savatage flits forth another rock opera. Savatage still maintains a unique sound in the world of heavy rock and roll even after a career that spans twenty years of songwriting. Granted, twenty years can be rather rough on a band and the only original member left in the band is vocalist Jon Oliva who fronted the group through their best work from Sirens to Streets, their first rock opera. Poets and Madmen is a great album for those seeking the overly bloated conceptual rock and roll voyages of the past such as Queen’s Innuendo. For those not seeking such things, well, then this album is probably best left gathering dust on the local record store racks. Savatage don’t play quite as fast or fully realized as they did on past offerings like “Hall of the Mountain King.”  Most of the songs are heavy (and I don’t necessarily mean guitar heavy at all times) in a sort of uninspired nod to Black Sabbath. Keyboard work is featured on most of the tracks with a major exception being the song “Drive” that pops up at the album’s half way point to give a good old fashioned straight forward loud rock and roll injection to the album right when it needs it most. This is the sort of album that stands quite strong on its own, but it pales in light of some of the bands classic works. That said, Savatage is holding up much better than many of their peers from the same era that still perform today. I’ll cite Metallica as an example. Savatage is kicking their Symphonic Metali-butts, I’’ll tell you that much.