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Savatage - Hall Of The Mountain King CD (album) cover

HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING

Savatage

 

Progressive Metal

3.88 | 133 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Hall of the Mountain King" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in September 1987. It features the same lineup who recorded "Fight for the Rock (1986)". Both "Sirens (1983)" and "Power of the Night (1985)" were well received by fans and critics alike, but failed to give Savatage a commercial breakthrough, and Atlantic Records therefore put pressure on the band to write and release a more mainstream oriented album, which they did with "Fight for the Rock (1986)". "Fight for the Rock (1986)" didn´t provide the band with the expected commercial success though, and in addition to that failure, the fans and the critics turned on the band. Lead vocalist Jon Oliva has since pointed at those issues as the beginning of his problems with depression, and drug and alcohol abuse.

It´s therefore no surprise that the music on "Hall Of The Mountain King" is harder edged heavy/power metal more in the vein of the first two albums than in the vein of the more mainstream oriented heavy rock/metal style of "Fight for the Rock (1986)". But while they´ve "gone back to the roots" on "Hall Of The Mountain King", they´ve also developed their sound and the sophistication of the track arrangements is quite high compared to the early releases.

The musicianship is on a high level on all posts. A pounding organic rhythm section, Jon Oliva´s distinct sounding raw vocal delivery, and a lead guitarist extraordinaire in Criss Oliva. Especially the latter´s playing is brilliant on this album. Hard edged riffs and blistering solos and melody work. The band also use piano/keyboards as atmosphere enhancement. Savatage obviously felt they had something to prove to the fans and the critics, and prove it they did. There´s a burning passion and great conviction to the performances on "Hall Of The Mountain King" that are probably born out of the hunger to prove yourself. Judging by the bite and conviction behind the delivery on the album it would seem that past failure is a strong motivation factor for future success.

The material on the 10 track, 39:26 minutes long album is hard edged and at times quite sophisticated heavy/US power metal. When most adventurous it would even be valid to call some parts of the music progressive. The best example is the instrumental "Prelude To Madness", which serves as an intro to the title track. "Prelude To Madness" includes parts of pieces by the classical composers Edward Grieg and Gustav Holst. The progressive element is only secondary on the album though. "Hall Of The Mountain King" has a dark atmosphere which runs through it and even a track like "Strange Wings", which features some mainstream leanings, is quite gloomy. It´s not a depressive or melancholic album though and you´ll still be exposed to hard rocking riffs, intense screaming vocals, and overall just great energetic power. It´s hard to pick out highligts, because the album doesn´t feature any low points or sub par material, but some of the standout tracks are "24 Hrs. Ago", "Beyond the Doors of the Dark", "Legions", and the title track. The strongly Iron Maiden influenced "Devastation" is also worth a mention.

The band brought in Paul O´Neill to produce "Hall Of The Mountain King" and it turned out to be the beginning of a long marriage, as O´Neill has often since been called the "secret" member of Savatage. The sound production is powerful, raw, and detailed, and fits perfectly with the material. So this is one of those releases where everything come together to make an almost perfect whole. High level musicianship and passionate performances, intriguing songwriting, and a well sounding production. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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