Savatage - Hall of the mountain king
Those who thought that Savatage had gone soft with Fight for the rock only needed to listen to the first few seconds of 24 hrs. ago before that illusion is shattered. After Producer and Sava-saviour Paul O'Neill discovered the band, Savatage were quick to avenge their slight detour with this classic Heavy Metal album. Powerful is the keyword here and it feels like the band had been re-energized and were determined to show everybody their Metal roots while kicking some serious ass.

Hall of the mountain king was, and remains, the most aggressive Savatage album ever. All four members of the band do an outstanding job. Up front you have the challenging and virtuoso guitar playing of Cris Oliva (R.I.P.) and the insanely emotional screams of Jon Oliva, backed by the tightness of Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Steve "Doc" Wacholz on drums. Four musicians at a new start of their career and a god-sent producer make this is a total Metal attack. There are no ballads in sight on this album, just pure Heavy Metal.

The guitar work alone deserves a separate review with a 10/10 grade. Criss Oliva's guitar screams aggression, energy, melody, and above all, emotion. Of all the Savatage albums he appears on this one is my favorite guitar wise. Criss really outdoes himself and is all over the album, taking every chance to put in some kind of lead or other touch in the songs. No words are really sufficient to explain the feeling he puts into the notes. It is beyond amazing and has to be experienced. I can only sit with my mouth gaping open in a smile, thinking how much I would have loved to see this guy play live.

His brother, Jon Oliva is also a one of a kind singer. I will say that he is the most honest singer I have ever heard. He sings straight from the heart, never holding back, but giving himself 100% to the songs. Some of the things he tries on this album are very brave, and he gets away with them due to his ragged raw emotion, that won me over a long time ago.

24 hrs. ago is a pretty complex Savatage song compared to their earlier work. A very aggressive riff is almost shattered by Jon's raw voice, but the raging guitar holds up and through the rest of the song the two are screaming together. The last part where the bass lays a foundation for Criss to show off is a very cool ending to the song. A song for the road.

The opening moment of Beyond the doors of the dark has been etched in my mind since I first heard it many years ago. It perfectly captures Jon, using what I like to call his "wicked storyteller voice" to create a huge atmosphere. A perfect intro to a dark and foreboding song. My personal highlights being the great heavy riff, and the "Psychotic Jon section" where his contrasting voices create a really cool passage.

Legions opens with a cool bass line slowly being topped by Criss' guitar and Jon's overpowering scream. A song to the Savatage fans, and hearing Jon sing a line like "We're coming out tonight" makes me want to jump on the first plane to the U.S. to catch the band live. Of the three solos in this song my favorite is the second and longest, very beautiful and chilling.

Strange wings is extremely catchy and was the first song that really caught my interest. It has such a simple yet fantastic, powerful and melodic riff that I get an urge to play air guitar every time I hear it. The guitar work in this song is varied and just really impressive. The highlight being the climax with just guitar and drums. Totally genius. Ray Gillen appears on background vocals too.

Prelude before madness is a very fitting title for this Metallic version of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King", leading nicely to the title track, where pure madness does indeed ensue. Criss Oliva's chilling guitar lead before the first words are sung marks the perfect beginning to this Savatage classic. As he does in every song Jon Oliva gives himself 100% and plays his parts to the extreme. Nobody has ever made such insane screams and gotten away with it so well. During the verses he gives the song an epic feel by singing in a deeper voice than usual.

A favorite of mine is The price you pay. The whole song has a special feel, in part due to the powerful way Jon sings the lyrics. The riff in the verses gives a cool feeling to the song and again, so many things are going on guitarwise.

White witch can best be described as a fast adrenaline rush, which relates closely to the cocaine theme of the song. A good rocker, that would work great live, but not quite as interesting on record.

Last dawn is a short acoustic guitar piece by Criss and the only relaxing moment of the record. A nice breather before Devastation finishes the album on an epic note, with one of Criss' huge sweeping riffs during the verses lifting the song to higher ground. This song about the end of the word is a fitting end to this mighty Metal classic.

I have both the original release from 1987 and the re-release from 2002 from SPV. The new version has some very cool liner notes by Clay Marshall as well as the lyrics for the songs. Unfortunately it has not been remastered and the sound is similar to the original release. The production is also the only thing that could be better on the album. The sound is very deep and feels a little convoluted at times.

The songs are really what make the album so special and they have that timeless feel to them that defines a classic.

Written by Steen
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Show all reviews by Steen


Steen: 9/10

Members: 9.75/10 - Average of 2 ratings.

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This profile has not added a pictureYNGWIEVIKING

Rating: 10/10
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Profile pictureProfessorShred

Rating: 9.5/10
This album is 22 yrs old...and is as powerful and fresh as the time it was recorded. By fa... · Read more ·

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RevelationZ Comments

Comment by Mads J. (Anonymous) - Thursday, February 5, 2004
What a rush!!! Pure energy, emotion, nerve and amazing musicianship on this recording from start to finish, a masterpiece in other words!

Great review Steen, can't wait to scream these songs out loud later this month :)

Madness reigns...

Comment by Morten (Anonymous) - Thursday, February 5, 2004
Great album! Enough said!

Comment by Trans-Siberian Outcast (Anonymous) - Saturday, February 7, 2004
No doubt this one of the many great Sava albums. Gutter Ballet fits right up there with in Mountain King though.

Even better is the last Sava release, Poets and Madmen. It was great to have Jon back on vocals again, plus the natural progression of the band really made PaM my fave album of all time.

Comment by OmG (Anonymous) - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Comment by OmG (Anonymous) - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Comment by VonSeux (Anonymous) - Saturday, February 14, 2004
i desagree, this albums deserves a 10/10 with no excusses

an perfect example of how Metal should sound like

Comment by spanish24 (Anonymous) - Wednesday, May 5, 2004
another of many great savatage albums

9/10 for me too

Comment by ThraX (Member) - Tuesday, July 31, 2007
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Comments: 135
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Criss Oliva , the greatest guitar player ever when it comes to playing fast & emotional , this is what guitar playing is all about!

Posted by ThraX
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Comment by ThraX (Member) - Thursday, March 20, 2008
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Comments: 135
Ratings: 0
10/10 enough said!

Posted by ThraX
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Review by ProfessorShred (Member) - Tuesday, July 7, 2009
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Comments: 16
Ratings: 45
This album is 22 yrs old...and is as powerful and fresh as the time it was recorded. By far my favorite Savatage effort.
If it had today's production quality,surely would rate a 10/10.

Rating: 9.5/10

Posted by ProfessorShred
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Comment by YNGWIEVIKING (Member) - Monday, July 27, 2009
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Comments: 11
Ratings: 11
A Classic !
Their best even if i was a fan before and i'am still a SAVATAGE enthusiastic
I still remember the day i bought it ,when i put the vinyl on the turn table ...It was a, 22 years later ,i still love it very much !!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Review by Steen

Released by
Atlantic - 1987

01 - 24 hrs. ago
02 - Beyond the doors of the dark
03 - Legions
04 - Strange wings
05 - Prelude to madness
06 - Hall of the mountain king
07 - The price you pay
08 - White witch
09 - Last dawn (Instrumental)
10 - Devastation

Re-released in 2002 by SPV with two Bonus Tracks
11 - Hall of the mountain king (Live)
12 - Devastation (Live)

Heavy Metal

Related links
Visit the band page

Savatage - Official Website

Savatage Tour Diary - Chris Caffery's Tour Diary from their European tour in 2002

The Official Christopher Caffery Pages - The official Website of Christopher Caffery - Guitarist in Savatage. Check out the excellent tour diaries from the Savatage tours, an autobiography and more

Other articles
Streets - A Rock Opera - (Tommy)

Streets - A Rock Opera - (Steen)

Band information - (Tommy)

Gutter Ballet - (Steen)

Edge Of Thorns - (Tommy)

Interview with Jon Oliva - (Steen)

Sirens - Silver Anniversay Edition - (Steen)

Dead Winter Dead - (Tommy)

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