Savatage - Edge Of Thorns
Savatage has in many ways pushed the boundaries of how Heavy Metal can sound like.
Edge Of Thorns is one of those albums where the degree of variation and sanity is extremely high, and yet there runs a thin tread through the record that binds things together like some sort of magic glue, resulting in something that could be described as a complete experience.
Edge Of Thorns is not as symphonic as the previous records Streets and Gutter Ballet, it's more direct, hard and wild. Still there are plenty of piano elements but they are not as much up front with the exception of a few tracks and the two instrumentals. This is Savatage sounding both refreshing and yet classic, a wonderful combination don't you think.

The majestic opening of Edge Of Thorns quickly sets the standard for the rest of the album, what an opening scene! The combination of a mind-blowing riff and soft piano passages melts into a divine mixture. Everything about this song works 100%, just listen to the over the top solo part, the huge chorus, fantastic pounding bass, bombastic drumming and a lyric that touches the deepest core of your soul. This is the work of gods.

He Carves His Stone starts out very gloomy and then slowly builds up before exploding with a massive driving guitar riff. Vocalist Zak Stevens debut is one of the finest I can think of, his vigorous and yet unique and magical soft voice just reflects all the right emotions in just the right way. Criss Oliva's (R.I.P.) fast and thrilling guitar playing is the best thing about this otherwise great song, without doubt my all time favourite guitarist, this regretfully being his last album and his last carving of a stone that will shine forever.

Lights Out is short but very welcome swift banger. Lots of energy and unbound force released by effective "right in your face measures". I find the minor bombastic chorus inputs really fantastic; it gives the song even more intensity. The drums and bass collaborates really well on this one, almost jamming in style and the lead guitar playing is totally awesome.

With Skraggy's Tomb we are offered another atmospheric and slow start as in He Carves His Stone. This mid-tempo rocker has a cool grooving element but doesn't quite have the same driving dynamic as in so many of the other tracks. All in all a good song with another fine solo.

There are certain musical passages that leave me with an indefinable special feeling, something that reaches deep within and puts me into a very pleasant world just for a while. The slow beginning of Labyrinths is one of those special moments, this nicely balanced piano/guitar piece gets me every time, what an atmosphere.

One of the best things about Follow Me is the fantastic use of slower and more aggressive parts.
The sedative ending section where Criss playfully shows his genius mind for innovativeness is completely breathtaking, an extremely well put together and awesome track.

Exit Music is a three minute piano track, its hard to describe but the mood and flow of the song is almost hypnotic, its just so clam and soft, very suiting for curing stress. Jon Oliva's flair for great piano melodies has always been there and this is a very fine moment.

Degrees Of Sanity is a rather complex track that demonstrates the diversity of the music on this record. I really dig the extremely powerful bass approach on this one, as goes for the aggressive mid-section featuring technical drumming and another brilliant and intriguing guitar solo.

Conversation Piece is one of my absolute favourites; the direct guitar riff could tear down any wall, wow what an impact of pure strength. Zak's impressive vocal interpretation brilliantly matches the fantastic and heartfelt lyric. The way the rhythm guitar is supplemented with secondary underlying chords once again shows Criss abilities, not to mention the soaring solo.
The sorrowful, moving and identifiable story is extremely well written, few words can say a lot.

When taking about climaxes, All That I Bleed is in a league of it's own. There is no other way than to surrender to this masterpiece of a Metal ballad. The magical and emotional intro slowly elevates and with the lines lord bring on the night, wrap it all around me, let it hold me tight, soak up all that I bleed we are offered music and lyrics that send shivers down the spine in a way never felt before.

Damien is one of the few songs on this release not quite reaching the divine spectrum. The chorus lacks some spark and the basic rhythm is not the most thrilling either. Some of the best elements are Zak's powerful voice, the piano break and the laid-back guitar solo.

Miles Away, another spectacular masterpiece. The sedative intro sets the perfect stage for the liberating break brought forth by an awesome guitar riff.
This very melodic track contains an inner vibe of freedom and positivism both lyrically and musically, the whole construction beautifully and impressively held up by Zak's divine voice. A cool detail is the moody keys at the end making things even more epic.

Sleep is a very mesmerizing acoustic guitar/vocal combination, performed with the skills that pushes it just that bit further. Man, have I heard this one many times as the last thing before I closed the lights at night. The more intense section fits in really well just before the calmness sets in for the sedative closing act.

Even though the guitar, piano and vocals are very important and leading elements, one should not neglect the ultra solid and very vivid bass (Johnny Lee Middleton) and drum effort (Steve Wacholz), extremely powerful and well-played stuff.

It's difficult to explain just how much this album means to me both musically and lyrically. Above I have tried to go through the musical side of the whole thing, but the lyrics are of great importance too. First of the amazing poetical style reaches celestial dimensions, and the themes of the songs are thrilling and extremely meaningful and important, filled with fascinating metaphors and innovative constructions. Paul O'Neill's talent really shines in so many of these amazing lines.

I'll leave you with a few words describing the production: Tight, transparent, powerful, perfect.

This is a timeless gem that I'm drawn towards over and over, an enchanting and profoundly striking piece of art.

Written by Tommy
Sunday, May 2, 2004
Show all reviews by Tommy


Tommy: 9.5/10

Members: 8.25/10 - Average of 4 ratings.

Member ratings

Profile pictureSteen (Staff)

Rating: 8/10
Lights out and Skraggy's tomb are definitely not my favo... · Read more ·
Profile pictureLittle Drummer Boy

Rating: 9/10
No review was posted
Profile picturenotrap

Rating: 8.5/10
This record brings back good memories. Savatage was always very unique in the metal scene... · Read more ·
Profile pictureProfessorShred

Rating: 7.5/10
Great album... Hall of the Mtn King still my Fav... · Read more ·

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RevelationZ Comments

Comment by fabricio (Anonymous) - Sunday, May 9, 2004
we all miss Oliva... :/

Comment by verdelak (Anonymous) - Sunday, August 1, 2004
Yes, this is good, considering Jon is missing. After Chris died though, forget about it. They're just another loser poser band now. That's too bad.

Comment by Zak Fan! (Anonymous) - Sunday, November 14, 2004
This is my favorite album of all time!....The passionate guitar playing from Criss Oliva is just overwhelming (This is the greatest guitaring album ever!!!)....And Zak Stevens all I can say is "WOW!!!!" amazing vocals that spwe emotion in every lyric sumg!....And Jon Oliva as always is genius!!!....This album is and will always will be an 11 out of 10!!!!!!!!

Comment by Matt (Anonymous) - Wednesday, February 23, 2005
I found the music very unorigonal and the lyrics lame at times. The vocalist constantly repeating his words in a country music manner realy irritated me. And other than that there is nothing that this band does better than any other. I would say this album is average at best, with the odd catchy tune and solo.

Comment by TyleX (Anonymous) - Tuesday, April 5, 2005
This is the greatest album ever.......Vocally & guitar playing are just top notch in every essence of the word BRILLIANT!!!!......Matt you're an idiot with no sense of music ability!

Comment by ThraX (Member) - Sunday, March 11, 2007
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Comments: 135
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....A PERFECT 10/10

Posted by ThraX
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Comment by Madness Reigns (Anonymous) - Friday, July 20, 2007
criss oliva is definitely on of the guitar gods in thw history of the metal along with randy rhoades and malmsteen.....but criss oliva done wht no one did in only 10 years and he even didnt take guitar lessons he just taught hi self.........(RIP)criss oliva

Comment by VeX (Member) - Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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I see there are some mixed reviews for "Edge Of Thorns" which is understandable having a new vocalist (Zak Stevens) at the time. I was a huge Savatage fan before this album and I was bummed when I heard Jon Oliva wasn't the lead vocalist an longer. I was bummed until I heard the brilliant vocals of Zak Stevens who blew me away, and to be honest I prefer his vocals over Jon Oliva's (Although I do love Jon's. although Jon has really lost his vocal range over the years) This album is a 10/10 which is weird because there are 2 songs on this album I don't really care for which are "Lights Out" and "Skraggy's Tomb" but the other songs are so amazing I have to give this album a 10/10. Criss' guitar playing is amazing, blending speed with emotion and anger with beauty. This may be the greatest guitaring album in history of music.

Posted by VeX
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review by Steen (Staff) - Wednesday, November 10, 2004
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Comments: 518
Lights out and Skraggy's tomb are definitely not my favourites. They are in fact two of my least favourite Savatage songs ever. But other than that this album is brilliant.

Edge of thorns has had a hard time with me since I was shocked when I found out that Jon Oliva wasn't singing anymore. I have always preferred the way Jon Oliva perfectly fits the music and feeling of Savatage and after Streets it was hard to see him leave the seat for someone who, to my ears, didn't have the same ability to create the "Savatage feeling" of earlier albums.

Then I got quite annoyed at all the "yeahh's" that Zak makes throughout the album. They are in almost every song and started getting on my nerves back then. But slowly the album has grown to be another little Savatage gem which should be in any collection. Slowly I also accepted that Zak was going to be the new Savatage singer and today I love all his work in Savatage. Through the years his voice has gotten better and better and his presence in Savatage has helped the band reach out to many new fans. So looking back I must say that Zak has been one of the best things to happen in the Savatage history.

Edge of thorns, He carves his stone, All that I bleed, Conversation piece and Follow me are Savatage classics and among my favourite Savatage tracks ever (That list is a long one though :)

Even though I've done it before I still want to hail Criss Oliva as the greatest guitar player that ever walked this earth. His playing on this album is beyond amazing.

This is a good album to start with if you don't know Savatage yet, though if you really want to start the right way then I'd recommend you go out at get Gutter Ballet with Jon Oliva on the vocals.

This band has everything.

Rating: 8/10

Posted by Steen (Staff)
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Review by notrap (Member) - Friday, September 25, 2009
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Comments: 55
Ratings: 66
This record brings back good memories.
Savatage was always very unique in the metal scene.
The "Oliva" brothers (Criss RIP) were always regarded with respect by the audiences, critics and other bands.
Zachary "Zak" Stevens was a good surprise. His performance on the title track is excellent.
Special credits to Edge Of Thorns; Degrees Of Sanity and Damien

Edge Of Thorns is definitely a good record.

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted by notrap
Friday, September 25, 2009

Review by ProfessorShred (Member) - Friday, September 3, 2010
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Comments: 16
Ratings: 45
Great album...
Hall of the Mtn King still my Fav

Rating: 7.5/10

Posted by ProfessorShred
Friday, September 3, 2010

Review by Tommy

Released by
Edel - 1993

1. Edge Of Thorns
2. He Carves His Stone
3. Lights Out
4. Skraggy's Tomb
5. Labyrinths
6. Follow Me
7. Exit Music
8. Degrees Of Sanity
9. Conversation Piece
10. All That I Bleed
11. Damien
12. Miles Away
13. Sleep

Bonus Track
14. Believe

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)

Hall of the mountain king - (Steen)

Interview with Jon Oliva - (Steen)

Sirens - Silver Anniversay Edition - (Steen)

Dead Winter Dead - (Tommy)

Z supported shopping

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4 - Below average
5 - Average
6 - Good
7 - Very good
8 - Outstanding
9 - Genius
10 - Masterpiece
666 - Unrated

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