Savatage - Sirens - Silver Anniversay Edition
Back in 1983 an American band called Avatar made their first three-track EP, City Beneath the Surface. Soon after they were forced to change their name and guitarist Criss Oliva's girlfriend came up with Savatage. Thus a legend was born. The same year they released their debut album Sirens, a Heavy Metal album filled with intensity and primal urges.

Savatage is a band that has developed a lot through their more than 20 years on the scene. I would say that Sirens shows them from their most "brutal caveman-like"-side, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The rawness and eagerness of the band appeals to me. Especially with the later, more polished albums it is interesting to go back and listen to this, where the band creates the foundation of their sound with simple means.

Guitar genius Criss Oliva is a big part of the special Savatage sound. He is constantly engaged in the music in some way, be it a riff, a fill or a small twist on the melody lines. It never gets boring to listen to him play. He fuses his solos and riffs with a special emotion I have not found anywhere else. Along with his brother and lead singer Jon Oliva they make up the main songwriters and are the driving force behind the band. Jon Oliva's voice may take a little time to get used to, but once you discover the many layers his voice has you will never tire of listening to him sing. That is the case for me anyway. The rythm section is nice and tight with Keith Collins on bass playing a major part is several songs and drummer Steve Wacholz as the firm anchorman of the band.

I will comment on a few of my absolute favorites.

Sirens is the defining moment on the album. A very very cool riff lays the foundation on which Jon Oliva sings this horror story. The song is short, to the point and delivers a headbanging punch. I really love Criss Oliva's fills, which change with every second line and this song is the perfect excuse to bring out your air guitar. The song slows down for a quick breath of air before inventing what would later become a classic Savatage trademark, the insane Oliva scream. The chimes add an extra layer to the sound, especially in the end where it feels as if they tease the guitar. Overall this is an inventive and insanely cool beginning to the album.

Holocaust is a futuristic vision of hell on earth. The song has a good atmosphere due to the ominous riff next to Steve Wacholz' precise drumming and of course the air-raid siren. The highlight of the song is the guitar playing, which has lots of detail and changes with each chorus and of course Jon's wild singing.

After the thundering end of Holocaust the story continues in I believe where a quiet guitar section sets a different mood alltogether. Jon sings with raw emotion about leaving earth and suddenly the song picks up speed with a crazy and really brilliant guitar solo. The following section has a great drive, provided by the union of fast guitar riffs and drumming along with a tight bass section. A volcano-like scream leads into the third guitar solo of the song and its frenzied ending where Criss Oliva lets all systems go.

It's time to go back to Jon Oliva's slightly twisted reality in Twisted Little Sister. With lyrics like "Sweet tasting sister, love what you do to my head" and rhymes like "I tried suicide, little sister ride" the sexual undertones, which pervade many early Savatage songs, come to life in all their masochistic g(l)ory. I find the lyrics very inventive and funny and often think, "How the hell did he come up with that?". This is a pretty simple song made interesting by several twists along the way and it is a nice forerunner of She's In Love from Gutter Ballet as well as Skull Session from Power of The Night. The bass also plays a main part in the song which is nice to hear.

Scream Murder is another favorite. Jon Oliva's vocal performance is varied and he sounds like a madman through most of the song. He brings a whole other level of intensity to the song and you can easily picture the song in your mind. The amazing part with Jon's insane scream leads directly into a fantastic guitar solo is the absolute highlight of the song. A headbanging nod goes out to the great bass playing in this section too. Vocal performances like in this song is why I have always thought that Jon Oliva was the perfect singer for Savatage. His voice is unique and he always gives himself 100%.

More basic, down to earth songs include the hard and fast Rage and the heavy couple On the run and Living for the Night. Similar for the songs is that the guitarwork is amazing, but the songs lack that extra Savatage touch to make them really special and I they don't keep my attention on repeated listens.

Out On The Streets is the ballad of the album and it is also one of my least favorite Savatage ballads. It just lacks that certain something which songs like In The Dream, Summer's Rain and When The Crowd Are Gone have. Still Criss Oliva's emotional guitar soloing is worth the price of admission.

This Silver Anniversay Edition contains a beefed up sound as well as three bonus tracks, especially the acoustic guitar piece by Criss is cool. I lived with the original Sirens album for a long time and this new release is definitely still worth the purchase.

Sirens is not as innovative as later Savatage albums, but it has the power, the rawness and the intensity to make a big impression. So if you have not heard it yet, then call this an excuse to check it out.

Written by Steen
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
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Steen: 7/10

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Rating: 5.5/10
I bought recently Sirens+The Dungeons Are Calling: The Complete Session (both recorded at ... · Read more ·

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Comment by ThraX (Member) - Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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I agree with your review except Jon's voice does get annoying to me, But Criss' guitar playing is just magic even in this raw form, you can tell there is something really special about savatage from this album and they progressed hugely over the years, I like that about Savatage & Fates Warning that there is a progression in every album to get the greatness and musical genius' both bands have become!...6/10

Posted by ThraX
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review by notrap (Member) - Sunday, May 15, 2011
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I bought recently Sirens+The Dungeons Are Calling: The Complete Session (both recorded at the same time by the way)
I kinda like the rawness of their debut. Pure, honest almost a demo-tape.

Sirens special credits: Sirens and Holocost
The Dungeons Are Calling special credits: Title track and By the Grace of the Witch
(The Dungeons Are Calling has the worst Savatage song: The Whip)

With Dungeons Are Calling and By the Grace of the Witch, Sirens had been better.

Rating: 5.5/10

Posted by notrap
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review by Steen

Released by
Music For Nations - 1983

01. Sirens 3:40
02. Holocaust 4:36
03. I Believe 5:28
04. Rage 2:40
05. On The Run 3:31
06. Twisted Little Sister 3:38
07. Living For The Night 3:20
08. Scream Murder 3:50
09. Out On The Streets 5:11

Re-released in 2002 by Metal Blade

Silver Anniversary edition bonus tracks:
10. Target (Demo)
11. Living On The Edge Of Time (Demo)
99. Hidden track - Criss Oliva Acoustic

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)

Edge Of Thorns - (Tommy)

Interview with Jon Oliva - (Steen)

Dead Winter Dead - (Tommy)

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