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Review of the Album "Hall of the Mountain King" by American Heavy Metal Band Savatage

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

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A Brief Introduction to the Band Savatage

Savatage is an American heavy metal band that has or had brothers Jon and Criss (Christopher) Oliva in it and their 4th album "Hall of the Mountain King" was the first album that I heard from these guys in the 2000’s and I was impressed with the quality of the music that I heard. Hall of the Mountain King was released in 1987 and has powerful vocals that are high pitched and make sense. Jon Oliva’s high pitched vocals are in pitch and I think he shows that he is really a good fit for this band. Jon and Criss Oliva’s time in the band would be short lived because Criss would die in 1993 due to an automobile accident.

The Songs 24 Hrs. Ago, Beyond the Doors of the Dark and Jon Oliva's Vocals

The first song called 24 Hrs. Ago is a song about someone that is fed up with the way that his life is going and he wants to escape this old life of his and create a new life that better suits him. He is so angry that he packs up his suitcase, kicks down the door and sits behind the wheel speeding towards his new life. He is determined to forget about what happened in his past and he is looking forward to a better future. Beyond the Doors of the Dark is a song about what happens when someone is possessed by demons. Once someone is possessed by a strange and powerful force, they will meet their doom soon if they are not careful. Jon Oliva has high pitched screams similar to Mark Boals but Mark Boals has a higher pitched voice and scream.

Hall of the Mountain King Also Has Two Instrumental Songs

The song Legions begins with some bass guitar followed by lead guitar that really sets up the rest of the song. Lyrically, the song is similar to songs written by folk metal band Ensiferum. There is a chance that these guys may have influenced Ensiferum. Meanwhile, Jon Oliva lets out a pretty long scream where he says “ahhhhhhhhh!” He also says yeah as the lead guitar picks up. The song is about coming out as a large group, joining forces and praying for safety. Strange Wings is a good hard rock style song about a creature with black wings that flies through the sky and she can take control of human souls. She is like a harpy creature that can mesmerize someone. Prelude to Madness is an instrumental song that has the sound of thunder and symphonic keyboards playing in it to create an atmosphere that is not at all like the hard rock sound that we hear in the previous song. The song then becomes more classically influenced and the lead guitar speeds up really fast but it is exciting.

"Legions"

What is So Special About Jon Oliva as a Vocalist?

Hall of the Mountain King is a song about a king that is in a castle of stone and there is much madness in this castle. He guards that stone castle so well and he is so powerful that people have to hide from him. The song sounds like a Judas Priest song that we would hear in the 1990’s. Jon Oliva lets out a sort of hideous laugh which contributes to his greatness as a vocalist.

He does these short screams in the song called Beyond the Doors of the Dark. For some people, hell may be their destiny because they have sinned so much. Savatage however is too heavy to be considered a hard rock band in the literal sense so I would classify them as a standard heavy metal band with fast, shredding solos.

Songs The Price You Pay, White Witch, Last Dawn, & Devastation

The Price You Pay has one of my favorite riffs in this album. Jon Oliva shows that he also has a very good low voice. When we chase our goals and dreams in life, there is a price to pay because sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t. My love for life or writing will never cease! The Judas Priest influence continues into the song White Witch. Anyone that touches or tries to feel this witch will only be poisoned and their soul will be possessed. The White Witch may be in reference to the evil witch in the land of Narnia in the C.S. Lewis book The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.Next comes another instrumental song called Last Dawn which is exclusively an acoustic song. The last song called Devastation is a song about being prepared because the world is coming to an end. I hear a distinct Iron Maiden influence in this song as well as “The Four Horsemen” kind of riff in the middle of the song. Hall of the Mountain King is very solid release from this American heavy metal band.

"Strange Wings"

Favorite song on Hall of the Mountain King

"The Price You Pay"

Why is the Album Cover So Great?

The album’s cover is descriptive and very appropriate. It shows the king sitting in his throne. He is using powers of lightning to get access to two Holy Grails. There is a small ax on the floor as well as a treasure chest with lots of gold in it. This king is rich and powerful and he even has a dagger to use should he need to. He has so much power that many people fear him. This is easily one of the best album covers I have seen.

Rate the album Hall of the Mountain King

"24 Hrs. Ago"

© 2017 Ara Vahanian

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