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Savatage - "Sirens (Silver Anniversary Collection) Re-release"
Metal Blade Records 2002

After their brief return to metal battlefield in 2001, Savatage, the leading U.S. symphonic power metal band went to next millennium with all guns blazing. Among the creation of the new studio album, live performances, band changes etc. they figured that it would be nice to refresh the old memories and to re-master some old works. So, they put out those which were released by SPV, from "Power Of The Night" to "The Edge Of Thorns". Meanwhile, they decided that "Sirens" and "Dungeons Are Calling" deserve different treating as they were the first two albums in their history. Both are now fully re-mastered with bonus and hidden tracks, including their history and different cover.

The old Savatage, those before "Hall Of The Mountain King", were a mystery to me. Mainly because they were extremely rare here in Slovenia, so I was praised when I got their legendary debut album "Sirens". It is now 20 years, since they released this masterwork for every real fan of Savas.

What about music? I knew that they had a different style before "Gutter Ballet", more in a way of U.S. power metal from eighties than the symphonic orientation of nowadays which was brought up by their manager Paul O` Neil. But even then they had very unique style of playing. The credit goes to indescribable guitarist Criss Oliva (R.I.P.) and of course to his older brother Jon, a singer with entirely unique voice. Musically they were both ahead of their time. The other members of the band along with the Oliva bros, were Steve Doc Wacholz and bass-guitarist Keith Collins, which was later replaced by Johnny Lee Middleton. It was the original line-up which was reunited for a very short time in 1993, during the memorial live performances for Criss.

There are immortal classics like "Sirens", "Holocaust" and "Scream Murder", along with songs that deserve a closer look. Yet on this album Criss showed extreme potential, while he dazzled some original riffs along with solos which were brought to perfection. There is no resignation between songs, so typical for debut albums of old school metal, so I quickly fell in love with all of them. Especially the song "Rage" really kicks ass (of those I did not know before) as it is sharp and speedy. The same thing is with the rest of songs. There is only one, two if you count the hidden tracks, where they slowed down the atmosphere. Bonus tracks, maiden-oriented "Target" and "Living On The Edge Of Time" are not anything special due to the style of other songs, but both impressive if you look on them as single tracks. I was more surprised by the fact that there is also a song "Out In The Streets" on re-released "Fight For The Rock" album, I dunno why.

When I almost took the album out of my sound system, something suddenly happened. It started to pass track by track until it finally stopped at number 99. And then there was this hidden and untitled song. Not surprisingly, it was nice acoustic song, performed by Criss, which somehow brought back many memories to my mind. Oh, and I almost forgot - a great cover picture with angry hobbits, one of my favourites from this band. "Sirens" is normally an immortal classic of for me still the greatest U.S. power metal and I hope that will last forever. I also expect of other great oldschoolers, that they will decide to refresh their roots.

Author:   Peter

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