All in all, this album was a notable change for Savatage, and though not their best release, it set them on their way.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Hall Of The Mountain King
SERIAL: 7 81775-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Jon Oliva – vocals, piano * Criss Oliva – guitars * Johnny Lee Middleton – bass, backing vocals * Steve Wacholz – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 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 * 10 Devastation
WEBLINKS: Site Link
1987 was the year I first started taking an interest in Florida metallers Savatage. But it wasn’t this album that set things underway. It was the band’s two prior albums: ‘Power Of The Night’ (1985) and ‘Fight For The Rock’ (1986).
Living in NZ at the time, Savatage’s earlier material was made available through local importers, so labels such as independent Music For Nations and Roadrunner all had their LP’s sold locally, which meant a vast array of metal bands had exposure to Kiwi metalheads.
Admittedly, a lot of those mostly 2nd or 3rd tier bands were absoluterubbish, but Savatage were fairly classy epic metal, and stood out from the pack. I didn’t get to ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ until many years later, and it would signal the band’s move to progressive metal, away from their old school metal origins, with darker and classical themes now the prevailing style.
The cover jacket is pretty epic too, though the bloke on the front cover has obviously been to a gym while auditioning for roles in any number of Superhero (a.k. a. Marvel Comics) movies!
Savatage were introduced to their new producer on this album, Paul O’Neill, who would become a permanent fixture in the band’s recording environment over the next fifteen years. The first side of the LP is mostly typical heavy metal of the day. Jon Oliva’s power vocals preside over the album like a Boss, his shrill upper register parts standing out in particular.
’24 Hours Ago’ is a bit of a gut-wrencher, while ‘Strange Wings’ is steeped in atmospheric tones, Criss Oliva’s guitar-work drenched in reverb for this one. Also, for this album, we saw the introduction of classical elements from traditional composers such as Gustav Holst (The Planets) and Norwegian Edvard Greig (Peer Gynt Suite).
This is notable on side two of the LP, with songs such as the instrumental ‘Prelude To Madness’ (Holst) and the title-track ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ (Greig). The band get back to a faster form of 80’s metal with ‘White Witch’, followed by the ballad ‘Last Dawn’.
All in all, this album was a notable change for Savatage, and though not their best release, it set them on their way. ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ would make it to #116 on the Billboard Charts, not enough to threaten Bon Jovi or Def Leppard in their positions at the top of the table. The next brace of Savatage albums through the late 80’s and early 90’s are also worth checking out.
The band ventured into rock opera territory with ‘Streets’ (1991), plus there are a couple of decent CD’s either side of that with ‘Gutter Ballet’ (1989) and ‘Edge Of Thorns’ (1993). Both SPV/Steamhammer and Ear Music (out of Germany) have released some reissues of late, but I have yet to see a good quality Japanese re-master of this one.
Hall Of The Mountain King