Often overlooked as part of the 80’s metal legacy, Savatage’s early work must go down as some of the most barbaric of the decade.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: The Dungeons Are Calling
LABEL: Music For Nations, Combat (USA)
SERIAL: MFN 42, MX 6016
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Jon Oliva – vocals, guitars * Criss Oliva – guitars * Keith Collins – bass * Steve ‘Doc’ Wacholz – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Dungeons Are Calling * 02 By The Grace Of The Witch * 03 Visions * 04 Midas Knight * 05 City Beneath The Surface * 06 The Whip * 07 Fighting For Your Love * 08 Sirens (Live)
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Often overlooked as part of the 80’s metal legacy simply because they never quite broke the upper tier of leading acts, Savatage’s early work must go down as some of the most barbaric of the decade. ‘The Dungeons Are Calling’ was Savatage’s second official release, a six track mini album, containing several tracks the band recorded as Avatar before the name change just before 1983’s ‘Sirens’ was released.
Prior to this members came and went more frequently than the sum of Sabbath and Heep combined, and the above lineup was the culmination of this activity. Savatage’s early rampages make Manowar look tame by comparison, the riffs straight from the gutter, and despite only six tracks this best represents how punishing early Savatage was, something that would lessen over the years.
This is simply an assault, taking one step further what Priest and company had been perfecting for years before. For 1984 it had already been heard and done by others, but this blows away most European acts plundering the same ‘true’ metal ground, many that have been reviewed here e.g Oz, Witchcross.
Instead here was a contender initially up against Iron Maiden, but with Savatage still in their youthful state they were producing the heaviest material they could. You all know what happens once age creeps in. The title track represents the whole album, crude riffs, chest beating vocals backed by a pounding rhythm section, that bass just jumps out at you. Truthfully it gets no more metal than this.
And once exposed to the speed and might of ‘The Whip’ your head will bang even if you thought you were too old or long past such activity! Keyboards are noticeable throughout, used for atmosphere, never getting in the way of the gallop of ‘Midas Knight’ of the brutality of ‘City Beneath The Surface’. ‘Visions’ rates as speed metal, and the fact is this type of metal does not exist anymore. This is the way metal was supposed to be handled, no ballads, just heads down riffing and heavy.
All of Savatage’s work up to ‘Gutter Ballet’ had this type of effect, minus ‘Fight For The Rock’, which wasn’t as bad as the critics like to claim. Somehow the band left this early aggression behind by the end of the 80’s and never regained it.
The death of Criss Oliva was a tragic blow in 1993 and although the band soldiered on for years afterwards it appears the Savatage tale is finally over, more success being found with side project The Trans Siberian Orchestra. Stuff that Christmas nonsense, I’ll take the sound of a young and mean metal band with a point to prove even if it was twenty three years ago.
The Dungeons Are Calling
By The Grace Of The Witch