Archive for power metal

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Savatage- Hall of the Mountain King

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2022 by 80smetalman

“Hall of the Mountain King” is the album which thrust Savatage into the spotlight of the heavy metal world. It is definitely a redeeming album for the band after the misstep that was “Fight for the Rock.” While, that album wasn’t as bad as many might say, it is nothing in comparison to the 1987 “Hall of the Mountain King.” This is a fantastic album hands down and the only album from the 1980s to make it into the top five of my favourite Savatage albums list.

My thought as to why this album was so successful is that they went back to what they did on the 1985 “Power of the Night” album. When I posted about that album, I stated that it was a blueprint for the iconic album I am posting about right now.

Savatage comes roaring out of the starting blocks with “24 Hours Ago” and it is clear that they aren’t going to take any prisoners. They are definitely firing on all cylinders here. That carries on with “Beyond the Doors of the Dark,” a no nonsense what we would call these days, power metal tune. Jon Oliva shrieks his way through the song but it sounds right with it. The shredding of brother Criss takes this track to even more dizzier heights. But better is yet to come!

All the things I wrote about Johnny Lee Middleton’s bass playing on the previous album goes even further here. He starts out “Legions of the Night” with a great bass line and combined with Criss’s six-string magic, make a lethal cocktail of cool heavy metal. Jon keeps his vocals shriek free but sings in a more raspier way and it works very well. Oh, did I mention how well Criss shreds on it?

That party is kept well and truly going on the following track “Strange Wings.” This goes more in the vein of what some would consider ‘traditional’ Savatage. This song would have been at home on any Savatage album and the best track on at least one. It’s a very strong melodic metal tune with all the key elements I have been writing about on the other tracks thus far.

Things take a breather on “Prelude to Madness.” It’s an instrumental and if those who want to categorize heavy metal into subgenres, then this is one of the first songs I would classify as progressive metal. Keyboards are brought in and they complement the track, especially as Criss does what Criss does best on it. Now, I’m not sure if the band meant it to happen but I think “Prelude to Madness” is the perfect intro to the title track and in my opinion, the best track on the album. It takes power metal and progressive metal, (okay, I’m using terms unheard of back in 1987), and blend them together to make one hell of a great song. Not only does Criss shred away here but his rhythm guitar spot in the middle of the song is just mind blowing. Jon’s shrieks are accompanied by a sinister laugh and the rhythm section is especially tight. Definitely a brilliant song, though I might be biased. Here’s the funny thing, even though it’s the best song on the album, it only comes in fourth in my favourite Savatage songs of all time list.

While the title track might be the best track, the remaining four tracks don’t take the album down in any way. “The Price You Pay” is a good solid song which keeps things ticking along nicely. Again, the band does everything right on it. However, things take an upturn, if that’s possible, on “White Witch.” This is the fastest track on the album with some great riffing from guess who? The bass and drums keep a pounding pace and I sometimes think that maybe Jon’s voice was more suited to songs like this. This is the one Savatage song which could get a mosh pit going. Following on is a short instrumental in which we get to hear Criss at his best before a very apt closer in “Devastation.” To quote song: “We should have listened to what Christ had to say.” There’s nothing new I can say about the track except it just ends the album extremely well.

Track Listing:

  1. 24 Hours Ago
  2. Beyond the Doors of the Dark
  3. Legions
  4. Strange Wings
  5. Prelude to Madness
  6. Hall of the Mountain King
  7. The Price You Pay
  8. White Witch
  9. Last Dawn
  10. Devastation

Jon Oliva- ‘The Grit’ vocals, piano

Criss Oliva- ‘The Crunch’ guitars

Johnny Lee Middleton- ‘The Thunder’ bass, backing vocals

Steve Wacholz- ‘Doctor Killdrums’ drums, percussion

There’s no denying I am a huge Savatage fan. Though I had heard of the band, it was “Hall of the Mountain King” which made me the big fan I am today. Of course, their other great albums help as well.

Next post: Battlezone- Children of Madness

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Helloween- Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2021 by 80smetalman

Back in 1987, there weren’t so many subgenres of heavy metal. Sure, there was glam metal and there was thrash. Anything in between was considered simply to be mainstream metal. While all these subdivisions normally send my head into a spin, in the case of Helloween and their album “Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I,” the term ‘power metal’ fits perfectly. Some called them thrash back then because they did play faster than mainstream metal bands such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. However, they weren’t in the same area as Slayer or Anthrax either. Plus, their image would have been more in line of what is considered the traditional heavy metal look. Therefore, I can say that this album was the first power metal album I listened to.

After short introductory opener in line with their previous album, “Walls of Jericho,” the album goes speeding through the next three tracks. The question of how new singer, Michael Kiske, would sound on the album is quickly answered. He was brought on board because Karl Hansen stepped away from vocal duties as he found it difficult to sing and play guitar at the same time. On a separate note, that explains why good shredders such as Dave Mustaine and Mille Petrozza demoted themselves to rhythm guitar. Anyway, those songs cast aside any worry that Kiske wouldn’t be up to the job as his vocals are just superb. Another positive from Karl stepping down from vocals is his being able to solely concentrate on guitar results in some great solos, especially on “Twilight of the Gods” where he and Michael Weikath do a cool guitar solo tradeoff.

Helloween must have recognized that we the listeners needed a short break after those opening songs as things slow right down for the ballad, “A Tale That Wasn’t Right.” It’s a decent power ballad but not totally mind blowing. The band do everything right here, vocals, bass line and a cool guitar solo but it doesn’t catapult it into greatness as far as great power ballads go. However, following “A Tale That Wasn’t Right” is the best song on the album, “Future World.” Lyrically, it sounds like a song for kid’s show and with some of the laser sound effects in the middle, it sounds like it even more. But with the great power chords and massive guitar solos, it is a phenomenal song.

What I hate about listening to the album on Youtube is the fact that the only the cut for video portion of “Halloween” is played. Therefore, eight minutes are cut from this thirteen minute long blockbuster. Fortunately, I have that full length version of this great song elsewhere, which makes up for it. Even though “Halloween” is so long in length, the constant changes in tempo and swirling guitar solos as well as the power chords make it no less interesting. The other good thing is that after such a long song, the album goes out very appropriately with a closer that is less than two minutes long.

Track Listing:

  1. Initiation
  2. I’m Alive
  3. A Little Time
  4. Twilight of the Gods
  5. A Tale That Wasn’t Right
  6. Future World
  7. Halloween
  8. Follow the Sign
Helloween

Michael Kiske- vocals

Karl Hansen- guitar, backing vocals

Michael Weikath- guitar, keyboards and backing vocals

Marcus Groskopf- bass, backing vocals

Ingo Schwichtenberg- drums

I figure that if “Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part I” was my introduction to power metal, then I have had a great introduction. Thank you Helloween.

Next post: Black n Blue- Nasty Nasty

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com