Hall Of The Mountain King


Atlantic Records, 1987


REVIEW BY: Bill Ziemer


Today's entry definitely falls into the "forgotten bands" category. Formed in Florida by Jon and Criss Oliva in 1979, they began their music career as Avatar before switching to Savatage some time later.

Savatage was always a cult band, never fitting well into any real category. (Which is why I like them so much.) They were a bit too hard for mainstream radio, and too overproduced for the metalheads to get into. In 1987 they released my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hall Of The Mountain King, the favorite of many Savatage fans.

If you're not into the heavier side of music, this album is not for you. Jon Oliva's strident vocals on "24 Hours Ago" sets the tone that will be present for most of the album: Heavy, aggressive, and powerful. Lyrically, Hall Of The Mountain King is your standard metal fare. "Beyond The Doors Of The Dark" and "Legions" are typical tales of mystery and evil. Not that this should turn you away. After all, most metalheads would agree that lyrical content is secondary to music that you can head bang to.

No problem. Hall Of The Mountain King is happy to oblige. The rhythm section of "Doc" Wacholz (drums) and Johnny Lee Middleton (bass) produces plenty of brain banging rhythms, while Criss Oliva burns away on lead guitar. Meanwhile, Jon Oliva howls away on vocals, insuring himself a spot amongst the era's most unique voices. Adding to this uniqueness are vocal harmonies that most metal bands don't bother attempting. The result is a very polished sound not typical in metal circles.

If the album has a weak point, it's "White Witch." It doesn't contain anything interesting, and in my opinion, is just plain boring.

The boredom doesn't last long. The album winds down with "Devastation," a song which emphasizes two of their obvious influences, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.

Overall, Hall Of The Mountain King is an enjoyable album, with enough originality to distinguish Savatage from the rest of the metal bands of the era. Unfortunately, this fact is probably caused most of the die hard metalheads to accuse them of being glam. While Savatage is definitely not glam, they do lean towards the "hair band" end of things that was very popular in '87. Ten years later, Hall Of The Mountain King can step away from these accusations, and take its place as one of the classics of the period.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Bill Ziemer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.