1/2/2004 - Review by: Anthony Burke
Savatage - Sirens - reviewed by: IcedMojo
The year is 1983, the year of Super Bowl XVII, the year we were introduced to Metallica "Kill 'Em All", the year of releases by artists such as Slayer "Show No Mercy", Motley Crue "Shout At The Devil" (news that Vince Neil crashed his car killing Nicholas Dingley, singer of Hanoi Rocks) Iron Maiden's "Piece Of Mind", Dio "Holy Diver", and Quiet Riot " Metal Health" among others. This also marked the release of what I believe is the greatest Savatage album of all time, "Sirens". Not only the best album by this Florida based melodic power metal band, but this is in my top 25 of all time.
Founded by Jon Oliva (vocals) with brother Criss Oliva (guitars) and including Keith Collins (bass) Steve Wacholz (drums), Savatage (formerly know as Avatar, but had to change it due to legal reasons) entered Morrisound Recording Studio in Tampa, Florida to record "Sirens". This was the second release on Par Records (the sister company of Combat Records) from the band and the last one released before signing with Atlantic Records. Sirens was remastered and repackaged with two bonus tracks ("Lady in Disguise" and "The Message) and distributed by their former label, Metal Blade Records. (Savatage is currently with Nuclear Blast.)
This is an ass kicking adrenaline rush from start to finish. Not to worry, the final song is a ballad so it will cool your blood a little. Criss is way beyond his time, a prime example is "Out on the Streets", which sounds vaguely influenced by "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue, but wait, that song followed Savatage's song by almost 2 years. So, I guess you can say "Out on the Streets" influenced Motley Crue. I rest my case.
With some influences from Dio, Maiden, and Priest to name a few, the heaviness, speed, skill, and all around melodies is highly noted on this album. It is just truly hard to believe this was done in 1983. This is an album that had everything I was looking for then and it is still a masterpiece. "Rage" which kicks your ass and doesn't let up until you can't take any more, the songs "Sirens" and "Living for the Night" showcases Jon's low and suddenly screeching vocal abilities, as well as a rough but toned voice. (Halford should be proud). Then there are songs that highlight Criss and his abilities that prove to be far beyond his time, such as "Holocaust", "On the Run", and "Out on the Streets". Then, you have Steve who roars like heavy thunder on tracks like "holocaust" as well as "Sirens", and well, Keith rips up every song. Another tune to check out is "I Believe" which finishes up with a Maiden-like deep throated, almost demonic speech..
I have always loved this CD, but after I heard the record, I could not help but remember the question or post by EC. "Does vinyl sound better than disc?" Well brother, let me just go on record as saying I believe that it does. After hear this on vinyl, I fell in love with it all over. Things that can barely be head on disc showed up well on the vinyl version. For instance, the air raid siren that finishes "Holocaust" is more predominant on vinyl and I had no idea it has soldiers marching and chanting in there.
This is a true classic and deserves to be heard by everyone. I rate this as a perfect 10, incredible melodies, incredible vocal, just an incredible album. 1983 had some great albums but I believe that "Siren" topped all of them.
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