REVIEW: Savatage – Power of the Night (Steamhammer remaster)

Part Four of the Early Savatage series!

SAVATAGE – Power of the Night (Originally 1985, 2002 Steamhammer remaster)

Raise the first of the metal child!

If any fans were worried that Savatage would “sell out” after signing to Atlantic in 1984, those fears were swiftly cast aside.  Power of the Night, their first on a major label, was produced by metal-meister-to-be, Max Norman.  The band had plenty of material demoed (in a session with Rick Derringer) and were ready for the studio.

Nothing was toned down; if anything, Savatage turned it up.  Melting the speakers with the title track, a fancy keyboard opening might have fooled some.  When the patented Criss Oliva riff commences, you better hold on tight.

“Children of the metal movement,
The legions growing stronger,
Stronger than they believe.”

With Norman at the helm, Savatage achieved a sharp, biting sound.  Relentless beats courtesy of Steve “Dr. Killdrums” Wacholz helped them cement themselves as true metal competitors.  The foursome from Florida were not to be ignored.

Savatage were improving as songwriters.  “Unusual” puts atmosphere over headbangin’ riffs, and effectively so.  Singer Jon Oliva became increasingly interested in keyboards album by album until it eventually became the focus of the band.  Here it works to cloak you in a dark weave of ominous metal.  Then, if you were hungering for more riffs, bow down to the fuckin’ rad* “Warriors”.  Another Criss Oliva riff as only he could write them, “Warriors” rivals Judas Priest for absurd fantasy metal thrills.  It gets a little silly on “Necrophilia”, but the headbangin’ does not wane.   You might break your neck on “Washed Out”, a little speed metal ditty to cure what ails you.

Side two switches the gears a bit with a Scorpions-Dokken hybrid called “Hard for Love”, which generated some faux-controversy in the 80s.  It’s the most commercial Savatage song yet, but it works remarkably well due to the sharp edges; not blunted by improved production values.  Still riding high with quality metal, “Fountain of Youth” takes things to a wizardly world inhabited by Dio and his cohorts.  (Of note:  it’s one of the few Savatage songs with a Doc Wacholz writing credit.)

Savatage’s speed metal adventures can be hit or miss.  “Skull Session” is a miss, though you may enjoy the lyrics about an “X-rated lesson”.  There’s no real melody and the riff isn’t one of Criss’ most notable.  Plenty of screams though.  A mid-tempo “Stuck On Your” doesn’t get the car out of the mud.  It’s just a little dull compared to the scorchers on side one.

Ending Power of the Night on a ballad was a ballsy move, but “In the Dream” is one of the best from the early years.  Indeed, Jon Oliva re-recorded it acoustically for one of the many reissues of Sirens/Dungeons are Calling.  Dr. Killdrums does a fine job of punctuating the song’s drama with short bursts of swinging limbs.

Steamhammer included two live bonus tracks.**  From Cleveland in 1987, a spot-on “Power of the Night” is a furious rendition of a song already smoking hot.  “Sirens” live in Dallas three years later is just as furious, though Jon’s voice is more worn.  They also included excellent liner notes, lengthy and detailed.  Unfortunately the cover art on these Steamhammer reissues is atrociously blurry.

Power of the Night was the last Savatage album with original bassist Keith Collins.  Originally a guitarist, Collins’ bass wasn’t up to snuff at all times so Criss Oliva had to play on several tracks to fix portions they weren’t happy with.  Now that it’s encoded on a little silver disc forever, the final album is tight and punchy.

4/5 stars

Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well enough for Atlantic.  Bumpy road ahead!

* “Warriors” is “fuckin’ rad” according to Holen MaGroin

** Like all Savatage albums, different issues have different sets of bonus tracks.  These will have to be covered at a later time as a “complete” Savatage collection can be an expensive proposition.

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25 comments

  1. Warriors! Warr-i-ors! Warriors of the world.
    Warriors! WAR-I-ORS! Warriors of the world.

    █░░░█ █▀▀█ █▀▀█ █▀▀█ ░▀░ █▀▀█ █▀▀█ █▀▀ █𝒲𝒶𝓇𝓇𝒾❀𝓇𝓈
    █▄█▄█ █▄▄█ █▄▄▀ █▄▄▀ ▀█▀ █░░█ █▄▄▀ ▀▀█ ▀
    ░▀░▀░ ▀░░▀ ▀░▀▀ ▀░▀▀ ▀▀▀ ▀▀▀▀ ▀░▀▀ ▀▀▀ ▄
    ─────────────────────────────
    ─────────────────────────────W⃣ a⃣ r⃣ r⃣ i⃣ o⃣ r⃣ s⃣
    ╔╗╔╗╔╗╔══╗╔═╗╔═╗╔╗╔══╗╔═╗╔══╗աǟʀʀɨօʀֆ
    ║╚╝╚╝║║╔╗║║╔╝║╔╝─╣║╔╗║║╔╝║══╣ᏇᏗᏒᏒᎥᎧᏒᏕ
    ╚╗╔╗╔╝║╔╗║║║─║║─║║║╚╝║║║──══║
    ─╚╝╚╝─╚╝╚╝╚╝─╚╝─╚╝╚══╝╚╝─╚══╝
    ▒█░░░▄░░▒█─░▄█▀▄─▒▐█▀▀▄▒▐█▀▀▄░▐██▒▐█▀▀█▌▒▐█▀▀▄▒▄█▀▀█
    ▒█░░▒█░░▒█░▐█▄▄▐█▒▐█▒▐█▒▐█▒▐█─░█▌▒▐█▄▒█▌▒▐█▒▐█▒▀▀█▄▄
    ░▒▀▄▀▒▀▄▀░░▐█─░▐█▒▐█▀▄▄▒▐█▀▄▄░▐██▒▐██▄█▌▒▐█▀▄▄▒█▄▄█▀
    ຟคrri໐rŞ 𝐖𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝘞𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝙒𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙧𝙨 𝚆𝚊𝚛𝚛𝚒𝚘𝚛𝚜

    █░░░█ ▄▀▄ █▀▀▄ █▀▀▄ ▀ ▄▀▄ █▀▀▄ ▄▀▀ 𝕎𝕒𝕣𝕣𝕚𝕠𝕣𝕤 ωαяяισяѕ Wårrïðr§
    █░█░█ █▀█ █▐█▀ █▐█▀ █ █░█ █▐█▀ ░▀▄ Warriors山卂尺尺丨ㄖ尺丂
    ░▀░▀░ ▀░▀ ▀░▀▀ ▀░▀▀ ▀ ░▀░ ▀░▀▀ ▀▀░ sɹoıɹɹɐM
    ╔╦═╦╗╔══╗╔═╗╔═╗╔══╗╔═╗╔═╗╔══╗𝔴ⓐ𝓇ⓡ𝔦ᗝя𝕤 wคⓇⓡιⓞℝŜ
    ║║║║║║╔╗║║╬║║╬║╚║║╝║║║║╬║║══╣𝓦𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓲𝓸𝓻𝓼
    ║║║║║║╠╣║║╗╣║╗╣╔║║╗║║║║╗╣╠══║𝖂𝖆𝖗𝖗𝖎𝖔𝖗𝖘
    ╚═╩═╝╚╝╚╝╚╩╝╚╩╝╚══╝╚═╝╚╩╝╚══╝𝒲𝒶𝓇𝓇𝒾𝑜𝓇𝓈
    W⃞   a⃞   r⃞   r⃞   i⃞   o⃞   r⃞   s⃞ Ⓦⓐⓡⓡⓘⓞⓡⓢ W͎a͎r͎r͎i͎o͎r͎s͎ W͓̽a͓̽r͓̽r͓̽i͓̽o͓̽r͓̽s͓̽
    ᵂᵃʳʳⁱᵒʳˢ Wαɾɾισɾʂ Wム尺尺ノの尺丂【W】【a】【r】【r】【i】【o】【r】【s】
    『W』『a』『r』『r』『i』『o』『r』『s』【Warriors】
    [̲̅W][̲̅a][̲̅r][̲̅r][̲̅i][̲̅o][̲̅r][̲̅s] ᗯᗩᖇᖇIOᖇᔕW̶a̶r̶r̶i̶o̶r̶s̶ W̲a̲r̲r̲i̲o̲r̲s̲ W̳a̳r̳r̳i̳o̳r̳s̳ W̾a̾r̾r̾i̾o̾r̾s̾
    ≋W≋a≋r≋r≋i≋o≋r≋s≋ ░W░a░r░r░i░o░r░s░ ♥ Warriors ♥ Warriors

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Aha – Take On Warriors
          Bruce Springsteen – War(riors)
          Iron Maiden – Where Warriors Dare
          Blondie – Some Warrior Or Another
          Heart – These Warriors
          Warrior – Only the WARRIORS Survive
          Survivor – Eye of the WARRIORS
          Pink Floyd – Run Like Warriors
          Rush – Middletown Warriors
          The Beatles – The Continuing Story of Bungalo Warriors!
          Scorpions – Rock You Like A Warriors
          Led Xeppelin – Good Warriors, Bad Times
          Great White – Save Your Warriors
          Nirvana – Smells Like Warriors
          Black Sabbath – Turn up the Warriors

          Like

        2. Poison – Every Warrior Has His Thorn
          Kiss – Turn on the WARRIORS
          Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Warriors
          Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Warriors
          Genesis – Invisible Warriors
          Phil Collins – Susuwarriorsdio
          Judas Priest – Turbo Warriors
          Night Ranger – Sister Warriors
          Roger Waters – What Warriors Want Pt. 1
          Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Warriors
          REM – The Warriors I Love

          Like

  2. Once again, you have me looking back to my post on this album. While I said that there’s no weak track on the album, I agree that your two stuck in the mud tracks aren’t as great as the rest of the album. However, I stand by my assertion that “Power of the Night” was a rough draft for “Hall of the Mountain King.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I bought all the Steamhammer issues when they were released. One customer traded them all in. Don’t know if they were all stolen or not. They were all mint. Maybe he stole the entire Savatage section at the store. I truly don’t know why he got rid of them all! Same guy sold me ALL the Megadeth remasters from the early 2000s. All mint, all in one shot.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah we had a “no questions asked” kind of policy, but I was always curious. I’d ask questions like “Is this one any good?” Thing is the guy knew what he was selling…it’s possible he was just the kind of guy that buys and sells albums in short order, I’ve met a few like that. They buy it and 6 months later they sell it to buy more.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Using the very limited evidence available to us, I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it might be Electric Light Orchestra’s “Ticket to the Moon”, famously known for being one of the best ballads ever committed to tape.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the orchestral version of “Ticket to Ride” hidden at the very end of Dark Side of the Moon as the heart beat is fading. It’s only in one channel, and some CDs (like my black holy grail disc) edit it out.

        Like

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