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November 24, 2017


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Savatage
The Wake of Magellan (Atlantic Records)

By: Jeb Branin

This is the fourteenth release by this seminal band. I've been a fan since they burst onto the scene in the mid-eighties with "The Dungeons are Calling" and "Sirens", two records that set a new standard for heaviness in progressive metal (although at the time they were lumped in with the thrash movement). As good as those two initial efforts were, the band really found their stride when they took their progressiveness to the nth degree on epics like "The Hall of the Mountain King". They are one of the few mid-eighties metal bands that actually got better after they made the jump to a major label.... and that label was Atlantic no less, one of the worst offenders when it comes to watering down their artists in the name of commercial success. It did take a couple of albums because Atlantic initially tried to turn SAVATAGE into a "successful" band, which, of course, led to the release of the totally sub-par "Fight For The Rock"album, an effort which almost destroyed the band both internally and externally. Fortunately those days are long gone.

"The Wake Of Magellan" is a successful piece of the SAVATAGE puzzle. Slightly heavier than the last couple of records, it harkens in many ways to the band's more vintage releases yet maintains the forward thinking attitude that defines their progressive music. I'll be frank...this is the best album the band has done since Zak joined. I know his strong vocals allow the band to explore their sound more fully but for my money Jon's voice is simply untouchable. He is one of the truly distinctive singers in metal. I have no doubt that Jon's increased contributions to this album (including some lead vocals) make it the masterpiece it is.

"The Wake Of Magellan" appears to be another rock opera, dealing with the modern day story of a sea captain who murdered a group of stowaways by throwing them overboard.

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