Review Summary: This album actually makes me angry.
Back in the mid 1980's, Savatage were nothing more than an up and coming metal band trying to hit it big like so many other acts at the time. The band specialized in a traditional metal style that was highly influenced by the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and fans were responding well to the band's sound. Releases like 1984's “The Dungeons are Calling” had not garnered much mainstream attention, but had succeeded in building a respectable fan base. And then one day someone decided that it would be a good idea to write pop songs and release them under the band's name. The resulting album was one of the most laughable and pathetic blunders of the 1980's metal scene.
The overwhelming majority of this album is comprised of watered down commercial-sounding pop music that only succeeds at sounding forced and awkward coming from a metal band. Song's like “Out on the Streets” and “Cry for love” are of the romantic variety and obviously pander to women. It would seem that Savatage were in love with love songs, because unfortunately this album has very little else to offer. Even if one is to accept that this album is not for metalheads, and tries to objectively give this a fair listen, and even if you dig 80's pop, you will still hate this album with extreme prejudice.
Despite the obviously overdone and terrible pop-rock style that encompasses much of the record, “Fight for the Rock” has a few heavy moments, but very little creativity and a lot of repetition kill any badass hard rock vibe the band was going for. The album kicks off with the riff driven, anthem-like title track showing off the band's heavier side, but showcases some really terrible lyrics. Lines such as “Fight for the rock, you know, You Know you better fight for the rock, Fight for the rock 'n roll”, come off as ridiculously cheesy and lazy. Instrumentally the intro track serves as a decent yet forgettable opener that really doesn't accomplish much of anything aside from drilling the chorus into your head over and over along with a very overused riff, and it only gets worse from then on. Keyboards are used in awkward places, overuse of choruses only bore and annoy listeners, and vocalist Jon Oliva tries way to hard to do his best Vince Neil impression.
One of the lone bright spots found on this disaster of a record is the extremely dark and melodic track “Hyde”. Coincidentally it is the heaviest track and it demonstrates the band playing to their strengths. Haunting vocals and heavy riffing with clever soloing makes this song sound like it could have been released among some of the band's classic material. But this one song simply isn't enough to salvage this album.
By the early 90's, the band stopped performing songs from “Fight for the Rock” live and even band members have publicly come out and admitted to not being “too fond” of the record. Fortunately for Savatage, this album didn't stop them from finding success later on. Not even a year later the band released “Hall of the Mountain King”, one of their most highly regarded and classic releases. Overall “Fight for the Rock” can be seen as the lone blemish on an otherwise long and successful discography, and should be avoided by anyone looking to give them a try.