Savatage
The Wake of Magellan


4.5
superb

Review

by Riva USER (19 Reviews)
February 28th, 2006 | 28 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist


The term Rock Opera gets bandied around a lot these days. It seems every concept album gets labelled as a rock opera. Of course a rock opera has a central storyline. However, what is often ignored or not understood is that a rock opera has a certain sound. Sure, that sound varies, but it’s distinctly identifiable because the imagery should be strong and engaging, and you should feel the urge to rip off your shirt, jump onto a stage and belt out the choruses to a packed theatre. Some notable examples are Tommy by The Who, The Wall by Pink Floyd, and this album The Wake of Magellan by Savatage.

On an interesting side note: I once saw the Coheed and Cambria albums described as Auditory Graphic Novels. That’s both clever and insanely retarded at the same time.

The Wake Of Magellan is a very unique rock opera, in that it is composed around to songs that were not only written before the album’s concept was conceived of, but are about two topics that are only similar in the broadest sense. In the hands of most bands, this kind of incongruity could result in a mishmash of an album; a ham-fisted portrayal of something that required a delicate touch.

At its essence, it is a story of longing, finality, and justice (or lack thereof), told through the eyes of an aged Spanish sailor, who claims to be a direct descendent of the great Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan.

However, its scope, the epic nature of its story, prevent me from fully explaining both the central storylines, as well as accurately transcribing even an excerpt of the grand poem that engulfs each set of lyrics inside the albums covers. Indeed, the songs tell less than half the story, with a common pastime of mine is to play each respective song when I reach it, pausing at the end to read the next section of poem, and so on. Only this way, I feel, can you fully absorb this ingenious storyline.

This album is a rock opera in every sense of the word. The stunning vocals of Zachary Stevens range from intense, harsh cries to breathy whispers. The music is pulse-racing heavy metal that blends into a softer, keyboard driven ballad, which transforms into a catchy chorus number.

When listening to this album, it is not hard to imagine it being played out on stage. Indeed, it is difficult to keep the imagination from springing alight, conjuring up men on the beach, broken hourglasses, and ferocious storms. Certain songs, namely Welcome, The Morning Sun and Anymore never fail to raise the hairs on my neck. There is a primeval force at work here, the kind of empathy that only the best musicians can create.

The music itself is timeless. Reaching back into Baroque and Medieval times to bring forth elements which mix seamlessly with styles found in modern heavy metal, Jon Oliva and his team of talented artists weave an engaging story into life. The soothing intro The Ocean is offset by the pounding rhythm of Blackjack Guillotine and the catchy guitar riffs of Complaint In The System.

Granted, this is a long album, at 71mins (including bonus material), but I feel every minute is important. No song seems to drag, and the epic nature of the concept befits the length. I must add, however, that this is a heavy metal album. There is no variation into jazz, funk, hip-hop or electronica. Despite expanding upon the classical base, there is nothing but balls out metal that is softened occasionally.

Savatage, however, have never been stale, clichéd or mediocre. This album, like so many others, will hold the attention of both old fans and new listeners. It is a wonderful album, sticking within its genre, yet expanding outwards. It truly is a rock opera, and I defy you to avoid standing in the middle of your room, shouting out the lyrics, arms outstretched, and generally making an arse of yourself. And remember, if people walk in on you, just ignore them. Be secure in the knowledge you are making an arse of yourself to one of the best rock operas ever composed. That is the metal way.



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user ratings (147)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Shattered_Future
March 1st 2006


1560 Comments


Sounds interesting enough...rock operas (especially Ayreon's) I quite like. This sounds like it should be quite good.

Riva
March 1st 2006


61 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Opera, eh? You seem to like it more than a 4.5, based on what you say about it.




Something else that gets bandied around too often is a 5 rating.

Priestmetal
March 2nd 2006


542 Comments


I've only heard the title track from this but based on that im assuming this album is as good as you say it is. Good review.

Dead_Trench
March 3rd 2006


159 Comments


I've only heard one song from Savatage. It was Gutter Ballet, and it was freaking awesome. I'm also pretty sure that Coldplay stole the piano intro from that for their own song.

Priestmetal
March 4th 2006


542 Comments


Yea Gutter Ballet is a great song

HRgroupie
November 10th 2007


2 Comments


This is an awesome album. Many of the songs also raise the hair on my neck--I absolutely love the title track, in addition to Morning Sun and Anymore. Very thorough and accurate review!

ThrashTillDeath94
April 19th 2013


782 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Went from Hall of the Mountain King to this, and was quite surprised by the change in style and sound this band endured in the 90's. While maybe not as heavy as much of the older material, this album has far better song-writing and way more lasting appeal.

ksoflas
June 28th 2013


1247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Masterpiece.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
August 29th 2013


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome album.

DrJohn
August 14th 2014


1041 Comments


Slick storytelling here...

manosg
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2014


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yup. These guys had a knack for creating emotional music.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2016


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What a brilliant album.

ksoflas
May 1st 2016


1247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ι heard the album yesterday and it was a satisfying experience as always. Savatage never disappoint cause they offer an overall comprehensive, eclectic and sophisticated art experience.



ksoflas
May 1st 2016


1247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Come on music lovers of the globe! Let the Sava whorship begin!

bloc
May 17th 2016


53382 Comments


Liking this a lot.

Perhaps it could be the album that opens me up to rock operas

Digging: The Presets - Hi Viz

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2016


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is awesome. Same goes for Streets and Dead Winter Dead.



Have you checked classic rock operas like Quadrophenia or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway?

bloc
May 17th 2016


53382 Comments


Nope but I will now, thank you

manosg
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2016


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sure thing man. Hope you enjoy.

ksoflas
May 17th 2016


1247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh , I'm sure he will.

SoccerRiot
January 15th 2018


5397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is so underrated



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