By Bob Nalbandian

Poets & Madmen
Nuclear Blast America

Very few metal bands over the band decade or two have been able to compose a classical metal masterpiece with the sophistication and musical brilliance that could come close to match such musical epics as Stargazer, Gates Of Babylon, Lost Horizon, Sails Of Charon, or Bohemian Rhapsody.

The latest CD from Floridian metal merchants Savatage falls in that same category of classical metal masterpieces! This marks the band's (I believe) ninth studio album- and their first for Nuclear Blast (apart from their last live CD Ghost in the Ruins.) It's hard to believe this band was signed to Atlantic Records supposedly longer than any other hardrock/metal band (Zeppelin included.) Poets and Madmen was produced (brilliantly, I might add) by long-time producer/songwriter Paul O'Neill and vocalist/keyboardist Jon Oliva and combines brilliant metal anthems with classical, symphonic overtones and themes.

Unlike the band's last studio release, Awake of Magellan, in which Oliva took a back seat in the vocal department, Poets... marks the return of Oliva's powerhouse vocal deliverance that will send chills down your spine! Much like Queensryche's masterpiece Operation Mindcrime, this is a brilliantly conceived conceptual album (about famed photographer Kevin Carter who was institutionalized) with songs that are so exceptionally powerful, and symphonic orchestration and vocal harmonies that easily ranks up there with Queen!

My favorite cuts (at least for this week) are "There in the Silence," "Morphine Child," "Man in the Mirror," and "Awaken" (which is reminiscent of Sirens and Dungeons Are Calling era!). Only ten songs are listed on the advance CD, although there are actually twelve songs total. Poets & Madmen is unquestionably one of the best metal CDs of the new millennium. It's so damn good to hear a band in this pathetic age in music, that can still release albums year after year with the integrity and musical genius to compose such original and compelling metal anthems! This is a must-have CD!

Shockwaves CD Reviews Issue 4 Page 3