Savatage - Music First?
By Martin Popoff

That seems to be the case with the band's swoopy, theatrical new album Poets And Madmen. It's all in the methodology, even if the end result is classic modern-era Savatage, a bit of a disappointment for me, because six months or so ago, the album seemed to be leaning heavy, to-the-point, "guitary" I believe being the term thrown around. In any event, Poets And Madmen has arrived, and it is definitely firmly within the band's celebrated and world-beloved conceptual format.

"I think the big difference is the way it was written," begins Jon Oliva, who was momentarily alone there for a bit as the band's sole lead vocalist, the departed Zach Stevens recently replaced with Damond Jiniya. "And that's different from the way we did the last three or four records actually, including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra records. Those records we wrote to a story that Paul had and we sat down and wrote music to it. This time we just went down to Florida to our rehearsal space and we just cranked up and started writing songs. We didn't have any kind of a guideline. So that's the big difference. A lot of them were just written in the jam room."

Did it seem like you were going to write more in the direction of the Criss Oliva-era albums early on, or was I just imagining things?

"We didn't really pay attention to that until people started bringing it up. Friends of ours and stuff who would come into the studio would say, 'that sounds like it could have come off of Power Of The Night' and I would go 'oh really?!' 'Surrender', that's a song a good friend of mine of 15 years said that to me about. And I thought you know what, I can see his point. I don't know if we did it on purpose. It just happened that way, it's weird. It was just the way we wrote it. We were jamming a lot and we didn't do that the last four or five albums. We would basically go into Paul's house and sit around with a piano and a couple of acoustic guitars, just working on the story and coming up with music to fit the story. This time it was totally the other way around, music first and then the story."

Savatage - Music First? Page 2