Hall of the Mountain King
Released September 28 1987
The fourth studio album from Savatage really pushed the Oliva brothers into the mainstream metal arena with a stellar release of pure metallic genius. The album marked the beginning of the band’s progressive leanings and is considered to be the turning point in their quest for a clear cut musical identity. At times classy and prolific sounding, Hall of the Mountain King creates a dark and often complex tone. Utilizing classical arrangements (specifically Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt suite) for the core sound of “Prelude to Madness”. The Oliva’s also incorporated Mars, Bringer of War from Gustav Holst’s suite – Planets into the opening section of the song. The usage of classical arrangements to metal songs was ideal for the time, giving way to some incredible pieces of guitar wizardry.
Tracks like “Beyond the Doors of the Dark”, “Legions” and “Hall of the Mountain King” bring out some meaty tones, pushing the power metal template full steam ahead. There’s no mistaking the seriousness in their sound and aided by producer Paul O’Neill, the band became a force of chugging sounds and harmonic brilliance. Their commanding presence wasn’t just in the music, but also the album cover displayed the powerful artwork of Gary Smith, who was airbrushing all of lead guitarist Criss Oliva’s guitars at the time. Obviously this was a band finding an identity to which this album will always be credited starting off their progressive period. The album even managed to reach number 116 in the Billboard 200 albums chart in 1987.
Some of the standout tracks are: “Beyond the Doors of the Dark”, “Legions” “Prelude to Madness”, and “Hall of the Mountain King”. I’m giving this release a solid 8 out of 10.