In 1983, it was a new landscape for music. Not just for the overt popular sensibilities adopted by many top tier classics, along with the fame hungering newcomers, but also in terms of pure anger and vitriol within the then obscure Metal world. JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN had left their mark with arguably two of their best albums in just the previous year. But, beneath the swell of their more uplifting and friendly licks rode followers to the vehement creed. Bands that would give more rage and offer less "radio friendly" or reeled songs. One such band so happened to drop a concise Metal explosion. Barely half an hour in length, "Sirens", SAVATAGE's debut, released so much repressed violence and vigor that it basically picked up where the Heavy Metal birthers left off.
This, for the record, is one angry, heavy album. Each track is an unpredictable labyrinth of solos, evil screeches, and hammering riffs. The title song begins with an eerie, mood setting moment before it commences the plunge. "Holocaust" has a blunt, but infectious riff while Jon Oliva wails. Criss and Jon really were a staggering duo. No Metal vocalist really attempted to sound so evil at this point. King Diamond had a macabre falsetto, but he was more inclined for gothic opera styling. Here, Jon focuses on the primal. This suits the guitar perfectly, which, in its suttering glory, is one hellish beast. No song is spared the dance of hateful licks. "Rage" is just that, one unstoppable rage-filled hatefest. While mindless anger is all and well, these fine fellows add a stern sense of direction and focus. No song is without at least several interesting movements. "On The Run" has an addicting groove that segues into mighty powerful, blistering solo screams.
To honestly obtain a grasp of the dark turn SAVATAGE took, one need only listen to "Twisted Little Sister" with the lyrics involving BDSM, and has Jon at his most vile and sinister. I am struck in awe at how raucous these songs can be, while still having defined compositional complexities. While in a somewhat limited timeframe, we are subject to a pure classic Metal manifesto, from what would be one the the undergrounds leading acts. Each musician gelled so fluidly with the other. I will admit that this is primarily a vocals/guitar show, but the drumming and bass do work excellently together in forming each track's whipping rhythm.
If but one glaring anomaly to the album can be uncovered, it would be "Out On The Streets", which has the basis of a power ballad, without the cheese and pretentiousness. It is the only glimpse of SAVATAGE's theatrical side, which would undoubtedly surface a decade, later. I find myself taking this as a means for the album to relax the listener and surprise them. It functions as a hand brake of sorts. In no way does the song reduce the album's overall quality, and the melody is quite charming. I'd not have it any other way.
SAVATAGE's "Sirens" album is a hallmark in Heavy Metal, and helped usher a new summit for budding, darker inclined bands to rise. No, it wasn't fully responsible, but I sincerely doubt you could obtain this much Metal, high quality Metal, to boot, on one record in 1983. While certainly unnoticed upon release, I fully recommend any fan of classic era JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, MERCYFUL FATE, or pure Metal to come see what other new magics were crafted...on the island of the "Sirens".
Best Songs: "Sirens", "Rage", "Twisted Little Sister"
Worst Songs: None, really!
Guest review by Dustin Tate
(Online May 10, 2010)