Third re-release of the seventh full-length studio album by legendary American Heavy/Power/Progressive Metal/Rock band.
The last album to contain the talents of guitarist Criss Oliva, who died six months after its release, and the first Savatage album to feature Zachary Stevens (former singer of Wicked Witch) on lead vocals, following the departure of Jon Oliva from the fore of the band - departure as lead vocalist, but not as keyboardist or writer.
While Stevens did not have the emotional range that Oliva showed on "Gutter Ballet" and "Streets", he had a less bombastic delivery that fit well with the new material that Paul O' Neill and the Oliva brothers and were writing.
After moving towards Progressive Metal on the previous two albums, "Edge Of Thorns" was a leaner, more understated guitar-driven record. The majority of the album consists of stripped-down Metal anthems, recorded with less flashy guitar work and production than on previous records.
The band continued to try out new sounds, however, using an electric sitar on "Degrees of Sanity" and recording their first acoustic ballad with "Sleep", which closes the album. "Edge Of Thorns" also includes two short solo piano instrumentals adding a note of emotional depth most Metal bands never explore. Among the highlights are the pounding "He Carves His Stone" and "Conversation Piece", with its lyrics about self-mutilation. The title track remains one of the band's finest moments, with a haunting piano phrase, a fierce guitar riff, and a strong lead vocal by Stevens.
A true one-off in the Savatage canon, the tragic death of Criss Oliva following the release of "Edge Of Thorns" ended up leading the band back to Progressive Metal. Also the drums on this album sound different, from other Savatage records, as Steve "Doc" Wacholz decided to use electronic drums. Although most of the drum kits sound authentic, a difference in the sonority of the toms can be heard. "All That I Bleed" and "Miles Away" were the last songs Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva and the producer Paul O'Neill wrote together. For that, these are still Jon Oliva's two favorites on the album.
Fans of old Savatage will probably still feel a bit of hesitation calling this album "Savatage's best", but it's undeniable that this band was looked at differently after this album came out, in an era that Metal was almost an afterthought. This album proved to be a true gem musically and sadly historically with the passing of Criss Oliva. One can only wonder where this line-up would had taken Savatage had it recorded another album and how Savatage would had survived the '90s and became the flag bearer for Metal. “Edge Of Thorns” lives up to the high quality predecessors “Gutter Ballet” and “Streets: A Rock Opera”. This great record completes what is easily the greatest Rock meets classical music album trilogy. For far over sixty profound minutes if you include the essential bonus tracks, passionate Rock and Metal music meet soft experimental sounds driven by classical instruments such as piano and violins but also acoustic guitars and sitars. It’s hard to imagine a Rock or Metal fan that doesn’t at least like this album and that’s why it's highly recommended to add this forgotten genre milestone to your collection at all costs!!
Remastered re-edition features two bonus tracks.
earMUSIC, 1993/2010 (0204072ERE). Made in Germany. First remastered re-release.
1. Edge Of Thorns 5:56
2. He Carves His Stone 4:10
3. Lights Out 3:11
4. Skraggy's Tomb 4:23
5. Labyrinths 1:30
6. Follow Me 5:12
7. Exit Music 3:09
8. Degrees Of Sanity 4:37
9. Conversation Piece 4:11
10. All That I Bleed 4:40
11. Damien 3:55
12. Miles Away 5:06
13. Sleep 3:51
14. All That I Bleed [Acoustic Version] 4:34
15. If I Go Away [Acoustic Version] 4:19
Total playing time: 62:44 min.