In Retrospective ...
Updated: Jan 14, 2019
SAVATAGE – “Wake of Magellan”
9/1997 Europe (Concrete/Edel)/ Japan (JVC Victor)
4/1998 US (Lava/Atlantic)
“Wake of Magellan” marks the tenth studio album released by the American heavy metal band, SAVATAGE. Officially released on September 15th 1997 in Europe and Japan, to positive reviews, the album was finally released about seven months later to the US market, on April 7th the following year, 1998, as an extended edition containing three additional tracks.
The material on the “Wake of Magellan” sums up into a terrific concept album, based on two real life events that took place roughly a year before its release. The first event that made its way into the compositions was the Maersk Dubai incident that took place in 1996 aboard the Taiwanese container ship Maersk Dubai, where three Romanian stowaways were forced overboard, at knifepoint by the ship’s captain and officers, and left to die in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The second event penned into music by the prolific songwriting duo of Jon Oliva and rock producer, Paul O’Neill, also tragically took place in 1996, surrounding the assassination of Irish crime reporter, Veronica Guerin, fatally shot by drug gang members on the outskirts of Dublin, after previous attempts on her life were made by members of the organized crime, whom she was investigating. These two events were combined into an abstract story about an old Spanish sailor, who was ready to end his life by sailing alone into the ocean, in an old Viking tradition. After battling a storm and most importantly, relentless soul-searching leading to changes in life perspective, the old sailor saves a stowaway and makes his way back to the shore, selfrealizing that not only every life is precious but also every hour of that life.
The theatrically composed and arranged album was the last SAVATAGE release with vocalist Zak Stevens, amiably parting ways in 2000 due to personal reasons, after four studio and one live album, but remaining part of the band’s extend family, continuing to collaborate on Trans-Siberian Orchestra albums, among other things. The highly melodic concept album of boundless melodies, intricate arrangements and splendid solos, all greatly fitting the storyline, centers around Jon Oliva’s masterful keyboards work and the extraordinary guitar duo of Chris Caffery and Al Pitrelli, with the band remaining, as Martin Popoff describes as, “king of piano-to-riff dynamic”! The thirteen tracks, grandiosely written album is completed on the US release by three additional, bonus songs (bringing the length of the album to about seventy-two minutes) – further surprising the listeners with their gracious simplicity: elegant vocals with resonating piano and acoustic guitar accompaniments – a grand finale to an already resplendent album.
Highly recommended to whomever, somehow have missed this brilliant release at the end of the 90s, and to all fans of quality music. You’re in for an epic surprise!
© 2018 by Emil Chiru