Savatage emerged from the Tampa, Florida scene in the early 1980s and helped usher in a new brand of progressive power metal. Led by virtuoso guitarist Criss Oliva and his brother, the powerhouse operatic vocalist Jon Oliva, Savatage would climb all the way to the top of the metal world with one classic album after another. The pinnacle of their success came with their 1987 album Hall of the Mountain King, which featured two hit singles that received heavy airplay on MTV: “Hall of the Mountain King” and “24 Hours Ago.”
Watch the video for the album’s title track here below.
Jon would step down as the band’s vocalist in 1992 to focus on songwriting and his numerous other projects including Broadway musicals and Trans Siberian Orchestra, the musical collective that he founded with Savatage producer Paul O’Neil. Tragically, the following year, Criss Oliva and his wife would be killed when a drunk driver who was inexplicably still driving around after seven prior DUI convictions crossed the median of a Florida highway and hit their car head on. That jackass served 18 months in jail on vehicular manslaughter charges and the metal world lost one of its brightest innovators. Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neil decided to have Savatge continue on without its founding siblings in the band (Jon would continue to contribute material) for another four albums before the band entered an extended hiatus in 2002.
Fortunately for us who love and remember Savatage, they have announced that they will reunite with Jon Oliva on vocals for the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany later this year. No word yet on when or if there will be new material from the band, but I for one am keeping my fingers crossed.
This edition of Massive Metal Monday is dedicated to the memory of Criss and Dawn Oliva.