Ghost in the Ruins (Nuclear Blast)
by Martin Popoff
Featuring Savatage‘s classic line-up, this album’s main reason for existence is to hail the band’s fallen original guitarist Criss Oliva, killed in a car crash in 1993. Criss (along with brother-in-glory Chris Caffery), is, of course, the spotlight guitarist on these tracks, properly recorded for CD release at various stops between ’87 and ’90. The coolest part of the package is a photo where Jon Oliva looks like Mortiis (might only be on my Nuclear Blast ’00 reissue of the ’95 Edel original, dunno). But other than that, I’m sure ’nuff glad to hear an unrelenting onslaught of to-the-temples Savatage rockers, masterworks like “Legions,” “24 Hours Ago,” “The Dungeons Are Calling,” “Sirens” (particularly dastardly riffing, particularly thespian Jon) and “Hall Of The Mountain King” containing that tall vision of might and right that made these guys so immediately important in the mid ’80s. The Nuclear Blast reissue is designed to usher in the band’s first studio album for the label, Poets & Madmen, now pushed back to January 2001.
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