Savatage. I won’t be talking about the days when Jon Oliva fronted the band himself – I am plainly allergic to his voice. But Zak Stevens, while he’s not exactly _the_ caliber I’d kill to hear doing Savatage tunes, now this is someone whom I listen to on a regular basis – if only because Handful of Rain is a crazy good album. And it had Alex Skolnick on guitar, and let me tell you, he’s just so damn amazing it’s hard to believe.
Now, the fun part. These two, they are among the top most handsome guys in the metal scene ever. They aren’t half bad looking even these days, and in their late twenties, they outright belonged in a fantasy movie cast.
But – as I have already mentioned, Mr Stevens’ vocals have weak points: primarily, a somewhat limited range; he used to be more daring when he was younger, but at that time he had certain technical issues that resulted in a rather annoying sound. And Mr Skolnick, now, he has a blog. Used to have, at least. And I used to think I was the most boring person in existence. Nope, not a chance.
Now I should probably stop making fun of those two because they don’t really deserve it =) But hey, this is my private blog and I have the right to express my biased opinions here.
Still – let the music do the talking now…
Actually, when staying within his limits, Zak Stevens is amazingly consistent live. Like, OMFG that good. This is something I applaud, and, well, something I am damn jealous of. Here’s a live version of one of the Handful of Rain harder-hitting tracks, performed some time in the mid-nineties (Alex Skolnick is also there):
Edge of Thorns was the album that came before Handful of Rain. Somehow Savatage albums are next to impossible to find here in Russia, even in the iTunes age, so I don’t have it. But it should be as good. The title track is, at least. And holy hell, just check out the frontmanship. This guy looks like an Elven prince. And I generally dismiss most movie elf cast as “not beautiful enough”.
Flash forward to 2013 and Zak Stevens’ own project Circle II Circle. He doesn’t seem to have changed much visually =) But I much, much prefer the way he’s singing these days, even though you can hear he shies away from writing any higher notes into the melody, – his technique and hence sound has vastly improved overall. To tell the truth, when listening to his early Savatage tracks, I can’t get away from the impression that he’s constantly about to gag… not the case anymore. I could shower you with technical terms re:what exactly he must’ve changed about his technique, but I won’t. Cuz nobody but singers should care for all those soft palate/root of tongue positions, rib expansion yadda yadda yadda.