The Wake of Magellan
If Walt Disney Productions were to put out a hairfarmer rock opera, this would be it. Savatage, known for their impressive, Wagnerian concept albums (Hall of the Mountain King, Gutter Ballet, Streets) once again come through with an overwhelming production. The Wake of Magellan centers around the life of Ferdinand (remember fourth grade history?) Magellan’s descendant, the fictional Hector Del-Fuego Magellan, and his entanglements with drug smugglers, suicide, depression, intrigue and finally, the realization that life is worth living.
It’s a “big picture” concept, packing a tremendous amount of narrative into every nook and cranny of the CD. Even that wasn’t enough room, so they added a twenty-page booklet, replete with Albrecht Dürer woodcuts, sidebars, poetry, and news stories. For the most part, Savatage remain true to hair metal, being at times extremely powerful and genuinely moving; the title track is a rich opera-metal crusade, the instrumental pieces “The Ocean” and “Underture” are amazing orchestra-metal thunderstorms. But I keep waiting for the inevitable cover of Styx’s “Welcome to the Grand Illusion” to pop up. I’m glad it doesn’t… Then, when the piano solos go for a bit, I’m thinking the next thing I’ll hear is Elton John’s version of “Pinball Wizard.” I think, then, that The Wake of Magellan is best described as a PG-13 metal presentation, tasteful, tame, provocative at times, and it tells a good story. It’s safe for the kids.