Edge of Thorns
Back in 1993, Jon Oliva's habit of trying to keep up with Dave Mustaine's habits finally caught up to him and Zach Stevens was brought in to sing vocals for Savatage. While Jon remained active in the studio and wrote and played every song on the album, record label politics erased him from this record leaving many to think that he was truly off on some heroin induced coma. This album also proved to be Criss Oliva's swan song, as a car accident would claim his life.
This album is a transition--the 'Tage had not yet reached their five part countermelody stage, but left their 80s metal stage behind. I imagine if you bought this album back in 1993 it would be a bit of a letdown, especially if you were expecting more Streets, but thankfully I didn't get into Savatage until well after they broke off into their TSO cash cow, so I could appreciate every album as its own entity, without regard for sequence.
I love the title track on this album, it's definitely in the top 10 list of Savatage tracks, and who doesn't like screaming along with Zach towards the end of He Carves His Stone. Follow Me is a hint at the direction the band would be taking in later albums, and All That I Bleed harkens to their earlier songs of redemption. They end the album with Sleep, and while a more powerful recording appears on The Wake of Magellan, this one does not disapoint.
Edge of Thorns is a great album. It's not the best Savatage album (that honor goes to Wake of Magellan) but it is great nonetheless.