Savatage – Return to Wacken (Celebrating the Return On the Stage of One of the World’s Greatest Progressive Metal Bands) (2015)

Return to Wacken is the 5th compilation album by US progressive metal band Savatage and was released on June 19, 2015 by Savatage Inc. under exclusive license to Edel Germany GmbH. earMUSIC, a project of Edel, states that ““Return To Wacken” is based on the setlists of these memorable performances at Wacken Open Air 1998 and 2002 and it celebrates the return to the stage of one of the world’s greatest progressive metal bands with each and every song.”

My opinion on the album:

Tracklist:
01. Hall of the Mountain King
02. Gutter Ballet
03. Believe
04. Chance
05. Edge of Thorns
06. The Wake of Magellan
07. Dead Winter Dead
08. The Hourglass
09. Tonight He Grins Again
10. Prelude to Madness
11. When the Crowds are Gone

Even though I am not a fan of compilation albums of studio recordings, I have to say that this Savatage release feels like a good idea nonetheless. Even though Edel released Still the Orchestra Plays – Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 & 2 in 2010, a double-album with an additional live DVD, Return to Wacken feels more like an entity, an album with a (musical) context. Maybe it’s a psychological thing, because I’m thrilled for Savatage to be back. Nevertheless, the song choice/setlist is completely legit and, as mentioned above, it feels like ‘an actual, complete studio album’, not a compilation.

Blabbermouth.net mentioned an interview with Femme Metal Webzine that asked, if SAVATAGE has any plans for beyond Wacken for either live shows or new material, Jon Oliva said: “As far as that goes, the whole Wacken thing came up, and I was, like, you know what? If we’re going to do anything, we have to do it now. I don’t want to do it when I’m 60 years old. I mentioned that to [TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA producer/composer] Paul [O’Neill]. He said to me, ‘We’re going to do the Wacken thing, but let’s just wait until the [TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA] winter tour is over and then you and me we’re going to sit down in January and discuss what we’re going to do.'”

As a casual Savatage listener, Return to Wacken includes all songs of the band that I consider necessary for a well-rounded Savatage mixtape, and the length of more or less 1 hour makes it a good accompaniment for any shorter trip to the city. Now, let’s see if this marketing-stint will pay out for the reuniting band and if they logic sequel to this compilation – a live album from Waken 2015 with this exact setlist – will actually be produced and released to makes fans happy, and to turn casual listeners like me into a Savatage fans.

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer