Formerly known as Metropolis, then Avatar, Florida, U.S.A. act Savatage formed in 1978. Featuring the line up of Jon Olivia (vocals/guitar/keyboards), brother Chris Olivia (guitar), Steve Wacholz (drums) and Keith Collins (bass) they would produce music of hard-edge Thrash/Power Metal with melodic undertones, the most noted aspect being the brothers soaring vocals and sharp guitar runs. Their 1983 Beneath The Surface three track EP debut, under the name Avatar, was classic American style hard hitting Heavy Metal that has since become a collector's item. They soon after changed their name to Savatage and continued their career.
Under the same line-up but using the name Savatage, they continued their Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest influenced Thrash sound that would eventually become the most common form of the genre by the end of the decade to release their Metal Blade' debut, The Dungeons Are Calling (1984). The follow-up, Sirens (1984), was their major label (Atlantic') debut, but the follow-ups Power Of The Night (1985) and Fight For The Rock (1986) received flack from their fans for being too commercial, the former featuring Johnny Lee Middleton on bass.
When Hall Of The Mountain King (1987) was released it was clear the act was back in form for it received critical acclaim and sat just under the U.S. top 100. The album also signaled the start of their experimentation with the Rock Opera, but to their credit they managed to pull it off on the follow-ups Gutter Ballet (1990) featuring Christopher Caffery (guitar/bass) added to the line-up, and Streets - A Rock Opera (1991).
Zachary Stevens (ex-White Witch) replaced Jon who was on backing vocals for selected tracks when Edge Of Thorns was released in 1993. But tragedy struck in October of that year when Criss was killed in a car crash, the band would continue on with Alex Skolnick (ex-Testament) taking his place in time for the release of Handful Of Rain (1994), Dead Winter Dead (1995) and The Wake Of Magellan (1997). Now on Nuclear Blast' and with Jon Olivia replacing Zachary, the band continued on in the new millennium with Poets And Madmen (2001).
A one-time reunification occurred in September 2004 in Atlanta at ProgPower V when Jon Oliva, Zak Stevens, Chris Caffery and Steve "Dr. Killdrums" Wacholz performed a set from Savatage's entire discography in an exclusive performance.