Savatage: Poets and Madmen [2001]

Released April 3, 2001
Recorded 2000 – 2001
Genre Heavy metal
Length 62:36
Label SPV/Steamhammer
Nuclear Blast Records
Producer Paul O’Neill
Jon Oliva

Poets and Madmen is a heavy metal album released in 2001 by the band Savatage, the band’s eleventh full-length release overall and as of 2012, their last studio album. The album has a loose concept based around real life journalist Kevin Carter, but has much less narrative in the lyrics than the previous two rock operas (Dead Winter Dead and The Wake of Magellan) penned by Paul O’Neill. Everything said in the album is fiction, except with regards to what is sung about Carter.[2] The album is also noted as it is the only Savatage album to not feature a title song from the album, although the title was taken from lyrics to the track “Symmetry” from the band’s 1994 album, Handful of Rain.

The album was the first since Streets: A Rock Opera in 1991 to feature the band’s original vocalist Jon Oliva on lead vocals for all songs after the amicable departure of Zachary Stevens. It is also the first Savatage album to have guitarist Chris Caffery playing the majority of the guitar solos. This is partly due to the departure of Al Pitrelli, who left to join Megadeth prior to the album’s release. However, Pitrelli was credited with the outro of “Stay With Me Awhile,” the main solo of “Morphine Child,” the main solo of “The Rumor,” and the first part of the main solo and the outro of “Commissar”.[2]The United States bonus track “Shotgun Innocence” was originally a bonus track on the Japanese release of Edge of Thorns in 1993 and featuresZachary Stevens on lead vocals, and the late Criss Oliva on guitar.

The album cover was drawn by Edgar Jerins, who was responsible for the covers of Dead Winter Dead and The Wake of Magellan.


Things that are abandoned by the adult world tend to have a nearly irresistible allure to the young.
This is true in youths’ often deep attraction for past ideas, books, cars, music and even buildings, especially old Gothic buildings.
And so it was on a late summer’s night, three city kids were driving numerous miles from where they lived to break into one such structure.
They had discovered the building in a magazine article describing how many former mental institutions had been closed over the last decade and their patients placed in smaller community programs.
The article had numerous pedantic and erudite comments concerning the direction of modern psychiatric care, but the thing that had caught the teens’ attention was a picture of one old abandoned institution, and the fact it was located only forty miles from where they were.
With nothing else to do on a Saturday night, the three of them piled into an old Dodge car and started driving.

Even knowing where it was located, the building was still hard to find.
The bulk of the structure was well hidden behind the ivy and brush, which had overgrown the cast-iron fence that surrounded the once landscaped acres.
Suddenly, the driver saw the top of a tower silhouetted against the night’s sky.
After pulling the car over to the side of the road, they got out, and one following another, scaled the fence.
As they landed quietly on the other side, the object of their quest materialized before their eyes.

Built at the turn of the century, the former institution had the Gothic architecture typical of many buildings from that period.
It was constructed of solid stone with a black slate roof and ornate lead gutters, whose spouts always ended in some gnome’s or gargoyle’s grimacing face.
Its attraction was enhanced mystically as it glinted beneath the amber light of a full summer moon.

They entered the building through a broken cellar window.
Daryl went first, he was the eldest and closest thing they had to a leader.
He was followed by Tommy, the youngest of the three, and then, Joey, who propped the window open behind him just in case they needed to make a quick retreat.
Together, the teens made their way past mounds of rusting medical machinery, assorted filing cabinets and endless piles of papers.
Discovering a staircase, they followed it up only to find the first two floor’s exit doors jammed closed, but the third floor exit swung open easily and led them onto a tier, which went all around a large atrium.
The room was enormous with a beautiful vaulted ceiling.
Through Tiffany glassed windows, the night was casting moon-born shadows.
For a moment, the three stood awe-struck at the immense beauty of the building before them.
Its distant location from any major population center had protected it from the normal vandalism that seemed to start to destroy these types of buildings from the moment of their abandonment.

The three teens began to make their way around the balcony tier, when Tommy, who was taking the lead, tripped over something in the dark.
Unable to see in the dimness what had caused his friend to fall, Daryl searched the pockets of the Levi jacket he had been carrying with him.
He quickly removed a new box of Marlboro cigarettes and a bronze Zippo lighter.
Placing the jacket and the Marlboros on a table, he took the Zippo, opened the top with an authoritative click and gave the flint wheel a spin.
Instantly, a healthy yellow flame sprang to life, illuminating the area with a small circle of light.

Walking over to the spot where Tommy was now standing, Daryl used the light from the Zippo to reveal a fallen bronze statue.
After assorted curses, Tommy inquired as to the identity of the statue.
Daryl brought the lighter towards its base in an attempt to identify the bronze now lying at their feet.
Just as he was about to read the name of some long-forgotten hospital benefactor, he was startled by a nearby sound.
All three youths turned to see a small, shadowy figure of a man grabbing Daryl’s jacket and running down the hall, where he turned into a side corridor.

At first they were all too afraid to even move, but then Daryl suddenly exclaimed, “He has the car keys!” With Daryl leading the way, they chased the figure down the hall.
They turned into the same corridor through which they had seen the stranger disappear, just in time to see a door closing at the very end of the hall.
When the three of them reached the room, the door had already been barred from the inside.
Within it, they could see the figure of the man they had been chasing, sitting quietly on the windowsill looking out into the night, a single unlit cigarette in his hand.

The door was solid steel and the window, small and barred.
They shook and pounded on the door, but neither the door nor the figure sitting at the window budged an inch.
The situation was looking fairly hopeless, when Daryl, looking down, noticed that his jacket was neatly folded at the foot of the door, the keys neatly placed on top along with the pack of cigarettes.
The only thing amiss was the new pack of cigarettes had been opened and a single cigarette was now missing.
Cursing the stranger as some sort of nut, they were about to leave, when for a reason he, himself, could never fully explain, Daryl turned back and slid his Zippo lighter under the door to the lone figure still sitting at the window.
For the first time since the trio had gotten there, the man turned.
Seeing the lighter on the floor, he hesitated for a moment, then bent down and lit his cigarette before gently sliding the lighter back.

“Why did you do that?” Joey demanded of Daryl.

“He needed a light,” Daryl replied while picking up his Zippo, which he used to light a cigarette for each of them.

“Who are you? Mother Teresa?” Joey muttered.

“Who the hell do you think he is?” Tommy interrupted, nodding towards the stranger.

“Probably one of the loons that somehow got left behind,” Joey answered.

“Maybe he was released and just returned,” Daryl theorized.

Leaning against the wall, Daryl noticed that to the right of the door, attached to the wall, was a small box marked “Patient’s Chart”, and within the box there was a large folder.
He gazed down the hall where he saw a similar box to the right of every door, but this was the only room where the box still contained any paperwork.
Taking it out, Daryl opened the folder, which was overflowing with papers, and announced, “It says here that the guy’s name is Kevin Carter.”

“How do you know it’s his file?” Tommy asked while straining to read over Daryl’s shoulder.

“Here’s his picture,” Daryl said, holding up what appeared to be a hospital I.D. photo.

“What’s he doing here?” Tommy continued.

“It says here he had a mental breakdown,” Daryl answered as he started turning through the pages.
“Says he was a world famous photographer.”

“Well, I never heard of him. What did he do?” Joey asked.

“Wow! Look at these magazine articles he did. Here’s one about the collapse of some Soviet backed government in Africa. Look, this cuts! It’s in Time Magazine!” Daryl read the descriptions beneath the photos aloud.
They described not only the collapse of the communist dictatorships, which had been in control in parts of Africa, but also the rise of the criminal class to fill the power vacuum.

“God! Look at these shots from some war in the Sudan!” Daryl exclaimed.
The three of them examined a photograph taken by Carter as he and a group of journalists in a jeep raced past a rebel roadblock on a Sudanese road.
In the photo they could clearly see the rifle of one of the rebels firing in the direction of the man taking the photo.

“Well, this confirms he’s got a mental problem. Who takes pictures of people shooting at them?” Joey observed sarcastically.

As they continued to read, they learned Carter had won the Pulitzer Prize that year for the best photograph.
It was the ultimate award in photojournalism.

“Why is this guy here?” Joey said incredulously. “He should be at the Ritz in New York celebrating.”

“Wait a minute! I’m looking. I’m looking,” Daryl protested, flipping through the pages. “It says here he got hung up on some girl.”

“He threw away his career over some girl!” Joey responded in disbelief.

“Says here he got so depressed that he became suicidal,” answered Daryl.

“Tried to kill himself over a stupid girl. What an idiot!” Joey snickered.

“God, she must have been gorgeous,” Tommy philosophized.

“If that steel door wasn’t there, I’d go kick him in the head,” Joey continued, peering back into the room.

“Look, here’s a picture of some girl,” Daryl announced.

“Mmmmm, cute. Cute. But, God, the world is full of good-looking women,” Tommy mused while examining the picture.

“Any guy who lets some girl screw up his life deserves to be locked-up!” Joey declared after glancing at the photo.

All this time Daryl had continued to read through the file. “I don’t think this girl was the problem. According to these notes, he broke up with her.”

Just at that moment a second photograph, which had been stuck to the back of the photo of the first girl, slipped to the floor.
Tommy bent down and picked it up. They all froze in silent horror at the picture before them.
Daryl discovered the page that went with the photo and explained it all to his two friends.
It was the picture that had won Kevin Carter the Pulitzer. The photo was of a small four-year old girl in the Sudan.
She and her family had been caught up in a man-made famine caused by the civil war raging within their country.
Her father had been killed by government troops despite the fact he had been only a simple farmer.
The remaining family had heard about a feeding station approximately thirty miles from their village, and with her mother and her older brother, the girl started walking those thirty miles to the feeding station.
Along the way, both her brother and mother died from starvation, leaving the child to struggle the final miles on her own.
Just as she had reached the feeding station, and barely able to walk, she was told all the food was already gone.
Completely exhausted and more alone than any of us could ever imagine being, she collapsed into a little squatting fetal position.
Just at that moment, a vulture landed beside her. The bird sat looking directly at the child, waiting for her to die.
Kevin Carter, who was the photographer for Reuters’s News Service at the time, snapped a photo of the moment.
A short time later, the child died. Months later, he would tell a friend that after he had taken the award-winning photograph, he, “Sat under a tree, cried and chain-smoked cigarettes.”

As Tommy and Joey listened, Daryl continued, explaining how according to the doctor’s report, unlike many of his fellow journalist, Carter had never been able to separate himself from what he had witnessed in Africa.
In his own words, Kevin had said he was, “constantly haunted by the memories killings and corpses, of innocence and evil; of trigger-happy madmen firing at starving and wounded children.” The diagnosis stated that the core of Kevin’s problem had been he knew it was still going on, day after day, in too many parts of the world.
He could not accept that such evil could continue and he was powerless to do anything to stop it.
He turned to alcohol and harder and harder drugs to numb his senses, but eventually not even these things could help, for he still had seen what he had seen.
After Kevin had been revived from a failed suicide attempt, his friends checked him into this institution.

“Why do you think he is still here?” Joey asked. For the first time during the night, there was a hint of compassion in his voice.

“His friends had checked him in the hospital just as the institution was in the transition of closing down.
All the patients were being transferred to those smaller neighborhood community houses.” Daryl informed them.
“When the doctors insisted he still had to be transferred, he just disappeared. The file ends there.”

“What do you think happened?” Tommy queried.

“I think he couldn’t handle going back out there to the real world, so he just hid somewhere in the building until everyone else had left,” Daryl concluded.

“Should we report him to the police?” Tommy asked.

“What are we going to say? That we found him while breaking and entering. Maybe we should just leave you here,” Joey offered. His usual sarcasm had started to reappear in his voice.

“Hilarious,” Tommy countered as he turned back towards Daryl. “We could do it anonymously.”

“No, I think he’s better off here. The world out there hasn’t gotten any better since he’s left it,” Daryl replied while carefully returning the lone folder to its box.

“And is not likely to any time soon,” Joey added. “Now that we’re all in agreement, let’s get the hell out of here!” Joey started back down the hall, followed by Tommy.
Daryl hesitated, and decided to slide the stranger a few cigarettes under the door, but quickly realized that between Tommy, Joe and himself, they had smoked the entire pack.
He looked once more into the room, then stooped down, slid his Zippo lighter back under the door before hurrying after his friends, who were almost all the way down the hall.

Post Script

Later in the year, the three of them heard on the news that Kevin Carter had committed suicide.
Daryl decided to return to the abandoned hospital, the last place where they had seen Kevin alive.
He stood outside of the room, said a short prayer, and in a final gesture, placed a new pack of Marlboros outside the door of the room and left.
One year later, Daryl returned once again to the hospital and found the Marlboros in the exact place he had left them, but the pack had been opened and only one cigarette had been removed.

Daryl has returned every year since.
He always finds the entire building undisturbed, the Marlboros always exactly where he had left them the year before, but the pack is always opened, and always with a single cigarette missing.
Daryl then takes the old box and leaves a new one behind, and so the ritual has gone on until this day.
Which leads Daryl to wonder if somehow Mister Carter is still alive, and that would be a good thing for in a world of six billion people, there should always be one Kevin Carter.

Track listing

All lyrics written by Paul O’Neill.

Original CD release
No. Title Music Length
1. “Stay with Me Awhile” Chris CafferyJon OlivaPaul O’Neill 5:06
2. “There in the Silence” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 4:57
3. “Commissar” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 5:36
4. “I Seek Power” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 6:03
5. “Drive” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 3:17
6. “Morphine Child” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 10:12
7. “The Rumor” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 5:16
8. “Man in the Mirror” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 5:56
9. “Surrender” Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 6:40
10. “Awaken” Chris Caffery, Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 3:23
11. “Back to a Reason” Jon Oliva, Paul O’Neill 6:10


1. Stay With Me A While

Somewhere in this universe of lost forgotten dreams
The silence weaves a tapestry of once enchanted themes
The shadows listen carefully and question what it means

For stories have lives of their own
But what good’s a story whose end is unknown

Stay with me
For the little night that’s left to be
For a moment in a memory
That time cannot defile
Stay with me
Where the night still offers amnesty
And the ending is tomorrow’s unborn child
And stay with me awhile

The darkness covers everything and carefully watches all
It hides behind the storm’s lightning and cushions every fall
And everything it witnesses it always can recall

Like things that the heart can regret
Bury in time and then try to forget

Stay with me
For the little night that’s left to be
For a moment in a memory
That time cannot defile
Stay with me
While the night still offers amnesty
And the ending is still yet to be tomorrow’s unborn child
And stay with me awhile

2. There In The Silence

Here on this night
Behind walls made of stone
Where no one can enter and
The dark dreams alone

But now someone’s entered
The walls are defied
The shadows they watched
While the dark sympathized

But there in the silence
There in the silence
There in the silence

Something hides
Something lies
Something dies

Something breathes

The mind can imagine
The dark can deceive
And here on this night
Together they weave

A shadow’s repentance
A forgotten life
All brought together
In the mercy of night

But there in the silence
There in the silence
There in the silence

Something hides
Something lies
Something dies

Something breathes

3. Commissar

Do you see commissar
The night is darker
Do you think commissar
Their dreams are starker
Do you hear commissar
The night is breathing
Could it be commissar
We should be leaving
Now before the curtain
Does comes crashing down

Do you hear commissar
The night is silent
Do you think commissar
It is defiance
Do you see commissar
The mob has faces
Could it be commissar
The dark embraces
All as darkness will
And in that dark we’ll drown

Cities, towns
We’ve torn them down
And all we’ve found
Are relics in a cemetery

But never fear
I will stay near
And to the dark
I will be your emissary

Knights on horseback
Bishops pacing
All are losing ground

The pawn is now a queen
He’s moved across the board unseen
The move is down

I believe
That we’ve intrigued for far too long
But now I think the plot has ended

A quick retreat
Into the street
Admit defeat
And hope our moves will be defended

Across their throats
The blade does wander
They die without a sound

Who’d have thought we’d meet
As bones beneath the dragons feet
The wall is down

4. I Seek Power

As the steam from the street starts to rise
The gutter whispers
That the moon like a child has arrived
The dark has missed her

And the light that she lends is a guide
Among her shadows
Like the ghost from the past that survive

And you ask me now
What is my intent
Here among the ruins
Cloaked in false pretence
And how do I belong

I seek power
Where the power remains
I seek power
In the back of your brain

How will you see me
If you don’t know where I hide
How will you bleed me
If I am somewhere inside

In the ashes of empires lost
A distant warning
On the danger of ignoring cost
And children mourning
As the memories cloud in our mind
The past can glitter
And so it has been designed

I know every lie
That the mind invents
Though they’re well disguised
And cloaked in innocence
And how do I belong

I seek power
Where the power remains
I seek power
Like the kiss of cocaine
I seek power
As the darkness descends
I seek power
And I’ll have it again

I seek power
Where the power remains
I seek power
Like the kiss of cocaine
I seek power
When it’s not always wise
I seek power
For the power survives

5. Drive

Wheels keep turning
Blind desires
Core ambition
Never tires

Got an engine
Got intentions
No dissensions
Nothing to hide

Gotta’ mission
Street munitions

Any road block
I believe
And I believe
And I believe
And I believe
I’ll run it

You’ll know I’ll run it

Road side tyrants
Speed is silent

Got reactions
Got attractions
Each infraction
We’re gonna’ die

Got redemption
Fools intentions

Any road block
I believe
And I believe
And I believe
And I believe
I’ll run it

6. Morphine Child

There’s a thief on a summer’s night
Across an ocean
Who sees another’s life fading away

And of this life he writes
Without emotion
Then pushes it from sight
Somewhere faraway
To a distant land
Every tear betrayed
And never makes
And never makes
And never makes
And never makes a stand
Makes a stand
Lord there’s something wrong
Makes a stand

Could a star’s forgotten light
A child’s devotion
Embrace eternal night
In shallow graves

As we watch from distant heights
No breath or motion
Still every ghost must haunt in its own way
Sleep beneath my dreams
Safe within my hands
Where I never under
Never under
Never understand

Lord there’s something wrong

No one remembers
No one denies
No one asks questions
No one replies

Here nothing enters
Nothing departs
Here nothing’s ended
If nothing starts

In your life could you carry on
Could you never think about it
Till in time you start to doubt it

Then you close your eyes
Is it really gone
How in truth can you defend her
If you’re really not remembering

No regrets
If you just forget
If a memory is lenient
You can find it most convenient
So you let it fade
Till it’s very vague
Just a silhouette of shadows
But the shadows are still lingering

Still I hold you there
With your endless stare

I’m too old to be living this
Lived to long to be given this
Can our god be forgiving this

I had a light that shined
Across my mind
Rarely see it any more

Now it is mostly dark
Except for sparks
Can’t remember what they’re for

I am the morphine child
The dream defiled
The never ending metaphor
I am the wizard oz
Result and cause
Never look behind that door


Never listen to the crowd before me
Never listen to the self ordained
Never really wanted to believe it any way

Time is fading
Night is calling
I am on my way

Turn around turn around
Turn around turn around

Time is fading
Night is calling
I am on my…

7. The Rumor

What’s the reason
For these scars that will never heal
Hearts that no longer feel
Eyes that can no longer see

What’s the reason
For this child that will not survive
With all her dreams inside
Could she mean nothing to thee

And Jesus please tell me if you can recall
Just where you were when this sparrow did fall

What’s the reason
Every tear isn’t weighed the same
Could you have died in vain
If we have short memories

And Jesus would you then come down from your cross
Return every nail and say we are lost

And in the dark we seek your silent company
For each hope that arrives and fades from memory
Still after all this time our loss you won’t concede
For in the dead of night the rumor is
Your hands they still bleed
Still bleed
Still bleed
Still bleed

It would seem then
That somehow you still trust
You have more faith than us
Perhaps that is how it should be

8. Man In The Mirror

There’s a man that I used to know
And sometimes he still visits with me
When it’s late and the alcohol’s glow
Is nearly gone
And it’s time to awaken

And he looks and he laughs at the sight
And he asks what has happened to me
And I blame it all on the lights
But he smiles and says I’m mistaken

And there is no use in disguising
What the eye can so clearly see
That I’ve spent my whole life denying
That the man in the mirror is me

Give me one second chance
Give me one final dance
Give me one magic line
Take a minute off my time

Give me one final bow
If the moment allows
While he stares at the scars
Saying just who you are
Just who you are
Just who you are

In a child like illusion of life
He imagined the things yet to be
But they all disappeared on this night
Carry on among the foresaken

For there is no use in denying
What the eye can so clearly see
That one day I too will be dying
And the man in the mirror agrees

Give me one second chance
Give me one final dance
Give me one magic line
Take a minute off my time

Give me one final bow
If the moment allows
While he stares at the scars
Saying just who you are
Just who you are
Just who you are
Just who you…

9. Surrender

When in your life did you surrender
Late in the night do you remember

What were the dreams that you betrayed then
Would you go back if you could save them now

Did you believe there was something more
Waiting behind some forgotten door
Or was that all long before

You felt the pressure grow inside your brain
Where every nerve is on fire
You start to wonder if you’re going insane
It’s not a fate you desired

Time is running down

Moments of reason that we hope to find
Are we a thought somewhere in god’s mind
A work of art that he has never signed

Children and mirrors have no memory
They reflect us for that is all they see
They are the us that is still yet to be
And so we carry on

The clock is ticking and your growing afraid
That the end will be violent
You walk the edges all around your own grave
And the gods they are silent
Or can not be found

Searching your mind for correspondence from
Joseph and Mary and their only son
Is their silence something you have done


And in the end what have you defied
To end up so nearly crucified
Just let me know when you decide
That all hope is gone

Come and see him dying
For it’s really quite a show
Walking on a wire
Though he never seems to know
Even when he’s falling
You can see a little smile
Figures that he’s flying
Only for a little while

The ground is rushing towards him
But he never sees it there
Lives his life in pieces
Always taking every dare
What will be the ending
Well I’m sure that I don’t know
The ground is getting closer
Come and see the show
See the show
See the show
See the show

10. Awaken

Can you see the future
Though it’s well disguised
Is the end so certain
That you’ve closed your eyes

Dark as the dark can be
Beckons eternity
Exits exist in life
As they do on this night

Now’s not the time to sleep
There are still nights to keep
Chances are there to take
Now it is time to


Do you fear the future
Do you fear the night
Do you fear the morning’s
Unforgiving light

Agony ecstasy
There is no certainty
Exits exist in life
As they do in this night

Now’s not the time to sleep
There are still nights to keep
Chances are there to take
Now it is time to



11. Back To Reason

Standing all alone
I bled for you
I wanted to
Each drop my own

Slowly they depart
But fall in vain
Like desert rain
And still they fall on and on and on

Got to get back to a reason
Got to get back to a reason I once knew
And this late in the seasons
One by one distractions fade from view

Drifting through the dark
The sympathy
Of night’s mercy
Inside my heart
Is your life the same
Do ghosts cry tears
Do they feel years
As time just goes on and on and on

Got to get back to a reason
Got to get back to a reason I once knew
And this late in the seasons
One by one distractions fade from view

Years come around
Men can be found
Following orders
Years come around
Planning is sound
Promises made
Years come around
Tears on the ground
Blood stains the borders
Leaders abound
Chances are down
No one’s been saved

Give me one reason
For this dark treason
Every chance unsaid
Turn around
All dead
What went wrong

[various international news reports]

Give me one reason
For this dark treason
Every chance unsaid
Turn around
All dead
What went wrong

Drink until you drown
What else can I say
When you’re falling down
You seek the ground
It’s never far away

Can you live your life
Completely in a fall
Until you’re found
Well underground
Your marker very small

As my world it keeps on spinning round

Have to get away
Have to ease the pain
I embrace the morphine child
And pump it in my veins

Burning through my heart
Fills in every hole
Makes my mind so blissful numb
And replaces my soul

Every moment drags me further
Down down down down down down…

Got to get back to a reason
Got to get back to a reason I once knew
And this late in the seasons
One by one distractions fade from view
The only reason I have left…
Is you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s