Edge of Thorns is the seventh album by American heavy metal band Savatage, released on April 2, 1993 on Atlantic Records. It is the last album featuring the talents of guitarist Criss Oliva, who died six months after its release, and it is the first Savatage album with Zachary Stevens on lead vocals, following the departure of Jon Oliva from his role as singer in Savatage.
Also the drums on this album sound different, from other Savatage records, as Steve "Doc" Wacholz decided to use electronic drums. Although most of the drum kits sound authentic, a difference in the timbre of the toms can be heard.
"All That I Bleed" and "Miles Away" were the last songs Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva and the producer Paul O'Neill wrote together. For that, they are still Jon Oliva's two favorites on the album.
The woman in the picture of the album art is Dawn Oliva, Criss Oliva's wife. Gary Smith, who also did the front and back covers for Hall of the Mountain King, the front cover for Gutter Ballet, the back cover for Streets, and all of Criss Oliva's airbrushed guitars, painted the cover. The face in the trees is supposed to be Jon Oliva, though producer O'Neill disputes that despite its publication in a Criss Oliva interview from 1993. The cover is supposed to represent good (the woman) vs. evil (the face in the trees). According to Criss Oliva in a 1993 interview, "The girl is surrounded by fear and innocence. But the face in the trees is evil. Everything around her is evil. It's about good and evil. The songs on the CD reflect this, too."
In a contemporary review for Rock Hard magazine, where Edge of Thorns had been elected Album of the Month, Matthias Breusch wrote that Savatage had "not lost a pinch of their compositional potential and energy" and praised Criss Oliva's guitar playing; he complimented new singer Zak Stevens' "powerful, energetic voice", which was "cleverly adapted to the melodic lines" of the new songs, although he missed Jon Oliva's "crazy screams".
Modern reviews are generally positive. AllMusic Geoff Orens praised Savatage's continuous experimentation of new sounds and wrote that Edge of Thorns moved away from the progressive metal of the two previous albums, being a "leaner, more understated guitar-driven record", with the majority of the songs consisting "of stripped-down metal anthems, recorded with less flashy guitar work and production" than before. In his opinion, the new material fits well the "less bombastic delivery" of new singer Stevens, who does "not have the emotional range that Oliva showed on Gutter Ballet and Streets". Canadian journalist Martin Popoff remarked how Edge of Thorns was "a raucous return to old Savatage vein", with "mountains of thirsty power riffs" and "an odd adherence to a goth past", mostly out of fashion in the alternative metal scene of the time. He was more critical of "the band's mellow tendencies" and the murky long intros to the songs.