Hall of the Mountain King is the fourth studio album by American heavy metal band Savatage, released in 1987 under the direction of producer Paul O'Neill. It is their first album produced by O'Neill, who was assigned to the band after the tour in support of Fight for the Rock. This album shows the beginning of Savatage's exploration of progressive metal, in their search for new forms of musical expression. Many fans consider this album the original turning point in their musical identity, distinguishing between the old and new Savatage. It is not a concept album, but it has a constant tone (of darkness, in this case) and is more complex than their previous albums, with two entirely instrumental tracks that go beyond simple guitar riffs and solos, namely "Prelude to Madness" and "Last Dawn". Through Paul O'Neill's connections, he brought in Ray Gillen of Badlands fame (credited as Ray Gillian) to perform a vocal duet at the end of "Strange Wings".
"Prelude to Madness" is an arrangement of Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from the Peer Gynt suite. Oddly, Grieg is not credited for this song, but for the following title track - which is an original song. The intro of "Prelude to Madness" features keyboards and guitar playing "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's suite, The Planets.
This was the first album to feature the album cover drawn by artist Gary Smith, who was responsible for lead guitarist Criss Oliva's airbrushed guitars at the time. Hall of the Mountain King reached position No. 116 in the US Billboard 200 albums chart.