JON OLIVA'S PAIN

"Festival" (AFM; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Giving loyal fans languishing through year after year of Trans Siberian Orchestra’s heavy metal cash-in on Christmas concerts something to rejoice about, the latest offering from prolific metal musician Jon Oliva fully revives the complete package of luxurious instrumentation, driving tempos, sinister symphonics, brooding atmosphere and dramatic heaviness from his best known band Savatage at their peak on "Festival," a decisively dark and stimulatingly stirring 10-track release chock full of teeth-gnashing hard-edged rockers and soulfully heartfelt ballads.

This release is an intense endeavor steeped in a traditional heavy metal mindset with Oliva’s trademark emotionally raw vocal delivery and soaring melodic composition skills working on overdrive to create the closest thing resembling a full-on Savatage reunion sans the actual members reforming.

For more information, check out www.jonoliva.net

"Global Warning" (Locomotive; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Global Warning" is another rich effort from Savatage's Jon Olivia and, while it may not be what those looking for balls-out old school metal are looking for, it is a concept album on a grand scale with layers of progressive edge, haunting ballads and a big, musical stage feel.

Like "Maniacal Renderings" before it, "Global Warning" is a conglomeration of all sorts of rock'n'roll genres, including the epic storytelling of Meat Loaf, the grand stage presence of Andrew Lloyd Webber (yes, I'm talking "Jesus Christ Superstar" Webber here, as opposed to "The Phantom of the Opera" Webber) and the lyrical wit and strong song structure of Alice Cooper.

Interestingly, "Global Warning" is one of those albums in which the sum of its parts is better than its individual pieces. Trying to find one particular song on this CD to describe the rest of the album is impossible and, in fact, each song hereon is like a jigsaw puzzle piece: Without being seen as part of the big picture, the individual songs lose some of their steam. In other words, listening to only one song would be like reading just one chapter of a book; you need to know what's going on before and after in order to really get it.

Like all of the albums by Jon Olvia's Pain, "Global Warning" is the perfect bridge between Savatage and Oliva's other monster project, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It falls somewhere between the fiery metal of Savatage and the rich rock orchestra feel of TSO. And, judging from the success of the three CDs, that's a good place to be.

Jon Oliva's Pain: Jon Oliva (Vocals, Piano, Keyboards, Guitars); Christopher Kinder (Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals); John Zahner (Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Backing Vocals); Kevin Rothney (Bass, Backing Vocals); Matt Laporte (Guitar, Backing Vocals); Shane French (Guitar, Backing Vocals).

For more information, check out www.jonoliva.net

"Maniacal Renderings" (Locomotive; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Jon Oliva's second CD with his band, Jon Oliva's Pain, is a symphony of conceptual rock'n'roll. Often closer in tone to Meat Loaf or the more bombastic work of Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber than the thrash metal of Savatage, "Maniacal Renderings" may drive away as many people as it will draw. And that's too bad, because an album this creative, whether it's entirely heavy metal or not, deserves to be heard.

Rich with lush, orchestral instrumentation and given an edge with rock'n'roll guitars and drums, "Maniacal Renderings" plays like the soundtrack to an eerie rock opera which, in fact, it was probably designed to be. What's amazing is the artists that come to mind as you listen to this nearly one-hour long epic. Throughout "Maniacal Renderings" there are hints of the above-mentioned Meat Loaf and Queensryche, as well as other legends like Alice Cooper, The Who and The Beatles(!). 

Fans of Oliva's Savatage may not be instantly won over by "Maniacal Renderings" but fans of his other side project, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, surely will be. 

Jon Oliva's Pain: Jon Oliva (Vocals, Piano, Keyboards, Guitars); Christopher Kinder (Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals); John Zahner (Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Backing Vocals); Kevin Rothney (Bass, Backing Vocals); Matt Laporte (Guitar, Backing Vocals); Shane French (Guitar, Backing Vocals). Special guests: Track 11: Tony Oliva (12 String Guitar), Anthony Oliva (Bass), Christopher J. Oliva (Acoustic Guitar), Track 12: Christopher J. Oliva (Lead Guitar).

For more information, check out www.jonoliva.net

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 15 Mar 2017 23:14:52 -0500 .