[colored_box color=”grey”]Rating: 9
Label: AFM Records
Website: Link
Author: Pascal Skoufos[/colored_box]

Considering myself a Savatage fan, it makes sense that I am also a fan of everything that is related to Savatage, Circle II Circle, Jon Oliva’s Pain and of course Tran Siberian Orchestra.Finally Jon Oliva releases a personal album and I was fully anticipated for this album. Το the musical part of the album, while the material here isn’t vastly different from later period Savatage or the Jon Oliva’s Pain discography, it’s a more masterful fusion of metal, progressive rock like Yes, and old Genesis and even some Jazz and blues elements.

The first thing one notices is just how much this is like 70′s prog-rock. Especially the opener, there are layers upon layers of Hammond organ swirling and churning on the title track and it calls to mind the work of Yes and Queen. This leads into more traditional, crunchy, Savatage-like metal with “Soul Chaser” and on to groovy, funky rocker “Ten Years” which adds Bebop jazz horns to the musical stew. One of the highllights for me is “Father Time,” which reveals a bouncy, groove-oriented nod to classic R&B, then segues into brilliantly harmonized guitar leads and Hammond organ that is straight out of an Emerson, Lake and Palmer playbook, it also has a very catchy refrain which can’t be knocked out of your head!

I Know” carries the soul of ”Raise the Curtain”. It’s a very dark song that will remind listeners of Savatage’s earlier days, and Oliva delivers the verse with that trademark slightly psychotic and sinister lift that only he is capable of. The fans of the heavier sound wont be dissapointed, “Big Brother” blazes with grinding guitars under Oliva’s organ playing and swelling symphonic keyboard notes.

Tracks like “Armageddon” are unsettlingly dark, reminding more Oliva’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra contributions; the track rides a militaristic, marching-type seesaw while howling and bombing. “Soldier” is a super cool ballad with piano-guitar and also some flute in it reminding a bit of Jethro Tull. “Stalker” brings kind of an exotic guitar flavor to the table before getting a little funky. Another surprising ballad is “Can’t Get Away”, which finds Oliva in a blues mood. Though he still goes for the big power notes and a purely Oliva sound, he also shows a little bit of a soulful growl and a soft delivery in places, which show his Beatles influences.

The sound is rich and loaded with lots of emotions as we know from Jon Oliva and not unlike a ’70s Yes album, but with way heavier guitars in it. But I think all true music fans will love this album, from theatrical like in “Raise The Curtain” to jazz like in “Father Time” to bluesy like in “Can’t Get Away” and that’s excactly what I love in metal, that it is often a genre that has all the other genres in it! The album contains awesome music, and I personally loved it!

Track List Line Up
01. Raise the Curtain
02. Soul Chaser
03. Ten Years
04. Father Time
05. I Know
06. Big Brother
07. Armageddon
08. Soldier
09. Stalker
10. The Witch
11. Can’t Get Away
Christopher Kinder – Drums, Percussion, Vocals (Backing)
Jon Oliva – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Piano, Keyboards
Dan Fasciano – Piano, Keyboards
Jim Morris – Guitars