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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Jon Oliva's Pain

Maniacal Renderings

Review by Greg Olma

It is really difficult for me to review this and not compare it to Savatage. Jon Oliva being the main songwriter in both bands, it obviously makes the music similar. It has been a few years since Poets and Madmen was released and since then, Jon Oliva has worked on Trans-Siberian Orchestra and this, his new band. The first Jon Oliva’s Pain album sounded more like Savatage where as I think this disk has more of a Trans-Siberian Orchestra influence. A good number of the tunes here feel as though they were written with visuals in mind. On first listen, this record is not as immediate as his first album but after repeated listens, there is a depth to Maniacal Renderings that Taj Mahal lacks. This is a must buy for any Savatage fan.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Through The Eyes of The King
This is definitely old school Savatage with a chorus that almost copies “Hall Of The Mountain King.” There is some great riffing and it is a fantastic way to open the album. Towards the end of the tune, we get some of those trademark Jon Oliva screams that may make you think you are listening to a Savatage CD.
Maniacal Renderings
This mid-paced rocker is the second longest track here and it is nice to see the band spread out and not be scared to just deliver 4-5 minute songs. There are some operatic type vocals during the pre-chorus and chorus. Adding to the usual guitar solo, Jon slips in a really cool piano solo. It’s not often you hear piano in a metal setting but Jon Oliva knows how to make it work.
The Evil Beside You
An odd acoustic intro starts off this cut. After about a minute, the track makes a complete turnaround into a Savatage rocker. The piano and vocal phrasing reminds me of “Gutter Ballet.” It is difficult for me to pick a favorite off this record but this would be in the top three.
Time To Die
There is a Black Sabbath feel to parts of this tune. The riffing is also some of the heaviest on the disc. The chorus is really catchy with an almost mechanical vocal delivery.
The Answer
Jon Oliva turns in a Paul McCartney vocal on the intro. The piano and chorus make this track sound like something that belongs on Trans-Siberian Orchestra. As I stated in the overall review, this track has a very visual, almost Broadway show, feel to it. This cut seems like it is a part of a larger concept piece.
Push It To The Limit
This fast paced rocker is almost thrash metal. It is the shortest piece on the record and is just the right length. There is not much to this tune so clocking in at 3 minutes is just right. It does not overstay its welcome.
Who's Playing God
If you were to cross Savatage’s heaviness with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s theatrical sound, you would get this track. The keyboards have a very Jon Lord sound to them. If you listen closely, there is a great social commentary on the people in power. It comes at very appropriate time in our lives when the words ring even more true.
Timeless Flight
The track starts off in a very Beatle-esque fashion. The chorus is heavy but the rest of the tune is pretty mellow. It is quite a departure from the other material. About halfway through, the cut does an about face and turns into a Savatage style rocker.
Holes
Religious sounding chanting starts off this heavy and epic track. Jon’s maniacal vocal delivery makes you feel as though he is living the lyrics. About 4 minutes into it, the Black Sabbath influence creeps in again. This is also one of the best tunes on the album.
End Times
This track has it all; some heavy riffing, mellow parts, piano, great guitar solo and operatic vocals during the chorus. There is also an epic feel to this cut. The title and sound would have lent themselves perfectly as the closing piece on the album.
Still I Pray For You Now
Jon Oliva is doing his best Roger Waters in this Pink Floyd sounding tune. I can’t decide if this or “End Times” would be the perfect closer for the album. This is another solid tune.
 
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