Tag Archives: jon oliva

“Return To Wacken” by Savatage

Artist: Savatage
Title: “Return To Wacken”
Label: Ear Music
Release Date: 6/30/2015
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

It’s been far too long since the Metal world has had new music from the great Savatage and their last recorded work together was on “Poets and Madmen” which hit us hard back in 2001 care of Nuclear Blast Records. Since that time, Savatage has been on a bit of a lengthy hiatus while numerous members focused their creative energies on the holiday touring juggernaut known as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra while others continued on into projects of their own. Now in celebration of the bands return to the live stage for the Wacken Open Air Festival, a rather sound compilation of some of the bands classics has been issued and for the foreseeable future this is as close to “new” as we shall get from the legendary band. My notes on the release come from my relatively long association with their material (since 1988 if memory serves me correctly) and a deep knowledge of their back catalog. I didn’t have a copy of my own and was listening to a digital stream of it online. As a collection, this serves up well as a grouping of very necessary tracks for the listeners who might not be all that up on the bands historic game. Let’s consider this to be “Savatage Primer” since its all expected numbers as opposed to any sort of deep tracks. Perhaps if this was a double CD edition but alas this is only a single disc.
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Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 5

These album overviews were originally written for Metal Edge Magazine when I was a contributor to their “Hear Us Out” CD reviews section back in 2006-2007. With the magazine wrapping up publication a few months ago, I decided to add them to the context of our PiercingMetal presentation. I felt that by doing this I would not only be raising the horns in remembrance of the magazine but would also be able to showcase just how different writing for a major publication was when it all came down to it. Since “Hear Us Out” notations were usually “100” words in length, these posts will feature several reviews each until we run out of them. The freelance writing tenure at Metal Edge Magazine was discussed on THIS LINK so please check that out when done. Here are the reviews, so “Hear Us Out”.

Gilby Clarke: “Gilby Clarke” (Spitfire Records)

For those of you who only know of Gilby Clarke’s name from the blockbuster television show “Rockstar: Supernova” then this CD offers you the perfect chance to see just where the performer comes from and what he has brought to the table musically for many years. Clarke’s resume reads most prominently with his contributions to the music of Guns ‘N Roses where he replaced Izzy Stradlin while the group was on tour back in 1991. He left in 1994 and proceeded to record and produce on his own which brings us to this tasty compilation release. Musically the best way to define the songs that Clarke usually delivers is by saying its a little bit Black Crowes and a lot of Rock attitude. Listeners will find this collection as a cool treasure chest since it covers his solo releases (Pawnshop Guitars, The Hangover, Rubber, ’99 Live and Swag) which cover 1994-2002 along with some other trinkets. From start to finish, this is solid Rock & Roll and even if you were never a fan of his the diversity and groove of the tracks offers you the chance to try him once again. In 2006, Clarke was a prominent figure in the public eye as the guitarist for a Tommy Lee fueled show and band that would feature Jason Newsted (Metallica/Voivod) as well. The show was an instant hit as singers vied for the coveted position that ended up with Lukas Rossi winning out. Despite his winning, there was another worthy contestant in Dilana and she is featured on the song “Black”. It is a good track but far too Janis Joplin, as opposed to the unique style that she possessed on her own. Other treats here are selections from Col. Parker, the group he had with Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats). They were a good band that sadly failed to generate the interest that was deserved. Clarke is also a strong Producer who has worked with both L.A. Guns and Crash Kelly. The material on the CD finds its strongest tunes in lead track “Cure Me Or Kill Me” which while one of the oldest inclusions is still a fresh dose of Rock. As one of the core creators of the music of RSN, you can see the developments offered here that come to fruition on the new vehicle. This is a great sampler of a very productive career.

Grave Digger: “Liberty Or Death” (Locomotive Records)

For over two decades Grave Digger has continued to dole out Heavy Metal that is still pure, solid and delivers exactly what you desire of this music. The premise of the release is all battle related themes and the band charges through every track like heroic warriors that are certain of victory against staggering odds. GD plays Metal that many of us grew up on and yet manage to remain consistently interesting and not “dated” in any manner. The blood pumps with the drumming and the riffs hand out the air guitars as the listener joins the band in glorious combat.
Continue reading Revisiting “Metal Edge” Magazine: The CD Reviews – Part 5

PiercingMetal Talks To Jon Oliva from Jon Oliva’s Pain/Savatage (12/12/2006)

Logo - Jon Olivas Pain

I’ve been a Savatage fan for many, many years and when the chance arose to speak to one of the bands founding members I eagerly jumped at the chance.  Jon Oliva is very simply “The Mountain King” and as leader of the band Savatage for many years, he delivered epic and influential Metal that is still relevant in today’s scene. In 1996 he co-founded The Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Paul O’Neill and is one of the group’s core composers of material that keep this juggernaut propelling forward each and every year. In 2003 he would form a band of his own design to carry his musical ideas forward. The band would be called “Jon Oliva’s Pain”, and include former members of Circle II Circle. In November of 2006 I had the chance to speak with Jon on behalf of Metal Edge magazine; the article appeared in the June 2007 edition and with this off the stands I am able to present the complete and unedited text as it happened. Enjoy.

PiercingMetal: Jon I am not sure you recall this, but you and I met a couple of years ago when you were in New York City to record some new Doctor Butcher stuff with Chris Caffery. We ended up hanging out together at Chris’ Superbowl Party in Queens.

Oliva: Oh that’s right at the bar. I remember.

PiercingMetal: Ok, so essentially we are going to do this for Metal Edge magazine and we are going to get some of your feelings on a couple of things. First of all congratulations on the new album “Maniacal Renderings” – I have to say that this record is a hell of a piece of Metal. Has the release met your expectations and approval?

Oliva: Absolutely, I am very happy with it and the response that people have been giving to it has been overwhelmingly good and for us that’s great.
Continue reading PiercingMetal Talks To Jon Oliva from Jon Oliva’s Pain/Savatage (12/12/2006)

“Maniacal Renderings” by Jon Oliva’s Pain

Artist: Jon Oliva’s Pain
Title: “Maniacal Renderings”
Label: Locomotive Records
Release Date: 10/17/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Metal Legions I ask that you once again proclaim a hearty “All Hail The Mountain King” for he has returned and brings The Pain to Metal once again. Yes, the Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva is back and doing what he has always done best – delivering emotional and powerful Metal that is loaded with melodic hooks, inspiring piano and choruses that will have you with fists raised to the sky. “Maniacal Renderings “ is the second album Oliva recorded with this band and they do not suffer the sophomore curse by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, they seem to have worked out any kinks and begun the next logical step in their development. Yet as you listen, and especially if you had followed his career in the past you will find this album to be the most Savatage like of the two they have released. I was left wondering if this was on purpose or as an accident but perhaps it was a little bit of both. Oliva has one of the most unique voices to ever hit Metal and his song writing style has made albums like “Gutter Ballet”, “Streets”, and “Handful Of Rain” become classics that are long referred to by fans and other musicians of note. After so many years in the business, one’s overall style does not change fully, yet adapts over time. Based on the Savatage work and his co-creation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, we find JOP to be a Metal band that utilizes to success some elements of each of these juggernauts. I have felt that Jon’s writing always had a specific vibe to it also and as a result this album could very well have been called “Streets 2”, for as soon as it finished I ran to my case and dug that one out. There are more than a few moments on this release that sound like they are continuations to music we first heard on “Streets: A Rock Opera”. Oliva fans will enjoy this closeness as the Savalegions have been begging for a reunion of the classic group for years and this is probably as close as they will get.
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“Doctor Butcher” by Doctor Butcher

Artist: Doctor Butcher
Title: “Doctor Butcher”
Label: Black Lotus Records
Release Date: 9/27/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Attention Savatage fans you may rejoice! If you were in need of some of the dose of the type of Metal that the classic band delivered you need look no further. Back in 1993 (around the time that Savatage released “Edge Of Thorns”) Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery were not active members of the group and had formed Doctor Butcher. With Butcher, the pair recorded an amazing number of powerful tracks that were released on a self-titled record which was unfortunately next to impossible to find. Now, thanks to the efforts of Caffery and Oliva as well as the folks at Black Lotus Records you are able to own this gem of music and an important release from these two musicians. As you listen you will find it almost to be a heavier version of the already heavy Savatage. One would expect a similar sound especially from the principle writer of many of the classics ‘Tage fans loved. Vocally, Jon still possessed the powerful pipes that he was known for in all of the Savatage tunes and now they burned with anger in these tracks. Chris’ guitar work was ripping continually and the bass and drums steady and powerful. Songs like “Season Of The Witch”, “The Altar” and “Reach Out And Torment Someone” clearly defined the piece and almost assured this band a place alongside their counterparts as an equal Metal power. Sadly, the material went un-toured and limited in release and availability until now. The CD is a double-disc and features a brand-new Butcher recording that also features the guitar talents of Metal Mike Chlasiak. Drums are handled by John Osborne on a large amount of the songs and Jon and Chris handled bass for the larger recordings. Lyrics and another excellent package are par for the course with all the Black Lotus releases it seems and this one is no different. I lean towards a release that also gives me a lot to look at and find it more worth my time when extra care was placed into it. I had heard this music as a friend owned the original CD (now many years lost) and it was great to hear it all once again.
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