“Pins And Needles” by Chris Caffery

Artist: Chris Caffery
Title: “Pins And Needles”
Label: Locomotive Music
Release Date: 6/5/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

For many years we have seen all of the different faces that Chris Caffery musically possesses. His level of skills across the wide variety of Metal and Hard Rock genres led him to give us his first solo album appropriately titled “Faces” which he followed up with “God Damn War”. Each of these albums and the re-issue of his work with Doctor Butcher set the clear path for him to deliver “Pins And Needles”, a recording that finds the Savatage/Trans-Siberian guitarist at his heaviest yet. “Pins” is not continuing the experimentation that he first gave us with “Faces” but instead relies on shredding guitar and thunderous drums to focus more on the Metal side of things. My thoughts are that the fans of his work with both Metalium and Savatage will appreciate the choice to remain heavy as opposed to trying too many different things. The album opens with one of the best numbers I have heard Caffery do and this is the actual title track of “Pins” itself. The drums here are delivered by the talented Yael, but she is not the only drummer on the album to enjoy. I also took notice that the album required a couple of more listens before settling on how the tunes were affecting me. “Faces” gave you a wide assortment as we have noted but with the heavy groove remaining on each tune here one will need to sit and absorb them a little more carefully. Overall there is a higher level of musical complexity showcased, and the album is very dynamic at almost every turn.

It’s the most consistent in sound for the player as he rallies the army with one Traditional Metal laced rocker after another. One of my favorite such tunes is “Chained” which rocks with abandon and definitely “Walls” because of the unique vocal styling he is delivering during that one. The cast of players who recorded the album reads like a directory of musicians and among them are such notables as Alex Skolnick (Testament/TSO/AST) and Mark Wood (TSO/VHC). This influential talent allows this to be sound musical journey and Chris’ vocals sound better than ever before. He touches upon the pains of loss during “S.A.D.” which at times makes one think he is speaking of reaction to the tragic death of Criss Oliva and how it affected Savatage. The line that tips me off is “thousands screamed insane, now we sit and trade the rumors, ‘twas it all in vain”. Anyone who has read Caffery interviews knows full well that the musician would put his solo work on hold if it meant the return of Savatage. I am sure that there are legions of Metal fans that would stand behind him in this decision if it should ever happen. Only time will tell on that, but at least while we wait he does not sit idly by and instead keeps the Metal coming on a regular basis.

“The Time and “Mettle Eastern” are also a among the albums strongest tunes and his work with Doctor Butcher is revisited with “Reach Out And Torment Again”. The main portion of the album closes out with a passionate ballad which I think will please the fans of that side of the guitarist but it really doesn’t end with this song. His sense of humor and view on that which annoys him returns in an updated version of “Pisses Me Off” which is presented as one of the albums bonus tracks. It’s sad to find Starbuck’s still pissing him off but amusing to hear how he finds MySpace and his website doing a little of the same this time around. There’s a lot of songs to enjoy and that is another good thing about Chris Caffery releases – he gives you your money’s worth (this one has 17 tracks and lyrics in the enclosed booklet). For a third solo release this one still finds him sounding fresh and not yet out of ideas. There is a riff or two that might sound Savatage like but that will happen with anyone who was in a band that influential. I think that those who have never followed any of his solo efforts will find this a great jumping on point and those who were fans in the past might like this one better based on its consistent execution of many different Heavy Metal styles. Nice work Chris.

Track Listing:
1. Pins And Needles
2. 66
3. Reach Out And Torment Again
4. Walls
5. Y.G.B.F.K.M.
6. It’s S-A-D
7. Chained
8. Worms
9. The Sign Of The Crossed
10. The Time
11. Mettle Eastern
12. In The Midst
13. Quaaludio
14. The Temple
15. Once Upon A Time

Official Website: www.chriscaffery.com

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