Jon Oliva's Pain - 'Tage Mahal 3.5/5

Reviewed: 9-30-05


1. The dark
2. People say - Gimme some hell
3. Guardian of forever
4. Slipping away
5. Walk alone
6. The non sensible ravings of the lunatic mind
7. No escape
8. Father, Son, Holy Ghost
9. All the time
10. Nowhere to run
11. Pain
12. Outside the door
13. Fly away

This is Savatage singer Jon Oliva’s first solo CD and he has done a good job with it. Oliva wrote every track on the CD other than co-writing one with Savatage bandmate Chris Caffery and he was able to successfully walk the fine line of writing songs that have a definite familiarity to his band, but also moving in his own direction so that it doesn’t sound just like Savatage leftovers. Oliva does have a scratchy voice which could become annoying as the sole vocalist over a full CD, this was a problem for me with Savatage’s ‘Poets and madmen’, but I do not find that to be a problem on this CD for whatever reason.

The CD starts out sounding exactly like Savatage with the excellent track “The dark”. The CD may have seemed a little silly if the whole thing was a copy of Savatage, but this track is very, very good and gets the listener into a comfort zone before moving in some slightly different directions. Several of the remaining tracks have an emotional, haunting sound like the 3rd track, “Guardian of forever”. A couple of the more interesting tracks are the back to back “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” and “All the time”, which both have a strong George Harrison (The Beatles) sound to them in parts. There is only one true clunker on this CD, that being “Pain” which simply goes nowhere. Unfortunately, that track is followed by “Outside the door” which, while better than the previous track, is also mediocre at best.

This is a very impressive debut solo CD. It features good songwriting and evokes sounds of the performer’s old band but, at the same time, moves in some new and different directions. There will, undoubtedly, be some listeners who are disappointed in the wide range of songwriting styles and would prefer a CD with a more consistent sound. Those listeners will have to be content with their old Savatage CDs, but it is a credit to Oliva that he was willing to go out on somewhat of a limb and take some chances with some different styles. Some tracks on this CD work better than others, but the CD is a valiant effort that is successful far more often than it is not.




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