Oliva - Raise the curtain 4/5

Reviewed: 7-1-13


1. Raise the curtain
2. Soul chaser
3. Ten years
4. Father time
5. I know
6. Big brother
7. Armageddon
8. Soldier
9. Stalker
10. The witch
11. Can't get away

After 3 x 10 years, Mr. 'Tage - John "Jon" Nicholas Oliva - the orchestral soul siren chaser of time - furthers his career by finally releasing his first solo CD: a montage of pain, power and might. This honorable big brother in turn pays his respect by manifesting the final recordings of the sadly missed Criss; some of which include his first attempts on guitar to mimic his idol Alex Lifeson.

Here he haunts like a ghost in the ruins as he continues the fight for the progressive rock, by utilizing all of his and his brother's 70s influences; especially, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, early Journey and Genesis, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, etc. In fact, '2112' and 'Night at the opera' set the precedent for the sound and style established here. Just as "The dungeons are calling" steals riffs from Black Sabbath's "Spiral architect", so does this masterpiece pay homage to early Rush and Queen.

There are still plenty of Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Jon Oliva's Pain moments, and even a hint of Dr. Butcher, but there are other new elements making their debut, like jazzy interludes, boogie bites, big band ballistics, and some sweet piano soliloquies. The flute on "Soldier" just sends shivers down my spine, as does the puissant poetry from this madman. Jon speaks his truth, near and dear to his heart, as he also pays his final respects to the late Matt LaPorte.

The more I play this, the more I celebrate its festive, somber, and magical mystery Tour De Force. I can not get away from the songs that echo in my head. Nothing is heavy or fast, yet the music is so mesmerizing and captivating. I feel like I am travelling through Mithadrinia.

Similar to what Kurt V. from Metal Church does with his band Presto Ballet, Jon stays on target - flying on strange wings - soaring with the white witch, as he embodies legions of experience to create unusual allegorical rhymes and mellifluent memories.

I believe that with each skull session in the studio, and truly wishing to do well, he establishes his hallowed, caustic metalhead and rock influences. He then sandwiches them together to create a personal global warning, embracing his own private armageddon. Even if there are no more sadder days or silent knights, Jon assures me that the CD is not altogether conceptual, but the listening experience definitely is. Perhaps even better if under the influence.

No worries, there is no need for dudgeon, calling to mind later 'Tage attempts, with Jon barely appearing with the band. Nothing is appalling. "Big brother" may recapture some scared straight, jacked-up memories and maniacal renderings, but the festive "Soul chaser", or glitzy "Ten years" showcase his roaring ragtime tease.

I know that from the minute the curtain rises, and the fanfare commences, you too will be swept in by the gutter parlay, a true sound from out on the streets, echoing through the halls, as the man as big as a mountain sings. Jon is a real talker, but there is no classic staccato stutter as found on 'Sirens' or other Atlantic CDs.

So do yourself a favor and when the hammer comes down find your own private avatar and get lost in the mist, and theatrical bliss.




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