Genre: Progressive Heavy Metal
Metal Traveller Rating: (4/5 - Raise Your Fist!)
Jon Oliva fans, rejoice! The Mountain King has returned, bringing his first ever solo album, called Raise The Curtain. Well, a Jon Oliva solo record is as unexpected as a Steve Harris solo record... Who said this couldn’t happen?!
Now, why would Jon Oliva make a solo album if he has Jon Oliva's Pain, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and he could reunite Savatage if he wanted?
You only need to listen to the first song, the title track Raise The Curtain, to find the answer. It might sound a little bit like Yes or Kansas but it doesn’t sound like anyhing Jon Oliva has done before!
This album provides diverse musical experiences and the result is somewhat surprising.
The guitar on the cover is a direct reference to Criss Oliva and Savatage. The curtain in front of the theatre stage too... Still The Orchestra Plays.
But Raise The Curtain is not a lost Savatage record. Or perhaps could it be a hypothetical evolution of Savatage? Jon dug into the last unexplored demo tapes of his brother Criss, and those riffs were his first inspiration to create these songs.
This virtual cooperation had to remain private, even selfish, so that's why Jon decided to play all the instruments himself! Yes, Jon did everything himself: vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, and even played drums on three tracks!
That’s a mammoth task that makes the album even more personal.
But Jon knew that he needed the help of a few chosen ones in order to get a perfect result. Dan Fasciano gave him a hand at song writing, while Howard Helm was responsible for the guitar solos. Jon Oliva's Pain drummer Christopher Kinder played drums on the remaining tracks, and he also was in charge of the production.
Indeed, the production is part of the magic of this record. We’ve heard lots of albums recorded at Morrisound Studio, but none has such a feeling from the 70's.
Sometimes it is theatrical, like on Raise The Curtain.
Sometimes it's jazzy, like on Father Time.
Sometimes it's as Bluesy like on Can’t Get Away. Jon isn’t afraid of going from one style to the other. He goes from the very easy-going Big Brother, to the pulsating rhythms of Armageddon, to the elaborated melodies of Stalker.
Surprise after surprise, we can only wonder how far will Jon go!
There are also some more traditional songs. I Know has a dramatic atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of Savatage’s Tonight He Grins Again. Also, fans will be delighted to hear the unique Jon screams on Soul Chaser. And of course, we there’s also a very nice ballad called Soldier.
Still, Raise The Curtain is anything but a typical album. On this record, Jon searched deep inside him the way to get the best of the last recordings of his brother.
He could only make this introspection alone, so the logical result is this solo album.
Raise The Curtain is an experimental record and therefore it might not for everyone. Nevertheless, I am confident that most fans that follow Savatage and Jon Oliva's Pain will certainly love it, although they may be disoriented at first.
Jon Oliva – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drums on 3 tracks
Christopher Kinder – Drums