Jon Oliva's Pain


Written by: PK on 28/02/2010 23:47:49

Jon Oliva is a man who has been in the heavy metal business for more than 30 years now, but will have slipped under the radar of many. Oliva first made it with the band Savatage during the 1980s, playing heavy metal inspired by some of the main protagonists of the time such as Maiden and Priest (check out the album "Hall of the Mountain King" for some very underrated mid-eighties metal - think Megadeth or Judas Priest slowed down). He has also been associated with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a large group of orchestral and rock musicians playing symphonic and heavy metal with classical influences. More recently, Oliva has turned his hand to his own project, Jon Oliva's Pain, which is effectively his vehicle for showcasing songs that ended up not being released by Savatage. "Festival" is the fourth album to be released through that band.

One of the reasons that Jon Oliva seems to have sustained a long career in music is his versatility, something that is evident on his latest album. The album would probably be classed overall as heavy/progressive metal, but there is quite a musical variety on show, ranging from full on balls-to-the-wall metal tracks like "Living on the Edge" through to the pop rock song "Looking For Nothing", a track that wouldn't sound out of place one of the later Beatles album. To hear the mixture of styles that can be found even within a single track, listen to "Afterglow". It begins with a great riff, moves into an acoustic verse, an orchestral chorus, and then part way through the song we are even treated to a jazz/blues interlude. Oliva also has quite a versatility when it comes to his vocals, often resorting to his gruff aggressive tone but also exhibiting a much more mellow and soulful sound on several songs. For an example of this mellow sound look no further that the ballad "Now", and if you have a craving for some fantastic guitar work then you are spoilt for choice, but check out "Death Rides a Black Horse". The title track "Festival" is surprisingly one of the weaker songs on the album, and one or two tracks are a little too long, but this is a fairly small complaint when weighed up against the quality of many offerings on the album.

Some might say that the variety on show leads to "Festival" seeming like an inconsistent mixture of random songs, but in reality it was quite enjoyable not knowing exactly what was coming up next, and the fact that most of what I was hearing was very good only compounded my feelings on this. Too many albums that we hear contain a couple of decent tracks, with the rest made up of repetative mediocre filler, so it was nice to hear an album that mixed it up a bit. "Festival" has grown on me a lot and I would recommend that you have a listen. And while you are at it, as I mentioned earlier, have a listen to some of Jon Oliva's work with previous bands too. If you are into your heavy metal then you may find yourself some new music to listen to - I know I did.


Download: Death Rides a Black Horse, Living on the Edge, Afterglow
For The Fans Of: Savatage, Circle II Circle, Doctor Butcher

Release Date 19.02.2010
AFM Records

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