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Jon Oliva's Pain - Maniacal Renderings

Label: Locomotive Records
Format: CD
Released: 2006
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Within the Savatage family tree its branches include Trans Siberian Orchestra (where if you don't already know would have never been without Savatage as they wrote 'Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24'), Doctor Butcher, Jon Oliva's Pain, Circle II Circle, and Chris Caffery's solo work.


So even though the Savatage name is not and has not functioned in several years, you are still getting its music elsewhere in some form thankfully. This is the record Savatage should have made either instead of or after "Poets and Madmen". There I said it!

Nothing against "Poets" because it is a solid Tage record for that era of the band, and I do like it, but let's face it, the edge and consistency in song writing by Oliva/Oliva or Oliva/Oliva/O'Neil was not at its best. The album is hit or miss.

"Maniacal Renderings" title track is everything a classic Savatage (pre Criss' passing) fan would want as Jon's vocals alone captures a maniacal feel with heavy guitar riffs and leads the album bares the spirit of "Gutter Ballet", and to top it off mid way through the seven minutes progresses into one of Jon Oliva's classic piano pieces. 'Through the Eyes of the King' will surely bring back memories of "Hall of the Mountain King" with its classic Tage riffing, Jon's ominous screams and trademark Criss Oliva like leads.

Once again Jon enlists players that capture nicely the essence of Savatage even though current and long time alumni Chris Caffery and Johnny Lee Middleton are not contributors to his solo work. Just excellent, excellent work by the mountain king and his late great brother Criss as he is credited in the tracks songwriting. As Jon states he recently discovered a box of tapes with work he and his brother put down over the years before his death and here some of that material has made it onto this record as Criss is credited on 4 tracks.

Like his first solo effort "Tage Mahal", Jon Oliva (also a founding member of Savatage) embraced both the classic and more contemporary sounds of Savatage for his solo project.

"Maniacal Renderings" does the same as it is a combination of the orchestrated TSOish Savatage 'Who's Playing God' (with a very similar vibe to what they were doing with "The Wake of Magellan") and dark heavy metal of the early Savatage days for a fast track like 'Push it to the Limit' or 'Time to Die' where Criss Oliva once again gets writing credit. Jon does have his own touch with these solo records as you will hear a Beatles influence on 'Timeless Flight' and theater influence on ballad 'The Answer' which is about 9/11, something heard on the classic Savatage "Streets - A Rock Opera".

Serving also as a writer and pianist for the highly regarded Trans Siberian Orchestra, and since its inception one half of the writing team for Savatage, you can imagine the scope of his talents when it comes to his music. The chance of a filler track are far and few between.

Long live the mountain king!

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