Oliva - 'Raise The Curtain' CD Review (AFM Records) [Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra] ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, July 12, 2013

Oliva - 'Raise The Curtain' CD Review (AFM Records) [Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra]

Oliva - 'Raise The Curtain' CD Review (AFM Records) [Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra]
Three years ago, I reviewed Jon Oliva’s last outing, Festival, (released as Jon Oliva’s Pain) and compared the disc to Alice Cooper’s mid-70’s work. That same comparison still stands with the follow-up to that disc, Raise the Curtain, which was released earlier this month on AFM Records. This time out, in addition to the Alice Cooper influences, Raise the Curtain touches on 70’s prog rock (Yes comes immediately to mind), jazz/fusion and roots-rock of John Lennon. This is an eclectic disc but fans of Jon Oliva’s past work will surely enjoy it.

This new disc is being billed as Oliva’s first solo disc and the impetus behind the ‘hiatus’ of Jon Oliva’s Pain (JOP) was the death of JOP guitarist Matt LaPorte. In an interview with Dan Fasciano of Metalholic.com, Oliva said: "After the passing of my dear friend Matt LaPorte, I felt very confused about the future of Jon Oliva's Pain. A week or so after Matt's service, I was speaking to my friend Dan Fasciano about what I wanted to do. He suggested that I come by his home where he has a full studio and we just hang out and record whatever I had that I wanted to demo." Making this a real solo disc, Oliva plays most of the instruments (which includes playing drums on three tracks) and other musicians include Fasciano on keyboards and piano and Chris Kinder (JOP) on drums.

This new disc starts with the title track, “Raise The Curtain”, which sounds like a classic Yes (the band) number and Oliva’s guitar lines could easily be interchanged with Steve Howe’s. Completely shifting gears on the next number, “Soul Chaser”, has a similar sound to the melodic hard rock of JOP. Not staying in one place for too long, this is followed by “Ten Years”, which has a swinging roadhouse groove and a classic rock chorus. One of the standout numbers on the disc is “Father Time”, which combines jazz/fusion instrumentals with a memorable keyboard solo, proggy guitar riffs and clean vocals. In addition to these numbers, there are the expected power ballads (“Soldier” and the dark and uneasy “I Know”) and the disc wraps up with two ‘John Lennonish’ cuts (“Can’t Get Away” and “The Truth”).

Like the classic 70’s prog-rock albums, most of the songs are multi-layered and the multiple guitar parts, keyboard and piano (along with non-traditional rock instruments like flute and harpsichord) are all intertwined. The interplay between these instruments and Oliva’s vocals makes for great headphone listening.

Many of Oliva’s recent discs have included music recorded by Criss Oliva (Jon’s brother and Savatage guitarist, who passed away in a car accident 20 years ago) and Raise the Curtain includes the last of Criss’ music. Oliva pays an unspoken tribute to Criss by including his white guitar on the front of the album.

Jon Oliva