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Caffery,Chris: Faces

Sometimes, being involved in a popular band just isn't enough to satisfy the hunger within. In Chris Caffery's case, being in Savatage AND Trans-Siberian Orchestra may be great, but the man has so much more he wants to accomplish. Hence the arrival of Caffery's first solo album, titled Faces, a varied collection of songs that manages to show all the different sides, or "faces" of this talented musician. Not only does Chris manage to display his technical prowess on the guitar, but he unearths a strong set of pipes as well with some surprisingly inspired vocals.

Fans of Savatage know the guy can play guitar-check out his mixture of speedy yet chunky riffs and blinding solos on the title track, a song that kicks along at a steady gallop similar to Symphony X. The kicker though is the gut-wrenching lead vocals of Caffery, who sounds a bit like a combination of Jon Oliva and Zak Stevens. On the melodic cruncher "Fade Into the X", heavy, insistant guitar riffs meet catchy lyrics, turning the song into one of the CD's most memorable tracks. For added fun, Caffery throws in a jaw-dropping, classical based solo and some HEAVY riffs on the middle section just to keep things interesting. Even after just the third song it's apparent that he had a lot of fun putting this project together. While the lyrics to "Pisses Me Off" sound nothing like a man who is having a good time, ("Daytime pisses me off, it starts me off on the wrong footrace, and nightime pisses me off, it puts me back to the fucking place, and the face that pisses me off, she leaves a sour aftertaste , you see my life pisses me off, I'm fucking sick of the human race, it's killing me, it's killing me, it's killing me, it's killing me!") it's such a joy of a song to listen to because quite frankly, I'm sure a majority of the people in the world right now feel the same way the guy in the song is feeling. Add in some super heavy riffs and you have a barnburner of a modern metal tune that you can easily relate to due to the current nature of the lyrical content, as Caffery bashes terrorists, rappers, and other hot topics.

Of course, we all knew he could rock hard, but some of the most mature pieces on the CD are perhaps the more commercial, mellower songs, such as the yearning and melodic "Remember" , or the engaging "Music Man", a perfect sing along piece that has as much in common with early Skid Row as it does good old fashioned Southern Rock ala Lynyrd Skynyrd. Filled with lush acoustic guitars, piano, and gorgeous layers of vocals, this tune seems primed for a release as a radio single. Fans of Savatage's more symphonic and moody numbers will love "Never", an emotional piece that contains Caffery's most impressive vocals on the CD, as well as a virtuoso extended guitar solo filled with technique and passion.

Grinding metal can be heard on the chugging "The Fall", while "The Mold" is a raging nu-metal thumper that has all the anger and attitude of the multitude of today's new bands, but with a heavy dose of guitar star power thanks to Caffery's intricate staccato riffs and blinding solo fills. To remind folks that he is a guitarist first and foremost, "Preludio" kicks off with 2-3 minutes of unaccompanied guitar solos before breaking into a jazzy-Van Halen-ish little number that eventually segues into the brontosaurus stomp of "Abandoned."

Mention must be made of the support cast on Faces, which is Paul Morris on keyboards, Jeff Plate on drums, and Dave Z on bass. Plate should be no stranger to Savatage/TSO fans, and his drum work is just as impressive here, and he forms a killer rhythm team with Dave Z. Morris adds the right amount of symphonic flavor when needed with piano and synths, especially on the CD's slower numbers.

Chris Caffery has hit a home run with his first solo CD, and those interested in hearing Faces should be aware that when the CD is officially released on September 24, 2004 on Black Lotus Records it will come with a bonus 2nd CD containing the 40+ minute God Damn War CD, an even more bruising collection of songs about the current state of the world at war , that will please fans of vintage Savatage as well as the Chris Caffery/Jon Oliva project Doctor Butcher. Chris, you've stepped up to the plate and hit the big one-well done!

Track Listing
1) Alas
2) Faces
3) Fade Into the X
4) Pisses Me Off
5) Remember
6) The Fall
7) Music Man
8) Life, Crazy Life!!!
9) The Mold
10) Bag o' Bones
11) Evil is as Evil Does
12) Never
13) So Far Today
14) Jealousy
15) Preludio
16) Abandoned

CD2: God Damn War
1) God Damn War
2) Fool, Fool
3) Edge Of Darkness
4) Saddamize
5) I
6) Amazing Grace
7) Piece Be With You
8) Beat Me You'll Never Beat Me
9) Curtains

Added: February 20th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Chris Caffery's Official Website
Hits: 4160
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Caffery,Chris: Faces
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-02-20 02:19:21
My Score:

The guitarwork on Savatage and Trans Siberian Orchestra can now be appreciated in isolation, as axeman Chris Caffrey applies his Jackson Randy Rhoades Flying V to his own compositions - and there isn't an Oliva or an O'Neil anywhere in sight. So you would expect this to be one long guitarfest, in the heavy style of Streets or Gutter Ballet, right?

Well there's some of that - but there's also much more. Listen to "Preludio", which amounts to a Malmstein-esque solo that lasts almost the whole 5 minutes, yet keeps your attention focused throughout. Or "Abandoned" starts out like regular hard-rockin' metal, but ends up as a complex choral piece that would have Gilbert and Sullivan nodding in approval. This impressive track shifts tempo so often and the vocals run those rounds so quickly that you'll be left dizzy. "Music Man" is a melodic delight with multi-part choruses singing over a simple but pleasant acoustic guitar. After the first spin you realize there are subtle musical elements that make it far more than just the catchy choral piece you heard the first time - and "Music Man" is an island of relief in a tempestuous sea of molten metal.

There's a lot of anger in Caffrey and he seems to be belting it out with such fury in some songs that the emotion takes the forefront and melody be damned. In fact there are parts where the lyrics descend to a somewhat coarse yelling of frustrations and accusations. On the one hand this is art, as an emotional expression of one's close-held views. On the other hand the musical elements like melody and prose are conspicuously absent from these songs.

In Faces and God Damn War, Caffrey is trying out his new-found singing ability. The result is a gritty, hoarse delivery, versatile but with limited range, that changes from song to song. Now it's a guttural singing like in the anthemic "Evil Is As Evil Does", now it's almost a spoken-voice rapping style as in "Pisses me off"; yet on "Music Man" he finds a pleasing melodic style. It is a ballsy delivery that works well on most tracks but may wear you down after a while. And at almost 2 hours for both CDs this is a long body of music! There's no question that you're getting your money's worth.

As the title suggests, the bonus record God Damn War CD is an anti-war anti-violence piece. These songs are obviously darker than on Faces. For example "Curtains" has an odd tone to it - humorous at face value, cynical in parts, yet bitter when studied more closely.

This music seems to be evenly divided into two styles. With songs like the heavy title track, Caffrey's solo persona will quickly find a home among the big names in metal. But with more compositions like "Preludio" and "Abandoned", he just might find himself in the exalted company of practitioners of avant garde metal  - and while that would be more challenging, it would be a real validation of his musical capabilities. It will be interesting to see which path he chooses to follow.


Caffery,Chris: Faces
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-05 08:11:03
My Score:

Chris Caffery. The name will ring a chord in the minds of those who enjoy the music of Savatage and The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This past year the guitarist has been hard at work - not only has he had time to record a new Trans-Siberian CD, but he also did a Savatage semi-reunion at this years ProgPowerUSA Festiva,l and also took time to record and produce his first solo CD. The disk is calledFaces and all fans of this mans work will be more than pleased with the fruit of his labors. The performers are Chris' TSO bandmates Jeff Plate (drums) and Dave Z (bass) as well as Paul Morris on keyboards. The vocals are handled by Chris himself and this struck me as one of the most impressive aspects. I had seen Chris sing numerous times during Savatage performances doing backups, yet never imagined he had as powerful and as good a voice as he ended up having. In my opinion he holds up along the likes of Sebastian Bach and singers within this range.

The CD was put together very quickly and I feel this is because of the level of talent Chris surrounded himself with. Jeff Plate sounds as solid as ever on the drumkit and the continued musical relationship between him and Chris via the TSO and the years of Savatage touring, made him a great choice as drummer for this project. Dave Z on the bass holds it all together and is a very good player. This will be the first time I have heard of Paul Morris, and he also sounds great on the piece.

Some of the more interesting songs on the Faces CD would clearly have to start with "Pisses Me Off" where a scathing commentary on the things that is pushing someone over the edge are lined out. On "The Mold" I first thought Jon Oliva had recorded the vocals, for it had some vintage 'Tage to it. Nice and heavy also. "Music Man" his first single from this CD, could find a home on classic rock radio since it has that general feel to it. It is indeed one of my favorites as well as "Life Crazy Life" (which I found myself singing after the 2nd listen). "Abandoned" features many of the complex vocal harmonies one would find on the later Savatage CD's.

God Damn War is the 2nd CD included in the package as a bonus disc. It is a very well-thought out piece of music that merits a complete listen rather than one track here and another there. It is heavy throughout and the lyrical content is quite good. My fave tracks on this piece are "Fool Fool" and "Piece Be With You". Chris also does a great rendition of "Amazing Grace" with a simple piano accompaniment. It is powerful to say the least.

As I am always a fan of a nice packaging on a CD. I cannot speak enough at the amount of detail Chris has made sure went into this debut CD. Fully loaded is the best description. Lyrics, pictures and liner notes. Really a great design with but one flaw. The words for "God Damn War" will require you to either eat some carrots or use a magnifying glass. They are very small. It is also admirable at the amount of tracks that Chris chose to include on this release. A full 25 songs and given there are so many varied feels throughout the scope of the piece you are sure to find a favorite on there somewhere just as I was able to do.

This is a highly recommended CD and while it will not be available in the States until January, Chris has copies available via his website, so click the link and grab one while you can and be the first on your block to own it. You will not be sorry. According to my research, Chris will also be making available signed copies of this CD so that will interest collectors as well. I discovered that there is also an EP Edition of his single "Music Man". The single will include two non-CD Christmas tunes. Fans of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra should definitely look into those. I look forward to the chance to see this material performed live. That will most likely happen after the Trans Siberian tour has completed. Watch his website for news on that.



» Reader Comments:

Caffery,Chris: Faces
Posted by Colleen on 2005-01-28 11:16:38
My Score:

I absolutly loved this Cd .. I havent put anything else in my cd player since december when i purchased the European release... The Chris' vocals are outstanding and the music is definatly moving.. there are tracks on there that the listener can feel and understand, sometimes relating songs to their live experiences.. I give the man two thumbs up and encourage everyone to pick up the US release for there are 2 bonus tracks exclusive to the US release and to make your way over to chriscaffery.com .. he posts on the message board just about everyday and you can keep up to date on his projects and upcoming tour this spring.. he already has the first tour date posted with many more to come soon. If you need the story for GDW (the second disc ) he has posted it in the message board. u may have to search for it or ask a board member they will help u out. also chris has promised that on the full gdw release he will have lyrics and the story in the case..




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