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Jon Oliva's Pain: Maniacal Renderings

Jon Oliva's Pain are back with their follow-up to 2004's spectacular 'Tage Mahal, the equally impressive Maniacal Renderings. The legendary singer (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Doctor Butcher) and his cast of stellar musicians, guitarists Shane French & Matt LaPorte, bassist Kevin Rothney, keyboard player John Zahner, and drummer Christopher Kinder, have created a powerful mix of classic and symphonic prog -metal that will thrill fans of Savatage and the first JOP album. "Through the Eyes of the King" is riff heavy and majestic metal all the way, complete with thunderous riffs and drum work, plus Oliva's powerful vocals screaming over the top as if it was 1988 all over again. The title track and "The Evil Beside You" are both symphonic progressive tinged power metal numbers loaded with hooks, keyboards, and tasty guitar work, the latter having a slight similarity to the classic "When the Crowds Are Gone".

Jon and the boys buckle down for some truly heavy stuff on "Time to Die", a real snarling riff monster of a track that shows just how mean this band can get. Featuring a raging vocal from Oliva and plenty of scorching pinch harmonic guitar squeals, this is one of the album's strongest cuts. Piano and soaring harmonies permeate the lovely "The Answer", which then segues into a total change of pace on the blistering speed metal track "Push It to the Limit", a real workout for Kinder who attacks his kit with venemous rage on this barnburner. The band adds a symphonic and theatrical rock opera flair to "Who's Playing God", a theme continued on "Timeless Flight", a song that starts out as a melodic ballad and morphs into a crunchy rocker with layers of vocals, keyboards, heavy riffs, and wild lead guitar.

Oliva delivers a menacing and doomy vocal on the crushing "Holes", a slower, more grinding piece that will remind of Hall of the Mountain King era Savatage. The near 8-minute "End Times" is the album's most progressive piece, with no shortage of ominous keyboards, Oliva's majestic piano and emotional vocals, and textured guitar work. The finale "Still I Pray For You Now" is a gentle vocal/piano/guitar number that brings the album to a quiet conclusion allows you to slowly ponder what you just experienced. For many , Maniacal Renderings will leave you reminiscing about the glory days of Savatage, as Jon Oliva has not given up creating music that follows the same path as his old band. Let's be thankful that he continues to do so.

Track Listing
1. Through The Eyes Of The King
2. Maniacal Renderings
3. The Evil Beside You
4. Time To Die
5. The Answer
6. Push It To The Limit
7. Who's Playing God
8. Timeless Flight
9. Holes
10. End Times
11. Still I Pray For You Now

Added: December 4th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Jon Oliva Website
Hits: 5280
Language: english

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Jon Oliva's Pain: Maniacal Renderings
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-12-04 06:01:19
My Score:

Metal Legions I ask that you once again proclaim a hearty "All Hail The Mountain King" for he has returned and brings The Pain to Metal once again. Yes, the Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva is back and doing what he has always done best delivering emotional and powerful Metal that is loaded with melodic hooks, inspiring piano and choruses that will have you with fists raised to the sky. Maniacal Renderings is the second album Oliva recorded with this band and they do not suffer the sophomore curse by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, they seem to have worked out any kinks and begun the next logical step in their development. Yet as you listen, and especially if you had followed his career in the past you will find this album to be the most Savatage like of the two they have released. I was left wondering if this was on purpose or as an accident but perhaps it was a little bit of both. Oliva has one of the most unique voices to ever hit Metal and his song writing style has made albums like Gutter Ballet, Streets, and Handful Of Rain become classics that are long referred to by fans and other musicians of note. After so many years in the business, one's overall style does not change fully, yet adapts over time. Based on the Savatage work and his co-creation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, we find JOP to be a Metal band that utilizes to success some elements of each of these juggernauts. I have felt that Jon's writing always had a specific vibe to it also and as a result this album could very well have been called Streets 2, for as soon as it finished I ran to my case and dug that one out. There are more than a few moments on this release that sound like they are continuations to music we first heard on Streets: A Rock Opera. Oliva fans will enjoy this closeness as the Savalegions have been begging for a reunion of the classic group for years and this is probably as close as they will get.

The members of the band remain as John Zahner (keyboards), Shane French (guitar), Matt LaPorte (guitar), Kevin Rothney (bass) and Christopher Kinder (drums). As many readers know by now, the members of JOP were previously members of the band Circle II Circle (a Zack Stevens fronted effort). It is an excellent album despite some of the similarities to 'Tage with songs like "The Answer" and "Timeless Flight" being among the deepest offerings while "Push It To The Limit" is among the heavier tracks. Jon's personal struggle with loss seems reflected in the moving closer track "Still I Pray For You Now", which seems to be another offering of tribute to his brother Criss Oliva. The music world lost Criss because of a drunk driver almost fifteen years ago. It is a very poignant way to close the album. This is an album that succeeds in delivering great music that not only keeps you interested in this band, but also makes you curious about some of their musical origins. As good as this is, it will leave you with a little bit of a hunger for Savatage.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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