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Caffery, Chris: House of Insanity

Sometimes it's nice to be treated to a 'good old fashioned' metal album, and lets face it, in this day and age that doesn't always happen too often. You know, something along the lines of 80's classics by bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Savatage, or the Scorpions, filled with big guitar riffs, plenty of solos, and sing along, anthem type choruses. Thankfully, Savatage/Trans- Siberian Orchestra guitarist Chris Caffery has given us just that type of album here on his latest solo release House of Insanity. After the adventurous yet somewhat puzzling Pins and Needles from 2007, an album that Caffery readily admits went over many listeners heads, House of Insanity returns to the kind of metal that grabs you by the balls and latches onto your brain, much like his first solo album Faces did a few years back.

Right from the beginning, those hooky guitar riffs and catchy melodies on "Seasons Change" pull you right in, Caffery's confident vocal delivery and muscular guitar work complementing what is otherwise just a great metal song, layers of backing vocals and John Macaluso's powerful drum fills adding that extra bit of magic. Title track "House of Insanity" is a darker piece, recalling vintage Savatage, featuring a snarling vocal attack and plenty of guitar pyrotechnics, while "I Won't Know" is a 'raise your fist in the air' anthem that will certainly strike a chord with any metal fan who frequented arenas in the early/mid 80's and headbanged along to their favorite band. The real surprise in the first half of the CD is the excellent ballad "Madonna", a somber yet passionate number filled with Caffery's most poignant vocal to date. The mood of this one will remind you of Judas Priest at times, especially their slower and darker material, and the guitar solo is absolutely stunning. This seques into the bone crunching, groove laden "Big Brother", a real Black Label Society styled thumper, slow, grinding riffs and powerful rhythms backing up some totally relevent lyrics, and Savatage/Circle II Circle vocalist Zack Stevens is featured on the excellent "Solitaire", a catchy rocker filled with standout vocals and monstrous guitar work. Caffery put together a real doomy flavored number with "I'm Sorry", and "Shame" is an acrobatic affair of textured, progressive metal, layers of intricate guitar riffs, keyboards, and Macaluso's nimble drum work forming the groundwork for some memorable hooks and melodies. The acoustic "Winter In Hamburg" is a tender ballad that obviously is a very personal song for Caffery, one that deals with world events as well as his own experiences, and the closer on the CD is a raucous metallic cover of the Bob Marley classic "Get Up, Stand Up". On first glance you wouldn't think a metal version of a reggae staple would work, but it most certainly does.

13 might be an unlucky number for some, but not Chris Caffery, as House of Insanity contains thirteen winners, with not a weak track to be found. As stated earlier, plenty of fiery guitar playing and catchy hooks to be found on this one, most importantly though Caffery has written a set of memorable metal songs here that will certainly stand the test of time, and ultimately that's what it's all about, isn't it? Bravo.

Track Listing
01. Seasons Change
02. House Of Insanity
03. I Won't Know
04. The Fleas
05. Madonna
06. Big Brother
07. Backs To The Wall
08. Solitaire
09. I'm Sorry
10. Shame
11. Winter In Hamburg
12. No Matter What
13. Get Up, Stand Up

Added: July 15th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist MySpace Page
Hits: 3981
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Caffery, Chris: House of Insanity
Posted by Scott Ward, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-07-15 19:42:31
My Score:

Caffery has a serious problem. With a background such as his, every time he puts the guitar pick to the E string, it is going to be compared with his previous work including not only his solo efforts, but also what he has done with such diversified groups as Savatage and Trans Siberian Orchestra. Every time he opens up to sing, he is not only being scrutinized for his own work, but unfairly being compared to whoever has been the vocalist in front of him throughout his career.

So what can he do to combat this? Well, if you are Chris, you put out one of the most kick ass pure metal albums you can. You embrace all the influences and music that is in your background and produce a CD that pays homage to all of this. Finally, you look upon all the fans that are out there and try to think what they would want to hear from you. As Chris himself told me "I approached this album with the thought of what would I want to hear if I were a Chris Caffery fan". Well, Chris you have managed to achieve your goal. House of Insanity is a joyous excursion into all that we have come to love throughout the years we have been blessed with your music.

Born partially from the frustration of not being able to get Savatage together as a unit while on downtime from Trans Siberian Orchestra, this disc reflects upon what might have been as well as what is and what could be. His guitar work on here makes you wish for the day that he might just be on stage with those guys once again and I firmly believe that he is saying the same thing. With a fiery determination he makes a bold statement with his six string that will appeal to fans both old and new. Those that know Chris' work through the years will be able to see where at times he is in what could be called Savatage mode, or embracing what he has done with TSO. Yet throughout the disc, it is all Caffery. Here you get a chance to revel in one of the most underrated guitar players of our time. His terrific solos and stunning work throughout this album makes this one a metal lovers dream.

Not only that, Chris gives one of his most poignant vocal performances to date. Destined to be in the shadow of the greats that sing in the various groups he has been a part of, Caffery shows here that he is a dynamic singer with some great range too! All you have to do is hear his vocal dueling with the legendary Zak Stevens on the powerhouse song "Solitaire" and all doubts of his ability should be erased. I would have to agree with Chris when he told me "If I was just a guy in a garage band, no one would say anything about my singing". Having the pleasure to have some of the greatest vocalist in metal in front of you doesn't mean you are any less a singer yourself. In fact the way that he can go from the harsh metal voice of songs like "House of Insanity" to the sweet sentimental singing style of "Winter In Hamburg" proves that he is much better than most give him credit for.

So all in all, this is an album that I have not been able to stop listening to since I received it. I have to have my daily dose of Caffery to get going. This is one great old school heavy metal disc that is going to please his true fans. Sure there are those that will nitpick it to death but this is a disc that was made for the fans…not for the, as he puts it, "The Fleas". This is an easy pick for one of the best of 2009. Do yourself a favor and get this one, listen to it time and time again. It only gets better when you do!

» Reader Comments:

Caffery, Chris: House of Insanity
Posted by Jordi on 2009-02-10 01:33:52
My Score:

Excellent album! One of the greatest works of the year. With this one, Chris becomes a true icon and delivers the best. Great job!!!!!!

Caffery, Chris: House of Insanity
Posted by ray wink on 2009-02-09 19:53:33
My Score:

My bad with the socre, sorry.

Caffery, Chris: House of Insanity
Posted by ray wink on 2009-02-09 19:52:40
My Score:

Compare to the first two albums by Chris this one is a complete failure, you can hear the album was made in a matter of days because there's nothing worth the time in it. The sound tends to bore and lyrics are just worthless.
This album really Pisses me off and it should piss off any fan of good music (which Chris use to provide).

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