For an old Savatage fan like me, it's an embarrassment of riches - a new Trans-Siberian Orchestra album for the holidays, followed by an album from Jon Oliva's new project (not to mention another TSO album promised in the coming year.)
The debut from Oliva's Pain is practically a chronicle of Savatage's progression from the power metal band of the early 1980s to the symphonic metal experience of their more recent music. Each song on the album seems to fit a specific era in the evolution of 'Tage. The point is driven home on "People Say - Give Me Some Hell,"in which Oliva tosses off Savatage titles and lyrics with every breath, and seems to be having great fun doing it.
That's not to say these are throwaway 'Tage songs - far from it, despite the album's title. In some instances they're just a little outside the Savatage sound, like the jazzy strains of the intro to "The Dark" or the blues-influenced riffs of "Outside the Door." Other songs would have been right at home on Savatage albums. One of the album's best moments, "The Non-Sensible Ravings of the Lunatic Mind" would have been a welcome addition to the "Gutter Ballet" album, while "Walk Alone" will likely remind fans of the classic concept album "Streets."
In the end, Oliva's Pain comes a lot closer to reaching the musical level of Savatage than some of his previous side projects. It's always great to hear new music by the Mountain King, but what I really want to hear is a new Savatage album. Four years is too long to wait.
Get "'Tage Mahal."