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Jon Oliva- Raise the Curtain (review)

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by Harvester, May 9, 2013.

  1. Harvester

    Harvester The Promoter

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    When I first heard that the Mountain King was going to do a “solo” record, my initial thought was honestly to question whether it would be that big of a difference from his JOP releases. After listening to his new disc, I now understand the BIG difference. Whether you agree or not, JOP is more of an extension of Savatage to a certain extent. “Raise the Curtain” is not JOP. It is a singer/songwriter’s disc that speaks loudly of Jon’s musical inspirations and his current vision. I also like to believe it a reflection on a legendary career intertwined with how he wants to ride off into the sunset on his own damn terms, not what some office in NYC tells him.

    This is a mad scientist’s musical collage of basically whatever the fuck he wants to do on any given day. The boss contributed essentially all of the guitars, bass, and even drums (on 3 tracks as JOP drummer Chris Kinder handles the rest). Jon has taken the absolute last of his brother’s lost tapes and used those riffs to inspire a smorgasbord of musical ingenuity. He also brought in a new songwriting partner in “Doc” Dan Fasciano on several of the tunes to take the keyboard s to a place not previously heard on an Oliva disc. Add in the efforts of long-time Morris Sound guru Howard Helm on a few solos, and you end up with a polished product (co-mastered by Tom Morris & Chris Kinder) that solidifies this disc highly among his illustrious discography.

    Warning! The restrictions based on fan expectations have been removed and you can just feel him having fun with diabolical inspiration. If you are stuck in the past and just want Savatage, then politely exit stage left. For the rest… You can call it theatrical. You can call it moody. You can call it nostalgic. Hell, you can call it Sergeant Pepper’s evil bastard in places. Whatever you call it, it’s going to be interpreted differently by another. That’s the beauty & majesty of Oliva’s songwriting.

    Brief thoughts on the tunes…

    Raise the Curtain- It’s a 5 minute theatrical interlude complete with Doorish keyboards on steroids. I threw away all of my preconceived notions of what to expect on the rest of the disc after the first 60 seconds.

    Soul Chaser- For those that attended the Oliva songwriting workshop at ProgPower USA, you are going to simply be in awe. I wrongly assumed we were getting the basics of the song in Atlanta, and it would be tweaked in the studio to add layers, etc. Nope. You know *exactly what to expect.* It’s an uptempo rocker complete with Oliva’s infamous shotgun vocal delivery. The main bouncing Peter Gunnish theme keyboard riff intertwines nicely with the more complex guitar & key solos. And yes, the “ProgPower Choir” is there raising hell in all their brief, two-word glory.

    Ten Years- Horns! Jazzy! This is just one hell of a toe-tapper with a catchy chorus. Did I mention the horns? In fact, there are horns provided by the USF Musical Department on several of the tracks. It’s just that this is the first track where they jump out and smack you in the kisser.

    Father Time- It’s “Free Ride” Mountain King style! We are awash in a glorious 70’s classic rock vibe.

    I Know- Dr. Jekyll , meet Mr. Hyde. On paper, this song just shouldn’t work. However, I’ll be damned if it doesn’t pull you in. It starts with a duel between the sinister tone you would expect from Jon and a soaring heartbreak of a chorus. It then morphs into an acoustic-driven power ballad with balls.

    Big Brother- For all you old bastards, you will smile the moment you hear the keys hit. It brings back memories of Boston’s “Foreplay. “ Doctor Dan is evidently announcing his presence with Nuke Laloosh type authority! This is one of the heavier tunes on the discs and brings more of the maniacal JOP flavor back to the disc.

    Armageddon- This track would have fit perfectly with the rest of the evil carnival ride on JOP’s “Festival.”

    Soldier- I am listening to this track as I type with chill bumps on my arms. This ranks up there with the best ballads Jon has ever written. It honestly could have fit alongside the songs from “Streets.” It’s both beautiful and gut-wrenching at the same time. His Lennon influence shines here more than anything. Btw, the USF folks contribute an almost ethereal flute here. This is just beautiful.

    Stalker- How about a bit of a Middle Eastern motif to move things back to the mad scientist vibe? How about a vocally pissed-off Oliva to set the tone for the rest of the tune? Check.

    The Witch- After tickling the ivories Tage style, the tune brings about a bit of an early Rush vibe complete with extended jam (the first half of the tune is instrumental). A mid-section interlude brings back the heavy side that we all know and love. By the way, one cannot help but to ponder who exactly those scathing lyrics are about…

    Can’t Get Away- The longest track on the disc starts off squarely in the bluesy style of Jeff Healey. It sure as hell doesn’t stay there though. It’s all over the place from there, bringing back elements heard throughout the disc. Big props for the tasty guitar solo & the horns once again.

    The Truth (bonus track for various versions) An accordion & mellow acoustic guitar ballad take us to the end of the disc. The master grins, nods to the John & Paul, takes his bow, and walks off into the sunset.

    The day that Jon decides to retire from the studio, the metal world will weep. I know I will. There will never be another Jon Oliva.
     
  2. Harvester

    Harvester The Promoter

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    Yes, I am aware of the other Oliva thread. However, I'd like to bring a bit more attention to the review as some may ignore the thread since it was originally designated as a pre-order/vendor type thread.
     
  3. edgeofthorns

    edgeofthorns 24 Hours Ago...

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    Glenn,

    The review is appreciated by us fans that are clueless as to what to expect! I'm looking forward to hearing what he's came up with.

    ~Brian~
     
  4. dtfanatic

    dtfanatic Member

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    Cool my alma mater (USF) is involved in this. Great review. Never any question I'll be buying this.
     
  5. AngraRULES

    AngraRULES Member

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    Looking forward to it!
     
  6. MYSTIC1

    MYSTIC1 Member

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    Thanks for the honest review Glenn. Even though I don't love everything Jon has ever done, i'm still a huge fan and highly respect the man. I will be buying this!
     
  7. Azrael LenGraden

    Azrael LenGraden Lake Of Fire

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    Can't wait... I am happy to hear that it is very diverse!
     
  8. ToddS

    ToddS Member

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    Nice review bro. I'm in blind no matter what, but I enjoyed the read.
     
  9. SavaVIDude

    SavaVIDude Savatage Fanatic

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    Damn, Glen - I knew you were a fanboy, but.... :lol::headbang::lol::headbang:

    It's an "auto-buy" for me, but I sensed he was gonna do this from his interviews. As a stalwart SavaFan, I welcome hearing Jon go in different directions. I sense a lot of this stuff has been bottled up inside him for a long time. Savatage has been done for a long time now and we are all blessed we have the volume of music we do.

    Jon is truly a musical genius and, like me, a bit crazy. I can't wait to hear this new effort. Savatage and Criss Oliva continues to be honored by TSO and the majority of TSO fans don't know it!!

    Oh, yeah - I was in the "ProgPower Chorus"!!

    When is the release date?

    Chris :headbang:
     
  10. lane_miller

    lane_miller Space Ghost

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    Glenn,

    Great review. I really enjoyed the snippets that I heard in your car. I have to love it because it is my musical debut! :lol:

    Lane
     
  11. Metaldrumz

    Metaldrumz Member

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    Listening now. Wow 1st track reminds me of Liquid Tension Experiment! Loving that organ sound.
     
  12. CD INZANE

    CD INZANE CD INZANE LLC

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  13. Hal9000

    Hal9000 Dark Lord

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    After listening to the samples, I think I'll pass on this one.
     
  14. Azrael LenGraden

    Azrael LenGraden Lake Of Fire

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    Awesome...thanks for posting the samples!
     
  15. espz

    espz Member

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    Really? Honestly curious why. I'm listening to the clips now...and it sounds really good to me. Are you maybe one of the people that never liked Savatage? I'm sure there's got to be those people out there.....somewhere! :lol:

    After reading Glenn's review, I didn't think it would change anyone's mind about Jon. This is still the Mountain King voice to me. The little jazzy sections, horns, certainly softer sections, I'd not find it out of place with an interesting new Savatage album. This is all just from samples, mind.
     
  16. Hal9000

    Hal9000 Dark Lord

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    I've listened to them several times and they just don't click with me. I love Savatage and JOP, and I think it was wise to release this project as solo because he's stretching his creative wings far beyond the realms of his previous bands.
     
  17. mattbrood

    mattbrood PPUSA Facebook *****

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    the first single!

     
    #17 mattbrood, Jun 1, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  18. nomisofsiman

    nomisofsiman Member

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  19. nightwish58

    nightwish58 Member

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    As a big Oliva and Sava fan, that single bored me and almost put me to sleep. Hope the rest of the album is not reflective of that song. Mind you I feel like shit and am in bed as I listened to this!
     
  20. kvona1

    kvona1 Member

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    Love the sound on this.....one of my more anticipated albums of the year.
     

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