Chris Caffery - Pins And Needles
Metal Heaven
Modern Aggressive Heavy Metal
14 songs (57'06)
Release year: 2007
Chris Caffery, Metal Heaven
Reviewed by Marty
During the recording of this new album by Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Chris Caffery, the label he had signed with for his solo work, Black Lotus Records, suddenly went out of business. Not letting that deter him from completing the work, he forged on to finish the album between his annual TSO Christmas tour and other commitments. He was finally able to sign a new label deal with Metal Heaven Records but the frustrations of being without a label during the recording of most of this new album Pins And Needles has obviously boiled over into the music with this CD containing some of the hardest and most aggressive music that he's ever done including the Dr. Butcher project with fellow Savatage band mate Jon Oliva. Faces was Chris' first solo CD with the God Damned War/W.A.R.P.E.D. release being a repackaging of the bonus material on some versions of the Faces album. In reality, Pins And Needles is really Chris' second solo CD of all new material. Helping out with this album are fellow TSO guitarist Alex Skolnick (Testament), as well as bassist Nick Douglas (Doro), drummer Yael (My Ruin, Killswitch Engage) and Chris' brother Phil who plays drums on one track. Chris Caffery is currently on tour in North America both as a member of Doro Pesch's band as well as being the opening act for the shows; playing a set of his solo material with a couple of Savatage classics thrown in for good measure.

The title track opens the album and it pretty much sets the stage for the barrage of wild metal riffs and organized chaos; all topped off with Chris' shouting and screaming vocal lines that make up the bulk of material on this album. Some of the material on the W.A.R.P.E.D. album offered a glimpse of the more "metal" side of Chris' personality but Pins And Needles blows the door wide open. The songs are fiercer; bordering on thrash metal with loads of drop D tuning fuelled modern riffing and wild shredding leads throughout. The focus this time seems to be more on Chris' guitar playing as opposed to his vocals or song writing abilities for that matter as in many cases, the more traditional hard rock/metal of previous work has been sacrificed in favor of pure aggression and in your face metal; something that'a also very much a part of Chris' musical personality. Besides the title track, Reach Out And Torment Again as well as Walls also see more of a modern thrash metal approach with some King Diamond type "sneering" vocal lines and abstract spoken word vocal over dark and foreboding riffs. Continuing his rant against everything and anything (also picking up where Pisses Me Off from the Faces album left off) YGBFKM (You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me) offers up some very cool pull-off riffing and drop D tuned punishing guitar tones all packaged up with a very Blackie Lawless styled screaming vocal. A couple of tracks offer the listener some brief "revisits" to classic Savatage styled material namely It's S-A-D which, incidently, features former Savatage and current TSO guitarist Alex Skolnick on lead guitar. Mettle Eastern also has that same sort of Savatage feel with it's classically flavored Eastern melodies and a Jon Oliva vocal style in a track that continues Chris' very vocal dislike for the current U.S. administration's foreign policy and it's involvement in the middle east. Very weird and abstract overtones dominate tracks like Sign Of The Crossed and Time and offer the listener a glimpse into the more "slightly twisted" side of Chris' personality whereas more traditional heavy metal styles can be found with Chained and Worms. Chained uses standard guitar tuning and has more of the traditional verse-chorus style of song writing with Worms being a "groovy" track with Zeppelin styled riffs and even some ultra-cool saxophone at the song's outro. Chris' guitar playing is front and center with Quaaludio, a nice flamenco-styled acoustic guitar piece with some very impressive finger work and The Temple, which is a sort of "acoustic soliloquy" to end off the album. As a bonus, we get the track Once Upon A Time which falls into place with the bulk of the album with its abstract heaviness and aggressive vocal style.

As I stated earlier, Pins And Needles shows the more aggressive side of Chris' personality and those who liked the Faces album and his work with Savatage might be a little taken back by this album. It's in-your-face and with the wild chaotic riffing and screaming vocals, it borders on Death Metal for several of the tracks. Overall, I hear a strong Devin Townsend influence for most of the material with its brutal heaviness and vocal styles. Make no mistake though, even with the more aggressive approach, Chris still has that tongue-in-cheek style that permeates everything he does. Fans of Chris' might want to sample some of the tracks on this album before buying this one but for others who have been critical of his past solo work as being too unfocussed and not heavy enough, Pins And Needles has you firmly in its sights.

Killing Songs :
Pins And Needles, Sixty-Six, YGBFKM, Time and Mettle Eastern
Marty quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Chris Caffery that we have reviewed:
Chris Caffery - House of Insanity reviewed by Marty and quoted 68 / 100
Chris Caffery - W.A.R.P.E.D. reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
Chris Caffery - Faces reviewed by Marty and quoted 88 / 100
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