Oliva - Raise The Curtain
AFM Records
Theatrical Heavy Rock
12 songs (56:44)
Release year: 2013
Oliva, AFM Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Major event
For over 30 years, John Nicholas “Jon” Oliva has enthused fans of a myriad of different heavy rock and metal styles, be it with Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jon Oliva’s Pain, or even the notably rougher single shot that the world got in the early 1990s with Doctor Butcher’s self-titled album. So when word came out that after three decades the man would be coming out with his first literal solo album, one could wonder what kind of material would be left from all that time that has not been used within the confines of these bands. Are the craziest, most otherworldly experimentations that Oliva has been amassing since the Reagan years now to be found here once the curtain has been raised? Well, not exactly. The material on this record is certainly broad in scope, but the man behind the mic (and it seems pretty much everything else beyond a few drum tracks and whatever production/session help he got in the studio) has not abandoned his bread and butter either.

On the whole, I’d say Raise The Curtain is more rock-oriented, groovier and just a tad proggier than his back catalogue up to this point. The album-opening title track works as a prolonged intro but has so much meat in it that one gets really hooked on the Queen-style vocal layers and the keyboard widdling that reminds me of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Heavier tracks like Soul Chaser and Stalker would be largely at home on Oliva’s earlier records. Ten Years, which barges in with a full-blown horn-section in tow, is the kind of unexpected, distorted boogiejazz-piece that could give the puritans fits. But I can really dig it, one of my favourites in here. The Witch brings the prog with some instrumental-widdling infused into traditional verse-chorus metallization. Oliva already had a very good track record with ballads and with Soldier, he adds another gem into that impressive list. For those afraid of finding nationalistic hubris of star-spangled boots being lodged into asses, fear not.

The production job on the disc is solid throughout and hovering on top of the instrumental churning, the mountain king’s voice soars as it always has, multi-faceted and strong. In terms of the songwriting, Oliva has also said that this album now contains the final unreleased recordings left behind by his brother and Savatage-partner Criss Oliva – Recordings that he has thus far sprinkled throughout the discography of Jon Oliva’s Pain, for example. So historical elements are included as well. So despite a few filler tracks (not bad but just mediocre-in-comparison tunes like Big Brother and Can’t Get Away), Raise The Curtain is successful in both showing sides of the artist that have not been revealed that often or at all while also keeping long-time fans of Oliva’s material happy. Long may the mountain king’s reign continue.
Killing Songs :
Raise The Curtain, Soul Chaser, Ten Years, Armageddon, The Witch & Soldier
Aleksie quoted 82 / 100
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