John Oliva's Pain
11/9/2006 - Review by: Eric Compton
Jon Oliva's Pain - Maniacal Renderings - 2006 - AFM
First off, five of these eleven songs absolutely smoke. Gone are the constant symphonic elements and the lackluster calming moments made famous by mid-era Savatage. No, the five cuts I mentioned blaze with molten metal iron, each possessing the most pulverizing of riffs and clever writing. "Through The Eyes Of The King" is like "Sirens" on steroids, an eruptive opening anthem that is punctuated with heavy guitar and Oliva's theatrical voice. "Push It To The Limit" is a freewheel burner, ripping with power chords and pierced with red hot leads from Matt Laporte and newly acquired Shane French. The two display some wicked grooves on the Doctor Butcher styled "Time To Die". Title track "Maniacal Renderings" begins with an up front bass line from Kevin Rothney before building into an explosive groove backed by Oliva and company's group choir. A few acoustic nods and piano begin the pounding metal hearted "The Evil Beside You", a song that winds up with fantastic leads in the mid-part.
The rest of the songs lean towards a more metallic sounding "Tage Mahal", with plenty of piano parts, progressive riffs, and acoustic elements. The best choice for the second half of tracks is "Playing God", a rather epic piece that is punctuated by big symphonic stylings. These songs are much better than the last record's material, but for me it just leaves something to be desired when compared to the heavier tracks that dominate the listening experience. Oliva is on fire all the way around, using his sadistic sounding lower voice and complimenting it with choir parts and his famous higher pitch wails.
Bottom Line - Fantastic first half, average second half. Overall makes for a really good second album and one that surpasses the first release in just about every category.
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