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Jon Oliva's Pain - Maniacal Renderings CD (album) cover

MANIACAL RENDERINGS

Jon Oliva's Pain

Progressive Metal


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The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Like every Savatage's side project... This album has good songs, good production, good playing... But it lacks the magic of the incredible Florida's band!

The second studio album from the Jon Oliva's own band after Savatage was ┐temporary? disbanded in 2002, follow the path opened with the previous 'Tage Mahal... Maybe more straight forward oriented, less symphonic and heavier, but not really different. Oliva's voice sounds more aggresive, and the production is powerful, giving the protagonism to the improved Matt LaPorte's guitars... His solos in this album are great. In the previous band's album they were not so fine...

The style of the album follow the path of the old Savatage, sounding similar than albums like Gutter Ballet or Streets... But with some actual arrangements and modern influences. But there are no surprises here... This is classic heavy metal with some prog and symphonic elements. If you like the 1988-1993 Savatage's albums, you will like Maniacal Renderings too... The Criss Oliva (Oliva's brother and a genious with the guitar, dead in a car accident back in 1993...) style is also here, while Jon used some old material composed by him. So there are no surprises... Quality, good songs and some brilliant parts, but nothing really impressive and far from the outstanding Savatage's last albums.

Best songs: Maniacal Renderings (the instrumental middle part is awesome...), The Answer (emotive and symphonic ballad...), Who's Playing God (typical Savatage's riff... I love it!) and Timeless Fight (the best of the album for me, with an impressive guitar solo and great ending...)

Conclusion: good Jon Oliva's album made with his band besides Savatage... And not reaching the levels of his masterband, but giving us some nostalgic moments. But hearing this album, I can only wish the Savatage's comeback... Then the best symphonic metal band will be back, and we will not need to hear good imitations like Jon Oliva's Pain. But Maniacal Renderings is a recommendable album anyway, for all the Savatage's fans and people interested in hearing good symhponic-progressive metal, but without too many surprises.

My rating: ***1/2

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#166364)
Posted Friday, April 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A mediocre album, but on the good side of mediocrity. Do not expect much prog in here, this is mostly classical heavy metal with some extra keys thrown in. I have to admit, although the riffs and patterns sound a bit predictable, in general it manages to sound consistent, even catchy. Perfromance is flawless, solos a bit irrelevant, the music is energetic all the time. Try to imagine Black Sabbath in the 80's without getting that poppy and uninspired. Znowhite slowed down, Fates Warning without the proggy part. Running Wild plus keys, perhaps. This is ole heavy metal, nothing less, nothing more.

I won't try to get anything else from this band, but it's enjoyable enough. Two stars.

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Send comments to clarke2001 (BETA) | Report this review (#172236)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars More metal, more flash, but is it deeper?

In a way, yes. There is more diversity here, than on the debut. Not to mention it seems everyone has gelled together very nicely as a band. This shines very clearly on the absolute beast opening Through The Eyes of the King. The solos are furious, and the stomping rhythm is fantastic. Not to mention Jon stretches his vocals well. The record is also more progressive than the last. Maniacal Renderings has that delicious symphonic metal flair we are used to, but it has great segments and riffing. The solo section is quite captivating, where the guitars trade off with a keyboard.

Still a bit bare, the songs could be a bit more complex or challenging, but they all have solid melodies, and the playing is phenomenal. Acoustic guitar lines begin Evil Beside You, feeling almost like a folk rock ballad. Oliva always fit that part well. Then it turns into a theatrical piano rocker with teeth. The thick monster Time To Die roars out with its menacing howls of metal fervor. It isn't too complex, but my it kicks various levels of ass. More Broadway balladry follows with The Answer. The lyrics are cynical, and not the deepest, but they suffice. The music is solid, and the composition is strong, if a bit bland. Push It To The Limit is absolutely pounding. And is that lyrical reference about a White Witch? Either way, it is a stomping song.

Who's Playing God shows that while the songs are stronger over all, the lyrics have taken a small hit. Still not bad, though. The metal here is given in spades. And the vocal harmonies are even more expertly crafted. Timeless Flight has some of the most captivating melodies on the album. Not to mention the operatic balladesque piano interludes are very pretty. Holes has to have the most original and catching riff on the album, and it is quite interesting.

Mixing the songs into a sort of rocker/ballad style keeps the record from getting caught up in one overall tempo or atmosphere. And End Times is quite the superb track. Jon's voice has weakened, but can still show some bite. Still I Pray closes in the way the last album closed. The melodies are strong, and the playing is grand.

The record sacrifices some originality for a bit more depth overall, the melodies seem more skillfully crafted, but a bit less affecting. It is on par with the last release. Still, when it rocks it rocks harder.

(The bonus tracks are ballad types, that are quite beautiful at times)

Best song - Timeless Flight

Worst Song - Still I Pray, although all the songs retain a moderate level of decency.

***1/2 stars

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#213927)
Posted Monday, May 04, 2009 | Review Permalink

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