Jon Oliva – Raise the Curtain (AFM Records)Thursday, 13th June 2013
One of the pioneers to craft classic 80’s power metal, multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Jon Oliva has always displayed dynamic versatility when it comes to his recordings. Be it dark and sinister for Savatage with Sirens, incorporating classical elements for the mighty Hall of the Mountain King, or his forays into conceptual/theatrical story telling with Streets – the man isn’t afraid to expand the boundaries for the sake of performance and output.
Finally releasing his first ‘solo’ album, Raise the Curtain reverts back to a lot of Jon’s early history, adding some pomp and progressive rock flavor to the metal and delivering something I know will appeal to the older generation. The opening title cut featuring a keyboard performance in line with Styx/Kansas, while the vocal harmonies recall Deep Purple and early 90’s era Savatage, while the follow up “Soul Chaser” is much more straightforward in its heaviness, Jon’s savage vocal delivery matching the darker lyrical content.
Guitar harmonies abound in “Father Time” and the spirited “The Witch,” and producer/ guitarist Jim Morris takes on some of the last riffs ever created by brother Criss Oliva (R.I.P.) with the same attack and class as he would have wanted. Even when tackling a ballad like “Can’t Get Away,”you can feel influences from Rainbow and Gary Moore with Jon’s slow-building melodies and care for musical balance as you are swept away by this tender arrangement.
We all know that Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the bread and butter winner for Jon’s compositional attention, but his heart still lies fervently in the metal realm. Raise the Curtain will appeal most to those who love Streets with a love of Deep Purple and Styx influence in there for added measure.