OLIVA - Raise The Curtain

Oliva - Raise The Curtain

11 songs
56:56 minutes
***** ***


Itís been exactly thirty years since the first Savatage album Sirens came out, and ever since Jon Oliva has been an icon of the heavy metal machinery. Next to fourteen Savatage albums, he was also active in Doctor Butcher and Jon Olivaís Pain and also worked with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Avantasia. As if all of this werenít enough, he decided to release an album under his own name Oliva. Even though this might let you expect a solo effort, it is not. Three further musicians, with whom he worked already in the past, are also featured on the album.

The record is fittingly titled Raise The Curtain, and once again Jon Oliva has managed to come up with an enormously dramatic achievement. The short hour is used to detail the different styles that have influenced him over the span of his career. And most of the time this works very well. The opener and title track is a great piece of Seventies prog rock that reminds me partly of Focus and ELP. Nevertheless Jon Olivaís signature style is present here and throughout the album. One of the reasons is of course his unmistakable voice that convinces in every register. But also as a songwriter, Jon Oliva has never disappointed so far, and I still consider Hall Of The Mountain King as one of the top metal albums of all time. There is hardly any other composer who manages to put so many theatrics and drama into his music. On Raise The Curtain, which feels like a retrospective, the metal component plays a lesser role though. Mid-tempo and progressive rock are the order of business, and this is done splendidly. The powerful Soul Chaser takes no prisoners and shows the master in prime shape. The following Ten Years starts similarly and ends with a pleasant soulful touch. Even the ballad I Know comes with true emotions and never bends down into kitsch. Big Brother is a faster and catchy track brimming with ideas. The third quarter of the album features two quite bizarre tracks with Stalker and Armageddon that show the artist from a darker but no less suspenseful side.

I was this close to giving the album the highest rating when the last quarter surprised me like a cold shower. These last three tracks could have been left aside. The Witch takes too long to build momentum. Canít Get Away is proof that even Jon Oliva can fail at ballads. Finally the bonus track The Truth is too mellow and might even be considered country music.

Due to the lacklustre conclusion, Raise The Curtain isnít one of Jon Olivaís best albums, but it still has enough qualities that make it far superior to most other metal artists. And thatís why I see no reason why this record shouldnít be in every well sorted metal collection.

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