With the release of his fourth Pain project Festival, Jon Oliva has come full circle. His project and band could be best called Jon Oliva's Savatage for he revisits a great portion of his original band's character and music on this disc. While 2008's Global Warning showed the creativity and, some would say, intrigue of dealing with the memory of Savatage and the present provocation of TSO and Pain, many were conflicted about Oliva's experimentation. However, I was not: I liked the album.
But moving on, for the most part, Festival is a metal album, plain and simple. Acoustic guitar and piano are accents like adding perfect spices to a superb dish. But, in the end, this is melodic heavy metal delivered with enthusiasm and accuracy, and with enough unexpected chutzpah, as on the late rollicking interlude on Afterglow.
For his part, Oliva sounds raw, roof nail gargling, best throughout, almost to the point of wearisome monotony. Yet, listening to his sublime performances on the near ballads Looking for Nothing and Now, you wonder why he spends so much time screeching with razorblade metal vocals. Passing over this commentary, Festival is stirring and entertaining stuff, with the aforementioned lighter Now and Looking for Nothing and the heavier Death Rides a Black Horse, The Evil Within, and Afterglow being premier pieces. If you're a Jon Oliva's Pain or Savatage fan, then Festival must not be missed. Very recommended!
Jon Oliva returns to his primal roots on Festival, sounding more like Savatage than ever before. It's all good, and highly entertaining melodic heavy metal with some unexpected twists.
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