“Maniacal Renderings” by Jon Oliva’s Pain

Artist: Jon Oliva’s Pain
Title: “Maniacal Renderings”
Label: Locomotive Records
Release Date: 10/17/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Metal Legions I ask that you once again proclaim a hearty “All Hail The Mountain King” for he has returned and brings The Pain to Metal once again. Yes, the Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva is back and doing what he has always done best – delivering emotional and powerful Metal that is loaded with melodic hooks, inspiring piano and choruses that will have you with fists raised to the sky. “Maniacal Renderings “ is the second album Oliva recorded with this band and they do not suffer the sophomore curse by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, they seem to have worked out any kinks and begun the next logical step in their development. Yet as you listen, and especially if you had followed his career in the past you will find this album to be the most Savatage like of the two they have released. I was left wondering if this was on purpose or as an accident but perhaps it was a little bit of both. Oliva has one of the most unique voices to ever hit Metal and his song writing style has made albums like “Gutter Ballet”, “Streets”, and “Handful Of Rain” become classics that are long referred to by fans and other musicians of note. After so many years in the business, one’s overall style does not change fully, yet adapts over time. Based on the Savatage work and his co-creation of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, we find JOP to be a Metal band that utilizes to success some elements of each of these juggernauts. I have felt that Jon’s writing always had a specific vibe to it also and as a result this album could very well have been called “Streets 2”, for as soon as it finished I ran to my case and dug that one out. There are more than a few moments on this release that sound like they are continuations to music we first heard on “Streets: A Rock Opera”. Oliva fans will enjoy this closeness as the Savalegions have been begging for a reunion of the classic group for years and this is probably as close as they will get.

The members of the band remain as John Zahner (keyboards), Shane French (guitar), Matt LaPorte (guitar), Kevin Rothney (bass) and Christopher Kinder (drums). As many readers know by now, the members of JOP were previously members of the band Circle II Circle (a Zack Stevens fronted effort). It is an excellent album despite some of the similarities to ‘Tage with songs like “The Answer” and “Timeless Flight” being among the deepest offerings while “Push It To The Limit” is among the heavier tracks. Jon’s personal struggle with loss seems reflected in the moving closer track “Still I Pray For You Now”, which seems to be another offering of tribute to his brother Criss Oliva. The music world lost Criss because of a drunk driver almost fifteen years ago. It is a very poignant way to close the album. This is an album that succeeds in delivering great music that not only keeps you interested in this band, but also makes you curious about some of their musical origins. As good as this is, it will leave you with a little bit of a hunger for Savatage.

Track Listing:
1. Through The Eyes Of The King
2. Maniacal Renderings
3. The Evil Beside You
4. Time To Die
5. The Answer
6. Push It To The Limit
7. Who’s Playing God
8. Timeless Flight
9. Holes
10. End Places
11. Still I Pray For You Now

Official Website: www.jonoliva.net

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