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Jon Oliva's Pain - Tage Mahal (CD)

Jon Oliva's Pain
Tage Mahal
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 20 October 2004, 10:40 PM

Times change. The days, the months, the years…all pass by before our very eyes as we struggle to hold onto our floating islands, our lives. Be it good times, be it bad times we always have our favorite tunes, our favorite voices, which keep us company even when it seems we're all alone, forgotten on that floating island as it drifts towards life's waterfall. Music for some people is the air they breathe, the dreams they dream, the stories that overwhelm their minds, that fill their hearts with emotions. On one of these floating islands lives a mad poet, sitting behind his piano, engulfed by thoughts only his melodies and lyrics dare speak of. Ladies and gentlemen, Jon Oliva.
Do you know why 2004 is a special kind of year for all the Savatage fans? Well it's certainly not because of a new Savatage album but because of two brilliant solo albums, Chris Caffery's Faces / God Damn War and…yes, finally, Jon Oliva's Pain!
Though many loyal Savatage fans worry as to whether there'll be another Savatage album or not, Jon Oliva, himself, explains why he chose to form Pain while at the same time he mysteriously doesn't dissolve his fans' main question: With Savatage, it sometimes requires an amazing organizational effort to realize a new project. Thing are much easier with my new band, Pain. It consists of musicians that I've known for ages and that I can get together with any time to play live, try out new ideas or record songs. Though his label (SPV) clarifies this does not mean the end of Savatage, I really can't figure out what's going on in Jon's mind other than the fact that he's concentrated on his solo works right now. And it's his solo works we'll all focus on right now because…maybe the truth lies somewhere inside Jon Oliva's melodies and lyrics…
Starting with the album's title I have to admit I was pretty touched when I discovered where the name came from. In the beginning I just thought it had to do with some sort of inner search Jon had, like we all (who are troubled with a zillion of questions) have. Well, I was close but not exactly that close. Just before Criss Oliva (April 3, 1963 - October 17, 1993) had his fatal accident, he was planning on releasing a solo album with instrumental tracks, called Tage Mahal. His brother Jon explains: I picked up the idea as an homage to my brother, whose spirit remains with me. If you combine Jon Oliva's Pain and the reason for the album's name, you'll realize that what we're talking about is an album filled with deep emotions and thoughts and by all means this album was not done just to get your money; it's nothing like that.
As Jon said in his statement, the band consists of musicians who live really close to him and who've been friends with him for a long time already. Another fact about Christopher Kinder (drums), John Zahner (keyboard), Kevin Rothney (bass & backing vocals) and Matt Laporte (guitar) is the fact that they were all on ex-Savatage vocalist Zachary Stevens' debut solo album Watching In Silence (2003) (Circle II Circle). Well that's no surprise if you come to think that they're all friends (Stevens, Jon etc) and they always have been (in case you think Jon stole Stevens' musicians, you're completely wrong). They're all quite skilled musicians despite the fact that a lot of people bashed them over Stevens' debut album. In fact I didn't think they were anything special till Tage Mahal made its way (easily) into my ears…and they've surely stunned me! Of course it takes more than just 4 skilled musicians to create something like Tage Mahal. It requires Jon Oliva's inspirations.
Therefore we have an outstanding album (musically) which if played in your CD player can shoot Oliva's thoughts straight into your brain. What thoughts are these? you may wonder. After listening to Tage Mahal for about a million times, I've reached the conclusion that through his songs Jon speaks about his life, his brother's loss, the pain he's gone through and also more general feelings about the world nowadays. But it's mainly his life (through memories and emotions) his songs focus on. And trust me, when you've got such a superb musician like Jon talking about his life, you damn sure wanna listen.
The album ranges (in style) from Savatage's Sirens (1983) to…nowadays. It's all in there. It will really make you think you're listening to a new kick-ass Savatage album and at the same time you'll realize you're not. There are songs full of intense melodies, outbreaks and downfalls like The Dark, Guardian Of Forever, Walk Alone, Father, Son, Holy Ghost and The Non Sensible Ravings Of The Lunatic Mind which could no doubt stand as Savatage all-time classics! Speaking of The Non Sensible Ravings Of The Lunatic Mind, this song was initially written for the Savatage Poets & Madmen (2001) album but for some unknown (to me at least) reason was left outside. There's also a really soft and touching song in Tage Mahal which will bring great nostalgia inside you and that's none other than the marvelous last track, Fly Away; a song which made me play Believe (Savatage's Streets - 1991) - don't ask me why, just try it out for yourselves and you might get the same feeling I got.
The point on this album is not to just go for the Savatage-reminding songs but also for different in sound yet excellent songs like Pain, People Say - Gimme Some Hell and Outside The Door. Oh, did I mention People Say - Gimme Some Hell? Well, if you're a real Sava-fan, you'll definitely notice what this song's all about after you've heard it (also see my ending quote, taken from this song).
I think words mean nothing when it comes to releases like Jon Oliva's personal album. There's so much I'd like to say about this album but…if I did it would turn out looking like a novel and well I think I sort of said what I needed to say, at least my main point: Jon Oliva's Pain - Tage Mahal not only is an out of this world release and all the Savatage-related fans ought to buy it but it's also one of the best albums I've heard in years and I feel all Heavy Metal fans must go buy it!
We enter the halls of mountain king, beyond the doors of the dark, lying on strange wings, from the streets of the gutter, in a summer's rain, do you hear the hounds they call, and tonight he grins again…
- Album Highlights: The entire album.

4 Star Rating

The Dark
People Say - Gimme Some Hell
Guardian Of Forever
Slipping Away
Walk Alone
The Non Sensible Ravings Of The Linatic Mind
No Escape
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
All The Time
Nowhere To Run
Outside The Door
Fly Away
Jon Oliva - Vocals
Christopher Kinder - Drums
John Zahner - Keyboard
Kevin Rothney - Bass, Backing Vocals
Matt Laporte - Guitar
Record Label: SPV


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