Oliva – Raise The Curtain

June 10, 2013 in Reviews by Arno Callens

Raise The Curtain
Reviewed by Arno Callens

As someone who only has a scattered knowledge of Jon Oliva’s post-Savatage output, I may not be in the best place to review Raise The Curtain. Then again, I reckon the Oliva brand is one that rarely changes. If your main mindset about a new Oliva album is “It’s going to sound like Savatage, right?”, that’s about as accurate as it gets.

Of course, the man himself goes out his way to avoid the Savatage name, now even abandoning the Jon Oliva’s Pain moniker for something more confusing. The reason is, however, an exciting one, what with Raise The Curtain containing the last tracks the late Criss Oliva put to paper. He’s really the J.R.R. Tolkien of metal, isn’t he? Always more to be dusted off. So Raise The Curtain is the closest we will ever get to another golden-era Savatage record. An exciting prospect, I think we can all agree.

Word of comfort: Raise The Curtain definitely delivers. Wild Hammond organs, theatricality in spades, and the raw-turned-smooth-and-back croons of Jon himself; we know the ingredients, we love the recipe. The opening track is a literal curtain call, building and swirling until all possible utterances of the title have been explored. “Soul Taker”, “Father Time” and “Big Brother” are the more straightforward punches, staples of future live sets I’m sure. Musically, it’s not miles away from what Oliva did with his Pain on Festival, but let’s just say it has that special Gutter Ballet flavor.

At first I was bothered by the abundance of balladry near the album’s end, but “I Know” and “Soldier” have managed to melt my frozen heart at last, and they provide useful resting points amidst the heavy stuff. Among the more ambitious material is the playfully dark “Armageddon”, “The Witch”, and “Can’t Get Away”, which draws the curtain with a bluesy power ballad.

I’m not going to bother ranking this among the illustrious discography of Jon Oliva, but it’s a damn nice entry either way. Raise The Curtain is tribute and testament to the talents of the much missed Criss, and another reminder that Jon Oliva will never be anything but a total class act. Madness reigns forever.

4.0 // 5