Chris Caffery - Faces
Black Lotus Records
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
16 songs (76'45)
Release year: 2004
Chris Caffery, Black Lotus
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month
Faces seems like the perfect album title for the Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist's first solo album. Feeling somewhat frustrated with only being able to contribute a few riffs or ideas to Savatage material, Chris Caffery comes out with guns blazing on this album as if he has something to prove. Emerging from the shadows of Savatage, he presents us here with as fine a hard rock/heavy metal album as I've heard this year. He shows the many "Faces" of his personality and personal views on life in general with a variety of styles of music ranging from hard rock to metal to a more aggressive modern, thrash style metal with attitude. I think it's every bit as good as Jon Oliva's new album and much better than the last Savatage album, Poets and Madmen. Recorded earlier this year, this album was frantically finished due to the upcoming late fall commitments for the annual Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas tour. Chris' vocal contributions to Savatage have been nothing more than backup vocals but for this album, he took a series of singing lessons in order to do all the lead vocals. He does a fantastic job and with a slightly higher pitched voice but with the same sort of rasp, he comes across as a slightly demented version of Jon Oliva. The resemblance is uncanny at times and it's quite obvious who he styled his vocals after. Other musicians helping out with the album are Paul Morris (keyboards), Dave Z (bass - Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and Jeff Plate (drums - Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra).

With the overall feel of this album, you get the impression that Chris really wanted to "rock out" and do a very heavy and sometimes aggressive album; something not normally heard with Savatage material. Those who know Chris and have followed his career know his love for more aggressive and heavy music as seen with his collaboration with Jon Oliva for the Dr. Butcher album back in the mid 90's. After a grandiose march-like intro with narration, the album quickly kicks into gear with the title track, Faces. With it's speedy power metal style, it uses some great climbing riff patterns and is a kick-ass metal tune. The momentum continues with Fade Into The X, a riff heavy, up-tempo Judas Priest style track that has solid riff breaks, a modern heaviness and wild riff/drum flurries. Pisses Me Off is sure to become a fan favorite with it's angry Anthrax style chunky rap-metal that serves as an angry rant about everything in life that "pisses him off". With this track, he complains about everything from E-mail to terrorism to a $5 cup of coffee at Starbucks! A killer track that despite the anger has a sense of humor about it. Another stand out track Music Man, is to be the first single released from this album. It's a lighter acoustic number with double-tracked voices to give it a 60's folk-like feel. Spirited and uplifting, it has a great melodic sense and a great chorus. It's a different but very effective sort of song that really touches the listener. Other stand-out tracks include Evil is As Evil Does; an up-tempo and chunky modern sounding track with a catchy chorus and more great riff breaks. Never has the big grandiose Savatage sound that mixes passion and heaviness very effectively and So Far Today uses a pounding heavy riff pattern that has a modern edge with a great chorus and verses that seem like passionate pleas. The Savatage sound appears frequently throughout most of this album as does influences from classic Queensryche with some of the riffs and atmosphere he creates with his music. Some of the more up-tempo thick riffs used bring classic 80's metal to mind. With a total of 16 tracks and over 76 minutes of music, there's very little filler on this album. What you get is a very diverse, heavy and very personal album that encompasses many styles. The production is very crisp and clear and the doubled-up guitar tracks add great thickness to the sound. The song arrangements themselves are clever and are done with the kind of professionalism that you'd expect from such a seasoned veteran. I love albums like this where an artist is allowed to pour his soul into every aspect of an album to give it such a personal touch; something not likely to happen within a typical band format. He has more than proven himself here as a great songwriter and a pretty great singer as well. In fact, his voice blows me away on a few tracks. I hope Savatage will take note of this and get him more involved in the songwriting process for their next album (whenever that will be). He's an untapped resource who has the capability to be so much more than just a guitar player for the band.

Chris is currently on tour with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (east coast version) through until Christmas and there is talk of a solo tour with Jon Oliva's Pain also on the bill sometime next year. Faces is available world-wide except for the U.S. and Canada. The release date for those areas is reported to be mid January sometime. You might want to pick this one up now from whatever mail-order source that has this as the current limited edition has a second bonus CD entitled God Damn War that has 40 minutes of extra music and sees Chris taking a very critical and hard-edged look at the atrocities of war. As far as Savatage, there's been some reports from both Chris Caffery and Jon Oliva that they plan to get together in 2005 with the goal of releasing a new album later in the year or early 2006. The main problem is scheduling and actually getting all the members together to do it. With the pending delay for any new Savatage material, fans can feast on this album for a while. With it's 16 tracks, there's lots of mileage with an album like this. I've listened to it 4 or 5 times and each time, something new catches my ear and songs that didn't have an impact at first, suddenly do. That alone is a sign of a great album. Watch my top releases of the year list for this one!!!

Killing Songs :
Faces, Fade Into The X, Pisses Me Off, Music Man, Evil Is As Evil Does, So Far Today and Never
Marty quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Chris Caffery that we have reviewed:
Chris Caffery - House of Insanity reviewed by Marty and quoted 68 / 100
Chris Caffery - Pins And Needles reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
Chris Caffery - W.A.R.P.E.D. reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
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