Jon Oliva's Pain - Straight Jacket Memoirs
AFM Records
Classic Heavy Metal
5 songs (22'46)
Release year: 2006
Jon Oliva's Pain, AFM Records
Reviewed by Marty
Jon Oliva's Pain have just recently returned from a very successful European tour and after barely catching their breath, they will be back out touring in support of their new album Maniacal Renderings, which will be released Sept. 1st in Europe and Japan and Sept. 7th for the rest of the world. The first album, Taj Mahal saw Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva taking the helm to produce an album that although often strayed into Savatage territory, also saw a more personal touch by the "Mountain King" himself. With Savatage on extended hiatus, it's really not certain as to when (or if) we will see another Savatage tour and/or new studio album. The ball seems to be in Jon's court right now as other band members including Chris Caffery have stated that they would jump at the opportunity to get the band up and rolling again. With Jon Oliva's Pain, Jon seems to be enjoying the ride right now and in light of this, it may be a while before the mighty Savatage rises again. In support of the upcoming album Maniacal Renderings, AFM Records has released this five song E.P. entitled Straight Jacket Memoirs that includes two new tracks as well as a couple of live tracks recorded during the band's Europe tour in 2004/2005.

As far as new material with this E.P., we get two versions of a track entitled The Evil Beside You. One is an edited version whereas the full version has an acoustic intro and with Jon's whispery vocal, it sets up for the eventual heavy parts quite nicely. With a more theatrical Savatage edge, this one's a mid tempo track that has great Kansas Carry On Wayward Son styled booming guitar riffs and vocals from Jon that alternate from clean and emotional to the classic gruffy shouting style that we all know (and love). This one fits pretty well with the material from Taj Mahal and should also appeal to Savatage fans as well. The other new track is Time To Die which uses de-tuned guitars for a plodding heavy sound and guitar chordal octaves in true Savatage fashion. The dark style and heaviness also reminds me of the Dr. Butcher album that Jon did back in the 90's with Chris Caffery.

Two live tracks from the Taj Mahal album, The Dark and People Say Gimme Some Hell are included with this package and were recorded during the band's European trek in 2004/2005. Sounding like they were recorded with front of the house mics and without soundboard input, the sound quality is very much like the live Savatage recordings that were circulating from their Wake Of Magellan tour quite a few years back. Although the band's performance is amazingly tight, the poor sound quality especially with Jon's voice renders these live recordings just slightly better than bootleg quality. I was really pumped at hearing some solid live versions of these two tracks but was somewhat disappointed. I'd really like to hear some decent quality live recordings from these guys as the current line-up of Jon Oliva (vocals, keys, guitar), Matt Laporte (guitar), Shane French (guitar), Kevin Rothney (bass), John Zahner (keyboards) and Christopher Kinder (drums) is an extremely solid line-up that really does justice to the classic Savatage material in a live situation as well. I suspect that a live album and/or live DVD will likely be in the works from the band's forthcoming tour.

With the two new songs offered here on this release, I'd say everything is on track for Jon Oliva's Pain to crank out another slab of excellent keyboard laden theatrical heavy metal with Maniacal Renderings much in the same vein as their amazing debut album Taj Mahal. All reports have suggested that fans better be ready for a more dramatic and progressive album than Taj Mahal with much more complexities in the arrangements. Four new tracks from Maniacal Renderings have also been posted for streaming on their My Space page.

Killing Songs :
The Evil Beside You (full version) and Time To Die
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Other albums by Jon Oliva's Pain that we have reviewed:
Jon Oliva's Pain - Festival reviewed by Marty and quoted 86 / 100
Jon Oliva's Pain - Global Warning reviewed by Marty and quoted 93 / 100
Jon Oliva's Pain - Maniacal Renderings reviewed by Marty and quoted 90 / 100
Jon Oliva's Pain - 'Tage Mahal reviewed by Brent and quoted 90 / 100
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