Chris Caffery - House of Insanity
AFM Records
Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
13 songs (62'03)
Release year: 2009
Chris Caffery, AFM Records
Reviewed by Marty
With all of Chris Caffery's previous solo releases, the Savatage guitarist has deliberately avoided writing material that sounded like Savatage. Faces, W.A.R.P.E.D. and Pins And Needles were a mix of metal styles with more modern and aggressive tendencies that were as far away from Savatage material as you could get. With Chris' new album House Of Insanity, he has bowed to pressure from his fans in releasing an album that embraces the classic Savatage sound. Entirely written, produced, engineered and mixed by Chris himself, he also does all the guitar, bass and vocals except for a couple of guest appearances by Glenn Drover (ex-Megadeth) on guitar, Brian Gregory on bass and a guest vocal by ex-Savatage and current Circle II Circle and Machines of Grace vocalist Zak Stevens. John Macaluso handles the drums with the keyboards shared between Lonnie Park and Paul LaPlaca.

With Chris' previous solo albums, he was still getting his fet wet as a lead vocalist but I thought he did a solid job considering. With House of Insanity the real problem lies in the fact that although there are some great riffs and musical ideas; all in the classic Savatage vein, his attempts at a Jon Oliva type of vocal delivery fall flat for the most part. A perfect example is the album opener Seasons Change. There's some great up-tempo Savatage style riffs and excellent lead guitar work along with a "decent" chorus but the rest of the vocal melodies make me cringe. The title track House of Insanity falls victim to the same fate. Chunky, galloping riffs and chordal octaves in true Cris Oliva fashion are wasted on a failed attempt at a sinister Jon Oliva type of vocal. Things actually get even worse with I Won't Know, a mid-tempo Savatage flavored track with an absolutely dreadful lead vocal. There's also a very boring and uninspired ballad entitled Madonna that would've benfitted from another vocal interpretation. Winter In Hamburg begins as a ballad yet gets heavier but once again really fails to click. On the bright side, there are some great moments here including the ominous and heavy Big Brother as well as epic sounding Backs To The Wall with its mix of quiet and heavy passages. Another highlight is the track Solitaire that features a vocal duet between Chris and Zak Stevens. Zak really brings his unique emotional style to this track; something that is missing from most of the songs on this album. A curious inclusion of a "heavied up" version of Bob Marley's Get Up, Stand Up finishes the album.

I'm a big fan of Chris Caffery. I have met him at a TSO show a couple of years back, have reviewed all of his CDs and have done several interviews with him. I have found him to be a very classy, down to earth and very professional person. I think the real problem with this album was that it was recorded at his house largely by himself, with little outside influence. His attempts at writing Savatage type material has resulted in some great musical ideas yet 2 very important pieces of the puzzle are missing; the writing genius of Paul O'Neill and the Midas touch of Jon Oliva when it comes to the vocal melodies. Make no mistake, there are some great riffs and excellent, very technical lead guitar work to be found throughout this album. There are certain "expectations" for Savatage music with soaring and strong vocal melodies being a very important part of the end result. Chris could've used some assistance here in the writing and/or performance of the vocals. With his previous solo albums, he was just doing whatever he wanted to do with no real pressure. That way, there was nothing with which to compare his vocal skills and vocal melodies to. Unfortunately, in deliberately trying to write Savatage sounding material, the bar gets raised quite high and with it comes the sort of expectations that he alone is not quite able to reach. In a nutshell, too many of the important pieces of the puzzle are missing.

Killing Songs :
Big Brother, Backs To The Wall and Solitaire
Marty quoted 68 / 100
Other albums by Chris Caffery that we have reviewed:
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
Chris Caffery - Faces reviewed by Marty and quoted 88 / 100
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