Jon Oliva's Pain - Festival
AFM Records
Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
10 songs (55'07)
Release year: 2010
Jon Oliva's Pain, AFM Records
Reviewed by Marty
A very disturbing dream by Jon Oliva served as the inspiration for the album cover and title of the this new album by Jon Oliva's Pain entitled Festival. The concept of a very twisted carnival odyssey with disturbing figures and an overall nightmarish theme set the tone for the 4th album by the Savatage main man's current band. There was a definite attempt with this album to make more of a heavy metal album after the experimental and melodic Global Warning (which I loved by the way). Complex arrangements and a huge production were also part of the agenda as Festival boasts more harmonized lead guitar and extended instrumental passages than ever before with an album that although overall returns to the more heavy metal sounds of the first 2 albums, doesn't fully abandon the very Beatles influenced passionate and melodic side of Jon Oliva's song writing persona that blossomed on Global Warning.

Once again (as with the last 2 JOP albums), Jon's box of riff tapes he made with brother Criss Oliva many years ago served as inspiration for quite a few of the songs here. Case in point, the album opener Lies with its galloping tempo, sinister vocal and definite TSO, Savatage orchestration effects was actually an unfinished track entitled Beyond Broadway and was originally to be used for the Streets album. The song deals with all the shady people that Savatage had to deal with early in their career and is definitely more reckless and much more "metal" than anything from Global Warning. Death Rides a Black Horse is not only the title of the second track but also the platoon slogan of many of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan; which includes one of Jon's nephews. This one uses an open C tuning and is a dark, ominous, epic and plodding orchestrated number that is a definite album highlight. Jon must be listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin lately as the title track Festival uses an open A minor tuning, giving the main riff a decidedly Jimmy Page feel and sounds like a riff used on the Coverdale/Page album. Despite the cool riffs, I'm a little disappointed with Jon's vocals here and the chorus just doesn't click with me. Afterglow uses a mix of booming Sabbath like riffs, quiet reflective piano based passages and has a similar fell to Led Zeppelin's Rain Song. The heavier interludes give the track a definite Savatage vibe complete with sudden speedy tempo changes and overall, this one has a huge arrangement and very "epic" qualities to it. The signature Savatage sound is also heard with the galloping and heavy riffs of Living on the Edge along with the truly sinister and heavy The Evil Within. Lush acoustic guitars for the intro and a definite Beatles vibe grace the track Winter Haven. Heavily orchestrated, this one's a huge power ballad with a real gut wrenching vocal by Jon. I Fear You once again features mid tempo and chugging Sabbath like riffs and is very much a "metal" track. The album finishes with a touching power ballad entitled Now which is an ode to Jon's brother Criss who left us almost 16 years ago. Once again the big orchestrated sound and strong Beatles influence with the melodies is front and centre.

On the whole, Festival is much heavier than Global Warning yet its great to hear Jon staying with the orchestrated and melodic sound he used so frequently with that album. Festival also sees Jon Oliva's Pain turning up the theatrics, orchestration and guitar harmonies a notch or two yet offering enough "metal" tracks to satisfy those who may have been disappointed with Global Warning. A mix of all that is good about Jon Oliva's music, Festival may not be the best of the bunch as far as I'm concerned yet is still a very solid album from a man who I believe is incapable of releasing a bad album. Simply put, I believe he just wouldn't release something until it is up to the high standards of quality he demands for himself and the fans - a definite buy for the Savatage and Jon Oliva's Pain fans.

Killing Songs :
Lies, Death Rides A Black Horse, Afterglow, Winter Haven and Now
Marty quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Jon Oliva's Pain that we have reviewed:
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 - Straight Jacket Memoirs reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Jon Oliva's Pain - 'Tage Mahal reviewed by Brent and quoted 90 / 100
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