This one got lost in the shuffle over the summer, but is worth some belated attention. JON OLIVA'S PAIN, of course, is the name of the closest thing to SAVATAGE we're gonna see on the racks any time soon – that band's frontman getting his solo-album jollies when not donning tux and tails and shaking down the Christmas tree in TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. Oliva is backed here by most of CIRCLE II CIRCLE, and maybe it's the comfort of jamming with his friends, or the freedom of making music like this outside his "day job", but "Global Warning" is easily the best Oliva solo album to date, and the first to match the best work of the mighty 'TAGE itself.
While the record is the most organic, dynamic and naturally-flowing JON OLIVA'S PAIN set to date, it's paradoxically tied together by urgent subject matter – the world's in bad shape, and Oliva's documenting it all. Some of his angriest, most metallic material in years exists here – it's great to hear the man positively snarling through "Adding the Cost" and "Stories" -- but it's juxtaposed with big choirs, bombastic Broadway stuff, and some heartbreaking balladry, shifting gears sometimes in mid-song. The effect is very cinematic, which won't surprise any longtime fan, but for the first time in years, the whole package seems put together ahead of time, nuanced and balanced out. It's less a scrapbook of Oliva's random doodles and half-finished ideas, and more a complete, cohesive, thematically sound record.
And man, it rocks! Everything you love about Oliva's rock and roll persona is here in spades, and the quality is top-notch. It could be said that his range is less than it used to be, which leads to more ragged, desperate-sounding refrains (see "Before I Hang"), but to me it just sounds like the man's in character – the narrator of those lyrics would be a bit wild-eyed and on edge. These are desperate times, and it only makes sense for a "global warning" to be delivered with as much gritty gusto as polished harmony.
Jon Oliva rarely disappoints, and now, even his "odds and sods" project is up to the world-class level of SAVATAGE and TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. If you like your metal with a bit of BEATLES and QUEEN bombast, a little classic 80's flair, and some endtime dust and scuffle, "Global Warning" is an urgent, yet classy, call to arms.