Nice Song, Gritty Song. Repeat
Jon Oliva's last album 'Maniacal Renderings' was a triumph in capturing that classic Savatage atmosphere and great song writing. It was more than a nostalgia trip, it felt like the heart of Savatage had finally released a true successor to 'Streets'. Banging on about Savatage will, of course, do Jon Oliva a disservice. His 'Pain' project, so far, have been impressive, with '…Renderings' being one of my favourite albums in recent years. But what of the new album? Word has it that Jon and his troops had thrown everything at it, had put their heart and souls into every note. Does 'Global Warning' eclipse their previous works?
The whole experience doesn't get off to the best of starts as the title track is more a summary of four or five ideas and the band couldn't choose which one to start with, so they used all of them. It finally kicks in after a couple of minutes by which time you're either lapping up the progginess of it all or irritated by the lack of any real direction. The follow up 'Look at the World' is a fairly standard affair and, if it's compared to their previous album, the initial thoughts sway towards disappointment. 'Adding The Cost' adds a little urgency and grit, but is let down by the unconvincing production that has always plagued Jon Oliva's Pain. It's the highlight of the disc as well as 'Before I Hang' which sees Jon in fine throat shredding form. But it is from this point the album starts to become quite patchy.
'Firefly' is one of those 'love it' or 'tolerate it' songs. Its seven-minute power ballad leanings can either bring people to tears or bore people to tears. Fans who can see Jon do no wrong will think the former, casual fans may think the latter. 'Master' is just garbage and stinks of filler, although it's reminiscent of something from Depressive Age's 'Electric Scum' album. After the 'Poets And Madmen' hangover that is 'The Ride', the rest of the album formulates into nice song, gritty song, nice song, gritty song. Just when you think the gloves are off and Jon's going to come out fighting he calms you down with another dose of ivories. 'Open Your Eyes' will have you reaching for the razor blades, 'Someone/Souls' will make you put down the blades and reach for the gun as the quicker option. 'You Never Know' is a lame re-write of 'Of Rage And War' and 'Stories' sounds like something to split up the lightweight ballads
I've been a little unfair in this review because Jon's Standard is usual very high. This is an album that will grow on repeated listens. I've had this on rotation for several weeks and even after this period of time, I think, song for song and overall flow and cohesion, 'Global Warning', in my opinion, is the weakest of the three 'Pain' albums. It does have its moments, both gritty and beautiful and will have many fans going weak at the knees. But it feels as if they've tried a little too hard and consciously made an effort to throw everything at it. I've been a fan of Jon Oliva since 1987, and although I'd like to laud praise upon him, as a reviewer I have to look at this album objectively. It's good, but it's far from great. If you're looking for great try 'Maniacal Renderings'.