On his second solo record, the Savatage frontman shows signs of returning to the glory days.
As the frontman for Savatage, Jon Oliva helped create the foundation for power metal in the 1980s and '90s, thanks to such seminal albums as Sirens, In the Hall of the Mountain King, and Gutter Ballet, and while he has kept himself busy with multiple projects over the last decade, it's on his second solo record that Oliva shows signs of returning to the glory of the days of classic Savatage. Maniacal Renderings, in fact, might as well be a 'Tage CD, as he revisits his songwriting past, with often extraordinary results. Both the title track and the stupendous "Through the Eyes of the King" would be a perfect fit on Mountain King, while the operatic "The Evil Beside You" and "Who's Playing God" sound like outtakes from Gutter Ballet, Oliva's rough-hewn, yet powerful voice sounding like it hasn't aged one bit in the last 20 years. This is top-flight melodic metal, from the scorchers ("Push It to the Limit"), to the shockingly touching piano-driven ballads "The Answer" and "Timeless Flight", yet another 2006 comeback which proves that while the metal gods of old might be getting on in years (the 46 year-old Oliva himself certainly has, erm, expanded), on record, they continue to defy age, sounding as vital and invigorated as ever before.