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Chris Caffery - House Of Insanity       


On disc: Chris Caffery



The Mold (single) - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
Faces - Claudia Ehrhardt - 10 stars
Faces - Rod Capozzi - 9 stars
Music Man (single) - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
W.A.R.P.E.D. - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
Pins And Needles - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
House Of Insanity - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars


www.chriscaffery.com







House Of Insanity

House Of Insanity
(AFM Records - 2009)


With House Of Insanity Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery is presenting his 4th solo album - and again he played most instruments and also produced the album. Even if Caffery played drums before picking up the guitar, John Macaluso plays drums on House Of Insanity. Keyboards and backing vocals have been done by Lonnie Park. Beside that you can hear a few guest at his latest piece of work.
In the past fans wanted to hear something more similar to Savatage - so this time they can't complain, but I guess his critics will find something different to complain about.... Okay, Chris Caffery isn't the best singer, but its something he works on and you can hear he's making progress.
The opener is called Seasons Change, a fast rocker with heavy riffs and his typical vocals and melodic backings. You can hear the anger in his voice, while the melodic guitar line and the backings are the counter part. Next in line is the title track House Of Insanity. This one has elements he already used at Faces, but adds some voices, strange laughter and weird sounds. This is taking you to the house of insanity! But I guess he's pushing too far for many metal fans... Like Pins And Needles was challenging the listener, he doesn't take the easy way. For Savatage fans I Won't Know is probably one of the songs they find easy to get in, but again you can hear elements he already used at his solo debut. At The Fleas ex-Megadeth guitarist Glenn Drover plays the leads. Partly he leaves the typicial metal guitar behind, but he did that before. With Madonna he wrote a very emotional, very personal ballad, something he wouldn't have done years ago. He got joined by Doctor Butcher bassist Brian Gregory on this one. Big Brother is based on heavy riffing, first a bit doomy, then he speeds up. This track is bringing back Savatage - at least partly -, but he's adding his own style to it. Not staying within the limits. For Back's To The Wall he slows down again and present a melodic tune. Partly he sounds like he wants to give up, while the backings are more in the vein of Savatage. And the guitar leads carries a spark of hope. At Solitaire you might wonder about the vocals, but here Caffery is teaming up with Zak Stevens. And it's good to hear them together again! Surely one of the highlights. Having Zak Stevens taking over the lead vocals shows that Caffery isn't afraid of getting criticized for his singing, coz this is will make you compare them. With Shame he presents another heavy one, but again with melodic backings / chorus. Great guitar play. Another balladesque one is Winter In Hamburg where Paul LaPlaca plays keyboards. The song reflects how much things changed through the years and also how people changed. The songs ends with acoustic guitar, getting back to the opening theme. No Matter What sticks out, coz the guitars are different... Partly you get metal riffs, but also some passages which remind me of Clapton... Then the metal riffs come back. Quite catchy. The closer is a cover version of Bob Marley's Get Up, Stand Up. Well, I'm not a fan of reggae, but the metallic version is fun.
One more time... This isn't Savatage, this is a Chris Caffery solo album! If he would release an album which sounds more like Savatage, everybody would say they should bring back Savatage instead of him doing a Savatage-sounding album. Well, even if this has elements of the Savatage sound, it also has other sound elements... Other influences. Chris Caffery sticks to his style, not trying to please everybody. If you like it or not, you have to credit him for this!


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Pins And Needles

Pins And Needles
(Metal Heaven - year)


A quote of Friedrich Schiller is: "Which reader I wish? The most unabashed, that forgets about me, oneself and the world - and only lives in this book." It kinda fits to this album, coz the listener has to forget everything around and get focused on the music. An open mind is required, too. And don't expect the songs to sound like Savatage!
Songs like The Mold and Pisses Me Off from the debut album Faces of the blonde guitarist give an idea what to expect from Pins And Needles. The title track starts with some noises, then develops into a heavy, modern riff-based song. Very aggressive, but with a groove and an almost catchy refrain. Slowing down for a while, but still this track is more interesting for fans of modern heavy metal la In Flames and Killswitch Engage. But their fans will probably won't like the rest of the songs... On his 3rd album Chris Caffery presents a vast musical variety - as on Faces, but in a different way. On his solo albums he doesn't accept limitations and so this time more progressive elements and even jazzy parts - like on Walls - can be found. Personally I really like the jazzy part, it adds something special. This album needs several spins to get discovered and time to grow. Worms is a catchy tune, but very complex and as the whole album it needs time to get into the musical world of Chris Caffery. Again he grabbed a saxophone and added a short solo on Worms which let the song fade out. An up-tempo tune is Crossed which is interesting for fans of Nevermore, but fans of Warrel Dane and his mates are used to some weird sounds and arrangements... Distorted vocals lead into The Time, but its the electronical sound pieces which make it tough to get into this one. The contrast of heavy riffs and almost poppy melodies make this one special. While Metal East offers oriental sounds and some violin. Another song which needs time and definitely not the easy way he chose, even if the guitar riffs and melody lines are influenced by classical heavy metal. Most wouldn't dare to try something like this. And again it's the contrast of sound elements and the arrangement which makes this song outstanding. The Temple is building a bridge to Once Upon A Time where the vocals partly remind me of Nightmare Before Christmas... This song would have fit to Doctor Butcher too, as they also had some more experimental parts in their songs. But before The Temple he put another short instrumental - called Qualdio - like Preludio on Faces.
Not really what Savatage fans are longing for, but an interesting album for open-minded metal fans who like aggressive riffs, experimental and modern sounds. If he would have recorded a Savatage-like album everybody would have criticized him for doing it, but now he might get criticized for pushing it too far. Anyway, if you want to check it out, listen to: Chained, Walls, Worms and Sixty-Six. But be prepared for some weirdness!


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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W.A.R.P.E.D.

W.A.R.P.E.D.
(Black Lotus Records - 2005)


The debut album of Chris Caffery was Faces and in Europe it came with a bonus CD called God Damn War. Actually God Damn War was just part of the concept W.A.R.P.E.D. which is the second release of Chris Caffery. The CD has 15 songs, but 9 were already released on God Damn War. Some might argue that this is just a release to make money with, but actually Faces came only with a bonus CD in the first edition. Later prints won't have the bonus CD and Faces - as a double CD - was sold for the normal CD price. Perhaps it would have been smarter not to put so many songs on the bonus CD... Anyway, now the whole thing is out!
W.A.R.P.E.D. starts very heavy, almost doomy with Home Is Where The Hell Is. It's obvious that Chris Caffery worked on this vocals, he improved. The song Election Day starts unusual... With some vocals which later been used in the background again. Extremely heavy - again - and with a lot of groove. This one has a touch of thrash. On I Chris used as an element something off a speech of Winston Chruchill. Really intersting. This one has some Doctor Butcher feeling - partly. Iraqi Attack is sung by Jon Oliva and on bass is Doctor Butcher bassist Brian Gregory. The title track was only on the US version of Faces and is new to fans in Europe. Less aggressive then many other ones. As God Damn War the W.A.R.P.E.D. album ends with Curtains.


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Music Man

Music Man
(Black Lotus Records - 2004)


For Europe Music Man is the second single off Faces. While the album Faces is released in Europe already the US has to wait a little longer and - it I got it right - this is the first single for the US. Even if Pisses Me Off was on radio before, but as I know only as a promotion radio single.
Music Man is a - partly acoustic - ballad which has some Eagles touch. Something most metal fans won't expect from the Savatage guitarist. With What Child Is This Caffery recorded an orchestral instrumental which is quite heavy, but would have fit into the TSO scheme. Why not released on TSO? Politics, I guess. Anyway, as he's part of the TSO touring it's no surprise that he has some ideas for their sound as well.
The ballad Forever We'll Be is on the European single The Mold, but the radio edit of Pisses Me Off hasn't been released so far - only for radio promotion. Interesting, but I prefer the album version which is also released on this single. Abandoned and Amazing Grace are taken from the European Faces / God Damn War release.


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Faces

Faces (European version)
(Black Lotus Records - 2004)


So this is the first solo album of Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery and the first time he's doing lead vocals. What to expect? Many Savatage fans will hope for something like Savatage, coz it's been years since the release of Poets & Madmen. Others might hope from something like Doctor Butcher. The truth is somewhere in between. The first edition comes with a bonus CD called God Damn War - see below. No need to talk about Caffery's guitar play, but there will be a lot of talk about the vocals. Well, I like it. I like the deep vocals, the almost death metal-like growls and the melodic parts. Many tracks are up-tempo, some have a certain aggression, others are more mid-tempo, some are balladesque and you wouldn't expect something like Music Man which remind me more of the Eagles then - as others say - the Beatles. From the faster ones I like Pisses Me Off most. I have to confess that the album stayed in my player for days. I can't stop listening to it. But I know that not everybody will feel the same, but I have to warn you, this can make you addicted!
It opens with Alas - a kind of intro - and here you get the first impression of what's coming. Really heavy, guitar-driven songs, even if here it's more spoken words. The title track Faces is a fast one. Aggressive guitar riffing and a vocal melody line which is quite catchy. Actually all songs are soon sneak into your brain. Something most won't expect from Chris Caffery is Bag O' Bones which remind me of Great White with it's acoustic guitar.
To check out the different Faces listen to these tracks: Pisses Me Off, Fade Into The X, Music Man, Never and Jealously. But check out all of them! If you check out just one or the other, you probably will be misled.
God Damn War is a bonus CD which only comes with the leather edition and the digi-pack. Actually this is a kind of outlook at the coming album. The 9 tracks are part of a conceptual album - or at least a collection of songs - about the Iraqi war. So it's more aggressive and more guitar-driven then some of the Faces songs.
Opening with the sound of a helicopter, a siren, the sound of bombs... Guitars. Starting mid-paced, but very intense is God Damn War. The it speds up, aggressive guitar riffing and some backings which remind me of Mercyful Fate.... A complex song structure, but with a catchy hookline. The guitar sound / riffing of Fool, Fool let me think of Pantera... The backing vocals during the refrain are very melodic and build a contrast to the aggressiveness of the guitars. Interesting is Saddamized which starts with some oriental sounds... Noises which could be from some bar... cafe... People talking about the war. After awhile the music sets off. A mid-tempo tune with the oriental sound elements. Most surprising is Chris version of the traditional Amazing Grace which is a sharp contrast to the heavy, partly grooving, guitar-driven songs. Here you can hear that even if Caffery is a decent singer, he has to improve to sing a song like Amazing Grace. The following Piece Be With You sets off with a shot. This is a heavy, grooving song.
These are some songs from the coming album about the Iraqi war. As this isn't the complete output I will just rate Faces. The bonus CD will be rated when it's out somewhere next year.


10 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Faces

Faces
(Black Lotus Records - 2004)


Faces is the first solo album from the great Savatage / TSO guitarist Chris Caffery. Faces is a heavy and diverse album, showing that Chris is not just a esplendid guitar player, but a very talented singer and songwriter too. His voice is so strong and emotive, that makes one wonder why he didn't got Savatage's role as singer when Zak left...
Back to the album, its a very solid heavy metal piece with great structures and songs that really makes you bang your head. The lyrics deal with a very personal view of feelings, inner turmoil and emotions. Intense with energy and harmony, the mood floats from anger to headache and longing.
The guitar work is - as expected - exceptional, with great riffs and wonderful solos. Chris did a great job assembling a very competent team to fill the other instruments. Jeff Plate on drums, Dave Z on bass and Paul Morris on keyboard completing the band. Along with Chris, how could anyone doubt the quality of the instrumental?
All songs are great, with special highlights for Pisses Me Off, a natural-born classic. That's a true-to-the-heart heavy metal song. You will be singing this one for a long time. Bag O' Bones has a great feeling - and is full of emotion. And talking about emotions
So Far Today and Never are perfect tunes! Mr. Caffery really exploits a very charismatic and powerful voice. The Mold is another aggressive tune, letting out all angst and rage.
16 tracks, 76 minutes of really good heavy metal music. A few songs may not be so good as the mentioned above, but they are anyway very good indeed. No fillers here, just straight and honest songs.
Bonus in the digi-pack version, you have God Damn War - a sort of conceptual album. Strong songs, but not so easy to listen to at first. The concept is intricated and the songs follow it. The lyrics are very good, questioning the motives and reasons for the most recent Iraq War. Not blind patriotism, not right winged speech. This CD is a valuable add on to the already great Faces CD.
Faces is a must have for heavy metal fans! That's what heavy metal is about! Definitive, classic, passionate. If you don't have a copy of it, run and go to meet Chris Caffery's Faces.


9 stars

Rod Capozzi
 

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The Mold

The Mold
(Black Lotus Records - 2004)


Metal fans will expect something between Savatage and Doctor Butcher from Chris Caffery's solo album. This is the single The Mold which is a kind of appetizer for the coming Faces album. Everybody knows what to expect from Caffery as a guitarist, but this is the first time he's doing lead vocals. The track The Mold is starting with some deep shouts, then the heavy grooving track is going full speed ahead. A fast track with mid-tempo parts. The vocals vary from almost death metal-like growls to melodic parts. This song has nothing to do with what you know from Savatage, it's closer to Doctor Butcher's stuff, but different... With Fade Into The X you find another album track on this single. This one is a heavy mid-tempo tune, more melodic then the first one. More easy to get in. Listen to the lyrics, in general Chris put a lot of effort into the lyrics which - as the album - is a kind of self-therapy. With God Damn War the album has a bonus CD and the title track of this bonus CD made it onto the single. Here Caffery talks about the Iraqi war and so the track starts with the sounds of a helicopter and a siren, then you here bombs explode. Musically this one starts slow and is very intense. On this track it's obvious that Caffery can't just shout and growl. But soon this one speeds up and develops into heavy up-tempo tune. The backings let me think a little of Mercyful Fate... In a way this shows the variety of Caffery's musical faces best.
As a kind of bonus he added 2 non-album tracks - Fright Knight and Forever We'll Be. The track Fright Knight is less fast and has elements which might remind you of Savatage, even if the epic sound element is missing.
A very interesting CDS to get an idea about what Faces is about. If you don't like the albums of the so-called guitar heroes of the 80's, you should listen to this one, coz here the song has priority. But there are enough chances for Caffery to show his talent. As the title Forever We'll Be indicates this is a ballad, something you probably don't expect, even if here are more reminiscences to his main band. Another face of Chris Caffery.


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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