Released: 2005, Black Lotus Records
Face it, we aren’t getting another Savatage album, no matter how much you want it. TSO is just too profitable and everyone seems too involved in other projects (Jon Oliva’s Pain, Chris Caffery’s solo project, Metal Church etc. etc.). So with Chris Caffery getting far too antsy and having just too much material, he released 2004’s FACES on his own. The album was pretty hit and miss, some songs being top quality, others being absolute garbage. Now, tied into that album was a bonus disc entitled GOD DAMN WAR, which acted as a concept album of sorts, completely unrelated to the main disc. Now apparently in 2005 it was decided this second disc was not finished and GOD DAMN WAR had a few new tracks added to it and the album was released as W.A.R.P.E.D. So now the “bonus” fans got with FACES is now useless as both Chris and the label (now defunct Black Lotus Records) have indicated that GOD DAMN WAR was not complete.
For those that never checked out Chris’ FACES album, you’re not really missing a whole lot. Caffery’s solo work is definitely a bit all over the place as he jumps from somewhat Savatage-like songs (both heavy and soft) to modern rock while incorporating some other influences here and there. The sound on FACES was far too all over the places and not much is different with W.A.R.P.E.D. as you have the music jumping back and forth again. The problem I find is that Chris isn’t terribly good at a lot of the modern stuff and without the help of other Savatage members, his more “classic” material is rather bland. Some of that does come from the fact that Chris is the one doing the vocals here, and while he isn’t bad (he actually impressed me), he’s not entirely charismatic behind the microphone, especially when he’s attempting to sound like Jon Oliva.
The new tracks added onto this release generally add value to the release as they tend to be the better tracks on the album. “Home is Where the Hell Is” is definitely a track penned with Savatage in mind, lots of big open spaces for vocals and keyboards to breathe. Not a lot of big heavy riffing, the guitars take a general back seat with Chris doing a lot of actual singing in the track (though he does sound a bit flat here and there). “Election Day” is a fun little song, some good riffing and some simple catchy songs, the problem is that it’s probably a little too simple and loses its charm pretty quickly. Most specifically the constant, “VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!” that shows up throughout the song. “Erase”, while not terrible, needs someone like Zak Stevens on vocals and Chris has to do away with some of the mallcore riffs (2:03). “Iraq Attack” is easily the best track on the release, the track originally being written for Doctor Butcher and Jon Oliva makes a guest appearance and adds a much needed charismatic touch. “State of the Head” has a slight thrash touch to it, some choppy riffing thrown around but while this is one of the heavier tracks you’ll find on the album it’s also one of the most lifeless.
As far as the rest of the album, it’s what you probably already heard on GOD DAMN WAR. It has its good points here and there, but generally falls short of any past glories associated with Chris. The bad does outweigh the good but I’ll be damned as the modern stop/start riffing in “Fool, Fool!” actually works. Plus “Edge of Darkness” is an honestly good song; its unfortunate things never really match up to this track.
Chris’ solo work isn’t worth the time and effort. The music falls flat far too often and does not compare favourably to other Savatage member projects (Jon Oliva’s Pain and Circle II Circle). It’s unfortunate that there won’t be anymore Savatage albums and it’s even more unfortunate that none of the members seem to realize they work better as a unit than apart.