Released: 2015, Metalville
Savatage refuses to reunite, but fortunately this month I get to review new releases from the two next band’s closest to what we are likely to get to a new Savatage album in 2015. For October, I will feature reviews from Circle II Circle and Chris Caffery, who both keep the Savatage flame burning while offering their own unique styles. YOUR HEAVEN IS REAL is the fifth solo album from Caffery, and first since 2009’s HOUSE OF INSANITY. Happily, the time spent in the intervening years composing YOUR HEAVEN IS REAL has been productively spent.
Chris handles most of the instruments, enlisting keyboardist Lonnie Park and drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake/Billy Idol/Ozzy Osbourne) to help contribute. YOUR HEAVEN IS REAL is a metal album, one that upon first listen you nod appreciatively, and think “Yeah, this is real metal.” In this day and age, with so many subgenres and branches of the metal family tree out there, it is refreshing to be able immediately note true metal upon first listen.
Caffery has composed an album that incorporates elements of Doctor Butcher, Savatage, Caffery’s own style, and Jon Oliva’s Pain. The result are numbers like the opening title track, with its massive riff and nod to classic Savatage. Check out Caffery’s improved vocals, evoking Jon Oliva himself and touched with Caffery’s own snarl and aggression. “Why” demonstrates the variety on the album, being a dark semi-ballad that features excellent vocals from Caffery and a couple of noteworthy melodic guitar solos. Showing off his guitar chops, Caffery offers “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t” with its technical, twisting progressive riff and forceful vocals. “Hot Wheelz” is a relentless instrumental, featuring some of Caffery’s fastest and most inspired guitar soloing.
Having been away for six years, Caffery is not content in offering only quality but he delivers on quantity as well, with the album clocking in at 66 minutes, divided among 13 tracks. The album closes on a more subdued note, with “Over And Over” and “Come Home” gradually bringing the listener down after the intensity of the first half of the album the former being a somewhat unique ballad that runs just a hair too long. The closing track is also a ballad though much more succinct and Savatage-like.
All told, YOUR HEAVEN IS REAL delivers the goods. You could argue the bass frequency sounds a bit thin in the mix, but the front and center guitars compensate. I really enjoyed FACES and Caffery’s other albums, but I think YOUR HEAVEN IS REAL is his crowning achievement. Certainly this has to be rated as one of the best traditional metal albums of 2015 and one that every respecting Savatage and Caffery fan should pick up at first chance.