Released: 2005, Black Lotus Records
Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery must have gotten tired of waiting to do a new Savatage album. The version of FACES I’m covering here has the bonus CD called GOD DAMN WAR. The CD liner notes have a jammed full page of text about the god damn war and futility of war and hate. With the two CD’s, we have a lot of music which is both good and bad. I’m glad that I didn’t review this when I first got this CD because my critical thinking was overshadowed by the excitement of having new material from Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery. After spinning this CD since December 2004, I think the novelty has worn off and I’m ready to be more objective with my review.
FACES opens with the epic intro "Alas", which leads into the title track "Faces". "Faces" is the only track on here that reminds me of power metal. As such, it's also one of the faster tracks of the album. The opening riff sounds neo-classical, as do some of the guitar runs. This one also has some of the best lead playing on the album making it one the better tracks on here. Chris's vocals sound good on this song. He doesn't have the range that could really do the song justice, but it's decent. Throughout the album he shows that despite lacking range, he does have a versatile voice that can be melodic, and aggressive with nods to the Mountain King himself. Next up on FACES is "Fade Into The X" which is worth noting because of it’s great chorus. Then it’s onto the questionable "Pisses Me Off" which is a song that on one listen I like (for the humor), and on the next listen I despise. This angry song has too many nods to mallcore and the fake angst those misled into thinking simple gronk riffs like this are heavy metal. On a much brighter note, is one of the best songs on the album, “Remember”. "Remember" starts out like a bluesy rock song before is turns into something that could be a 90's era Savatage leftover. This is one of the tracks on which I wish Zachery Stevens (ex-Savatage vocalist) would have made a guest appearance….great song! "The Fall" begins and made me think of Korn with the weird guitar part...ugh. After this misstep on the the song turns around. Some of Chris's vocals on this one are the strongest of the album. "Music Man" is an OK song...if it were on the JAR OF FLIES Alice In Chains album. "Bag o' Bones" also follows in the same unfortunate style. Both didn't need to be on the album. "Life, Crazy Life" is another of the songs that has nods to Savatage. "The Mold" is a cool track; one of the riffs on there sounds like "The Threat" by Skid Row but there the similarities end. "Evil Is As Evil Does" is a bouncy song with a nursery rhyme styled chorus. "Never" sounds most like a Savatage track. It's chorus begs for the vocals of Zachery Stevens. If you like EDGE OF THORNS Savatage, this track will pleasantly remind you of that style. "Jealousy" drives me crazy at the end with the word jealousy repeated so many times I feel like vomiting. "Preludio" is a guitar solo piece...not bad, but "Eruption" this ain't! CD 1 closer, "Abandoned" is decent with a powerful chorus. The repetitious line “think about it” does drive me almost as nuts as “Jealousy”.
Whew…onto the bonus CD, GOD DAMN WAR…
This CD starts with the track "God Damn War". It’s a heavier song, in terms of this CD, and should of been on the main CD, not the bonus disc. This is where my positive comments on the bonus disc ends. Next is "Fool Fool" starts out with a distinctly "nu" feel...pass. "Edge of Darkness" is definitely an improvement but is entirely forgettable. "Saddamize", clocking in at over 7mins, begins with some Middle Eastern sounding acoustic guitar backed by random talking about the war. This meandering continues up past the 2min mark when the track reminds me of some kind of unpolished Tea Party song..but lacks focus. "I" is just uninspired and boring. Then it’s onto the touchy feely "Amazing Grace" - whatever...this ain’t a fucking funeral…this is supposed to me a METAL album! We don’t want amazing grace, we want jawbreakers and pinkillers! "Piece be With You" starts out with a cool riff with more of a Savatage feel. The song then pretty much becomes a ballad and loses me quickly. "Beat Me, You'll Never Beat Me" is not bad but drags on….thin it’s the bonus CD closer, "Curtains"….which is just silly.
Overall, I guess my main gripe is that the album has 25 songs which you could whittle down to 10 songs making an album that would of kicked ass. OR, if you took out the good tracks, you could end up with an album that wouldn't even be reviewed in a metal publication. The lack of direction on the CD is its downfall. Sometimes diversity can be a good thing, but in this case, it didn't work. Maybe I expected more from this since I love Savatage and 2 Savatage members play on the album (Chris and drummer Jeff Plate). If you’re a hardcore Savatage fan you might love this just for the songs on here that remind you of a band that is sorely missed from the metal scene.