Review Summary: Oliva's versatility as a singer/songwriter shows with the third JOP release.Global Warning
was the first JOP album I've ever heard, and to this day, it remains my favorite. I like it when an artist steps outside his or her comfort zone, and that's exactly what metal master Jon Oliva has done with this album. Instead of going with the typical thrash and theatrics that Savatage listeners have become accustomed to, this offering covers a wide range of musical styles.
kicks off with the titular instrumental track, which includes a small scream-singing section in which Oliva sets up the content of the album: the state of the world, war, hatred, and political turmoil. We then dive right into the piano-driven, Queen-style song "Look at the World," which draws upon religious themes, and uses an old Savatage demo as the basis for the melody.
"Adding the Cost" is an obligitory metal tune, and one of the weakest songs of the lot. Despite the decent lyrics, the track feels like it was throne in as filler, to build upon the concept of waste and bloodshed from the preceding and upcoming tracks. "Before I Hang" reuses the melody from the discarded Streets
track "Larry Elbows," part of which showed up on 1993's Edge of Thorns
in the form of the heavy section of "Follow Me." The lyrics tell of a terrorist - possibly Saddam Hussein - who is about to be executed, and shows no remorse for his atrocities.
One of the stand out tracks follows, entitled "Firefly," an epic ballad with an almost Alan Parsons musical flavor. Oliva's screams are shrill, and certainly not what they were in the 80s, but they still convey the right emotions that the songs require.
Now, Oliva moves onto the more experimental stuff. "Master" is very electronic/industrial, and sounds nothing like anything Oliva has attempted before. "The Ride" jumps between acoustic to scream in the blink of an eye; apparently, this song was going to be cut at the last minute, but the band protested. "O to G" is a short, sweet piano ballad dedicated to JOP's late producer, who died shortly before the album was recorded. Oliva shows a different side of his voice: there's no gravel here, just very pure, clean vocals. "Walk Upon the Water," a song about life after death, has a pop sound to it.
"Stories" is a brief return to metal, and is, again, forgettable, well-trodden ground by Oliva. Good song all the same. "Open Your Eyes" is a quiet rocker, where Oliva displays an uncharacteristically tender falsetto, proving that he can sing just about anything - in the studio, at least. His voice really can't sustain through live performances anymore. "You Never Know" is the best metal tune of the lot, about terrorism, which could very well be a sequel to the Gutter Ballet
tune "Of Rage and War"; it even reuses some of the lyrics (Who's the loser in the end?)
The album ends with soft, gentle guitars, with the truly beautiful "Someone/Souls."
"Waiting with the morning light/Forgot the dreams we had last night/They're gone/Seems all their is fades into time/We're all souls just waiting for a sign." This song was recorded in Oliva's living room, in one take.
If you want to hear something different from the self-proclaimed Mountain King, I would pick up this album immediately. It covers some heavy themes, but is never boring. He has a propensity to make songs that are too long, but on this album, he only has a few tracks that overstay their welcome. This, in my opinion, is Oliva's strongest JOP release to date.