CHRIS CAFFERY – Faces / God Damn War


Black Lotus
Release Date: January 18, 2005

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One of Chris Caffery’s many faces is the one of Savatage. Chris was first brought into the touring circuit in 1987 playing additional guitar and keys for one of the world’s longest surviving Metal bands, sitting behind the stage. Mere years later, one of Savatage’s most successful records was released, Gutter Ballet, where Chris’ face appeared on the cover. However, he didn’t play one single note on that record. A few more years went by, and in 1995 Savatage released a live album from Japan featuring Alex Skolnick on guitar. Well, Chris Caffery recorded rhythm guitars for that one in the studio, to get things right in a Savatage manner. Neither was he credited for that work, nor was he mentioned in the “thank you list.” Afterwards, he went on to become a member of the band again, but aside from delivering stunning guitar work and keeping Criss Oliva’s mighty legacy alive, he was thrown to the wolves every time the press demanded explanations for a cancelled tour or a stupid line-up change. Where is this history lesson heading? A name needs to be put on loyalty … in fact so much loyalty that it leads to frustration … and frustration leads to a solo record – in Chris’ situation, so much frustration that it leads to TWO solo records, Faces and God Damn War.

Some might say that releasing two solo records as a debuting artist is a premature ejaculation. They indeed might have a valid point. Then again, listening to these records, you would either have to be multi-orgasmic, or have the wherewithal to enjoy the act for longer than a Two-Pump-Charlie before ejaculation. Well, more seriously, this is a riff feast like no other, and there’s even great diversity that makes the listener come – and come often. Within Faces, you will meet lots of them, all looking at you from Chris’ musical standpoints … from the neo-classical hard rocking opener and title track, to the more edgy “The Fall,” “Fade Into The X,” and the first single, “The Mold,” to the melodic “Music Man,” “Bag O’ Bones” and “Remember”. Caffery even goes a little bluesy with “Never,” where his lead guitar playing shines bright (this one is so much better than Savatage’s “Stare Into The Sun,” which seems like a logical comparison), and his vocal range is best displayed in “So Far Today,” one of my personal favorites. Chris’ singing, to which yours truly and other members of the music mafia – often called the press – were rather skeptical, is an impressive pick-up from those he learned from first-handed (Jon Oliva and Zak Stevens), including Chuck Billy’s aggression and Alice Cooper’s psychedelia and everything in-between. A trained musician’s ear might figure out that Caffery is a guitar player and not primarily a singer, but he does very well. He’s still in an evolving process, but let’s indeed encourage him to keep it up.

Before leaving Faces, worthy of mention is “Evil Is As Evil Does” (with its brilliant Southern Forrest Gump opening), an up-tempo Dio-esque song (just what the little man needs), and “Abandoned,” which both musically and lyrically deals with his frustration already outlined above. Also, most noteworthy of all, “Pisses Me Off,” may very well end up as an anthem for a whole generation of people who think for themselves. The riff (amongst others on these discs) is typical Caffery’s Doctor Butcher style, and if you know that gem, the Doctor Butcher record from 1994 that Chris recorded with Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva, you will realize that Chris is a great contributor to that CD, not just a guitar player helping Oliva back into the scene. (Does this eye-opener mean that Caffery’s ideas never really were brought forward in Savatage’s creative process???)

Let’s move on to God Damn War, which is considered a bonus CD (because it will be released later with more tracks added), but still runs longer than Slayer’s Reign In Blood. …War is perhaps a more focused effort than Faces. It is conceptual, but please don’t ask what it’s all about – I haven’t bothered to get into concept albums after Savatage’s The Wake Of Magellan. But …War is indeed more “metal”, and if you didn’t overdose on neck-breaking riffs so far, this CD will do it to you. Honorable mentions go to “Beat Me, You’ll Never Beat Me,” “Edge Of Darkness,” and “I,” where Chris shows interesting thoughts on religion, destiny and karma. Like all great conceptual records, …War is still in the making (Savatage’s Streets was never really finished either), so look out for a full release next year, including even more creative guitar work and aggressive vocals as Chris “enjoys” his frustration of being locked away for ten months a year and dressed up in a tux and Santa Claus hat for the remaining two.

To conclude: With these two records, Chris Caffery proves that he deserves great respect as a solo artist, and he proves that he both deserves and needs a more prominent role in Savatage’s songwriting process.


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