Guitarist for Savatage, Doctor Butcher, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, amongst others, gone solo.

FACES / GOD DAMN WAR (2004) BLACK LOTUS (Limited digi-pack 2CD)

CD1:
  1. Alas - instrumental
  2. Faces
  3. Fade Into The X
  4. Pisses Me Off
  5. Remember
  6. The Fall
  7. Music Man
  8. Life, Crazy Life!!!
  9. The Mold
  10. Bag O'Bones
  11. Evil Is As Evil Does
  12. Never
  13. So Far Today
  14. Jealousy
  15. Preludio - instrumental
  16. Abandoned

Line-up:

Chris Caffery - All Lead and Background Vocals, All Lead, Rhythm, Electric and Acoustic Guitars

Jeff Plate - Drums and Percussion

Dave Z - Bass Guitars

Paul "Licorace'" Morris - Keyboards, Piano

CD2:
  1. God Damn War
  2. Fool, Fool
  3. Edge Of Darkness
  4. Saddamize
  5. I
  6. Amazing Grace
  7. Piece Be With You
  8. Beat Me, You'll Never Beat Me
  9. Curtains

Being a huge Savatage fan, this album is of course a necessity. Chris have over the years grown to become a player as close to Criss Oliva as can be. Not that he is trying to copy him, but he has developed a personal style that fits the legacy from Criss. Also, his work as a writer have always been on the metal side of things. Just check out Doctor Butcher for reference. So two questions needed answers concerning this solo-album: 1. Was he able to carry an entire album on his own? And 2. How would his singing abilities as a lead vocalist work? I'm happy to say that I can answer positive on both question. Between the 25 songs on this double album, there are enough killer material to last for 1 solid album. But I must say that a 2CD effort is a bit overkill. The second CD is meant more as bonus-material, and Chris is planning to re-release these tracks on his second offering (adding more songs completing a war-themed concept album). The 'Faces' CD is aptly titled, as it is showing us the many faces of it's originator. He is really showing off his variety as a songwriter. From the country-influenced "Music Man", to the molten metal of the "The Fall", "Evil Is As Evil Does" and "God Damn War", back to the ballads like "Never", Chris pulls it all of nicely. The man has a cool metal voice, and much to my surprise he has an unexpected variety. It's almost unbelievable that it is the same man singing all of these tracks. I could have sworn that Jon Oliva was doin' some guest-vocals on the title-track. But I was wrong, it is all Chris! The 'God Damn War' CD is more consistent in the heavier side of things. As mentioned, this will later develop into a concept album on war. Of course, there are some obvious references to Savatage and Doctor Butcher present on both of these discs. Chris' band is made up of drummer Jeff Plate (his Savatage/TSO bandmate), bass-player Dave Z (also from TSO) and Paul Morris (ex-Rainbow, Doro). 'Faces/God Damned War' is an album to come back to, and enjoy time and time again. As said, some of the tunes could have made way, so we'd sit back with 1 really strong album, instead of 2 decent ones. And just to round this up, you do not have to be a Savatage fan to enjoy this album!

Killer tracks: Faces, Fade Into The X, Pisses Me Off, The Fall, Music Man, Evil Is As Evil Does, Never, Abandoned, Saddamize, I, Piece Be With You, Beat Me, You'll Never Beat Me, Curtains

THE MOLD (2004) BLACK LOTUS (EP)

  1. The Mold
  2. Fade Into The X
  3. God Damn War
  4. Fright Knights (exclusive)
  5. Forever We'll Be (exclusive)

Chris recorded a crap load of songs for his debut album. So although he released a double album, he still had plenty of leftovers. Here we get 2 of them served together with 3 album tracks. Both are quite good, and would have fit nicely amongst the rest, and maybe created a little breathing space between the faster songs, as both are slower songs.

MUSIC MAN (2004) BLACK LOTUS (EP)

  1. Music Man
  2. What Child Is This? *
  3. Christmas Is *
  4. Forever We'll Be **
  5. Pisses Me Off (Radio Edit) *
  6. Abandoned
  7. Amazing Grace
  8. Pisses Me Off
* = exclusive track

** = also on 'The Mold' EP

Another EP released in time for Christmas. 3 of the 8 tracks are exclusive to this EP. 2 of the them are Christmas songs, while the 3rd is a radio version of "Pisses Me Off". More of a collector's item then anything I ever listen to.

W.A.R.P.E.D. (2005) BLACK LOTUS

  1. Home Is Where The Hell Is *
  2. God Damn War
  3. Election Day *
  4. Erase *
  5. Fool, Fool!
  6. Edge Of Darkness
  7. Saddamize
  8. "I"
  9. Iraq Attack *
  10. W.A.R.P.E.D. **
  11. State Of The Head *
  12. Amazing Grace
  13. Piece Be With You
  14. Beat Me, You'll Never Beat Me
  15. Curtains

Line-up:

Chris Caffery - All Lead and Background Vocals, All Lead, Rhythm, Electric and Acoustic Guitars

Jeff Plate - Drums and Percussion

Dave Z - Bass Guitars

Paul "Licorace'" Morris - Keyboards, Piano

Guests:

Jon Oliva - Vocals on 9

Dave Eggar - Strings on 7

George Kokonas - Lute on 7

Gregory Maninakis - Traditional Greek vocal on 7

 

* previously unreleased

** taken from the US version of 'Faces'

'W.A.R.P.E.D.' is the full-length version of the 'God Damn War' album, included as a bonus CD in the 'Faces' double album. Here we get 9 "old" tracks, 6 new ones, plus the bonus track from the U.S.A. version of 'Faces'. And this listener really likes the newer tracks the best. The album itself sounds as angry as expected. Chris is really letting his feelings toward the war subject out. The music is heavy, crunchy and furious, but also balanced out with slower parts. A song like "Election Day" sounds almost like Alice Cooper singing an Annihilator tune! I think that spells out the kind of creative span we are talking about here. It's all metal, plain and simple. Chris is a skilled musician, and a decent vocalist too. But it never hurt to get a little help from your friends, right? Thus we get to hear The Mountain King himself doin' vocals on "Iraq Attack". This particular track was written for their Doctor Butcher project, during the Gulf War, but never released 'til now.

Killer tracks. Home Is Where The Hell Is, Erase, Saddamize, I, Piece Be With You

PINS AND NEEDLES (2007) METAL HEAVEN (Limited digipack)

  1. Pins And Needles
  2. 66
  3. Reach Out And Torment Again
  4. Walls
  5. Y.G.B.F.K.M
  6. It's S-A-D
  7. Chained
  8. Worms
  9. The Sign Of The Crossed
  10. The Time
  11. Mettle Eastern
  12. In The Midst
  13. Quaaludio
  14. The Temple
  15. Once Upon A Time (bonus track)

Line-up/Players:

Chris Caffery - Lead & Background Vocals,  Lead, Rhythm, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Additional Keyboards, Saxophone

Yael - Drums

Phil Caffery - Drums on 15

Nick Douglas - Bass Guitars

Dave Eggar - Cello, Strings Arrangements, Organ solo on 4

Lucia Micarelli - Violin on 11

Rachel - Violin on 15

Paul LaPlaca - Keyboards

Paul Morris - Piano and Keyboards

Ferde Dornberg - Keyboard solo on 11

Nik Chinboukas - Additional Keyboards, Additional Drum magic

Alex Skolnick - Ending Guitar solo on 6

Marcus DeLoach - Opera vocals on 10

This was one tuff album to get a hold of! First Chris' label went under. Then he secured a deal with Metal Heaven, not exactly the largest label out there. So finding it in the regular shops in Norway was a no go. Finally I had to do a special order through a smaller music store in town, and ending up buying a costly import of the CD. As fate would have it, I found it online a few days later for a much nicer price. Oh well, what can one do when one is a die hard fan of a band, and have to own everything related? Chris is once again over us with a collection of his insanity. He's still pissed, and he's still a little obsessed with war. But on 'Pins And Needles' we get so much more. Musically this is a logical step further from what we were served on his last 2 efforts. Always dabbling and experimenting with different ideas, and unexpected sounds, 'Pins And Needles' was a task to get through on the first spins. But when the initial vertigo settled, and I was back on the ground with this album, some new doors opened. Now I'm sad to say that I'm not as pleased with this one as I were with the 2 predecessors. Some great ideas are presented here. I just think that Chris is trying to cramp too many of them into this 60 minute silver disc. And it results in a little overkill. He should have trimmed it down to 3 or 4 tracks less, and concentrated on making the remainders just a little more consistent. As it stands now, the album sounds too chaotic, and you really have to dig deep to find the nuggets. Maybe next time, Chris. Look out for a guest spot from ex-Savatage axeman, Alex Skolnick.

Killer tracks: Pins And Needles, It's S-A-D

HOUSE OF INSANITY (2009) FACE THE MUSIC

  1. Seasons Change
  2. House Of Insanity
  3. I Won't Know
  4. The Fleas
  5. Madonna
  6. Big Brother
  7. Back's To The Wall
  8. Solitaire
  9. I'm Sorry
  10. Shame
  11. Winter In Hamburg
  12. No Matter What
  13. Get Up, Stand Up!
  14. [untitled]

Line-up/Players:

Chris Caffery - Electric, acoustic, bass & synth guitars, lead & background vocals, percussion, keyboards

John Macaluso - Drums & percussion

Lonnie Park - Keyboards, background vocals, and arrangements

Paul LaPlaca - Keyboards & key arrangements on 11

Brian Gregory - Bass on 5

Zak Stevens - Lead vocals on 8

Glenn Drover - Lead guitar solo on 4

'House Of Insanity' was initially released as a download from Chris' official website. That pissed me off, because I don't pay for digital music, I want a solid product on my shelf! Luckily Chris decided to press CD's for us collector too, so i ordered it directly from his website. It came signed by Chris (on the case and not the booklet, but oh well), together with a signed poster.

Musically this is a step up from the last effort. It's almost as if Chris read my comments on 'Pins And Needles' and decided to up the ante :-) Chris is a remarkable artist. He is an excellent player, but was never a show off, or an attention seeker. The music just flows from him naturally, with lots of soul and integrity. Sure, he is not the best of singer either, but he pulls it of solid enough. So basically his songs are hits or misses due to the songwriting. And on 'House Of Insanity' it all come together better than ever. Chris is still experimenting. But this time it is within reason, and the songs are kept tighter together as a unity. The album throttles along on it's journey, without taking any detours, or hitting any bumps on holes in the ground. This is just typical Chris Caffery metal, with flavors from all the constellation we've come to know the man from in the past. This is a solo album in it's truest form, where Chris is doin' almost everything himself. There is no band here per se. But with a little help from John Macaluso (Powermad, TNT a.o.) on drums, Lonnie Park and Paul LaPlaca on keys, these guys have created what might just be the best Chris Caffery album to date. It's dynamic, well executed and with lot's of little subtle nuances to make it an interesting listen every time. But most of all it contains some great, memorable music, that would not leave my player for a long time after receiving the CD. On the negative side, there are maybe 2 or 3 songs too many on this CD also. The cover of Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up!" for example, could have been left off. I really love the original, but Chris manages to make it sound boring. But as a whole I find 'House Of Insanity' so much better than it's predecessors.

Killer tracks: Pretty much all of them.

Chris Caffery guest appearances:

Doro - 'Fight'

Circle II Circle - 'Watching In Silence' (as writer)

Eidolon - 'The Parallel Otherworld'

 

Chris Caffery members also play/have played with:

Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Doctor Butcher, Metalium, Rainbow, Doro , Heathen, Vicious Rumors, Riot, ARK, Starbreaker, Yngwie Malmsteen, TNT, Blaze, Deadly Blessing, Lizzy Borden