Chris Caffery

Faces

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The seemingly gigantic enterprise that is the dual-disc Faces is, in fact, merely the result of a lifelong heavy metal sideman -- the multi-talented Chris Caffery -- finally stepping out on his own for a solo debut. Disc one of Faces is what one might call the album proper, and may equally be termed incredibly creative and diverse, or conversely, unfocused and all over the place, depending on the listener. Fact: the bulk of these fine metallic rockers (particularly "Fade Into the X," "The Fall," and "Never") are stylistic ringers for one of Caffery's other gigs, Savatage -- as, some might say, are the gritty yet melodic vocals he deploys for them -- not at all dissimilar to those of Savatage boss Jon Oliva. Again, whether one views this as an obvious rip-off or proof of Caffery's own contributions to that band's sound is just as open to discussion, but there's plenty more on hand here to analyze and discuss. On the positive side, there's the very interesting pairing of "Preludio" (a Joe Satriani-like ambient guitar intro) and the multisectioned "Abandoned" (progressive metal all the way), or the hilariously irreverent litany "Pisses Me Off" (and, to a lesser degree, its baby brother "The Mold"), which offers one of the most refreshingly un-P.C. cases of getting something off one's chest since Guns N' Roses' "One in a Million." On the negative side, a number of other tracks (the going-nowhere-fast strum of "Bag o' Bones," the dull, plodding generic metal of "Remember" and "So Far Today") feel carelessly malformed, and Faces' ultimate salvation may well be its sheer girth in lieu of consistency. Oh, and then there's the matter of that second disc, which is sub-titled God Damn War; it's listed as a bonus CD, but could almost stand on its own being that it runs over the 40-minute mark and features no less than nine more songs. It's also entirely devoted to the subject of war, and, although it boasts the "thematic cohesion" which disc one so consciously avoids, God Damn War's less distinctive set of metal songs and hard-bought variety (the Eastern-flavored, very tongue-in-cheek "Saddamize," a spare rendition of "Amazing Grace," the bizarre conclusion of "Curtains") winds up justifying its annexation here, as it were. In any case, the whole of Faces provides an impressive if scattered showcase of Chris Caffery's many talents run amok.

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