Chris Caffery

W.A.R.P.E.D.

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As a technically accomplished, decidedly eccentric, borderline cuckoo musical collaborator, Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra mastermind Jon Oliva couldn't have asked for a better foil than guitarist Chris Caffery, whose first solo album, simply named Faces, positively teemed with two discs' worth of oddball songwriting, instrumental histrionics, and heavy metal-launched schizophrenia. The second of those two discs contained nine songs from a reputedly larger work entitled "God Damn War," and those songs are revisited in grander scale and scope on Caffery's sophomore solo album, 2005's W.A.R.P.E.D. -- featuring an hour-plus mishmash of hard rock and prog-metal styles that, sorry to say, is less Operation: Mindcrime than Extreme's III Sides to Every Story at its most preposterously over the top. Inconceivably leaden, protracted additions to the previously previewed "God Damn War" material, new offerings like "Home Is Where the Hell Is," "Erase," and "State of the Head" are but instrumentally overwrought frameworks for Caffery to spew philosophic, with seemingly little attention paid to compelling songwriting -- never mind entertainment since, beneath his thin attempts at innuendo and double entendre, the songs' war-drenched subjects are so damn depressing. And tellingly, W.A.R.P.E.D.'s best moments are almost exclusively those already heard on Faces ("Edge of Darkness," the Jon Oliva-assisted "Iraq Attack"), making this convoluted -- if intriguing and ambitious -- endeavor ideal only for longtime Savatage/Oliva/Caffery supporters and fans of vaguely progressive metal where songwriting takes a backseat to eccentricity. To the public at large, it will probably be quite evident why Caffery is likely to remain a better sideman than solo act.

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