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Handful of Rain

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(34 Reviews)

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  • (…) [The] album was written following the death of Criss Oliva, who was replaced by Alex Skolnick, formerly of Testament. Skolnick provides the guitar solos and I think he does the rhythm guitar work as well, although some say it was done by Jon Oliva. For whatever reason, Jon is not credited as a band member, even though he co-wrote all of the songs and provides keyboard, bass, and drums (the bassist and drummer left shortly after the photo shoot).
    Although I could not figure this out myself, many of the songs that seem to have wacko filler lyrics are actually short stories about heroes from many different time periods (“Chance” is supposedly about some Italian guy who saved rare paintings from Nazis). This was my first Savatage album, and it took my nearly 2 1/2 months to fully appreciate all of the songs. There is some really good stuff here, especially the title track and “Castles Burning.” Also “Symmetry” and “Watching You Fall” are great progressive rockers. The opening cut is a disappointment, especially considering the amazing openers that Savatage has had over their past three albums. Yet a great solo makes this pretty typical thrash song not as bad. “Chance” has been compared to by many as Savatage’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with different parts and operatic vocals. Yet even with some really good parts, it is not as enjoyable, because while I like Zak’s voice, he does not have the operatic quality that Mercury had. The album ends with “Alone You Breathe,” which is a fine tribute to Criss Oliva, I just wish that they had added a long guitar solo for a tribute as well. (Did anyone else notice that 1/3 of this song was almost exactly as “Believe” from “Streets?”)
    Anyway, while not as monumental as many of their concept albums, “Handful of Rain” is still an important CD to own. Alex Skolnick is a very good addition, even though another even better guitarist in Al Pitrelli would replace him. Highly recommended for fans (…)

    Posted on January 6, 2010