"'Tage Mahal" is the debut full-length studio album by US heavy/power metal act Jon Oliva´s Pain. The album was released through Steamhammer Records in October 2004. After touring in support of "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)", Jon Oliva stepped down as the frontman for Savatage. The years of Life on the road had taken their toll on the frontman´s voice (which was worn) and label pressure of selling albums had led to Jon Oliva developing a nasty alcohol and drug addiction. He remained associated with the band as composer and occasional keyboard/piano player but his main interest in those days was preparing a broadway musical and preparing the early foundation for Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Paul O´Neal. He shortly returned as a frontman on the self-titled 1994 Doctor Butcher album but it wasn´t until 2003 when he founded Jon Oliva´s Pain, that he would finally return as a frontman in a metal act again.
The music on "'Tage Mahal" is traditional heavy metal/US power metal which really isn´t surprising considering Jon Oliva´s past achivements. It´s kind of a continuation of the late eighties Savatage sound albeit with more keyboards and piano. The material are generally very well written and performed (Jon´s powerful rusty vocal delivery is as impressive as ever) and the album also features a well sounding production, which boosts the material. The vers/chorus based song structures are slightly generic in nature but the sophistication of the arrangements save the day every time. The album features both heavy tracks, more theatric tracks, a few faster paced tracks and quite a few power ballad type tracks.
"'Tage Mahal" is what I would characterize as good craftmanship from a seasoned singer and composer. It´s not an album that´ll surprise you or challenge you if you are already familiar with the back catalogue of Jon Oliva, but if you are a fan of that, "'Tage Mahal" is definitely a worthy purchase. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.