Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Handful of Rain

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August 16, 1994


Atlantic Records


Release date
16 August 1994

Jon Oliva, Paul O'Neill

Handful of Rain httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaen55aHan

Handful of Rain (1994)
Dead Winter Dead (1995)

Heavy metal, Progressive metal, Power metal, Symphonic metal

Savatage albums, Heavy metal albums

Savatage handful of rain full album

Handful of Rain is the eighth studio album by American heavy metal band Savatage, released in 1994. The first album since the death of their lead guitarist, Criss Oliva, the music is often dark in reflection of brother Jon Oliva's loss.


The title track was originally released as an abridged version, missing its second verse. Some editions of the album (for instance, the "Rock Masters" version released on the iTunes Store) include the omitted piece, referred to by the band and fans alike as "The Barmaid Verse". "Chance" is about Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania during World War II who defied government orders by signing exit visas for thousands of Jewish refugees. "Castles Burning" is about Giovanni Falcone, an Italian magistrate killed by the mafia in 1992. "Alone You Breathe" is a tribute to Criss which reuses the chord progression (albeit in a different key) and lyrics from the Streets song "Believe" in its long coda, and also part of the ending chorus in the Gutter Ballet song "When The Crowds Are Gone", although the lyrics do not mirror his death and the songs are not literally about him. The tour in support of this album was documented in the live release, Japan Live '94, which was released in 1995.

Handful of Rain marked the only time that Savatage had recorded together as a three-piece, their only release with then-former Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick (who had replaced Criss), and their only one without Johnny Lee Middleton (who is credited on the insert, but does not actually perform) since 1985's Power of the Night. Drummer Steve Wacholz (also credited) had already left Savatage by the time the album was recorded. Instead of replacing Middleton and Wacholz, Jon provided both drums and vocals on the album as well as lead and rhythm guitar, piano, bass, keyboards and backing vocals. The album also marks the first time Savatage would write a trademark vocal counterpoint in a song. The third section of "Chance" has at one point, five overdubbed vocals from singer Zak Stevens.

Savatage taunting cobras


Sea of Tranquility reviewer Murat Batmaz awarded the album five stars and noted: "Handful of Rain in many ways marked the beginning of a new chapter in Jon Oliva's career, considering it was the first ever album written, recorded and produced without his brother Criss Oliva who was tragically killed in a car accident in late 1993. Given that Criss was the primary songwriter and guitarist of the band, it was believed that Savatage would be no more, and every member took a break before deciding what they'd do with their lives. And even though the booklet credits the full band, every instrument was played by Jon Oliva, including rhythm guitars, some acoustic bits, bass, and drums. It was only at the final moment when they brought in vocalist Zak Stevens and former Testament guitar player Alex Skolnick to lay down some leads. So in a way, Handful of Rain could be considered Jon Oliva's first solo effort with some lyrical input and creative arrangement ideas from producer Paul O'Neill." He also added that this album may be Zak Stevens' best ever vocal performance, commenting "The lyrics of "Alone You Breathe" are heart-wrenching. At one point towards the end, they borrow the famous "I am the way, I am the light" chorus which was previously used on "When the Crowds Are Gone" and "Believe", and in a way complete the trilogy, except that they are sung by Zak Stevens this time. Zak is at his best on this album: his voice oozes sheer emotion and his singing is indelible."


Due to the shake-up in the band following Criss's death, the line-ups were somewhat unclear at the time. Drummer Steve Wacholz left the band and did not play on the album, but he is pictured in the album to maintain a more "classic" Savatage line-up. Bassist Middleton was apparently still too much in shock about Criss to go into the studio and record, but remained part of the band. Jeff Plate did not play the drums on the album, but was pictured as part of the band line-up in one edition of the album. Plate would become a full-fledged member of the band by the time of their next release, Dead Winter Dead in 1995.

For the recording of the album, Jon Oliva ended up going into the studio, accompanied by producer, co-writer and co-lyricist Paul O'Neill, and recorded all of the instrumental parts (keys, rhythm guitars, bass, drums) by himself. The pair then enlisted former Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick to record most of the guitar solos, and subsequently contacted vocalist Zak Stevens to record the vocal parts for the album.

The touring band consisted of Zak Stevens on lead vocals and Johnny Lee Middleton on bass guitar as the only remaining members of the previous lineup. The tour also featured the official return of Jon Oliva to the band, who played keys, rhythm guitar and also performed vocals on several songs. The line-up was rounded out by lead guitarist Alex Skolnick, who had also recorded on the album, and Jeff Plate, a former bandmate of Zak Stevens, on drums.

Credited line-up

  • Zachary Stevens - vocals
  • Alex Skolnick - guitar
  • Johnny Lee Middleton - bass
  • Steve Wacholz - drums
  • Actual line-up

  • Jon Oliva - rhythm and lead guitar, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, drums, backing vocals
  • Zachary Stevens - vocals
  • Alex Skolnick - lead guitar
  • Touring line-up

  • Zachary Stevens - lead vocals
  • Jon Oliva - keyboards, rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Alex Skolnick - lead guitar
  • Johnny Lee Middleton - bass
  • Jeff Plate - drums
  • Songs

    1Taunting Cobras3:22
    2Handful of Rain5:01


    Handful of Rain Wikipedia

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