"CHRISTMAS EVE & OTHER STORIES: TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA"
From the enchanting cover art right through to the last notes of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," the last track, "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" is a rare delight. In fact, although this is supposed to be a Christmas album, we find we can listen to it year 'round.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) is the alter ego of Savatage, a mostly heavy metal/progressive rock band whose albums tend to lean toward the "concept" side of creativity, which is to say they're generally quite a few notches above most music these days...and often contain flashes of brilliance not found anywhere else on the planet.
There's a feeling we get every year around Christmastime, and TSO "director" Paul O'Neill (who produces Savatage's albums) captured it exactly on this CD. As a matter of fact, O'Neill writes, "I love writing stories and I've always been staggeringly fascinated with Christmas. It's such a magical time of the year. If you're walking down a New York City street around Christmastime and it starts to snow, the potential for magic can be felt in the air. That's what I tried to capture on this record, while bringing a fresh musical treatment to the holiday."
To capture that "magical" feeling on Christmas Eve and Other Stories, O'Neill took mostly traditional Christmas songs and infused them with electric guitar power and energy to create a majestic, emotional, captivating sound that tends to overwhelm me with emotion or awe (such as on the incredible "A Star To Follow" track or in the dynamic "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" track.
This CD isn't just Christmas tunes put to heavy metal. It's so much more than that. There's a softness and innocence, maybe even a reverence, about these arrangements (like on the delicate classical guitar instrumental "The Silent Nutcracker") -- even when such songs are placed back-to-back against tracks like "A Mad Russian's Christmas," which begins with a plaintive piano melody that's soon punctuated by bone-crushing Metallica-esque power chords.
It's the kind of album that comes along truly once in a lifetime.
Click the icon above for track listings.