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Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Letters From the Labyrinth

Now nearing their 20th year in existence, Trans-Siberian Orchestra have released their third non-holiday themed full-length album, titled Letters From the Labyrinth. Their sixth album overall and first since 2009s Night Castle, Letters From the Labyrinth is also not the usual rock opera that we've come to expect from this ensemble, instead a collection of instrumental and vocal songs, all unrelated to each other, covering a wide variety of modern day world topics. Once again produced and co-written by Paul O'Neil, the feel and flavor throughout remains consistent with past TSO releases, as the band combines bombastic heavy metal, classical, pop, and progressive rock themes.

With many of the usual cast of characters on board, such as Jon Oliva, Al Pitrelli, Chris Caffery, Angus Clark, Vitalij Kuprij, Jeff Plate, Joel Hoekstra, Jeff Scott Soto, Kayla Reeves, Russell Allen, and many more, expect that familiar fuzzy feeling you get from a TSO album, just without the holiday warmth. Many of the tracks are pretty rocking, such as the grinding hard rock of "The Night Conceives", complete with a snarling vocal from Reeves, and the soaring "Prometheus", which includes a great vocal from the much travelled Soto. Symphony X belter Allen struts his stuff on the groove laden hard rock of "Not Dead Yet", and Adrienne Warren gives a heartfelt performance on the remake of the Savatage classic "Stay". Reeves comes back for more on the emotional ballad "Not the Same", a tune that will easily be a showstopper live, and is one of the few tracks here with hit potential, along with the two takes of "Forget About the Blame", the bonus version containing a vocal from Izzy Hale. However, it's the blazing instrumentals that really are the star here, as the multitude of guitarists & keyboard players dazzle with their classical metal chops on engaging pieces such as "Madness of Men", "Time and Distance", "Mountain Labyrinth", "King Rurik", and the Hammond organ driven "Prince Igor".

In the end, Letters From the Labyrinth probably won't be all that appealing to the folks who are just looking for more holiday themed concept material from the band, and truth be told, much of what's on display here is arguably heavier than anything they've recorded previously. That being said, there are still enough uplifting songs and emotional ballads included amid the bombast to catch the ears of those fans who like the tamer material, which overall makes for a varied and quite pleasing listening experience. As always, job well done.

Track Listing

  1. Time & Distance
  2. Madness of Men
  3. Prometheus
  4. Mountain Labyrinth
  5. King Rurik
  6. Prince Igor
  7. The Night Conceives
  8. Forget About the Blame
  9. Not Dead Yet
  10. Past Tomorrow
  11. Stay
  12. Not the Same
  13. Who I Am
  14. Lullaby Night
  15. Forget About the Blame (feat. Lzzy Hale) (Bonus)

Added: December 15th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1731
Language: english

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