Monday, December 28, 2009

For The Sake Of Our Brother ...

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's third part of their Christmas trilogy is also their most diverse album. The first album featured mostly rock transposed Christmas carols and the second album focused more on original songs (I like to call the power ballad album). "The Lost Christmas Eve" combines both while using more of a classical influence. Take their first albums and throw in "Beethoven's Last Night" and you'll have a decent idea about "The Lost Christmas Eve".

This is also, in my opinion, their most poignant album lyrically. (This is not including the newly released "Night Castle" which I have yet to delve into the story). "The Lost Christmas Eve" is essentially about a man who has renounced his faith in God after losing his wife during child birth in which was born a mentally handicapped baby. He gives the child up and spends years brooding and miserable. This, of course, is all told through the eyes of an Angel on a mission from God along with tales of the angels own journey. The man reunites with his surviving and functioning adult child and is filled with regret, yet welcomes a new beginning to his life.

The album kicks off with the bands signature rock instrumental Christmas carol with "First Noel" an uplifting opening. Actually the instrumentals are to a minimum on this album with "Wizards In Winter" (made famous by the Internet viral video of the house with the exuberant light display) "Queen Of The Winter Night" and "Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness)" as the other rockin' instrumentals and those are more classical themed then Christmas. Well done mind you. "Queen ..." features some lovely soprano vocal trade offs.

"Christmas Jam" is just that. A killer jam with some great riffs and solos. And "Siberian Sleigh Ride" follows suit Ala "Wizards In Winter". Most are original compositions or classically based. This adds a different dynamic to the Christmas theme. The Christmas instrumentals are left to ambient or transitional mood setting pieces that add a somber feel towards the end of the album.

"Remember", "Anno Domine" and "Christmas Concerto" are big choral classical pieces with a nice triumphant feel. "The Lost Christmas Eve" is a melancholic number that starts the story. And "Christmas Dreams" picks up the pace with its delightful mood. "Christmas Canon Rock" is a reworking of "Christmas Canon" first heard on "The Christmas Attic". It's like the power ballad version. I remember hearing this on the 2003 tour. I damn near wet myself, I enjoyed it so much. I was ecstatic to have a recorded version finally.

What really tickled my fancy with this album are the songs "Back To A Reason (Part II)" and "What Child Is This?". These are power ballady songs that are catchy and full of passion. "Back To A Reason (Part II)" is a reworking of "Back To A Reason" from Savatage's "Poets And Madmen" album. A powerful re-imaging. "What Child Is This?" follows suit with a bleak intro, that builds into a crescendo of emotion both joy and regret. This is the denouement of the album which concludes with "Christmas Canon Rock".

"Different Wings" takes us out with its sugary lullaby feel and the album closes with an acoustic instrumental rendition of "Midnight Clear". This album is also special for me as it features one of the last performances by the wonderfully talented Daryl B. Pediford who gives a powerfully emotional performance on "For The Sake Of Our Brother" featuring a gut-wrenching version of "Hark The Harold".

I had the joy of seeing Daryl perform live for the 2002 and 2003 tours. He was a little man with a huge voice and blew me away with each performance. He is missed on every tour since, but I am glad to have seen him, if only twice.

Overall, "The Lost Christmas Eve" is an enjoyable listen and quite diverse. It took me a while to get into it, but it makes for a nice break from the overly Christmasy previous 2 albums in the trilogy.

I think I'll be finishing up the TSO discography with "Beethoven's Last Night" and "Night Castle" reviews to come soon .... I swear.


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