Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Letters From the Labyrinth (2015)

Letter From the Labyrinth is Trans-Siberian Orchestra sixth, and as today, their newest studio album. The band, or ensemble to be precised, was most famous for their series of Christmas theme albums. Up to before this album, I think everyone will said that TSO is the musical project specialized on those Christmas and holiday songs. So with the arrival of Letter From the Labyrinth showed that they have new vision. This is their first non-Christmas theme materials. Many sources cited that the theme is "a collection of songs on various subjects including bullying, banking, and the Berlin Wall." This is their first secular attempt to gained foot in wider progressive metal world. Considering how spectacular most of their works (and those are Christmas songs), prog fans should be enthusiast to have this album.

As usual, TSO adopted a lot of popular Classical music pieces into their repertoire in this album. The first opening song "Time and Distance" is an adaptation of Mozart's Requiem, as expected in progressive metal arrangement. Then from here, we go from Beethoven's piano piece in "Prometheus" to Mussorgsky's Night on a Bald Mountain in "Mountain Labyrinth". The first sign of modern progressive rock can be heard in the 7th song, "The Night Conceives", which is sung by Kayla Reeves. "Forget About the Blame" is Johnny Greene remake, in a semi-ballad song. The biggest name in singer line up is Russel Allen, who sing in "Not Dead Yet". Then there are remake of Savatage song, "Stay", then goes all the way to piano ballad in "Not the Same" , once again sing by singer Kayla Reeves. All these vocal songs in this section resembling the old '80s progressive metal/rock as familiar to Savatage and maybe all the way to Queensryche fans.  The section then closed with another instrumental arrangement of Classical masterpiece, this time taken from Johann Sebastian Bach's composition for keyboard. Two bonuses are put in the end, one is another version of Johnny Greene remake sung by Lzzy Hale, "Forget About the Blame".

Letters From the Labyrinth is not really as spectacular as other Trans-Siberian Orchestra projects, but there are still tons of creative ideas in the album. This included a welcome progressive metal arrangements of popular Classical music piece as mentioned above. Apart from many portion where a highly technical skill in music required to performed it, this album in fact is quite an easy listening album for progressive category. Also, most of the songs are written in the style to able to fit into holiday setting also. Letters From the Labyrinth will able to continued TSO legacy in this very specific genre in progressive world. TSO has an active live show , so expected these new material to be performed live during this 2015 Christmas time.

Metal Harem class: ********* eight stars out of ten

Buy it Here - Amazon

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Letters From the Labyrinth (2015)

01. “Time and Distance”
02. “Madness of Men” - instrumental
03. “Prometheus” - solo vocals: Jeff Scot Soto
04. “Mountain Labyrinth” - instrumental
05. “King Rurik” - instrumental
06. “Prince Igor” - instrumental
07. “The Night Conceives” - Kayla Reeves
08. “Forget About the Blame” - Robin Borneman
09. “Not Dead Yet” - Russel Allen
10. “Past Tomorrow” - Jennifer Cella
11. “Stay”- Adrienne Warren
12. “Not the Same” - Kayla Reeves
13. “Who I Am”
14. “Lullaby Night” - instrumental
15. “Forget About the Blame” (bonus track featuring Lzzy Hale)
16. "A Mad Russian's Christmas (Live)" (Amazon Bonus Track)

    Paul O'Neill - Producer
    Dave Wittman - Co-Producer, Recording & Mix Engineer
    BJ Ramone - Assistant Engineer
    Jon Tucker - Additional Assistant Engineer
    A&R - Jason Flom, Ryan Silva

    Paul O'Neill - Guitars
    Jon Oliva - Keyboards, Guitars, Bass
    Al Pitrelli - Lead/Rhythm Guitars
    Luci Butler - Keyboards
    Chris Caffery - Guitars
    Roddy Chong - Violin
    Angus Clark - Guitars
    Joel Hoekstra - Guitars
    Mee Eun Kim - Keyboards
    Vitalij Kuprij - Keyboards
    Jane Mangini - Keyboards
    Asha Mevlana - Violin
    Johnny Lee Middleton - Bass
    John O. Reilly - Drums
    Jeff Plate - Drums
    Derek Wieland - Keyboards
    David Zablidowsky - Bass
    Dave Wittman - Additional Guitar, Bass, Drums

Background vocals:
"Forget About the Blame" - Lucille Jacobs, Minnie W. Leonard, Keith Jacobs

"Who I Am" - Danielle Sample, Erika Jerry, Chloe Lowery, Dari Mahnic, Bart Shatto, Andrew Ross, John Brink, Natalya Piette, Jodi Katz, James Lewis, Georgia Napolitano, Tim Hockenberry

"Time and Distance (The Dash)" - Danielle Sample, Chloe Lowery, Ava Davis, Kayla Reeves, Adrienne Warren, Andrew Ross, Chris Pinnella, Rob Evan, Parker Sipes, Phillip Brandon, Dustin Brayley, April Berry, Autumn Guzzardi

Strings :    Roddy Chong,     Asha Mevlana.    Lowell Adams.    Nancy Chang
    Lei Liu

Horns:   Jon Tucker (leader),   Kenneth Brantley,   Jay Coble,   Ashby Wilkins

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