Thursday, November 12, 2015

Letters from the Labyrinth from Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Letters From The Labyrinth is the new and upcoming album from progressive and symphonic rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It is their sixth studio album, scheduled for release on November 13, 2015. Delivering the sounds of the season, the album offers 15 tracks by the band. Dubbed as the first hybrid album from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, this album was produced by Paul O'Neill, the founder of the band and co-produced by Dave Wittman. Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to new album - Letters From The Labyrinth. So, what did I think?
 
Time & Distance (The Dash)
Written by Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
The beginning of the song jumps right into an operatic chorus which reminds me of a Nightwish and Epica redux. The song is inspired by the changes of humanity through the years and is based on Night Castle from 2009. The lyrical delivery is majestic and consists of a choir of operatic sopranos singing through the entire song. The reverb works here and almost sounds natural. As the song continues, you can really get more of a rock sound. The sound is very much hard rock. The guitar riffs are good and really bring a whole meaning to the season.
 
Madness of Men
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven, Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
When I first heard this song, almost instantaneously, I could really tell this was going to be a song that would captivate the audience. The instrumental in this is so incredibly exciting, and I really love the delivery of this song. It's classical and timeless yet has that hauntingly beautiful symphonic rock vibe to it. I really love the piano sound in this song more than anything else. I think Beethoven would be very proud of this one. I love how the song starts light and yets darker and speeds up. This is what makes the Trans-Siberian Orchestra so magical.
 
Prometheus
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven, Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
First and foremost, the beginning of the song really starts out with a piano arrangement that is so exciting. I knew the moment it was played the angle it was going into. I really love how this song delivers both the classical and rock genres together instead of just starting with one and leading into the other. The guitar riffs are amazing. Jeff Scott's vocals are very strong and remind me of a 80's rock redux, which I really can appreciate. Out of the many renditions of this song I have heard, this is one of the best I have heard yet. In fact, I don't know if I would call this a rendition, but rather an enhancement.
 
Mountain Labyrinth
Written by Modest Mussorgsky, Paul O'Neill
This is one of those tunes that really grabs you instantly. The first thing that caught my attention was the ability to evoke such a hauntingly beautiful tune into something exhilarating. Like musical magic. It is very celestial yet virtuous. It starts out slow and innocent and really brings excitement towards the middle of the song which one can really appreciate. I really love the instrumental arrangement here, as it clearly works. This is definitely my favorite song from the album so far.
 
King Rurik
Written by Paul O'Neill, Vitalij Kuprij
The beginning of the song brings you a crepuscular keyboard solo which really renders a meaning here. Then about a few seconds short of a minute into the song, the song really picks up into an uptempo ballad. The song offers an amazing guitar riff that reminds me of The Who. The ending is something that leaves a lot to desire. Overall, the song is very powerful and the message is very clear here.
 
Prince Igor
Written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Borodin, Alexander Glazunov, Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
The strings really come to life in this song and truly do take you to another place when the drum parts come in. At first, I was confused, but now I get it. The keyboard (the organ in particular) is really exciting in this tune. It is the 6th song of Letters From the Labyrinth and I find myself really appreciating the instrumental arrangement of the song here.
 
The Night Conceives
Written by Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
The classic guitar is the first part I hear and almost immediately I can hear various guitar riffs that tell me it's going to be more of a bluesy song. Shortly after, Kayla Reeves comes in. This song is very bluesy in comparison to most songs I have heard from the band. Kayla Reeves sounds fantastic. She's like a cross between Ann Wilson, Joan Jett, and Bessie Smith. The lyrics really depict a message. This is definitely not something you are use to hearing from Trans Siberian Orchestra yet it works. I really enjoy this song. If you are into blues music, I think you will not only love this tune, but appreciate it much more so.
 
Forget About The Blame
Written by Johnny Green
This is what is referred to as the Sun version of the famous song from Johnny Green. I really appreciate the execution of the song. It's more dark than the original and really brings something new and unique to the tune. Robin Borneman's voice is great on this track and you can feel the passion in his voice with this song. The lyrics really convey a purpose here.
 
Not Dead Yet
Written by Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
This song is truly something to desire. The opening bassline is quite uplifting. It reminds me of Walk this Way with more of a Funk spin on it. The rhythm is very evident here. The song is inspired by controversy based on the veracious lyrics. Russell Allen sounds great. He has a raspy voice that I really enjoy. After Allen sings his part, the composition starts to really take off. The guitars and drums are outstanding. I really love the use of the keyboard here.
 
Past Tomorrow
Written by Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
The strings and the piano are incredible here. Jennifer Cella has a stunning voice and really brings the song to life the moment she comes in. The song is dark Symphonic rock at it's finest with a classic crossover vibe to it. The song's storyline is stirringly striking too. If you are a fan of Epica, Within Temptation, Xandria, and Lacuna Coil, you will love this song. This is my favorite song from the album so far.
 
Stay
Written by Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva
When you first hear this song, you are not sure what it is until the instrumentals start to really take off. This power-ballad is a Savatage cover. For those of you who are unaware, Savatage was a heavy metal band created by Jon Oliva and his brother Criss in the late 70s. (RIP Criss Oliva) Adrienne Warren has a beautifully dark voice in this tune. Not quite buoyant nor melancholy, but somewhere in between. I really love how this song starts very light and ends dark yet you can hear where the moments are. It's very different from the original and almost as good.
 
Not The Same
Written by Paul O'Neill, Ireland O'Neill
First and foremost, when I first heard this, I could envision a gospel redux. Almost like Yolanda Adams or Christina Aguilera singing in a church surrounded by a choir. The song depicts a message, a real message about ignorance and bullying. It is quite expressive. The instrumentals are one thing, but when Kayla Reeves comes in, the song really takes off from there. She sounds amazing here. Absolutely amazing. Reeves has a lot of soul and the soul really sold me here. The piano leaves so much penchant. The songs just keep getting better. This is my favorite song of Letters From The Labyrinth so far.
 
Who I Am
Written by Paul O'Neill
Virtually instantly, I was getting sounds of classic rock. Very much The Who meets Queen with a hint of Mozart. The operatic choir here really works with the drums. The lyrics do not go unnoticed, but with such powerful instrumentals and vocals, that is the main focus on this song. It's a very exciting song and reminds me of a tune you would hear during an adventure. Absolutely outstanding. The music just continues to get better.
 
Lullaby Night
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach, Paul O'Neill
This is by far the best enhancement of Ava Maria that I have heard in a long time. To be honest, I wasn't sure if this risk would pay off because this song is very big and has been recreated many times, but it really works here. The melody has been darkened and refined, the notes really blend well making a timeless tune into a modernized earworm of euphoria. I also love the backdrops of vocal modicums. I get goosebumps just listening to this song. Trans-Siberian Orchestra really proves they can deliver some of the greatest music the world has ever heard with this song alone. My only con is that I wish it were longer. Do you think Bach is dancing in Heaven right now?
 
Forget About The Blame
Written by Johnny Green
This is another fantastic Johnny Green cover. Lzzy Hale's voice is really unique with this song. This is the Moon version. The acoustics really bring a rustic sound that does not upstage the vocal, but merely hides beyond the vocal stylings of Hale. Speaking of Hale, Lzzy Hale's voice really brings a very avant-garde rock to this tune. The best way to describe it is Suzie McNeil meets Joan Jett. Needless to say, I prefer this rendition over the Sun version. As the 15th track and final song to Letter's From The Labyrinth, this is also a featured bonus track.
 
Trans-Siberian Orchestra is filled with some of the most talented musicians in the world. The members of the band include: Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva, Al Pitrelli, Luci Butler, Chris Caffery, Roddy Chong, Angus Clark, Joel Hoekstra, Mee Eun Kim, Vitalij Kuprij, Jane Mangini, Asha Mevlana, Johnny Lee Middleton, John O'Reilly, Jeff Plate, Derek Wieland, David Zablidowsky, and Dave Wittman.
 
Letters From The Labyrinth will be released on Friday, November 13, 2015. This is symphonic rock at it's finest. A plethora of melodies that produce only magic to the ears. This album brings you both light and dark polyphonies that cross into various genres while depicting a story that goes beyond any plot or libretto. A story that is so intoxicating and yet delivered in a hauntingly beautiful way. That is what music is all about. Would I recommend this album? Absolutely.
 
RATING: A

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