Trans-Siberean Orchestra - Letters from the Labyrinth

Trans-Siberean Orchestra Letters from the Labyrinth cover
Trans-Siberean Orchestra
Letters from the Labyrinth
Lava Music
I always “hated” TSO because that was marked, more or less, the “end” of Savatage, which then were put in “hiatus” since the various members attempted either solo album releases that in some cases went well enough and in others were almost complete catastrophes and brought about also a trio of “offshoot” bands that again had varying degrees of success. Savatage did a “reunion” that according to an interview cost them an awful lot to do, while according to others must have brought them a small fortune, as the whole business-model of this “carol” playing show has…
As an atheist and a fan of the old Savatage, this whole business “pisses me off” as my “good buddy”, who can’t take a bad review would say. Oh and there’s another guy who thinks his poop don’t stink, because he was in a good band and now he’s a “soldier of fortune” in another… well whatever brings the bread in the table good sirs…
“Time and Distance” is more or less a “cover” of Mozart’s “Dies Irae” from his “Requiem” set to some prose sung by a choir. I’ve always found re-arranging classics or traditionals as lazy… especially if it’s done way too often. And boy does TSO do it an awful lot… especially as of late...
“Madness of Men” is a twirly and rather impressive overture of sorts, into the largely instrumental; “Prometheus”, which from fragile becomes somewhat muscular with what I believe is a JSS performance, one and a half minutes before the end, doesn’t really manage to really make a dint with. Oh yes and by the way, they’re both re-arranged “Beethoven” pieces…
“Mountain Labyrinth” is some nicely interpreted Modest Mussorgsky, from “Night on the Bald Mountain”, while “King Rurik” is an original piece that tries to mimic the splendor of the counterparts on the album, but largely fails to do so.
Borodin’s “Prince Igor” gets a rather 70s prog rock treatment while being reinterpreted, while “The Night Conceives” with Kayla Reeves, sounding like a meaner Joan Jett, is OK, but nothing too original or something that could “stand” on its own… it could have been imagined as part of something like “Streets” but it would have been a rather blunt – part.
“Forget About the Blame” is a cover of Johnny Green with Robert Borneman on vocals and it ain’t bad, probably one of the few interesting selections on the album, but still a cover.
“Not Dead Yet” features Russell Allen, who sounds so pseudo-macho that it’s sort of ridiculous. Again the metallized “music theater” style is an acquired taste but this number is more “talk” than actual singing and wasting a good singer like that is a bit silly. Its second part is also an instrumental bouillabaisse, the sort of “orchestral” piece that a lot of musicals tend to have in the middle to allow stage performers to catch their breath mid-way.
“Past Tomorrow” is another original, featuring a lady called Jennifer Cella, who’s rather good and manages to make her rather minimal piece sound way more impressive than it is, with her commanding yet fragile performance that ties in nicely enough with a remake of Savatage’s “Stay” that another lady by the name of Adrianne Warren manages to deliver, in an interesting, smokey, but really powerful way. She manages to tame her range and really deliver this rather appropriately.
Kayla Reeves returns for “Not the Same”, a somewhat more celebratory piano ballad… but this whole “idea of putting a lot of sentimental, slower pieces, sounds like a bad case of meatloaf… oops.
“Who I Am” sort of tries to dispel the sense of self-doubt with a choir piece that’s supposedly acts a bit like a summation of things, prior to a JS Bach’s in the form of “Lullaby Night” acting as an outro…
Last but not leas,t there’s a reprise of “Forget About the Blame” featuring Lzzy Hale from Halestrorm, which sounds slightly better to my ears… and is offered as a “bonus”.
A half-baked attempt at music theater by stitching together a lot of classical pieces and writing some rather uneventful in between parts to create a semblance of a plot… well… snoozey… I’d rather listen to the original classics.