Blog Archives

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA – Night Castle

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Night Castle (2009, Atlantic Records)

DISC 1
1.”Night Enchanted” (5:46)
2. “Childhood Dreams” (4:25)
3. “Sparks” (6:00)
4. “The Mountain” (4:53)
5. “Night Castle” (3:57)
6. “The Safest Way Into Tomorrow” (4:57)
7. “Mozart And Memories” (5:16)
8. “Another Way You Can Die” (3:54)
9. “Toccata-Carpimus Noctem” (4:01)
10. “The Lion’s Roar” (4:35)
11. “Dreams We Conceive” (5:12)
12. “Mother And Son” (0:40)
13. “There Was A Life” (9:35)

DISC 2
1. “Moonlight And Madness” (5:04)
2. “Time Floats On” (3:37)
3. “Epiphany” (10:56)
4. “Bach Lullaby” (0:49)
6. “Father, Son & Holy Ghost” (6:48)
7. “Remnants Of A Lullaby” (3:10)
8. “The Safest Way Into Tomorrow (Reprise)” (1:43)
9. “Embers” (3:53)
BONUS TRACKS
10. “Child Of The Night” (3:29)
11. “Believe” (6:12)
12. “Nutrocker” (4:07)
13. “Carmina Burana” (2:44)
14. “Tracers” (05:47)

Selected Musicians:
Jay Pierce, Tim Hockenberry, Jeff Scott Soto, Rob Evan, Jennifer Cella, Alexa Goddard, Valentina Porter – Lead Vocals
Paul O’Neill, Chris Caffery, Angus Clark, Alex Skolnick, Al Pitrelli, Dave Wittman – Guitars
Chris Altenhoff, Johnny Lee Middleton, Dave Wittman – Bass
John O. Reilly, Jeff Plate, Dave Wittman – Drums
Robert Kinkel, Jon Oliva, Luci Butler, Shih-Yi Chiang, Derek Wieland – Keyboards
Roddy Chong, Anna Phoebe – Violin

Producer: Paul O’Neill & Robert Kinkel

After having seen TSO in concert, I was pretty hyped up on them and bought this album when it came out. They played a number of these songs during the second half of the concert and I loved it because many of these numbers are dark and certainly heavier than their usual Christmas-inspired songs. Sadly, I don’t think this side of TSO will catch on if crowd reaction was any indication on the night I intended. The first act was Christmas, the second act was entirely from this album, I believe, and a small number of people walked out once it was apparent the holiday music was over.

Points to mastermind Paul O’Neill and the rest for having the guts to try something different again and not rely on Christmas. A TSO Christmas album is basically guaranteed to go platinum, but I think gold is a nice goal for this particular album.

The problem I have with TSO is that I think they do too many slow and soft numbers. I don’t like those at all, I zone out. Heavy and faster numbers like “Night Enchanted” and “Another Way You Can Die” are really fun though and I think those two songs maybe some the heaviest songs they’ve done yet as they flirt with heavy metal. “Night Enchanted” is a great way to kick off the album and let people know “this isn’t Christmas”. I’m sure there’s some concept behind this album, but I don’t really care about it. In fact, when it comes to concept albums, the more the story is thrown into my face, the less I care about the album.

In what (I think) is a first, TSO covers Savatage: “The Mountain” is a reworking of “Prelude to Madness” from Hall of the Mountain King, bonus track “Believe” is from Streets: A Rock Opera, parts of “The Lion’s Roar” were taken from “Temptation Revelation” also from Streets: A Rock Opera, “Mozart and Memories” was originally “Mozart and Madness” from Gutter Ballet.

The packaging features some pretty cool illustrations from Greg Hildebrandt. I recognized the artwork from the concert and this album thanks to his days illustrating the Marvel Masterpieces trading card series back in the ’90s!

The first disc is definitely my favorite of the two. That’s where the faster, heavier, harder songs lie. Disc two is almost entirely ballads, though all of the bonus tracks are really good.

Definitely a good album, but it’s an exhaustive listen with way too many slow moment. I wish they would release a 100% symphonic rock album and leave the ballads at home. I would also love for Jon Oliva to sing a tune as well since he helps write a lot of the music anyway.

Highlights: “Night Enchanted”, “The Mountain”, “Night Castle”, “Mozart and Memories”, “Toccata-Carpimus Noctem”, “Moonlight and Madness”, “Child of the Night”, “Nutrocker”, “Carmina Burana”, “Tracers”

www.trans-siberian.com
www.myspace.com/tsoofficial

HALFORD – Halford III – Winter Songs

Halford – Halford III – Winter Songs (2009, Metal God Records)

1. “Get Into the Spirit” … 5:26
2. “We Three Kings” … 4:06
3. “Oh Come O Come Emanuel” … 4:38
4. “Winter Song” … 5:38
5. “What Child Is This?” … 4:27
6. “Christmas For Everyone” … 3:06
7. “I Don’t Care” … 3:14
8. “Light Of The World” … 4:13
9. “Oh Holy Night” … 4:09
10. “Come All Ye Faithful” … 2:27

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Ed Roth – Keyboard

Producer: Roy Z.

Seven years after the last studio effort from Halford, Rob & Company return with a… CHRISTMAS ALBUM ?! Yes, it’s weird, it’s shocking, it’s true. Even more shocking — it’s actually pretty good.

I was extremely excited to discover 2009 would bring us new Halford music. When Rob rejoined Judas Priest, the band went inactive but there were still countless live albums, reissues and compilations being issued so it is nice to see and hear new material from the group, even if most of it is covers of Christmas songs. I find it odd that Rob chose to let this be the third studio release from Halford though. A Christmas CD? Really? Well, if Twisted Sister can do it, surely the Metal God can!

I’m hearing a lot of resistance to the idea of Rob Halford doing Christmas songs, but maybe some of that is stemming from having his solo band’s name on it (who were one of metal’s most promising acts of this decade, IMO). Maybe Rob wants to turn Halford into the next Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Maybe if he stuck ‘ROB HALFORD’ on the cover instead of just ‘HALFORD’ metalheads could accept it more, though I admit it is a bit of an out there concept to wrap your head around.

Clearing away any preconceived notions I might have had, I’m really enjoying this album. It’s Christmas, it’s hard rock, it’s heavy metal, it’s ROB HALFORD! How can you go wrong? I’m sorry for ever doubting you, Mr. Halford! The original songs (“Get Into the Spirit”, “Christmas For Everyone”, “I Don’t Care”, “Light of the World”) are pretty good, with “Get Into the Spirit” easily being the best of that bunch but what is really surprising is just how good Halford’s take on these traditional Christmas songs can be.

There is no doubt this is the Metal God at work, but unlike some rock/metal acts who do Christmas songs, Halford doesn’t try to impose himself too much over the songs. In short, you’re not going to confuse “Oh Holy Night” or “Come All Ye Faithful” with “Painkiller” or “Resurrection”!

This is a great addition to my growing Christmas rock collection and I have a feeling it’s going to be getting a lot of airtime at home and in my car this holiday season… and for many more to come!

Highlights: “Get Into the Spirit”, “We Three Kings”, “Oh Come O Come Emanuel”, “Winter Song”, “What Child Is This?”, “I Don’t Care”, “Oh Holy Night”, “Come All Ye Faithful”

www.robhalford.com
www.myspace.com/robhalford

Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra – 11/02/09

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

11/02/09

Breslin Student Events Center at MSU in East Lansing, Michigan

Though I own a TSO album, I never really got into it, but I sure did try to given the Savatage connection. Trans-Siberian Orchestra has always seemed like a group that would be more fun to see live and after last night’s amazing show, that is 100% confirmed. And what better night to go than on my birthday?

This was probably the best concert experience I’ve ever had. The place was a sellout, but TSO definitely brings in a different demographic than Avenged Sevenfold, KISS or Motley Crue does so I didn’t have to worry about any idiots getting on my nerves.

Sometimes when you go to shows, the sound isn’t so well. I’ve seen plenty of rock bands perform with the guitar way too much in the mix and they’re basically all you can hear but last night everything just about perfect. No screeching guitars, no bass or drums that rattled your ears so much you get vertigo, everything was spot on for the most part, but funny enough — I thought the guitars were a tiny bit low in the mix. Other than that minor quibble, guitarists Chris Caffery and Alex Skolnick were amazing all night.

I know people are going to want to know the set list from me, but I can’t tell you that. I’m not familiar enough with their music and I can’t find any other recent set lists online to get an idea, but the first half of the show focused on Christmas and the majority of the second half featured many songs from their latest album Night Castle.

As much as I loved the Christmas stuff, there were quite a few ballads in that portion that kind of bored me. Most of the second half was amazing though, the show got darker and heavier. After the Christmas portion was finished, a number of people began leaving. I guess those old-timers just wanted Christmas music, but you’re only getting half your money’s worth! For a rock/metal fan, the second half was definitely the best.

The stage production was amazing too, probably the best concert I’ve ever seen. Lasers, smoke, “snow”, tons of video screens, flames (green, orange and blue!). It was a great spectacle. I was surprised by how much they were able to fit into Breslin.

Overall, whether you’re a fan of Christmas, symphonies, hard rock or all of the above — TSO is a great way to spend the holidays and fantastic way to get your fix. Highly recommended. I believe this is at least the third year in a row they’ve come to Breslin, if they come again next year, I’ll be sure to be there.

%d bloggers like this: