Album review: TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA – Letters From The Labyrinth

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA - Letters From The Labyrinth

Decca [Release date 29.01.16 - UK]

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) are back with a new album and unlike previous ones this is not a one themed rock opera, instead a collection of songs with varying themes.  Plus there are some classical pieces by Beethoven and Mussorgsky given the TSO treatment.The album has already been released in their native US, reaching number 7 in the Billboard albums chart and topping the Billboard rock chart.

The band still feature past and present members of Savatage including Al Pitrelli, Chris Caffery, Johnny Lee Middleton, Jeff Plate and Jon Oliva. Ring Of Fire’s Vitalij Kuprij is also involved, with main man Paul O’Neill writing/co-writing all the songs, except for ‘Forget About The Blame’, which was written by Johnny Green. This song has two versions, the ‘sun’ version sung by Robin Borneman and as a bonus song, a ‘moon’ version sung by Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale. The Lzzy Hale version has of course garnered interest outside of the usual TSO fan base and is one of the album’s highlights.

Jeff Scott Soto pops up on ‘Prometheus’ (about the Berlin Wall), which starts off in a classical mode before JSS comes in and with a heavy vocal – he does seem to like this heavier style he sings on the Soto albums. In fact at first listen thought it was Russell Allen, who sings on ‘Not Dead Yet’, both are top notch vocal performances as you’d expect.

The musicianship and orchestration on the album are amazing as you’d expect from the TSO.  The swirling strings and horns on ‘Mountain Labyrinth’ are simply astounding, whilst ‘Lullaby Night’ shows off the band’s gentler side.

The TSO have gone and done it again, another album that mixes rock, classical and symphonic music to great effect. The album also shows they can move away from the themed rock operas and still keep the strong songwriting and melodies intact. Now all we need is some more UK and European shows please.  ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie



On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.

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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)

Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)



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