Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Christmas Attic
Progressive Hard Rock with Christmas Themes
16 songs (72'23)
Release year: 1998
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Marty
Archive review
Tired of the same old Christmas music that you hear every year at this time? Try this CD out, you'll be pleasantly surprised. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the brainchild of Paul O'Neill who, in case you don't know, is the silent member of Savatage, writing many of their songs as well as being the mastermind behind their classic concept albums Streets, Dead Winter Dead and Wake Of Magellan. The idea was conceived after the Dead Winter Dead album in which for one track, Christmas Eve / Sarajevo (12/24), segments from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen were used. The idea of doing a Christmas themed album using the musicians from Savatage was born. They released Christmas Eve and Other Stories in 1996 and this one in 1998. Every year, they play some live shows throughout North America during the Christmas season. All the members of the Savatage line-up participate on this release. Jon Oliva provides keyboards and piano, Johnny Middleton, bass, Jeff Plate, drums, Al Pitrelli, lead guitar and Chris Caffery and Paul O'Neill provide rhythm guitars. Zak Stevens, vocalist for Savatage at the time, provides some backing vocals. Other male and female vocalists from all walks of music, classical, rock, R&B and Broadway are used throughout and give this piece a brilliant operatic style. Robert Kinkel provides both additional keyboards and productional assistance. Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva and Robert Kinkel form the core of the writing team.

The story behind this concept album revolves around a young child, distraught about the existence of Santa Claus and the true meaning of Christmas, decides to stay up on Christmas Eve to get a glimpse of Santa herself. Taking a candle up to the attic of their house in order to see him arrive, she discovers an old trunk filled with ornaments, toys and a stack of old letters and Christmas cards from long ago. The letters were from different people, each with a story of how Christmas had touched their lives. The songs represent some of these stories the child reads while going through the pile of letters. After a while, she noticed that one of the letters belonged to the lonely old lady who used to live in their house (and now lives next door). With it was a news clipping and a picture of her with another man. The girl called information to get the phone number of the man in the article and placed a phone call to him stating that someone would be waiting at the train station for him tonight. She placed the same call to the woman next door. Later that evening she sees the two of them walking hand in hand towards the old woman's house. At this point, the little girl realizes that there is something truly magical about Christmas and upon returning to the attic, she finds a gift with her name on it beside the old trunk......Santa must have come while she was downstairs.......

The music on this album is very Christmas oriented and the original compositions remain true to the Christmas spirit that just bursts from this album. Some truly wonderful and anthemic Christmas themes blend beautifully with segments from some of the more traditional carols. The pieces of the traditional hymns used are mostly played instrumentally and often act as central themes around which, interesting original themes are intertwined. Al Pitrelli's lead guitar interpretations of Deck The Halls and Hark The Herald Angels Sing are stunning and the energy and emotion with which they are played really brings chills down your spine. I love hearing heavy metal guitar interpretations of traditional hymns like this....simply killer!! Both male and female lead vocalists as well as adult and children's choirs are used throughout to bring the characters in the stories to life and add to the Christmas tone of the album. The music, although very serene and soft at times, contains some great trademark Savatage style dramatic power chord explosions and guitar melodies. The overall sound of the album bears many of the Savatage nuances in sound but with the Christmas themes and other guest vocalists, the metallic edge is softened a bit and really isn't heavy or aggressive at all. People of all ages can enjoy this album.

I like the fact that, religiously speaking, this album is pretty much non-denominational in nature. Sure there's mention of God and angels as part of the story line, but for the most part, the message here is that we all have Christmas stories that have touched our hearts in our lifetime. Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of the year) is a time of reflection and a time of appreciation of friends and family no matter what your beliefs are. This time of year is also for giving and even the simplest gesture can have a huge impact on someone's life. For a change this year, put a little metal in your Christmas music to get you into the spirit of the season (this one works for me!).

From all of us here at Metal Reviews and from my family to yours, have a safe and happy Holiday Season. 2003 looks to be great year for metal music!!!

Killing Songs :
Boughs Of Holly, World That She Sees, Joy (Angels We Have Heard On High) and Appalachian Snowfall
Marty quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Trans-Siberian Orchestra that we have reviewed:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Lost Christmas Eve reviewed by Marty and quoted 90 / 100
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