Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Lost Christmas Eve
Atlantic
Progressive Hard Rock with Christmas Themes
23 songs (74'31)
Release year: 2004
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the month
Six years after the second installment in their modern day Christmas sagas, The Christmas Attic, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents us with the third and final act in their trilogy of Christmas albums. Born from the success of Savatage venturing into Christmas themes on their Dead Winter Dead album, mastermind and Savatage silent partner Paul O'Neill has created a seasonal sensation with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They tour every year for most of November and December and cover most of the U.S. with a few Canadian dates thrown in. With all of the current and a few former Savatage members involved, they actually employ two touring versions; one that covers the eastern U.S. and one that covers the west in order to cram in as many dates as possible for the 2 month trek. With this new album, Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva (Savatage), guitarist Al Petrelli (Savatage) and keyboardist Robert Kinkel have created another Christmas odyssey that will be enjoyed for many years to come.

With this new album, like the previous two, the story involves God sending and angel back to earth on Christmas Eve to try to find the one person who has best continued the work of his son while he was here on earth. The angel descends to earth and once again chooses the modern day Mecca of New York City as the place to begin the search. Impressed with the compassion of others with respect to children and the less fortunate at this time of year, she still feels that it's not quite the most powerful example she is looking for. She is then drawn to a bitter and lonely business man alone in his office on Christmas Eve. He has a long and scarred past that began with the death of his wife during childbirth and a brain-damaged son as a result of complications. He was a very religious man but turned his back on God and abandoned his son some 40 years ago; left in the care of the hospital. While leaving the office later that evening, he bumps into a little girl outside a toy shop who was staying at a nearby hotel and he immediately begins to think about his long lost son. He decides to track down his son who despite not being able to speak, is otherwise healthy, lives in the Bronx area and holds down a job at a nearby hospital. Seeing his son gently rocking to sleep the trembling and helpless newborns from crack addicted mothers in the maternity ward, he has the sudden realization that although he was so enraged at his son not being born in God's image, it is now clear that his son has so much more of the image of God than either himself or anyone else he has ever seen. His son's face lights up upon seeing his father and he knows instantly who he is. They both spend the rest of the evening rocking these helpless newborns to sleep. The man then decides to give up his business career to spend more time connecting with his son. The next day, he decides to return to the hotel where the little girl he bumped into the night before was staying in order to thank her and her parents for giving him the change of heart and making the decision to track down his son whom he abandoned some 40 years earlier. Upon speaking to the hotel clerk, he was informed that no children had stayed there for many days and that no-one there fit the description of the little girl. Puzzled, he returns to his car and notices a photograph that has spilled from an old and weathered manilla envelope that contained his wife's personal effects that his son has kept all these years. Upon examining the photo, he realizes that it is a photo of his wife with her parents when she was five years old. It was also the same girl that he bumped into the night before outside the toy shop. There had been a purpose to all this.......

Musically speaking, I found this album to be a lot heavier and more "Savatage"-like than the previous two albums and although it follows a similar format, a large chunk of this album is instrumental. A few of these namely Wizards In Winter, Christmas Jam, Wish Lizt (Toy Shop Madness), Queen Of The Winter Night and Christmas Canon Rock that although have a Christmas feel with the melodies, have a killer prog metal sound and would work well as Savatage tracks and could be listened to year round. A few actual Christmas themes are used such as The First Noel and O Come All Ye Faithful which are themes used in the opening track Faith Noel. Al Petrelli's soaring lead guitar odyssey's accompanied by big Savatage-style power chord blasts is simply wonderful. Classical themes such as segments of Mozart's Queen Of The Winter Night and Pacabel's Canon are used throughout and the use of traditional Christmas melodies is somewhat diminished over the previous two albums. The track Back To A Reason from the Poets And Madmen album by Savatage is revisited here on this album with slightly different lyrics and works quite well within the conceptual framework of the story. That track and many others give this album a flavor much like Savatage's classic (and best as far as I'm concerned) Streets album. Without the success of an album like that, I doubt that the Trans Siberian Orchestra would even exist. Several male voices including that of the late Daryl Pediford who recently passed away this past October are used throughout as well as both adult and children's choirs. Female lead vocals are used for the closing couple of tracks to highlight the influence of the man's deceased wife reappearing to him as a child and turning his life around.

This album, like the other two, allows the listener to drift away into the unique Christmas world of Paul O'Neill and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The last album to complete their Christmas trilogy, I think it's the best one so far. Whether or not you have any sort of religious faith or beliefs, there's no denying the positive message of hope and redemption that's such a strong force with this album. Christmas is a time for reflection and family and in reading Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery's diaries from the road on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour, they all miss Daryl Pediford very much and he is referred to as being a big part of that "family". The picture of Criss Oliva's guitar with the roses (from the Gutter Ballet album) as seen on the front cover of this CD is testament to the fact that within the Savatage family, he is still very much missed. With the recent, tragic and horrible death of Dimebag Darrell, everything I've read written by people who knew him all talked about him being like family. The stories about the guys in the Damageplan crew being treated like family are all testament to a guy who really knew how to treat people and make them feel important. With the massive outpouring of emotion following his death, it's obvious that we could all learn something from this about how he treated others and created a family-like relationship with everyone who was important in his life. All sorts of family-like situations exist within our normal lives outside of our blood relatives and that's what makes Christmas time so special; reflecting on the importance of all the people in your life and acknowledging what they mean to you. Families exist in all shapes and forms and can arise from all sorts of situations and experiences. We all need to be a part of one.

From my family and from the Metal Reviews team; Merry Christmas and all the best for 2005 to all of our readers. Thanks for a great year and for being a part of our big extended family.

Killing Songs :
Faith Noel, Wizards In Winter, Christmas Jam. Siberian Sleigh Ride, What Is Christmas, For The Sake Of Our Brother, Wish Lizt (Toy Shop Madness), Back To A Reason and Christmas Canon Rock
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Trans-Siberian Orchestra that we have reviewed:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Christmas Attic reviewed by Marty and quoted 85 / 100
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