By Enrico Spinelli

Like every year, in the holiday period, it is almost a ritual for me to go back to listening to what still remains my favorite Christmas record trilogy; and what makes me even happier is that at the base of this project there is my beloved Savatage. We all know that Jon Oliva wanted to invest his energies on this new reality and it's very understandable in terms of success and economic return (oh people, yes, somehow) given that in the United States the Trans Siberian Orchestra is so successful that he had to create two different casts to meet the many required dates. Beyond the commercial factor, however, the great technical expertise of the ensemble is undoubted, just as it is curious that half a discography is dedicated... to Christmas. 

To celebrate this period together I, therefore, decided to dedicate a post to those three albums; it is not a commented discography but a tribute to a trilogy that may be imperfect but truly full of magic... and why not, a little advice for listening to themed with this period.

So get on the sledge with me, and go!!!

It is with the debut that we immediately understand the nature of the TSO musical proposal: a symphonic rock/metal (much more the first than the second) that refers in some ways to the more melodic Savatage (not surprisingly it is taken from "Dead Winter Dead "the wonderful instrumental" Christmas Eve / Sarajevo ") which mixes traditional Christmas themes and influences from classical music. They are not for the most part real covers, often these themes suddenly appear in new compositions, the spectacular opener "An Angel Came down" that presents "Holy Night" in the middle is proof of this or the epic reworking of "O Come All Ye Faithful". There is also an entire classic section dedicated to Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker", but the whole work is to be understood as a long journey into Christmas magic that finds its perfect closure in the reprise of "An Angel Returned". Of course, the record shows a certain prolixity (and has an important duration), the cover perhaps smacks too much of "Autogrill Christmas basket compilation" and there is no shortage of insulin choruses from the children of the oratory, but I must confess that every time that I listen to it... I really feel better.

The substance does not change, it is not by chance that this album is often on sale together with the previous one, of which it constitutes an excellent second part; proof of this is the excellent and delicate opener "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve", closely followed by the traditional "Boughs of Holly" (exalting oneself with one of the most obsessive Christmas motifs). There is no lack of magic, as in the reworking of the famous "Canon" by Pachwell ("Christmas Canon") and perhaps, acknowledging a decrease in the surprise effect, there is also less verbosity of the whole. After this record, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will take a break from a record on a completely different subject (the famous "Beethoven Last Night") before returning 7 years later with the final chapter.

Christmas is back, but this time the cover shows us something familiar: inside a snowball we see an electric guitar wrapped in roses, and our thoughts immediately turn to "Streets". And in fact the rock component seems to emerge with more energy over the traditional ones that exist anyway ("What Child is This?" Or the interlude in "For The Sake of Our Brothers"). Several instrumental jams and a new version of "Back to a Reason" that you will remember closed the last studio album to date by Savatage ("Poets and Madman"). Undoubtedly cute, but the formula has definitely reached saturation; the ensemble will therefore decide, fortunately, to turn their attention elsewhere for subsequent publications.

With these three pearls of Christmas rock/metal, I greet you and I send you my best wishes!!

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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