Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Letters From The Labyrinth’ [Review]
Comparing albums to rollercoaster rides is one of the greatest reviewers’ clichés of all time. But when it works, it works. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first full-length set of new material since 2009 is nothing if not riddled with twists, turns, loops and breathtaking tangents.
At the same time, the rollercoaster cliché doesn’t completely cover it. Think of Letters From The Labyrinth as an entire theme park, and you’re closer to the mark. For the first time in Trans-Siberian Orchestra history, this album’s overall theme is shrouded in mystery – although it has been revealed that it’s based on previous album Night Castle, as well as “…a dialogue between the wisdom of the past and the hopes for the future, via a correspondence between a child and an old friend of the child’s grandfather.”
The overarching theme of Letters From The Labyrinth is intended to be revealed through the sum total of some fifteen individual songs, each of which stand proudly and flamboyantly in their own right. The songs, then, are the rolleroasters; Letters From The Labyrinth is the park.
Each individual ride is spellbinding, consistently epic and clearly crafted with the live arena in mind – a fact guaranteed to get Trans-Siberian Orchestra fans’ mouths watering. TSO’s live prowess is not just undeniable but legendary – we are after all talking about a band with over 1,600 large-scale shows and twelve million satisfied ticketholders behind them, and those numbers will only continue to climb as time goes by.
Picking favourites from among the fifteen is a tough ask, but Mountain Labyrinth‘s exotically theatrical flourishes; The Night Conceives‘ full-bodied rock’n’roll riffs and classic call-and-response structure; Not Dead Yet‘s killer combo of gritty grooves and carefully chosen lyrics; the plaintively confident anti-bullying anthem Not The Same; and the churning Who I Am are all utterly immense. Top it all off with Halestorm vocalist Lzzy Hale’s voice in full flight on closing bonus track Forget About The Blame (Moon Version), and you have one hell of an album.
Overall, whether you’re a die-hard Trans-Siberian Orchestra fan or a total newcomer hungry for something vibrant, vital, and monolithic, Letters From The Labyrinth is worth your time and attention. Outstanding.
TMMP RATING: 93% (Essential Listening!)
Links / Listen
Letters From The Labyrinth drops January 29 2016. Visit Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s official website for updates and tour details.