Trans Siberian Orchestra – Letters From the Labyrinth Album Review
If you have anything more than a passing acquaintance with the music of progressive metal and hard rock you’ll know the TSO are the self-proclaimed ‘biggest rock act in the world’. They do have some authenticity to that proud boast. Last July they headlined the Wacken Rock Festival in Germany, which could be seen on film, in 3D, at the recent Sensoria film festival, and which is unquestionably the biggest event in the world for metal-heads. They performed with so many musicians they split them between two separate stages, and moved between the two so they could play to the everyone there. Mad. This is their first full length album for a good few years, and is a good, old-fashioned prog-rock romp. Overblown and then some, it certainly has everything you’d expect it to; power chords you could demolish a small tower block with, epic lyrics and songs with no discernible verse or chorus – i.e. prog the way we love it. TSO were formed over 20 years ago by producer/composer Paul O’Neill, and since then have toured and recorded with a vast collection of continually changing musicians and singers. They have never done anything in a small way, starting out by playing arenas – no small clubs and town halls for this lot – they decided to be epic from the very start. The music they produce is really review-proof; nothing I or anyone else will say can alter its appeal to fans of theatrical, spectacular, epic rock. Soaring guitar solos, thundering power chords and heavy metal riffs collide with quieter, acoustic moments, orchestral arrangements and lyrics about heaven knows what. The whole concept comes with the obligatory expansive lyrics and illustrations of castles, wise old men and a battle across time, between good and evil. Groundbreaking it ain’t, but great fun it certainly is. Sign me up if they come and play the Sheffield Arena – they won’t fit anywhere smaller!