ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Concept Album Corner - 'Christmas Eve and Other Stories' by The Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Updated on December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays to everybody as we close the year of 2012. Speaking personally, I’ve always found the December Holiday time to be one of the most enjoyable times even in the worst of years. Even if one grows older and more cynical with time, there’s at least the joy of receiving gifts from people who care about you and giving in return (for the most part, at least, assuming that Christmas isn’t so commercialized as to be totally devoid of a soul). Outside of that, however, there are many aspects of the wintertime that warms my heart: the simplicity and solitude, the snow, the time spent with loved ones, and especially the music.

Be it good or bad, Christmas music is something I will always listen to once the appropriate time comes around. Generally speaking, Christmas music is rather simplistic and easy to listen to, musically and lyrically; probably the perfect formula to create pop songs, of which many have been made around Christmas times. Artists sometimes devote entire albums to memorable Christmas tunes that are covered, invented, and sung over and over again on just about every radio station you’ll find, and I still love (almost) every single one. Some personal favorites are ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Silent Night’, and ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’. However, while I’ll listen to just about any Christmas tune with a smile on my face, there are a couple of rotten eggs that show up in just those few cartons each year. Even worse, that carton or two sometimes has more rotten eggs than good ones. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra seems to be one of the major producers of these kinds of egg cartons.

Despite the title, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a New York Prog Rock group founded in 1993 by producer/composer Paul O’Neill, two members of the heavy metal band Savatage, and keyboardist/co-producer Robert Kinkel. The core idea behind the music of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as one might imagine, is to mix elements of symphonic music with hard rock. An odd mixture, certainly, but not a complete failure. The group has sold at least eight million album copies with this interesting mix, practically made to create nothing but rock operas mostly revolving around classical music, fittingly enough. They have sold over nine million tickets alone for folks to go see their concerts, all of which have the highest degree of love, passion, and effort put in by the perfectionist performers. With a sprawling group of four composers, twenty vocalists, five guitarists, two drummers, three violinists, three bassists, and four keyboardists, they are the largest ‘band’ to hit any form of major popularity. One of their most well known creations, however, is their Christmas trilogy, started off by their debut album Christmas Eve and Other Stories.

The overarching story, I suppose, focuses on the goal of an angel sent to Earth on Christmas Eve to seek out at least one act of genuine kindness, following the lives of many odd characters throughout, all accompanied by their own hard-rock symphonic suite. Herein lies the major gleaming problem with The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. While hard rock and orchestral music are both wonderful styles of music in their own rite, that’s what keeps them wonderful: they are both their own thing. Mixing the two doesn’t work because both are so vastly different from the other. To quote from legendary rock icon Pete Townshend, “As the son of…the prototypical British Swing band, I had been nourished by my love for that music, a love I would betray for a new passion: rock n’ roll, the music that came to destroy it.”

To further explain, orchestral and symphonic music is typically meant to set mood without words but with sound, to be introspective and thought-provoking only by the high-pitched lull of a string section, by the boom of a brass section, the fluttering air of a woodwind sections, and the rattling of percussion. And as music evolved over time, hard-rock is generally meant to demolish that idea, the rough and gruff wailing of guitars and the pounding stomp of drums not introspective, but mostly simplistic and intimidating, rebellious against the very idea of classical music. Granted, that is a very broad generalization of both forms of music. Hard-rock can be meditative on an instrumental level and classical music can be equally simplistic and basic. Both styles could certainly be meshed, but not in the way it is done here.

The orchestra would either have to go one side or the other, not try to meet it halfway. Most if not all of the tracks are horribly disjointed by these two musical genres, like watching a machine malfunction. Or, as a better analogy, it’s the audio equivalent of being in the mind of a person with Multiple Personality Disorder, both sides working efficiently on their own, but clashing so violently as to set the entire music off. On a few occasions, the music works fine, but only because they are picking a definite style, even if they are mixing rock and symphony. A couple of instrumentals include only the strumming of acoustic guitar to well-loved Christmas songs like ‘The First Noel’ and such. One of their songs, probably one of their most popular, is the tune ‘Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24’, an epic, rock-oriented version of ‘Carol of the Bells’ made all the more booming and menacing by the roar of strings and the chiming of bells.

But for the rest of the album, the choice to blend rock and orchestra is jarring and done awfully, the worst example being ‘A Mad Russian’s Christmas’, the TSO take on a part of The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. The grinding of rock guitars are almost comedic when coupled with the ominous opening and the lighthearted dance tone of the rest of the piece. Even the vocals seem completely out of place, the narrator from the beginning and ending pieces sounding like a cross between The Phantom of the Opera and Jack Skellington. Granted, it’s more fitting than hardcore rock, though.

Since it is Christmas, it would be rather Scrooge-like of me to leave this review without anything positive, so I give TSO this: they put their all into it. For all of its corniness and poor decisions, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra still puts all of their effort into everything they do to near perfectionist degrees. That’s nothing to speak of their live shows, some of which are put off schedule (as some are apt to do), just to perfect them. Alice Cooper once said that great music came from having cake (content) and icing (style), not one over the other. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra may be completely icing over cake, but they certainly do the best they can to make the icing fantastic.

Christopher Nolan once said something to the affect of “Even if I see a film that I think is terrible, I can at least enjoy it a little bit more if the people making it believed they were making something great, that they were putting their all into it.” Never before have I felt that way quite like I do now. By no means would I recommend this album, even as Christmas music. If anything, I think it’s probably the worst thing I’ve had to listen to while doing this blog so far. But failing is always that much more acceptable if there was an attempt to try. And, if you’ll allow me to reach unprecedented levels of sappiness, I believe that’s part of what makes Christmas so wonderful.

Property of AtlanticVideos


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)