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Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Beethoven's Last Night CD (album) cover


Trans-Siberian Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.68 | 108 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Trans-Siberian Orchestra are notable to me because of the theatric feeling that their albums encompass. I own all their albums, but the one nearest and dearest to me is still Beethoven's Last Night, the album I was introduced to the band with.

BLN includes many skilled instrumentalists, as well as multiple vocalists playing the roles of the different characters (Beethoven; Mephistopheles; Fate; Twist; Teresa). The story is interesting enough, without being groundbreaking.

I've seen a couple of complaints about the length of the songs; and it is true that, fitting on a single disc and having 22 songs means that the average song length is less than 4 minutes, something that is unusual in progressive rock music, especially the more modern progressive rock music where artists are free to sprawl across an 80 minute CD instead of being confined to making music fit on the limited space of a vinyl.

I have two points to make why I don't view this as a problem; the first is that, I first listened to this album before I was into progressive rock, and the music seemed fine to me. Listening to it again, after being in progressive rock - the music sounds just as good. The length suits the songs, and allows them to express what they want, in a very tight manner. The other is that, much like Marillion's Misplaced Childhood, this is an album that is much stronger as a whole then in pieces, and as such, the length of individual songs is not quite as important.

Every song on this album is great, and that is difficult to say about an album with 22 songs; you would expect that one or two of them would be skip-worthy, or sound too much like another song; but on this masterpiece, each song is interesting, memorable, and melodic. The music is quite varied, ranging from introspective vocals (This is Who You Are), piano music (Midnight), overlapping vocal parts (Fate/Mephitopheles Return) to rock versions of classical music (Mozart/Figaro), to songs that move the story along supported by great vocal talents (Misery), and it ends on a song that is akin to a lullaby - a great, quiet way to end a great album: A Final Dream.

The combination of classical music, heavy guitars, great vocals, and a large concept, leave this album wanting very little - the only thing that a progger might look for that this album lacks is an epic; but again, there have been many classic progressive albums that had no epics (I'm looking at you, Octopus). And while there are no songs of epic length, I would argue that some of the songs on this album succeed in being epic through their content (Mephistopheles Return is an excellent example of this, with the building up of layered vocals as Beethoven comes to terms with the decision he will have to make).

All in all, an excellent album, nearly deserving a full five stars - but perhaps falling just a bit short, not because of any problems with the music (4 stars is still an excellent score), but because to consider this album essential might be giving it slightly more credit than it deserves.

After all, I would love to believe that TSO's next release will be even better. Let's give them something to shoot for. :)

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |


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