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Trans-Siberian Orchestra

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas Eve & Other Stories album cover
3.03 | 65 ratings | 11 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. An Angel Came Down (3:52)
2. O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night (4:19)
3. A Star to Follow (3:49)
4. First Snow (3:53)
5. The Silent Nutcracker (2:22)
6. A Mad Russian's Christmas (4:42)
7. The Prince of Peace (3:33)
8. Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24 (3:25)
9. Good King Joy (6:36)
10. Ornament (3:37)
11. The First Noel (0:55)
12. Old City Bar (6:18)
13. Promises to Keep (2:41)
14. This Christmas Day (4:20)
15. An Angel Returned (3:52)

Post Script:
16. O Holy Night (2:39)
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1:16)

Total Time 62:09

Line-up / Musicians

Produced by Paul O'Neill
Co-Produced by Robert Kinkel

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Christmas Eve & Other Stories Music

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Christmas Eve & Other Stories ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (45%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Christmas Eve & Other Stories reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Bob Greece
3 stars What stops this CD being excellent is the vocals. Some of them sound like Meat Loaf, some are school-girl choirs and none of them are particularly good. However, there are three amazing instrumentals on this album that makes it all worthwhile - "First Snow", "A Mad Russian's Christmas" and "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24". These tracks are powerful, orchestral and lively. They're not really progressive but they can knock you off your feet.

So overall with this album you are getting 3 essential tracks and 14 for fans only, which means that I would only advise you to pick up this album if you can find it at a good price (like I did!).

Review by The Crow
3 stars OK, "Christmas Eve & Other Stories" is a good album... But a good "christmas music" album. So this is not an album for everyone, and of course, not vor every moment... But if you enjoy the best christmas music, surely you will find excellent moments here.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the parallel band of Savatage. All the Savatage members are palying here, but with a lot of collaborators too. But the mastermind of this project is Paul O'Neill, the Savatage's producer... He and Jon Oliva are the main composers of the music here, along with Bob Kinkell, a very important man in Savatage too. The lyrics and the story, of course, are written by O'Neill.

So this album is mainly Christmas music... But this is not all that you will find here, because like every Trans-Siberian Orchestra record, there's a lot of classical music adaptations too. The Silent Nutcracker, for example, is a fine Tchaikovsky's adaptation. Another tracks, like First Snow and A Mad Russian's Christmas, are in more Savatage vein, more rocker and with good electric guitars works... And this album is full of sweet ballads too, with the typical Jon Oliva's piano playing and structure. If you like the Savatage's ballads, maybe you will also find some good moments with the ballads of this album too... But in my opinion, the quality never reaches de Savatage's high levels. Except, of course, Christmas Eve-Savajevo 12/24, wich is exactly the same song included in the Savatage album from 1995 "Dead Winter Dead".

The great problem with this album, is its difficulty to be enjoyed everytime you listen to... Maybe in Christmas time this is the best musical support you can expect, but in the rest of the year, is a little anoying to hear this album, it sounds totally out of place, except some tracks... But this is something that happens with every Christmas album, I think.

Conclusion: very original mixture between hard rock/metal and Christmas music. But like every Christmas album, it's only to be enjoyed in some moments, this is not the kind of music you can hear everyday without feeling a little annoyed... With some great exceptions like First Snow, A Mad Russian's Christmas and Christmas Eve. And of course, I think the Savatage's die-hard fans will also find enough good moments here to not feeling sorry of purchasing this album...

Review by The Whistler
3 stars What's that, the sound of sleighbells?!? Oh boy, it must be time for some Christmas joy! And some METAL!!!

Yep. I initially despised this album. In fact, I feel as though I've been training my whole life to hate this album. There was a time when I couldn't sit through the whole thing for a single listen. But then, common sense got a grip of me, and I realized that this wasn't King Crimson. This was some second (third?) rate prog metal band playing a buncha arena rock covers of Christmas carols and calling it an opera. So, with expectations sufficiently lowered, I listened to the album again. And you know what? It's good. For what it is.

"An Angel Came Down" actually provides you with a pretty decent view of what the album is going to be like. Very serious piano, over the top vocals, and then a sudden burst of squealing guitars and four-by-four drumming. With some bells thrown in for good measure.

Actually, maybe because it's the first of the many "hard" Christmas instrumentals (and when everything sounds the same, the first is best, right?), "O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night" takes the place of the best song on the album. They turn it into a riff- fest (and dig the walking guitarlines), but in the end, it somehow manages to kick enough ass that even I can headbang and air guitar along.

"A Star to Follow" has a kind of interesting build, but the children's choir? Oh well, at least it's tasteful. Real sing along anthem for the coda. Now, for "First Snow," I SWEAR I've heard that dorky riff somewhere else before...maybe A LOT of somewhere elses before. But I love the fact that the drummer tries to convince us, right here, that he's the lord of drums. He can't improve his technique, but damn it, he CAN drum louder!

After this point, the album gets a little less fun for me. "The Silent Nutcracker" is silent because it's acoustic, I guess. Just some basic acoustic trickery, that grows more complex as it moves along. "A Mad Russian's Christmas" works well enough; I mean, it is the Nutcracker March, and it applies itself well enough to the metal format. But it still sounds like a hyperactive soundtrack to a toy commercial.

"The Prince of Peace" is pretty, but absolutely throwaway. Now, "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24," aside from having a LOT of slashes in the title, is actually not bad. I mean, if any Christmas carol is begging to have an ominous metal retooling, it's gotta be "The Carol of the Bells." If there were a real kick ass guitar solo, no way that thing escape the honor of best song. But it doesn't, relying on synths instead. Still headbangin' though.

"Good King Joy" is easily the weirdest of the lot, which, on a record that doesn't have a lot of variety, is never a bad thing. It starts out like everything else, a slick, serious, radio metal Christmas carol, but then it morphs...into a blooz song! Complete with a black dude on vocals. I think the lyrics are supposed to be funny...hope...

"Ornament" is one of the biggest letdowns of the whole thing. It starts out as a ballad, and just when you think it might have some REAL emotion in it, it takes a turn for the powerful. A power ballad...about Christmas. Need I say more? Too bad, because I honestly can hear the decent song under all the drums and radio metal guitars.

"The First Noel," another acoustic bit, is actual kind of nice, giving us some much appreciated reprieve from all the power balladeering. "Old City Bar" though serves essentially the same purpose as "Ornament," and it's nowhere near as good. It is much more acoustic oriented, so it's easier to listen to, but it's way more plodding.

"Promises to Keep" is just a choir. Read, "just a choir," with some piano. In the middle of the metal, this thing is REAL schlocky. Now, "This Christmas Day" IS the same as "Ornament." A sort of quiet intro with a loud, overbearing center. At least it speeds up at the end.

"An Angel Returned" takes the pomposity of "An Angel Came Down" and the gospel choir energy of "This Christmas Day" and jams 'em together. Oddly enough, it works, gaining enough steam by the end to win me over.

The next two songs are "post script," not sure what that means. I guess it's a kind of afterthought, since the opera's technically over (or, as Mr. Townshend might say, an underture). The classical "O Holy Night" is the better of the two. It's not really acoustic, since it's played on an electric, but it's tuned way down. Very pleasant that. Maybe even pretty. Or maybe I just like that song. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is well played, but it's nothing new. Somewhere between the talents of Anderson, Blackmore and Ingle, that has become THE Christmas song to "progress." And this version? Nothing special. Not the greatest ending, but, considering this band, could be worse.

Now, as much as I hate to admit it, there are a couple of good points to this thing. The musicians are not virtuosos by any means, but "the guitarist" is not bad and the acoustics especially are always nice (even if his style is a little cliché), and "the keyboardist" has his moments too (even if they're a little cheesy). And no, "the reviewer" didn't bother to learn any of their names.

Secondly, they are able to come together and rock so brainlessly hard, that even I have to close my eyes and sway back and forth, lighter in, I mean, headbang violently. And finally, and most importantly, it's a Christmas album fer goshsakes! Lighten up, and give the Constitution a rest. I mean, I like Christmas; I'm not some heartless troll.

In fact, sometimes the lyrics, if you're in the right mood, CAN tease some emotion from even a cynic like myself. Now, of course, I was reading the lyrics in the liner notes, and I was listening to Benefit...and I was high, but other than that, truly emotional that "A Star to Follow."

However, there will always be the fact that the vocals are ridiculous, the guitars are cheezy, the bass is practically non-existent, the keyboards are dorky, the drummer is a moron, the band takes itself WAY too seriously, and it's still just a load of radio metal dressed up with a concept, some boys' choirs and some acoustic numbers. It needed a saxophone! But still, it is Christmas, so we can overlook these things. For the first album anyway...

Review by friso
3 stars Well.. maybe it's a bit to urly for being in the Christmas astmospheres, but I do want to share this with you. 'Progressive rock and christmas sounds' does not seem to be a logical combination. And in fact: it isn't. But Jethro Tull has actually tried it and succeeded, now Trans Sibirian Orchestra is the main band in the christmas rock genre. This is the first of their three Cristmas recordings.

The production is perfect for it's time. Recorded modern, with beautifull use of Metal-like distortion in a gentle way! This is not seen very often. In addition we hear good amplified keyboards giving TSO an orchenstral sound (as it's name suggests). The drums are as they should be, but again recorded very gentle and subtle. The overall atmosphere is peacefull and warm! But some tracks have a very serious feeling.

I will discuss some highlights on the album

Come all ya faithful - A perfect rock version of this classic Christmas song. Heavy and still 100% sounding like a warm song. Great guitarwork acompany the symphonic sounds resulting in a sensational christmas song.

A mad Russian Christas - This is an straight progressive rock piece with beatifull orchestrations, metal guitars and a dark atmosphere. This darksness suddenly changes in a happy christmas rock piece and so the meaning of the title becomes clear. Great composition!

Christmas Eve - The opening is with an clean guitar and some classical instruments, then the guitars come. This is the darkest song of the album - in fact - I would not recommend to play this song on a christmas evening with your old folks around. It's heavy! Beatifull passages to the next themes and the rock explotion at the end make this track a sensation!

Good King Joy - One of my favourites! This song has a feeling that just seems to work for me. It opens peacefully with a childlike piano piece and some vocals. Then: yeaah... the guitars! A courteaus theme arises and tension is build up resulting in a known cristmas (Joy to the world I think) theme played with rock perfection! The production is just great! When this section is closed a very dared move is made. Suddenly you are in an American black churge with a black preacherman. This sound weird, but acompanied with some subtle solo's this turns out to be one of my fouvarite parts of the album! At the and of the song we here again the main theme and so an epic is closed.

Old City Bar - A fully acoustic song with great potential. The theme isn't very complex, actually the song is a bit repetitive. BUT.. the lyrics are so nice! It even gives me a warm feeling, something rarely happening with Christmas music. The guitars sound warm, the vocals are PERFECT... a voice so warm, it could have been a great blues singer. This is the kind of song that keeps my attention till the last second!

Some other tracks on the album are acceptable christmas tracks. I like An angel came down, wich is a perfect opening (and closing track under the name 'An angel returned'). The vocals are the main instrument here, but they are done very nice. First Snow is another great christmas/heavy rock track with lots of interesting parts. Ornament is nice balled, I especially like the couplet theme. Again - great vocals!

The prince of peace is a painfull experience... the female vocals make it a song that doens't fit on this (till now) very nice rocky christmas album. This ballad is just to slow and soft. A song like Promises to keep with an child choir are acceptable for it is Christmas, but a bit cheesey it is.

As a conclusion: A perfectly recorded heavy symphonic rock christmas album with enough progressive rock elements to be placed on this site. The guitars are played very professional, perfect one could say. The vocals are supurb! They realy chose some great vocalists for this prestious project. It's feel good, but yet acceptable. No other band has ever done a christmas rock project so good, so I'll give it five stars!

Edit. Five stars might be a bit high for a record that is appropriate just a short period per year. Normally it's worth three stars.

Review by ProgBagel
2 stars Trans-Siberian Orchestra - 'Christmas Eve and Other Stories' 2 stars

Music of the season, not of the essence.

This music is a tad unnecessary at just about any time but the winter season. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an offshoot of progressive metal band Savatage. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra features a mass array of guests, most of which contribute in the orchestration section.

There are so many negatives on this album. First off would be the vocals. They are absolutely terrible in my eyes, with the worst of all worlds like a woman's choir singing Christmas joy and old men with raspy voices. When I listen to my music, I like the vocals to evoke some interesting and not being something I would ignore if I hear it in the streets. Many of the songs are reworking of uninteresting Christmas tunes that don't serve too much of a purpose, but are better than the boring originals in my opinion.

The upside to this album is some of the most unbelievable Christmas instrumentals ever. The tracks 'First Snow', 'A Mad Russian's Christmas' and 'Christmas Eve/Sarajevo' are all beautiful works of art worth owning. Unfortunately the rest of the 14 tracks are all pretty terrible in their own unique way.

Unless you can download the tracks separately, just get the above mentioned pieces. As a whole the album just gets down to not being good enough. If you get it, disgrace yourself by being labeled a collector.

Review by TheGazzardian
2 stars For those who love theatrical music, or the combination of heavy music and classical music, who also love to get into the Christmas Spirit ... Trans-Siberian Orchestra is THE band.

But if you are not in the mood for Christmas music, then most of this bands discography is going to go over your head.

Christmas Eve and Other Stories was their debut, and it sold well enough for them to continue producing albums years afterward. It was a pretty solid album, and at the time of its debut, I probably would have given it three stars, but there isn't a whole lot of point in owning all three of their Christmas albums, and The Lost Christmas Eve (released 8 years later) was arguably superior.

That does not mean there is nothing to enjoy in this album. It has many fun songs, such as Star to Follow, and it has what made Trans-Siberian Orchestra really worth hearing: excellent metal adaptations of classical music. On this album, the best tracks were First Snow, Mad Russian's Christmas, and Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24), each being excellent adaptations.

Each Trans-Siberian Orchestra album is accompanied by a story, and listening to the music while following the story in the booklets and reading the lyrics is half of the fun of their music. The story to this album is not particularly stunning, however, being about an angel coming down to earth to find the meaning of Christmas. It is a family friendly story, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it is not their most interesting.

The end of the album feels a bit longer. The story moves more at this part, but Trans-Siberian Orchestra has a habit of making songs with more exposition sound more generic than their other pieces. This is not bad on all of their albums, but on this one, it is quite obvious near the ending (from Ornament to An Angel Returns).

When Trans-Siberian Orchestra performed live last year, they did two sections to their show. The first section was this album in completion, and the second section was their better instrumental pieces. If they took the three songs mentioned above, and all the instrumental pieces from the second half of their show except for those from Beethoven's Last Night, they'd probably have a prog/metal-lovers best possible Christmas album.

With only a few high points on this album, and a story that is not quite as theatric as their best, this album is for those who are already fans of their music. Others would be better served getting Lost Christmas Eve.

As a final note, if Lost Christmas Eve is not available and you are forced to choose between this one and The Christmas Attic, take this one.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I have been delaying the reviews for the three TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA albums I own long enough. I got these back around 2006 but not being a big fan (understatement of the year) of Christmas music i've kept putting these reviews off. Just to give a bit of history here, Paul O'Neill the man behind this project first met SAVATAGE when the A&R Rep for the label (Atlantic Records) they were signed to sent him down to Florida to check them out. The Rep had personally signed SAVATAGE and was concerned for them because of how bad the most recent SAVATAGE album ("Fight For The Rock") sold and sounded. He wanted Paul to produce and write for them hence his trip down south to catch the end of the tour. The band at that time were ready to quit after taking bad advice from management and making a bad album as the result. SAVATAGE felt they had let themselves and their fans down. Enter Paul who loved them right away but had to convince them to carry on under his direction. Well the rest as they say is history.

The first album they put out under Paul's guidance was "Hall Of The Mountain King" which is my favourite from them. Anyway one of the songs they did was called "Prelude To Madness" which the band really hesitated in doing because it was classical and symphomic neither of which the band had done before. It was based on Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite". The band relented and it is significant because it led them years later to do "Sarajevo" on the "Dead Winter Dead" record which was of the same style. Well that song took off over Christmas that year and the label didn't have enough albums printed for the demand. That song is the center-piece of the first TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA record i'm reviewing here. That song spawned this band. Here it's called "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24".

Lets just say this project which contains many members of SAVATAGE has made them a commercial success and i'm sure they've been doing many shows this month. This first album is a concept album about a young angel who has been sent to earth to find and bring back to God the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of that day. This quest takes the angel all over the world and these songs tell us the story. So SAVATGE fans will recognize names like Paul O'Neill, Jon Oliva, John Middleton, Chris Caffery and Zak Stevens.Certainly this is extremely well done and well played and if you are into Christmas songs and Progressive Rock I don't know how you can't be impressed.

Latest members reviews

3 stars It's bad enough hearing the same Christmas songs non-stop on the radio between the 1st and 25th of December. What's even worse is that in this day and age of commercialism, most supermarkets (in the UK, at least), start playing these songs over the radio as early as the first week of November! S ... (read more)

Report this review (#1787588) | Posted by martindavey87 | Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Let me first remind you about this date and the readers should ask themselves if I had bothered even putting this CD in my CD player if this was a hot day in July. The answer is probably no. This is the debut album from this very succesful US band. A band with at least three Christmas albums ... (read more)

Report this review (#595879) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, December 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An Angel came down, and operatic Christmas orchestra metal was born! The album starts off powerfully with the moving An Angel Came down, and wraps you around its ability to meld original song ideas with classic Christmas tunes. Now, this isn't progression in the standard sense, but their uncann ... (read more)

Report this review (#213030) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For a while I wasn't sure where to place TSO on the progressive map, but with more careful listening I decided they were indeed a good fit for Crossover. There are plenty of progressive elements to go around and quality musicianship, as well as with this band the unavoidable and inevitable tendenc ... (read more)

Report this review (#160116) | Posted by Draith | Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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