“Christmas Eve & Other Stories” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Artist: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Title: “Christmas Eve & Other Stories”
Label: Lava Records
Release Date: 10/15/1996
Genre: Holiday Rock
Rating: 9/10

Let’s get this clear from the beginning. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra comes from Savatage and oddly enough there are still some people who are not aware of this as the origin point of the group. The signature piece of this Metal Ensemble entitled “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” first appeared on the Savatage CD “Dead Winter Dead”. The tune stood out on the CD back then and also received a large amount of airplay on stations that would never play the music of Savatage in the first place. The music of 1996 was very steeped in the “alternative” movement and hard rock music was seldom heard and looked to die a quiet death. Clearly this track would prove another road could be taken with heavy music.
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“Ashes” by Tristania

Artist: Tristania
Title: “Ashes”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 2/1/2005
Genre: Gothic Metal
Rating: 7/10

While I felt much of this CD was enjoyable, I found there were some weird moments in which I had trouble defining the sound I was hearing. It kicks off right away with the guttural growls of Kjetil Ingebrethsen. He is accompanied by the almost angelic voiced Vibeke Stene. I found it unique that three singers are present in this group from Norway as usually in a group like this you will have both a male and female singer. One sees this most often in bands like Nightwish and Lacuna Coil. However, in the case of Tristania you cannot compare them to either of those bands. Tristania is unique in its direction as more of the Gothic style, than that of straight ahead power metal. I felt this group had the most in common with Epica from the Netherlands.
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“Stages” (remastered) by Triumph

Artist: Triumph
Title: “Stages” – Remastered
Label: TML Entertainment
Release Date: 10/2004 (1985)
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

There is nothing like a good live album when it comes to big arena-level rock. Triumph were specialists in the field of concert performance and this remaster of their 1985 Concert piece entitled “Stages” is a testament to that fact. The CD was originally recorded over the course of several of the bands tours, so the fact that is crosses many years in their career makes it all that much more interesting to listen to. Like all live albums of the time, this particular one did not skimp on including all of the classic numbers. The radio hits as well as the fan favorites are all here to listen to in a fresh and cleaner production.
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“Death Cult Armageddon” by Dimmu Borgir

Artist: Dimmu Borgir
Title: “Death Cult Armageddon”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 9/9/2003
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Rating: 8/10

It was at the suggestion of some Friends who tread the path of much darker and heavier metal than I normally listen to that I decided to find some music by Dimmu Borgir. Dimmu, who hail from the Nordic Lands are currently considered the Kings Of Black Metal and for good reason. I will admit to you all that the Black Metal genre has escaped my notice until I played this CD. I instantly became a fan of this group, and hoped I would get to see them perform in a live situation soon. It was late December last year that I was able to sate this urge at a L’Amour appearance and they were brutal when experienced in person. The band is fronted by Shagrath (vocals), and rounded out by Silenoz (guitars), Galder (also known for his work with Old Man’s Child on lead guitar), Mustis (keyboards), Vortex (bass guitar and clean vocals) & Nick Barker (drums).
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“Bananas” by Deep Purple

Artist: Deep Purple
Title: “Bananas”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 10/07/2003
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7.75/10

Proving that time does not stand still for no band, Veteran rockers Deep Purple have returned with a new recording entitled “Bananas”. The group has also proven that even after all the years that have gone by that they can still deliver solid rock and roll that any age can enjoy. The lineup for the group is Ian Gillen (vox), Ian Paice (drums) and Roger Glover (bass) from the original Purple lineup as well as Don Airey and Steve Morse. Don has stepped in for the now retired John Lord while Steve has been in filling the space left by Richie Blackmore for a couple of years on the guitar. While I am a die hard Blackmore fan, there was probably no wiser choice than Mr. Morse. His stellar years of creativity in the progressive Dixie Dregs has shown he is more than capable of filling Richie’s shoes.
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