Early last month, power prog band The Wizards of Winter released its latest full-length studio recording The Magic of Winter. The album, the band’s second is a fittingly titled offering from the band, which includes former members of fellow power prog rock act Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO). That is because the ten-track, forty-plus minute recording. That is because from beginning to end it is an album that casts its own magical spell, especially in a year when TSO’s latest release is a non-holiday recording. That is not a stab at TSO by any means just to let audiences know. This critic is a major TSO fan and has nothing but the utmost respect for the veteran prog rock act. What is meant to say here is that being that TSO is known more for its holiday offerings than its non-holiday records, the release of a new non-holiday recording (and a truly impressive one at that) this year left the door wide open for another act to pick up the slack. Enter The Wizards of Winter, which itself takes its name from TSO’s ‘Wizards in Winter.’ The Magic of Winter casts a spell on listeners that is just as powerful as any cast by TSO in its current catalogue. The main reason for this is the album’s lyrical content. That will be discussed shortly. The musical content is just as important to the whole of this record as its lyrical content. It will be discussed later. Last of note in regards to the album’s presentation is its sequencing. This plays right back into the album’s lyrical content and brings everything full circle. Each element plays its own important part in the whole of The Magic of Winter. Collectively they make The Magic of Winter a truly magic record for both fans of TSO and for audiences in general.
The Magic of Winter, is a fittingly titled new effort from The Wizards of Winter. The band’s second full-length studio recording, it is such a fittingly titled recording from the ban because in examining each of its many elements, it is a record that casts its own magical spell on listeners. That spell is created in part by the album’s lyrical content. Audiences will note that the band is made up largely of former members of TSO. Now having that knowledge and the knowledge of TSO’s albums being concept records, one would expect the overall lyrical presentation of The Magic of Winter to be interconnected as with TSO’s albums. And it is. but it is only to a point. Lyrically speaking it is more akin to TSO’s 1996 debut album Christmas Eve and Other Stories than the later releases in the band’s “Christmas Trilogy.” That is because it doesn’t necessarily follow one distinct story line. It takes listeners on a musical journey around the world, presenting what winter and the holiday season means to different people. So there is one underlying thread between each of the album’s songs. However, the story (if one wants to call it that) is not necessarily a story in the traditional sense of the term when it comes to concept albums. Even with that taken into consideration the lyrical content presented in each of the album’s songs is still entertaining and moving from beginning to end. ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ is a good example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. The song is sung from the wide-eyed vantage point of someone that obviously loves the holiday season quite a bit. That is obvious as the vocalist sings, “Every year I get this feeling coming over me/Is it just the change of season/What else can it be/What’s this spell that grabs us/Did you ever wonder/Is it dream or fantasy or something in-between.” He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “When you see it all around you/Like the snow that fills the air/Open up to all the magic/Christmas spirit everywhere/Let the spirit work its magic/Fill your heart with love and cheer/Can you feel it all around you/Christmas spirit everywhere.” The delivery of these lines gives them so much power. By comparison, ‘I Am Here’ presents its own happy story in which a female lead sings happily on Christmas Eve of dreaming of her beloved. It is a similar musical story. But it is not necessarily any relation to ‘The Spirit of Christmas.’ It is really its own story. There is even a musical presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol presented here. It stands completely on its own two feet yet still boasts the same themes presented in the album’s other full songs (those with musical and lyrical content–That, too will be discussed later). All three songs show in their own way how the songs presented in The Magic of Winter connect to one another without actually being part of one bigger story that requires listeners’ devoted attention. The other seven songs that make up the remainder of the album’s body show this just as much. Collectively, all ten songs show clearly why The Magic of Winter’s lyrical content is such an important part of its whole. They are just a portion of what makes this album such a standout collection of songs for The Wizards of Winter. The album’s musical content is just as important to note as its lyrical content in its whole.
The lyrical content presented throughout The Magic of Winter is a key element to note in examining this latest full-length studio effort from The Wizards of Winter. That is because in examining the songs that boast lyrical and musical content, the picture painted by those songs is one of an album that is a concept album but isn’t one at the same time. The songs carry a similar underlying theme that could connect them together for one story. But that connection proves in the end to not be strong enough to call the album a traditional concept album yet strong enough to keep listeners engaged regardless from beginning to end. While the album’s lyrical content proves to be unquestionably important to its overall presentation, it is just one part of what makes the album’s presentation solid. The album’s musical content is just as important to note as its lyrical content. In regards to the album’s musical content, it should come as no surprise that said content bears a striking resemblance to that of TSO. That is because the band’s lineup includes a number of former members of said power prog band. This is obvious in the hugely symphonic approach to ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ with its horns, guitars, bombastic drumming and equally powerful vocals. ‘Flight of the Snow Angels,’ which opens the album, can also be cited as an example of that similarity between the musical styling of The Wizards of Winter and TSO. The driving string and horn arrangements that open the song instantly conjure thoughts of TSO. That is because together they sound quite a bit like a certain TSO song. The song’s multiple guitar approach adds even more to that similarity. ‘With One Voice,’ the album’s penultimate composition is one more example of the importance of this album’s musical content to the album’s presentation. The song is essentially a re-working of ‘Hark The Herald, Angels Sing.’ Yet it is anything but a cookie cutter rendition of the song. It hasn’t been re-imagined and re-worked per se. But the overall musical delivery of the song is quite different from the original composition. And in hearing this, listeners will agree that it is one of the single strongest examples of the importance of the album’s musical content if not its single most important example. Together with the album’s lyrical content (in the songs that contain both music and lyrics), both elements do plenty to make this record worth more than just one listen. Of course as much of an impact as they have both by themselves and collectively they are still not all that makes this record worth hearing. The album’s sequencing is just as important to the whole of the album’s presentation as its musical and lyrical content.
Both the musical and lyrical content displayed throughout the course of The Magic of Winter are equally important to the album’s overall presentation. They paint a picture that in whole will impress both TSO fans and audiences in general. As important as both elements are to the whole of this record they are but a portion of what makes its presentation so interesting. The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation. From start to finish the album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch on it. From the album’s upbeat opener to the more reserved vibe of ‘Winter Magic’ and beyond the album’s energy rises and falls at all of the right spots. The end result of those well-placed ups and downs is an emotional impact that ensures listeners’ engagement from beginning to end. Together with the album’s equally enjoyable musical and lyrical content, the overall presentation of The Magic of Winter will cast a special magical, musical spell on every listener.
The Magic of Winter, the second full-length studio offering from The Wizards of Winter, is a wonderful addition to any family’s home music library this and any holiday season. That is because whether one is a long-time TSO fan or just a lover of holiday music, this record will cast its own special, magical spell on any listener. That is thanks in large part to the combination of the album’s musical and lyrical content. The smart sequencing of that content creates an album that will ensure listeners’ engagement from beginning to end of the album’s forty-minute plus run time. The end result of that engagement is agreement by listeners that this album is its own wonderful, magical treat for every family. It is available now in stores and online. The band is currently touring in support of The Magic of Winter and will be in Collingswood, NJ tonight and Easton, PA on December 5th. More information on The Magic of Winter is available online now along with the band’s latest news and tour dates at:
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Really thorough and interesting review! One slight correction though: The band is not largely made up of former TSO members. Lead vocalist Guy LeMonnier (feautured most prominently on “The Spirit of Christmas”) and tour narrator Tony Gaynor are the Wizards that are former TSO. But other than that, I really enjoyed this review!
Thank you very much for that info. The way that the background was originally written, it made it seem like it was largely former TSO members. I did so much research but couldn’t find much. I’ve made the edit to my review. I really appreciate that help 🙂