When Savatage decided to become TSO in 1996 they decided to make the Dead Winter Dead be their inspiration for their music going forward. They would focus on a combination of Christmas themed music and their classical metal style they used in Savatage. This combination would come to be when TSO debuted in 1996 with the Christmas Eve and Other Stories albums.
Musically, they deliver big time on this record. This album has some of the best instrumental songs I have heard in a while. From the heavy hitting Christmas Eve Sarajevo, to the classical rock combo of O Come All Ye Faithful, this album is full of amazing instrumentals. The vocal songs are amazing as well. You have great classical voices on songs such as An Angel Came Down. Then you got more bluesy style vocals on songs like Good King Joy and This Christmas Day. The music on the vocal songs is nothing to overlook as well. The guitar solo in This Christmas Day is a great melodic solo that helps give that powerful feel to the song. The same thing can be said about An Angel Returned, the melodic solo helps drive that Christmas Spirit the song is going for.
Lyrically, this album is all Christmas themed, like the music. What makes the Christmas theme work so well lyrically is how the band makes every song with lyrics in it a story. For example, Good King Joy does a great job of sing about the Nativity. When you listen to that song you hear a great blues take on the journey of the wise men and the birth of Jesus Christ. Another example would be This Christmas Day. This song is about a families daughter returning home on Christmas Day and them celebrating Christmas joyfully when she returns. With each set of lyrics telling a great Christmas story, you are in for a series of very compelling lyrics.
Christmas Eve and Other Stories is not just a great Christmas album, but a great rock album as well. It is one of the few albums I have seen that successfully reaches both the rock crowd and the non rock crowd. If you are a metal head or rocker you need to buy this record. If you are looking for good quality Christmas music you need to buy this record. While the album is available on ITunes, I recommend getting a physical copy of this record. The album artwork is amazing and seeing how many people contributed to it in the booklet is memorable. If you see it in a record store in a CD section don't hesitate, buy it!!