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Night Castle -Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Album Reviewed.

I bought it two weeks ago, but did not give it a fair listen.

The reason: I have had a bad virus messing with my intestinal system that has kept me sick all week.

It took me 5 days and some drugs before I was back on my feet, before which my main priorities were sleeping and getting to the restroom on-time (by on time, I mean every 45 minutes day AND night).

Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) has writers and musicians known for their virtuosity. Any rock fan who wants to hear some truly great material can listen to their earlier work with Savatage, a band in which all the members of the past ten years are involved in TSO.

Savatage released some great material. You could listen to all their albums back to back and not get bored. In fact, it was Savatage that released Sarajevo/Christmas Eve on their Dead Winter Dead album, and that was the metal-influenced Carol of the Bells that I looked forward to hearing every year on the radio when Christmas came around.

TSO’s last album, however, had been released in 2004, and while their touring has been the successful break that all ex-Savatage members needed and deserved, there hadn’t been a new album since then.

Well now TSO has released Night Castle, a 26 song opus that includes a digital booklet (if you buy online) that not only has the lyrics, but also a story that connects each of the lyrics together into an encompassing story. Producer Paul O’Neil is to thank for this creation, and it explains the point of view each song is sung from as well as the journey each character is making. I personally recommend itunes this time for the download, as they priced it fairly at $9.99, almost reasonable for 26 songs.

But are they any good?

The first song, Night Enchanted, contains a lack of any real hook, but rather acts as an opener for the whole opus. It seemed to lack the “oomph” that I am used to hearing on a Savatage/TSO recording. I am sure the live version is spectacular though, and it would rock to see TSO perform this all the way through.

Song # 2 – Childhood Dreams. A much better song. It is slow, and gradually builds up in power over time. You WILL find yourself with the melody stuck in your head. The only thing that almost made me cringe was the inane repetition of “Childhood, childhood…..” 10 times in a row in two places (don’t worry, that part will end soon).

Song # 3 Sparks – THIS is a song. It has the chugging guitar riffs that get you into a groove. This is a song about love, unexpected and necessary. The singer, Tim Hockenberry, guides us with his Tom-Waits-style vocals, yet retaining the catchiness needed for the casual listener. He does this with Believe as well, but if you really want to hear that song correctly, I recommend clicking here for Jon Oliva’s version that he did when he wrote the song originally in Savatage.

Some great classical tunes get their TSO magic worked on them as well: The Mountain (Hall of the Mountain King), Carmina Burana, Mozart and Memories, Nutrocker (you guessed it, a rock version of Nutcracker), Bach Lullaby, Toccata- Carpimus Noctem. All great tunes. Though I will add that Savatage did The Mountain and Mozart and Memories as well, and the Savatage version of Mountain is better.

Basically, there is enough new songs for both classical music fans, and for fans of rock/metal. Fans of Savatage might not like some of the newer versions of the older songs, but there is enough new material to justify getting the album.

Favorite two songs from the album: The Safest Way Into Tomorrow, and Epiphany.

I for one am glad to see something new from the TSO camp, and it is my hope that this album gets appreciation for what it is: proof that classical music can also be commercially accessible and fun for all to listen to.

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November 7, 2009 - Posted by | Posts About Artists | , ,

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