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Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Night Castle CD (album) cover


Trans-Siberian Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.08 | 41 ratings

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2 stars Night Castle by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

A sound that was exciting almost twenty years ago despite any sense of subtlety is now officially old hat enough to be dull. The aspects that made TSO so interesting in the 90s, their ability to rock out the classics in the context of a story or two is all but gone. What we get is an endless series of plodding power ballads and triteness intermixed with classic pieces usually played delicately but which also have no real place in the story. Whatever that story may. I can't tell what it is about. At least with their first two albums, Christmas Eve and Other Stories along with Beethoven's Last Night, the classical interludes fit in and enhanced the stories being told. And even though this is not a Christmas album, it might as well be with all its references to childhood and "this night." The story seems quite a bit darker than their usual holiday fare, but then their other albums are not exactly full of light brightness. A Christmas story can be dark. I am reading the second Christmas novella written by Charles Dickens called The Chimes, and it is very dark indeed. Yet it is also effective, something which Night Castle is not. The biggest problem is the sheer size of the release. At two solid hours, it is at least one hour too long, perhaps an hour and a half. There are some good pieces here and not all are the classical interludes. The presence of bonus tracks also presents some problems. If these come on the release they are not bonuses. They are, however, tracks that are not part of the story, so I guess they had to be called something. That one of them is a version of Nutrocker, only confuses the issue. Eliminating these five would give a halfway decent album which could have easily fit on one disc even if it would be far from their best. It would have been better to use these five recordings on a further release, but then that would not be telling a story. To be honest, that should not present a problem since their story telling is obscure and scattered at best. A solid half hour of good tunes could be extracted from this but none of them will be anything new for TSO; they just demonstrate what the band does best. The production is lavish and quite good, with good performances all around. But good production without good material does not a good album make. This is not a good album, especially given that several of the better tracks are the bonuses and these are rocked-out classics. Long passages go by which sound more like a group of hired singers and symphonies than a band production. Now, that has always been a distinctive characteristic of TSO, but at least on earlier releases there was a band squarely in the middle of all that. Here, they are just one part of the proceedings, and usually the best parts. This is an album that presents all that can and has gone wrong with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and almost none of what they do best. Some of it deserves to be heard, but one has to trudge through endless dreary corridors of the night castle to find them. When found, they offer relief from the drudgery but are really not the jewels one would hope for.

Progosopher | 2/5 |


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