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

NIGHT CASTLE

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.04 | 28 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

terryl
3 stars This year we are graced by reunion of Transatlantic and the release of TSO's new album. Both are long, long overdue and fans have high expectation. In the case of TSO, the band has claimed at some points during the 7 year hiatus (sorry I'm not the US and any of their thousand of christmas tours is irrelevent to me) that the album was delayed due to some sort of perfectionism of the band's masterminds.

Well, production-wise this album is as perfect as can be; the mixes are crisp and the three fold digipak seems good. Two bad things about the packaging are that the cover art looks really ugly, and the CD falls off the left slot far too often.

Composition-wise, Night Castle seems to suffer a creative block. The story is great (but with some flaws), but the music doesn't seem to wander very far. Only a few moments in the two disks promise brilliance such as the Child of the Night section in the first track "Night Enchanted" which is so haunting and reprises nicely near the end. The rest is too repetitive and many of the songs seem to drag on to oblivion. Another thing I don't get in this album is, the drive for O' Neil and Oliva to resurrect Savatage pieces. "The Mountain" is a Hollywood-ish remake version of Prelude to Madeness in Hall of the Mountain King. This "new" version suffers the untimely death of Cris Oliva and it is a note-for-note reproduction of the original version, but the speed is reduced for some reasons. There are a few more examples of this, but I just don't want to go back and listen to it too much. In short, musically it's not progressive.

Now the story. this young soldier comes across and mystic island and Dumbledore-like character who gives him a gift. He then goes on to fight the war in Cambodia and is captured and eventually dies. However, whilst in captive he writes some lullabies for his newborn daughter in the US, floats them in the bottles to the river. In the investigation he tells his life story and the strange encounter to a communist general and in the process turns this man to see the evil side of the war. This general, finally gathers the bottled messages and goes to the USA to deliver them to the US soldier's daughter, then he leaves to find the enchanted island. Long story, eh? Here comes a sad truth; there is no focus in the story! In Classical Drama class one learn to pay respect to the classical unities (time, place, and action). Beethoven's last night achieved this, but Nightcastle seems to lose track of this, and therefore does not make much sense as a thetrical piece. The writer might have rather than followed Hollywood movie structure in mind. The communist general may seem the most well-rounded character but sadly too little research has been conducted into the cultural beliefs of Cambodian (well, not all Asians are Chinese, and Confucianism is practically inherent with Chinese). There is also a cold-war stereotype that all communist is evil.

I can't give this as much credit as Beethoven's Last Night, which was truly amazing and has a wonderful mix of vocalists, thanks for the amazing vocalists who contributed to that album, which makes it a good 'rock-opera' piece. If you want to explore TSO, go for Beethoven's Last Night instead. This CDs are good, but not essential.

terryl | 3/5 |

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