Trans-Siberian Orchestra -
Night Castle

(CD 2009, 63:17/58:24, Atlantic Records)

The tracks:
  1- Night Enchanted(5:46)
  2- Childhood Dreams(4:26)
  3- Sparks(6:00)
  4- The Mountain(4:53)
  5- Night Castle(3:58)
  6- The Safest Way Into Tomorrow(4:37)
  7- Mozart And Memories(5:16)
  8- Another Way You Can Die(3:55)
  9- Toccata(4:02)
10- The Lion's Roar(4:36)
11- Dreams We Conceive(5:13)
12- Mother And Son(0:41)
13- There Was A Life(9:35)
  1- Moonlight And Madness(5:05)
  2- Time Floats On(3:38)
  3- Epiphany(10:58)
  4- Beach Lullaby(0:50)
  5- Father, Son & The Holy Ghost(6:48)
  6- Remnants Of A Lullaby(3:10)
  7- The Safest Way Into Tomorrow (reprise)(1:43)
  8- Embers(3:53)
  9- Child Of The Light(3:29)
10- Believe(6:13)
11- Nutcracker(4:07)
12- Carmina Burana(2:44)
13- Tracers(5:48)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Website     samples    Atlantic Records

Finally, here is the new album of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and this time it has not become a Christmas-album. For people who are not familiar with TSO, I’ll give some information first. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a project of Paul O’Neill and Jon Oliva (Savatage, Jon Oliva’s Pain) making symphonic rock music mostly about Christmas, but they also made an album about Ludwig von Beethoven. Night Castle is their fifth effort, a double album this time.

The music doesn’t reach the lofty heights of the previous albums. Although I still think that this is a great symphonic rock album with many musical highlights to enjoy. At least you know what to expect from TSO, namely very theatrical music packed within a nice story, fantastic epics and several amazing instrumentals. Let’s start with those as these instrumentals belong to my personal favourites. The Mountain for instance, consists of awesome instrumental adaptations of classical pieces. Mozart And Memories - which sounds like Mozart And Madness from the Savatage-album Dead Winter Dead - features many strings while Moonlight And Madness contains many nice piano passages. Toccata is another great heavy guitar-based instrumental song.

The best vocal tracks are without doubt Childhood Dreams and The Lion’s Roar. In these songs, the story of Night Castle really comes to life. Unfortunately, there are too many redundant bonus tracks on this album. Believe, for instance, is a classic Savatage-song from their super album Streets, but the version on this album is less interesting. They’d better skip album fillers like Nutcracker and Carmina Burana, which is a shame actually, because the album is very good until the song Child Of The Light starts. Conclusion: Night Castle is definitely not TSO’s best album, but if you like their previous albums, there’s enough to enjoy.

***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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