Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Night Castle
Style: Progressive Rock
Release date: 18 February, 2011
Playing time: 129:54

There are moments here when you’re tempted to say Savatage never went away. But this is Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who are virtually a music genre by themselves. Following “Beethoven’s Last Night” (2010), TSO have now come up with another stunning release in the form of “Night Castle”. Once again, the album is a conceptual Rock Opera with a wide range of emotional and musical moods that change in line with the story’s development.

I won’t reveal much about the album’s concept, except to say that it concerns a touching story of loss, despair and redemption - where destinies are changed forever through a combination of serendipity and self-belief. The plot isn’t linear and predictable either and contains a number of twists.

As has become the norm with TSO albums, several musicians here get to showcase their talents. Besides Paul O’Neill – TSO’s main mentor – at the core of this marvellous musical adventure are other ex-Savatage members, namely guitarists Al Pirelli and Chris Caffery, bassist Johnny Lee Middleton, drummer Jeff Plate and none other than Jon Oliva on vocals. With them are vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Axel Rudi Pell) and guitarist Alex Skolnick (Testament) besides a long list of other musicians normally active beyond the sphere of Metal.

I feel that “Night Castle” would be better appreciated after having read the sleeve notes where the plot development is described in greater detail. But whichever approach one takes, the album is an absolute joy to listen to. The guitar solos in ‘Epiphany’, the incredibly emotional trumpet solo introducing ‘The Lion’s Roar’, the gorgeous ‘Carpimus Noctem’ (if Bach might have composed music for Iron Maiden, it would probably have sounded like this)…..“Night Castle” is an ensemble of well-executed songs bursting with imagination and vitality.

The album is over 2 hours long and is spread over 2 discs. The second CD contains live versions of 2 songs appearing on this same album. They really don’t add anything worthwhile to the album and I would have left them out entirely. That’s more of an observation than a complaint. And although I felt that “Beethoven’s…..” was marginally better, “Night Castle” is doubtlessly the fruit of a monumental collective effort.

Sure enough, “Night Castle” doesn’t so much take the listener on a musical journey as much as it drags you into a whole new world out of which you cannot emerge unaffected. A release that warrants your immediate purchase!


Disc 1
01. Night Enchanted
02. Childhood Dreams
03. Sparks
04. The Mountain
05. Night Castle
06. The Safest Way Into Tomorrow
07. Mozart and Memories
08. Another Way You Can Die
09. Toccata - Carpimus Noctem
10. The Lion’s Roar
11. Dreams We Conceive
12. Mother and Son
13. There Was a Life

Disc 2
01. Moonlight and Madness
02. Time Floats On
03. Epiphany
04. Bach Lullaby
05. Father, Son & Holy Ghost
06. Remnants of a Lullaby
07. The Safest Way Into Tomorrow (Reprise)
08. Embers
09. Child of the Night
10. Believe
11. Nutrocker
12. Carmina Burana
13. Tracers
14. Requiem (Live 2010)
15. Toccata - Carpimus Noctem (Live)

Label: BMG
Promotion: CMM GmbH
Reviewed by: Chris Galea
Date: 1 April, 2011