Night Castle, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I believe I mentioned that I had pre-ordered – on CD, no less – the new release from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  It is a 2-disk rock opera called Night Castle.  TSO is best known for its Christmas-themed rock operas.  You know that commercial with the house and the holiday lights that rock out to music?  That was TSO.  You know that rock version of “Carol of the Bells”?  That was actually in an earlier rock opera called Dead Winter Dead.  I believe the song was called “Sarajevo 12/24”, but anyway, that was them, too.  Although now that I am thinking about it, that might have been Savatage, Paul O’Neill’s other band. 

Whatever.  You know what I am talking about and I am too lazy to check my iTunes right now.

So.  Night Castle.  Just before I started writing, I remembered that I hadn’t finished reading the liner notes yet.  They contain the narrative of the story, in addition to the lyrics.  Then I decided that the music should stand on its own merits.  As if I really know anything about music.  A good story?  I know something about that.  Good music?  Not so much.

What has attracted me to TSO has been that they take old, familiar classical tunes and turn them into hard rock so that we hear it in a whole new way.  So I guess what they do is more “arranging” than “composing” but I sure don’t care.  And I don’t think Beethoven minds, either.  In fact, I am pretty sure that Beethoven would appreciate the new audience.

The instrumental arrangements were great, as usual.  I thought the vocals were rather hit-or-miss, though. 
And also, something about this piece sounded a bit…recycled.  TSO absolutely recycles its own stuff, and that’s ok.  In fact, I am pretty sure “Sarajevo 12/24” is on one of the Christmas albums.  But I still felt like I have heard it all before, particularly with some of the cheesier lyrics.  “You are the star that is wished upon” is a good example.  I clicked into the reviews at Amazon.com to find out if I am all jaded or insane or just plain wrong.  Instead, there was some validation.

Bottom line:  not bad.  But not Beethoven’s Last Night, either.

I should go finish reading the narrative now.

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