Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Winter music: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Unbelievable pianists, astounding strings, amazing drums and powerful vocals. Many, if not all, of these thoughts cross one’s mind when the words Trans-Siberian Orchestra are muttered.

Although these are all things that have come to be expected of the holiday touring ensemble, in their newest album release, Night Castle, it is all they offer. Instead of offering a new dose of creativity, the orchestra is choosing to bank on what people have come to love.

While the talent of the musicians is apparent from the extraordinary breath support to the funky rhythm and blues piano parts on “The Nutcracker,” the album comes across as rather melodramatic and melancholy. It doesn’t help that many people immediately pair the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with holiday-themed music, which enhances feelings of melancholy. And on Night Castle, the group creates something reminiscent of a musical, but they are trying too hard.

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The 26-song album spans two CDs and includes a 68-page booklet with a story that follows the tale of a lieutenant, his daughter, a creepy guy on a beach, an enemy army commander and the quest to righteousness. After reading the booklet, one could think of the album as a could-be Tenacious D song gone horribly wrong. It is evident the creative minds behind this album put too much time and effort into creating a full-fledged saga than putting together an amazing album from an outstanding group.

The worst part is that if one truly desires to understand the story being told, they must read the story that accompanies the CD or the downloadable version from the official Night Castle website. It is practically impossible to follow the narrative without it. If the group wanted to create a musical-esque album, they should have focused more on that. As it stands, the album drags and many of the songs could be cut.

The album starts strong with “Night Enchanted,” but becomes incredibly repetitive in “Childhood Dreams,” and doesn’t have a female solo until the 18th song. The voice of the enemy commander is raspy and purposefully mean, and makes his character come across as a bit stereotypical.

There is an underlying love story thrust into the mix as well, but it flounders under the weight of the confusing narrative. Not only that, but the vocals paired with the themes seem reminiscent of the vampire musical from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” instead of a legitimate performance.

Overall, the album is a jumbled mess that ranges from amazing to provoking suicidal thoughts from boredom. Sometimes too much is simply too much, and with Night Castle, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tried to accomplish too many things.

2 stars out of 5.

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