Trans-Siberian Orchestra was founded in 1996 by the three brains - Paul O’Neill (producer, guitarist, author of stories), Robert Kinkel (co-producer, keyboardist) and Jon Oliva (keyboardist; Savatage, Doctor Butcher). The year 2009 brought us not only a new logo of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but, what most important, their fifth full-length studio album „Night Castle“.
The band are 18 members, e.g. the aforementioned three, Al Pitrelli (Savatage, Megadeth, Asia, Widowmaker, Dee Snider), Chris Caffery (Savatage, Metalium, John West, Doctor Butcher, Circle II Circle, Eidolon), Johnny Lee Middleton (Savatage), Anna Phoebe (Jethro Tull), Jeff Plate (Savatage, Metal Church), Alex Skolnick (Testament, Savatage), Jane Mangini (Van Helsing’s Curse) and so forth. But this is not all. There are additionally 7 lead vocalists (e.g. Jeff Scott Soto), 2 guide singers, 9 strings’ players, 29 backup vocalists, 4-member gospel choir, 7 additional instrumentalists, 4 Vietnamese dialogue performers, The American Boychoir and the special guest - a legendary bassist Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame! A very cool counting-out rhyme! Yes, Trans-Siberian Orchestra act like a music corporation with their legal representation, accountants and A&R professional. This is a huge artistic and commercial venture. They are very popular in the USA selling million copies of their releases.
We got not only a refreshed logo, but, first and foremost, the 2-disc studio album with 26 tracks and a 68-page full color illustrated storybook! There’s a lot to read and listen to! The story tell about such figures like Cassandra and Erasmus among others. But you have to become absorbed in the storybook to comprehend the whole message in lyrics. Musically, there are all sorts of tracks - soothing and calm tunes, rockers („Sparks“) as well as metal tornados („Another Way Tou Can Die“, „Toccata - Carpimus Noctem“). It doesn’t matter if you listen to a vocal or instrumental composition, muffling track or sleepy lullaby or harder piece of music, Trans-Siberian Orchestra ensure us top-notch technical performance in every detail. The most characteristic features of their music are fairylike atmosphere, mysteriously performed vocal parts, feeling of uncertainty, a kind of suspense and moving moments. It’s necessary to write that it is a guitar-oriented material which is vocally and instrumentally sophisticated. Obviously, they make many references to their inspirers, e.g. „Sparks“ and „Moonlight and Madness“ were originally recorded by Slowburn, „Believe“ is Savatage’s track recorded for the rock opera „Streets“ based on the musical „Gutter Ballet“, „O Fortuna“ by Carl Orff comes from „Carmina Burana“ and „Nutrocker“ was originally produced by Kim Fowley and played by the instrumental ensemble B. Bumble and the Stingers. The latter one is a reference to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet called „The Nutcracker“. B. Bumble and the Stingers’ version was a great hit in 1962 and gained the 23th position in the US chart and the 1st one in the UK. Greg Lake plays on „Nutrocker“ with a great mastery. Moreover, there are many references to other giants like Giuseppe Verdi, Edvard Hagerup Grieg, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Joseph Silverstein and Leo Delibes.
Summing up, it is undoubtedly another orchestral opus in the band’s discography which delivers a kind of neoclassical rock musical with the greatest form of virtuosity! Much more than highly recommended! A real gem!