Night Castle (2CD)
This latest rock opera from TSO has taken 18 months to see a release here but it’s been well worth the wait. This project are huge in the USA and are the brainchild of producer / songwriter / guitarist Paul O’Neil, who put it together with guitarists Jon Oliva and Al Pitrelli (ex Megadeth, Alice Cooper) during his tenure with Savatage.
And this truly is a rock opera, with a huge family of guitarists, singers, 20 backing vocalists, strings, the complete works. And in operatic style, each lead singer takes on a role on the story / concept (which, along with the lyrics, is laid out in the huge 60 page booklet). The guitar work ranges from the sweeping shred that leans on neo-classical to chunky riff led metal that hints at power metal; check out the intro to ‘Mountain’, which also borrows from ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ (a heavy metal piece from the classical genre if there ever was one). Similarly, the keyboards range from operatic to searing to intricate. The vocals are strong too, with Jeff Scott Soto providing lead on several tracks. The music too ranges from piano led ballad to all out guns blazing orchestrated progressive power metal.
The concept is long and it’s worth reading the booklet, and it centres on a child’s innocence, and bravery that comes from that, as well as good vs evil internal battle that the main protagonist goes through, who ends up building a castle on the sand at night to explain the battle and conflict to the child.
Music, like the concept, is enjoyably overblown without being too much. And the bonus tracks are so called because they are in addition to the actual concept ; these include a cover of ‘Nutrocker’, featuring ELP bassist Greg Lake.
A thoroughly enjoyable set, and a new standard in packing and concept too. And if you think this is overblown, the stage show is something else.
Joe Geesin (www.joegeesin.com)