Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

Jeff Scott Soto has become well known for his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra especially with the annual Christmas Tours as Soto can usually be found on the West Coast group for that annual tradition. But for Jeff, it all started back in 2007 when his name was brought up to Paul O’Neil as a possible singer. As things would have it, Paul loved Jeff and he was brought on to play a role in TSO’s next album, 2009’s ‘Night Castle’. The album was released on October 28, 2009 and actually went platinum. Normally that means it sold over 1,000,000 copies, however, it was a double CD set so it only needed to sell 500,000 copies which it did. The album went to #5 on the Billboard 200 Album chart as well as #1 on the Top Hard Rock Albums Chart.

‘Night Castle’ is a Rock Opera or you could even call it Rock Theatre. It is a concept album where the story revolves around a young child on a beach late at night, where she encounters a mysterious but non-threatening stranger. While they build a sandcastle together by the light of a bonfire, he tells her a tale that takes her all around the world and throughout history. The characters of this story include an American Vietnam War soldier named William Cozier, the Renaissance era philosopher Erasmus who is keeper of the eponymous castle of lost knowledge, and a Communist general based on the dissident Tran Do. There is a beautiful 60 page book included that tells the story along with the lyrics of each song (each song that has vocals). It is an intriguing little story, but there is so much more that is in the story in the book than I can garner from the music.

The album is almost 2 hours long and is something you really need to be in the mood to actually enjoy it. Or you actually need to enjoy Rock Operas. Which I do not. This is a hard one for me to review as I do not enjoy Opera or anything sung like opera and this album is full of that overly dramatic singing style associated with Opera and/or Broadway. It was very painful to get through it and for the most part, I didn’t enjoy it at all. So why do I have it? Easy, Jeff Scott Soto. He sings 5 songs on the album which is more than any of the other 6 singers who only have 1 to 2 songs a piece. I felt as a Soto fan, I needed it in my collection. Well, it is in my collection and probably needs a protective cover as it is going to collect a lot of dust from not being used…ever!!

Let’s talk about the album a little. We are going to discuss every song as there are 26 songs and we would be here forever and I would be in misery as I said already, I didn’t enjoy this album. But there are some cool tings on here. If you are a fan of TSO, you know the massive connections with the band Savatage as at least 3 of the members of TSO are also from Savatage. And to make that crossover even more so, there are several songs on here that are taken from Savatage. First up is the instrumental “The Mountain” which is actually Savatage’s “Prelude to Madness” off their album ‘Hall of the Mountain King’. There is also “Mozart and Memories” which is actually a re-working of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 and Savatage’s “Mozart and Madness” from the album ‘Dead Winter Dead”. Part of the song “The Lion’s Roar” is taken from “Temptation Revelation” off the Savatage album ‘Guitar Ballet’.

Most of All the instrumentals are based off very famous classical music artists such as Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, Bach and even Tchaikovsky. And for me, the instrumentals are the best part. The classical and metal elements mixed together make for some great music and I can sit back and take it all in. The singing I find annoying. Instrumentals, awesome! Now, if this was Phantom of the Opera, I might enjoy the singing, but it isn’t and I don’t.

What about Jeff’s songs since this is the Jeff Scott Soto Series. Well, he does five songs and first is the title track “Night Castle” and Jeff sounds fine, but it is that talking singing, overly dramatic style that I truly hate…have I mentioned I don’t like it…well I don’t. I don’t find it interesting or enjoyable at all. Second is “Another Way You Can Die” and Jeff attacks this one like he did in the Kryst the Conqueror album we talked about earlier in this series and that didn’t go over well. Next is “Dreams We Conceive” and it doesn’t even sound like him. It is so cheesy and over-the-top dramatically that is almost laughable. Sorry Jeff, I love you, but I don’t love this at all. Then comes “Time Floats On” and it is more of the same except this one is a little slower which doesn’t mean I loathe it any less. And last is “The Safest Way Into Tomorrow (Reprise)”. This is a beautiful piano piece, well, until the singing starts and then it is like Jim Steinman and Meatloaf did acid and were partying with Pavarotti and threw-up this song. Thank goodness it was less than 2 minutes long.

After the story was finished there were an additional 5 bonus tracks as if the album wasn’t torture enough. There was a Savatage cover of their song “Believe” if you like Savatage. But my favorite song on the album was the bonus track “Nutrocker” which is a rocking version of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’. I found it quite enjoyable and corny and fantastic. The piano in it made me think of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang and then when the guitars and drums were in, it was wild and frenzied fun.

I know I was rough on this thing, but honestly, it is not my cup of tea. The instrumentals were fantastic and if that is all it was, I would enjoy it for the musical talent that is on this album as there is a lot of fabulous musicians on this thing. The singers are great and in any other setting would be amazing, but the whole style of singing is a real turn-off for me and was the low point of this thing. The orchestration on this was a little weak in my book as well as there wasn’t a full orchestration as it was mostly strings…some horns would’ve been a nice touch. And that is really all I have to say about it. My Overall Score is a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars as I have said, the instrumentals on this are really amazing. Nothing else though.

UP NEXT: W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)


  1. Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
  4. Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
  5. Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
  6. Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
  7. Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  8. Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
  9. Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  10. Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
  11. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
  12. Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
  13. Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
  14. Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
  15. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
  16. Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
  17. Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
  18. Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
  19. Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
  20. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
  21. Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
  22. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
  23. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
  24. Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
  25. Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
  26. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
  27. Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
  28. Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
  29. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
  30. Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
  31. Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
  32. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  33. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  34. ‘Rock Star: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
  35. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  36. Humanimal – Find My Way Home: Limited Edition E.P. (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002)
  38. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  39. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2002)
  40. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  41. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2004
  43. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  44. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  45. Soul SirkUS – ‘World Play’ (2004/2005)
  46. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  47. Talisman – ‘World’s Best Kept Secret DVD (2005)
  48. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  49. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  50. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  51. Talisman – The Albums Ranked Worst to First
  52. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  53. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  54. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  55. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  56. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  57. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
  58. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  59. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  60. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  61. W.E.T. – ‘Rise’ (2013)
  62. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  63. Jeff Scott Soto – The Authorized Biography (2014)
  64. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  65. Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying to Live (2015)
  66. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  67. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  68. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  69. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  70. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  71. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  72. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  73. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  74. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  75. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  76. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  77. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
  78. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Complicated’ (2022)
  79. Ellefson/Soto – ‘Vacation in the Underground’ (2022)
  80. Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition

18 thoughts on “Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

  1. This might show you, given the Savatage lists back in December. I don’t do Trans-Siberian. I have one album that I use for Christmas and that is it. Just cannot get into it, and that’s as the biggest Savatage fan around.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m in on the consensus – I enjoy Savatage but never could get into TSO. I might go see their show someday but I don’t pursue their albums. It’s a cool thing they have going but it is over the top for my tastes.

    Liked by 1 person

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