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Good Album, Though Imperfect
on November 10, 2009
Unlike a lot of other TSO fans, I actually didn't even know that this album was in development until about a year ago, so I may be immune to some of the effects that those who have been anticipating Night Castle since it was announced are experiencing. After such a long wait, it's pretty much impossible to not have unrealistically high expectations. Also, I knew it was not a Christmas album, so I also had no disappointments on that level either.
Personally, I think the album is very good. The musical style is overall very similar to TSOs past elements, though the album overall has a bit of a darker tone due to the subject matter, which I actually like. The song-writing is great and the best songs of Night Castle are strong enough to stand with the best songs off of any of their other albums. There are many standout tracks, including Night Enchanted, The Mountain, Night Castle, Mozart and Memories, Another Way You Can Die, The Lion's Roar, Moonlight and Madness, Child of the Night, and Tracers. For those who have heard the album, one thing will be clear: The majority of my favorite songs are instrumentals.
With that said, there is one criticism that I have seen over and over, and I can confirm that it's true: The album is over-produced. On far too many tracks--and as a whole--the guitars especially don't come blasting at you with the same sort of power that they do on other albums. If you listen to Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 then you think to yourself, "Man, this guys are really rocking out!" That's not the case on Night Castle. Too often the guitars seem sort of impotent, to be honest. The album all over sounds too clean . . . too polished . . . too perfect.
But you have to take the good with the bad. Don't take my criticisms to mean that the album is not worth buying, because it is. I gave it 4 stars, after all. (Truthfully, I would probably give it 3 1/2 but since you can't do 1/2 star ratings, I rounded up since it's TSO.) Buy the album and enjoy it, and let's hope it doesn't take them another 5 years to release new material.