Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984-14382
Format: CD
Total Time: 70:30:00

TransatlanticTransatlantic are a band about whom strong feelings are expressed. There is the contingent that worships the ground this quartet walk on, there are others that revile the ground they walk on. Certainly, there are those who are merely ambivalent about the band, but can that be considered a strong feeling? What side of the fence am I on? Well, I will tell you that I am not ambivalent, as I do have an opinion. And as much as I respect each as a musician, both as individuals and within the contexts of their respective bands, I'm rarely taken to the extreme of idolatry. In other words, I'm on neither side, but in the middle. It sounds like a painful place to be, but it allows one the perspective to praise and criticize with equanimity. I'm not totally dispassionate, of course. And I am certainly no stranger to singing high praises when a band or album merit it. As solid a release as I think Bridge Across Forever is, it hasn't totally blown me away. I am not left sitting, drooling long after the disk has ended (though that has happened to me this month -- see my review of Symphony X's V for evidence). However, I am not totally dispassionate about this album as I think Stolt plays some fine guitar solos throughout. And, as a long time Marillion fan, I am very pleased to hear Pete Trewavas' bass this time around (and there is a section of "Slide" leading into "Stranger In Your Soul" -- part of the overarching suite "Stranger In Your Soul" -- which sounds very Marillion-esque). On the other hand, despite being a Spock's Beard fan, I was hoping this wouldn't sound like a Spock's Beard album. I am happy to say that this feels more like a Theater (of) Spock's Marillion Flower release ... though the Spock's/Flower element is the strongest (and yes, of those two, it is Spock's Morse's vision that is the dominant). Witness the opening track "Duel With The Devil" -- it contains all the hallmarks of Spock's Beard -- long intro, bombastic, driving sections contrasted against soaring, epic, lyrical sections ... words that might describe a lot of bands, admittedly, but here it is with that Spock's flavour. And yet, there are other colours in the palette for this five movement, 26-plus minute suite.

Bobo has already given you a rather detailed rundown of what you're going to hear on this CD, so I won't, though I will mention some things here and there. But, in comparison to their debut, this is a more balanced effort (as says Bobo as well) and I'm personally more pleased with this effort than I was with their debut. Maybe because my expectations were different, I don't know. This is, however, what I had wanted to hear from the first album. The grooviest track is the Beatles-esque jam that is "Suite Charlotte Pike" - it rocks, it rolls, it jives, and sounds as if the guys were having a great deal of fun. It has a little bit of a country twang at times, at others a very dreamy, hazy feel. It ends on a note with strings, Rhodes and fragile vocals from Stolt ("Motherless Children/If She Runs (reprise)"). This last bit has a jazz feel by way of Billy Joel -- maybe it's just because of the keys, I don't know. The title track is a keyboard and vocal piece, peaceful and reflective, it is in great contrast to that which precedes it. It is quite a beautiful track and, while perhaps not uncharacteristic of Morse, due to his solo work, it is a different direction for this band, and away from the SB influence.

As I mentioned, I'm quite impressed by the performances here as well, especially the guitar solos from Stolt. And, most especially that which begins "Stranger In Your Soul." This is a mid-tempo track, very warm and welcoming. This gives way to the darker, driving "Hanging In The Balance." There are parts to "Stranger In Your Soul" that are nearly sublime. As a suite, I like it a bit more than the opening suite of "Duel With The Devil." This is really a concept album, as there are repeated phrases throughout. Kind of an interesting dynamic, that -- four suites, where three have their own suites, that themselves have sections that, one thinks, probably could stand alone. There is a sax solo from guest Keith Mear's during "Duel..." that made me think of the Max Weinberg 7, TV talkshow host Conan O'Brien's sidekick's band, though more folks might recall Weinberg from his E-Street Band days with "The Boss".

Overall, this album gets high marks from me as I think it is a very good effort. Given the talents involved, Transatlantic have started out in the upper echelons of progressive music. In fact, and much to my surprise, a few folks included this band on their Progpower USA 3.0 wish lists. My surprise was in that I wouldn't consider them prog or power metal, despite the presence of Mike Portnoy. I shouldn't fail to mention his outstanding drumming here, nor Neal Morse's keyboard work. As musicians, each of them are top flight. At least, that's the view from the fence.

By the way, I should mention that I'm not entirely unbiased, as I maintain the Transatlantic fan site (which is, I know, sorely lacking in updates). [Though it was subsumed by the other fan/official site several years ago -ed. 12/2008]

Duel With The Devil (26:43) / Suite Charlotte Pike (14:30) / Bridge Across Forever (5:32) / Stranger In Your Soul (26:06)

Pete Trewavas - bass, bass pedals, vocals
Mike Portnoy - drums, vocals
Roine Stolt - guitars, vocals, mellotron, additional keyboards and percussion
Neal Morse - piano, organ, Moog, Rhodes piano, synths, vocals, additional guitars and mandolin

Guest Musicians:

Chris Carmichael - violin, viola and cello

Keith Mears - saxophone
The "Elite" Choir - background vocals

SMPTe (2000)
Live In America (2001)
Bridge Across Forever (2001)
Bridge Across Forever - Special Edition (2001)
Live In Europe (2003)
The Whirlwind (2009)
More Is Never Enough (CD/DVD) (2011)
Kaleidoscope (2014)
KaLIVEoscope (CD/DVD) (2014)

Live In America (DVD) (2001)
Live In Europe (DVD) (2003)
Building The Bridge Across Forever/Live In America (DVD) (2006)
Whirld Tour 2010 - Live From Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (DVD) (2010)
More Is Never Enough (DVD/CD) (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin VA

Added: December 7th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 704
Language: english


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