Transatlantic - Bridge Across Forever

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

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the progressive supergroup you all know and love is back with its second studio effort, Bridge Across Forever, and the symphonic rock festival is quite obviously not over yet. That's right, you're not going to be disappointed by this star least not entirely. Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt, and Pete Trewavas are back with a bigger than life sound, a crystal clear production that thunders like a monstrous wall of sound at one moment and then resonates with pristine purity at the other, and a smart collection of long songs intended to whet the appetite of many a symphonic rock purist out there. Actually, make that very long songs intended to satisfy the ravenous hunger of many a symphonic rock purist out there. Ok, ok, and the results? Well, put it this way...while I certainly think that this particular collection of star-studded musicians could probably do better, Bridge Across Forever is definitely no slouch.

Avoiding often-recurrent symphonic rock clichés barely by inches at times, and having Morse remind the listener of a young and very exuberant Rick Wakeman while Stolt performs with a flair that's highly reminiscent of Steve Howe, Transatlantic nevertheless manages to avoid falling into the dreary pitfalls of carbon copy imitation, and somehow comes across as one of the only bands to truly bring symphonic rock big time into the modern era. Three of the tracks included on the album are opuses focused on a multi-movement approach that runs the gamut from epic drama to funky goofiness and engages in suddenly recurring themes and wild variations that hark back to good old quality progressive rock. Particularly "Duel With The Devil," as the song features some truly exquisite moments of dramatic tension, despondent sadness, touching sweetness, and not terribly original but certainly enjoyable Yes-like flashes of quirkiness. Hold it there cowboy, computer keyboards are not to be drooled on!

And before you flood your entire room, know that "Duel With the Devil" is doubtlessly the best track on the entire record, and thus raises levels of expectation to a point that is perhaps a tad bit too much for the rest of Bridge Across Forever. Not that its follow-up, "Suite Charlotte Pike" is a bad tune by any stretch of the imagination, with its Beatlesque vocal harmonies and occasional funky feels dropping all seriousness miles away from Transatlantic and delivering what is basically a "feel good" track of uplifted spirits and brisk enthusiasm. Moreover, the song's charm is largely to be found in its (very) relative simplicity, which is apparently too careless at the beginning but with repeated listening allows a quality of enjoyable accessibility and playful joy to shine through; basically a fun take for the band and for any listener that is willing to enter such a state of mind. Not a bad contrast, as the upcoming title ballad is a bit too mellifluous for its own good, despite being quite a decent track on itself.

The glitch comes with the album's finishing and longest track; "Stranger In Your Soul." There is nothing inherently wrong with it, and Trewavas even manages to stick a tasteful bass solo in the middle of it all that one is extremely unlikely to hear in a Marillion record anytime soon, but the song just seems to go on and on without the sharp emotional effects that its predecessors have on the listener. Sure, the thematic variation is there, and smart recurrences appear to give the album a cyclical essence of coherence and continuance, but the music in itself just doesn't seem to really hit the mark. Perhaps not altogether an unforgivable fault, but it does dampen the effect of Bridge Across Forever, especially after taking into consideration the fact that it constitutes more than a third of the album's duration.

Every time a supergroup such as Transatlantic releases an album, there is bound to be a dichotomy of extremes in many cases: either the listener will have raised one's expectations to the point that anything less than perfect will come across as a disappointment, or one will immediately certify anything one listens to as absolute genius, even if it's a polka taken straight out of old Bavarian custom. To the first one: true, TransAtlantic certainly has the potential to do even better, but giving Bridge Across Forever a truly fair chance, accompanied by repeated listening, could perhaps bring qualities to the forefront that had previously remained hidden. To the second: you're a lost case!!! Scurrilous wit aside though, the second effort of symphonic rock's latest monster may not be the savior of all things progressive, but it will doubtlessly be considered by many as the oft-mentioned equivalent of the "progressive rock lover's wet dream." It wasn't mine at any rate, but just in case, consider yourself warned the next time you slip into your bed!

Similar artists: Spock's Beard, Yes

Duel With the Devil (26:33) / Suite Charlotte Pike (13:20) / Bridge Across Forever (5:01) / Stranger in Your Soul (25:34)

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: August 11th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 1150
Language: english


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