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Transatlantic - SMPTe CD (album) cover

SMPTE

Transatlantic

 

Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 556 ratings

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LiquidEternity
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is a more standard supergroup release. We see for the most part a lack of musical cohesion, and the band doesn't seem to quite do much except follow Morse as the leader.

Transatlantic may be one of the more important supergroups of the last decade, at least. Bridging the leaders in progressive metal and neo-prog, while throwing in a Flower King and a certain Neal Morse, this band meets on a strange level. Usually groups like this aim for peers, like Liquid Tension Experiment or The Tangent. But Transatlantic came onto the scene featuring a chance for something different. Unfortunately, Marillion's Pete Trewavas is mostly silent in the songwriting process, though his voice and bass chops are quite nice here. Mike Portnoy defers to Neal. Roine Stolt seems to have some input into the songwriting, but he is quite obviously overshadowed by Morse. In the end, especially when compared with something like Morse's ? album (which features three of the four members of the band), there isn't a terrible lot of difference here. That said, for what this album is and the kinds of music thrown into it, it's definitely worth a look from fans of any of the four involved bands.

It opens with the particularly long song All of the Above. The title is perfect. It's a collection of songs tied together with a great beginning and ending. The midsections are nice. However, on the whole, it doesn't really flow like a song but rather like a suite. This wouldn't be that bad if it weren't for Transatlantic's other epics (My New World, Duel with the Devil, and Stranger in Your Soul) proving how the band could put together a long song and make it still be one song. Again, though, the first ten minutes and the last five are really well done, and the middle bits are also enjoyable. Not a bad song, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

The album then moves onto the strongest song here. Usually, Neal Morse's ballads all sound the same and all do the same thing. We All Need Some Light sounds like modern Morse fare, but for some reason this song works very, very well. Definitely a recommended listen, as it's built around splendid acoustic guitar and really pretty harmonies. A neat little solo in the middle bridges the song to a dramatic conclusion (indeed, one almost as impressive of an ending as happens on some of Neal's twenty minute tunes). Mystery Train jumps in next, a psychedelic rock tune with a lot of energy and a lot of quirk. Complicated drumming and a catchy harmonized chorus turn this song into a unique little winner in Morse's catalog.

My New World wanders on next, being a shorter epic piece, and much less assuming than All of the Above. Roine Stolt takes most of the lead vocals here, and for the most part, it's a fairly mellow and quiet track. A cool little jam in the middle features a cool guitar solo and some spiffy bass playing. Keyboards take the lead, and the drums get a work out. Basically, what you'd expect from four talented musicians taking time to show their skills. Only, it actually seems to work okay here, not detracting much from the song. One riff comes in every now and then (like at 6:15) and just sounds wonderful. The album then closes with a cover of a Procul Harum song. I find this one worthless after a couple of listens, and it saddens me that it was included.

In the end, if this was the only album Transatlantic made, they could have been written off as just another supergroup that did the usual supergroup things. My advice would be to look at Bridge Across Forever first, and then move on from there if you are seriously interested in what the band is doing. A fun album, but fairly flawed.

LiquidEternity | 3/5 |

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