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Transatlantic - The Whirlwind CD (album) cover

THE WHIRLWIND

Transatlantic

 

Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 968 ratings

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Squire Jaco
4 stars For a band that has unashamedly composed prog epics of unmatched length, they leave no doubt at the start of this 77-minute epic that you're in for an epic of epic proportions... ;-)

The opening track starts with a small brass ensemble that transitions to an orchestral flourish before settling into what is essentially the overture for this grand work, introducing the listener to many of the musical themes that we'll hear again in various forms throughout the next hour and a quarter.

In typical Transatlantic style, the recurring themes are catchy, sophisticated, and often turned inside-out to form new and interesting mind excursions. Folks, this is great stuff! It's probably one of my favorite progressive rock albums of the year (just behind the fantastic "Realms of Eternity" by Syzygy). To any naysayers out there, all I can say is that you sound like a baseball fan who is disappointed that the star slugger on your favorite team belted the game-winning home run "only" 400 feet when you were expecting a 500-ft homer instead. Get real, folks - this is some primo stuff.

I like Roine Stolt's increased vocal duties this time around, and I feel like these are the best guitar lines he's laid down since the TFK "Stardust We Are" album. I appreciate the fact that Portnoy is able to de-metalize his drum style for this band, and he really is impressive here. Likewise, Trewavas has his best Transatlantic showing on this cd - his bass is thick, trebly and melodic, and his vocals are great. Neal Morse is great here too - I love his vocals, and if he tends to drag the lyrics back to the edge of Christian music here and there, I'm fine with that. I do believe that the work as a whole shows a nice balance between all four members; and while the message is certainly one that aspires to a higher plane, the listener is not hit over the head with it until (perhaps) the last song (which is still a great one!).

Just a quick nod to the great cd artwork and liner notes - it's even kind of cool that they've been able to work their signature flying space zeppelin into the covers of all three studio albums now. And kudos to the sound engineers for nice separation and mixing - some of the jams and prog workouts here are just fantastic, and made even more so by the production.

The only thing that sort of bothered me (and this is a real nit, folks) is that by the end of the second song, I was pretty durn sure that the whirlwind blew everyone away! and I really did not need one more chorus or song about it to convince me... I got it. Really. (Perhaps some of the other songs could have been shortened or edited a bit as well.) But "wind" is the primary theme of this suite after all, and is integral to the metaphor of the overall message, so let's accept it and move on.

I liked the second cd too, but not nearly as much. I enjoy covers of songs that I've liked, so these are worthy - I think the combination of the two "I Need You" songs was clever. "Spinning" is a fantastic song in the Flower Kings style, while the lyrics to "Lenny Johnson" just seemed a bit clumsy to me. "Lending A Hand" is kind of a cool song in a late-60's spacey-psychedelic-prog style. I'd probably give that disc alone a 3-1/2 star rating, which prohibits me from assigning the entire package 5 stars.

So, please put away your lofty presuppositions about what this comeback cd from your favorite progressive rock band of the past decade SHOULD be, and let it wash (or blow?) over you for what it is - another great, thoughtful collage of masterful songwriting and performing from a one-of-a-kind band. Worthy.

Squire Jaco | 4/5 |

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