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Transatlantic - The Whirlwind CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 1040 ratings

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5 stars I picked up Transatlantic's The Whirlwind a few days after its US release after seeing it on this site's homepage everyday for about a month leading up to its release. I had never listened to (nor heard of) Transatlantic prior to this album, so I really had no idea what to expect, however, the instant I put this in my CD player, I fell in love with this fantastic, 2009 album.

The album starts off with an overture that covers pretty much all of the themes that will be heard in this album, and as soon as the music kicks in with the uplifting main theme, you're sucked in for a tight and compelling 77 minutes of music. Although this is Symphonic Prog, the music has a very different feel to that of Yes or Genesis. Simply put, The Whirlwind sounds very modern, but do not take this to be a bad thing.

The concept of the suite is vague, and seems very metaphorical. I read somebody's suggestion that it may be about global warming, and that seems to fit the best. Lines like "But when the climate changed / They tried their best to stay / But the wind blew them all away," in regards to big oil companies, and the cover itself support this theory, but I can see the concept being applied to other things as well. The lyrics themselves are very good, and sung beautifully by Neal Morse. The songs flow seamlessly into one another, and you probably won't notice that the track has changed until a minute into the next song.

So now to what people really want to know: how are the instruments? They are good, but I wouldn't go any farther than that. Although there are some very nice guitar solos in the midst of the album, the instrumental parts aren't particularly "challenging," and can be understood after the first or second listen. The variations in instruments is fairly static, with Roine Stolt's guitar leading most of the themes, with Morse filling out the background with his keyboards. There are some nice subtleties thrown in though, such as the occasional Mellotron in the background.

So if not the instrumental parts, what is it that keeps me coming back to The Whirlwind? Well, after listening to the album over 20 times, I've finally been able to pinpoint the reason. It's the repetition of the themes, the "continuity" if you will, that Transatlantic uses to connect all of the songs together that is really fabulous. You'll hear the main theme coming back at you many times throughout the album, sometimes very unexpectedly, sometimes with a different instrument, or maybe just subtly floating in the background while a new theme is laid over it. If the separate tracks were forced to stand up individually, they would most certainly fail, but because all of the themes stretch out of their own songs and keep popping up throughout the album, each song succeeds in giving you something different, yet always reminding you that you're still in the middle of this massive song.

There are some standout songs, but the highlight is the effect of the album when listened to in its entirety. The ending is also immensly satisfying, and one of the best I've heard in this genre.

I don't have many complaints about the album, despite the shear length of it. 77 minutes is a long time to listen to one thing, but I don't think any of the songs should have been cut, and after sinking over 25 hours into this mammoth, it's clearly worth the time. Some individual pieces may not appeal to everyone, such as the singing in "Lay Down Your Life," but it's such a small part that it's not detrimental to the whole.

To sum up, The Whirlwind is a really solid album, that will appeal to anyone who likes Symphonic Prog, however, this is not the album for lovers of extremely technical and complex music. In short, anyone who has any interest in modern prog should definitely check out The Whirlwind.

m2thek | 5/5 |


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