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Transatlantic - The Whirlwind CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 937 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Rating this album presents me with what I guess is a frequent dilema: should we rate albums without their context or within their context?

By without context I mean, as isolated works, regardless of their surrounding context, e.g., if you knew nothing about Transatlantic or its members and one day a friend comes and lends you this album (or equivalently, if this was a debut album by a brand new, as yet unknown young band), I bet a big many of us would think "waaaaw!", "these guys are unbelievable!", "what a dicovery!", "orgasm", "4 or 5 stars without question!".

However, within its context, that is, knowing about Transatlantic's previous albums and its member's careers, I honestly expected more and I can sympathize with reviewers who say things like "nothing new under the sun", "below expectations", "disappointment", "predictable", "lack of true inspiration", "soul-less" etc etc.

Put it in another way: imagine the release sequence was opposite, "The whirlwind" was released in 2000 as their first album, "Bridge across forever" follows in 2001 and in 2009 they release SMPTe. What would have been your rating of each album as they came out? Honest!

Faced with this dilema, I'm choosing to follow the 1st way and rate this album isolatedly, as an individual work independently from what the guys did before, if only because doing otherwise in general would mean that for bands with a long history (I am describing some hypotetical case here), early albums would be automatically over-rated and late albums automatically under-rated when maybe objectively they are of exactly the same intrinsic quality. Maybe this is a frequent unconscious bias by many reviewers? So, I will rate The Wirlwind with 4 stars but it's fair to include in the text review the negative comments arising from a "within context point of view". Judging it within its context it does not deserve more than 3 stars.

This is supposed to be a single song of 78min split in 12 parts. OK maybe the guys had some boastful rejoice in having the record for the longest rock song in history, but to me there is absolutely no difference with any standard concept album split in 12 songs with recurring themes.

The music is exactly what you probably expected: some pop catchy melodies turned into prog by clever arrangements and by interlinking some really cool and more authentic prog fragments, with majestic and effective instrumentation. We get the classic Overture which introduces the main themes which will be revisited during the rest of the tracks, and as from then it's a succesion of tracks some more inspired, some more predictable. I agree with many that the cheesy "Dancing with eternal glory" should have better be kept for one of Neal's solo albums where it belongs. One seems to feel more involvement by Roine Stolt and a bit less by Neal Morse. The playing of all 4 musicians is as always top quality.

The mix and production are so perfect that I understand those who complain that it's "too cold", "soul-less" or "perfectionist" etc.

No doubt there's a lot of good music and musicianship in here, and if you listen to it without thinking too much of what the guys have delivered already before, it's a great album, but honestly I'm a bit disappointed that they did not deliver a bit more interesting work.

Gerinski | 4/5 |


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