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Founding Moderator
3 stars Although I find the extended opening and closing tracks a bit rambling, they do contain some very good prog-rock bits. However, the three independent tracks are all much more cohesive, and have clear internal direction. My New World sounds a bit like U.K., but in a good way. And Mystery Train has become one of my favorite prog-rock songs by any band. Considering that these guys had never played together before - and that they wrote and recorded the album in 10 days - it is a remarkable effort.
Report this review (#7333)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the most talked about albums this year. It's a super- group that has been planned since 1998 that we can hear on this newly released CD. The original line-up consisted of Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER), Jim Matheos of FATES WARNING, Neal Morse of SPOCK'S BEARD and Pete Trewavas of MARILLION. Roine Stolt of the FLOWER KINGS later replaced Jim Matheos. The final result is an outstanding album by one of the most interesting progressive super-groups ever, featuring four of the genre's most talented musicians. Judging by the music you get the impression that Neal Morse and Roine Stolt have had the biggest influence on the project. The music is very close to both SPOCK'S BEARD and The FLOWER KINGS. Of course there's a lot of reminiscences to DREAM THEATER and MARILLION too, but not that obvious. The music is very 70's influenced and you often get to think about The BEATLES/Paul McCartney, ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA, Peter Gabriel era GENESIS, JETHRO TULL, KING CRIMSON, PINK FLOYD, STEELY DAN and YES. Both Neal Morse and Roine Stolt have great characteristic voices. Neal has laid a lot of beautiful Hammond organ throughout the whole album and it reminds you of SPOCK'S BEARD. Some might say that Roine Stolt's guitar playing is very reminiscent to Steve Howe of YES, but I have always claimed that Roine is one of Sweden's best guitarists with his own unique style and sound. You instantly know that it's Roine when you hear his guitar and that is the case on this album too. Most surprisingly is Mike Portnoy's drum playing on this album! It's far away from what he's playing in DREAM THEATER and he's approaching the music in a more melodic way. The tracks range from 5:45 to 30:59 minutes. The highlights are the thirty- minute epic masterpiece "All Of The Above" that is built up of six shorter parts and "My New World". The closing track is a cover of the old Procul Harum track "In Held ('Twas) In I" from their album "Shine On Brightly" (1968). Although this is a very "retro" sounding album, TRANSATLANTIC will end up as one of the best releases of 2000. Highly recommended, especially to lovers of The FLOWER KINGS, GENESIS, SPOCK'S BEARD and YES! If you don't already have the album you have no excuse for not buying it. They've already plans for a second album. I can't wait!
Report this review (#7334)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Take SPOCK'S BEARD, The FLOWER KINGS, MARILLION and add the drum clinic of Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER) all together and you have TRANSATLANTIC. "SMPTE" is a superb album full of energy and creativity with some smashing musical moments. They even pull off PROCOL HARUM's classic "In Held (Twas) In I" from "Shine On Brightly" which has always been one of my fav's... of course nothing can replace the original, but these lads do a great rendition. Roine Stolt adds some lovely guitar and mellotron work which always make my heart go giggy-up. Mike Portnoy's drums are excellent as you would expect and sounds superb against Trewavas' comanding bass lines. Neal MORSE as always brings some tremendous energy and quality to the album. Opening track is a 30 min epic "All Of The Above" which covers a wide spectrum and is a great way to kick off the album.
Report this review (#7335)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
4 stars Put together the talented guitar performing by Roine STOLT from THE FLOWER KINGS, the majestic drums of Mr. Mike PORTNOY from progmetal band DREAM THEATER, the gifted keyboards execution by Neal MORSE and outstanding MARILLION's bassist Pete TREWAVAS and what you get in return? TRANSATLANTIC. These great musicians definitely pulled this project off with this gathering by combining the correct ingredients, by mixing the precise formula and by releasing "SMPT:E". Each one of these marvelous guys brought a lil' something into it, and by that I mean they absolutely forgot about their rolls they play on their actual bands. It ain't a sketchy blend of a lil' pinch of MARILLION there or a lil' smidge of SPOCK'S BEARD there, no! this is an original creation, a unique revealing prog warp to new horizons (you can call me overreacting, but that's just the way I feel about this material).

I don't see TRANSATLANTIC as another "for the old times" get gathering, this is indeed the result of an arduous work in the studio since I believe it must've been pretty difficult for these guys to connect in the first place, but once on track and from the get go, this record explains itself. "All of the above" is an incomparable prog suite that shows us that it's not all about long drum solos and hypnotic strident guitars; this song may appear endless to you once you pop the cd in, but you gotta go along without blinking and believe me, you'll be amazed by the end of it and asking for seconds. I think this could be the beginning of something huge, and I'm hoping that right after "Live in America" and "Live in Europe", the SMPT:E experience will be taken to a whole different level. Let it be more TRANSATLANTIC ladies and gentlemen.

Report this review (#7339)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Prog for a new millennium

If there was any doubt at the start of the new millennium that prog would continue to flourish, along came Transatlantic to reassure us that all we well. As the label on the box says, this supergroup features (ex) members of Dream Theater, Marillion, Spock's Beard, and The Flower Kings.

The album consists of just five tracks, yet it lasts well over 70 minutes. "All of the above" contributes almost half of this time, being a 31 minute epic. For reference purposes, the track has 6 sections, but it is very much a single piece. All four members get writing credits, but its primarily a Neal Morse composition. The track is pure prog from start to finish, guitar solos, keyboard breaks, time changes, the lot!

A couple of shorter (i.e. under 7 minutes!) tracks follow, both again Morse contributions. "We all need some light" is a softer song, almost a ballad, while "Mystery Train" is probably the most commercial track on the album. The final two tracks are Roinne Stolt's "My new world", another great prog piece, and finally a cover of Procol Harum's "In held ('twas) in I". I've always loved the original version of this, and this new version is pretty faithful, apart from some lyrics spoken on the original being sung here. It doesn't therefore really improve upon the 30 year old piece, but it is good to hear it again.

The album is slightly lighter than Spock's Beard, less jazz influenced than The Flower Kings, less metallic than Dream Theater, and generally happier than Marillion. The band was always intended to be a side project for the members, and with it now apparently disbanded, we at least have a legacy of two superb studio albums.

Report this review (#7340)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A brave honest performance, filled with sentiment and originallity. Mike Portnoy is getting more and more matture, because after recording the LTE albums he focused into a more complex but slower music, avoiding his trademerk blasting double-bass patterns and creating great figures in the drums. The rest of the pack is simply perfect, in bass Pete gets more attention, in guitars Roine gets involved with the keys and Neil embraces the whole music into the vocals... the perfect point for all the members to express a different and personal point of view about prog-music. This is exactly what the fans of the four mother bands we've been waiting, a matture collection of songs with NO specific background.
Report this review (#7338)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unbelievable album! Listening to "All of the above" brings back memories of Marillion (Fish era), Genesis (Tricks of the tales, Selling England...), Yes (90125), Asia (The old stuff) et al. It fills a huge gap in my disc shelf since Marillion/Fish said goodbye and Genesis went "pop", both sorry episodes for in my musical life. The variety of rythmic and melodic themes is impressive. Although I did not know Morse and Stolt, I attest to the fact that this ensemble sounds fabulous! The rythm section is simply flawless. Energetic without getting "heavy", dynamic without getting repetitive, powerful as hell sans the "trash" and incredibly diverse. This album kept me on toes (at first), not expecting "this" drumline or "these" vocals. It served my taste for discovery and musical adventure. This album NEVER let me down as EVERY title has something original and unexpected to offer. It's beautiful! it is simply a fantastic album!
Report this review (#7341)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Prog rock that is almost too perfect for my liking.Everything is a exactly where it should be.Everything is well played.Everything is nice and melodic.No real innovation or anything that could be considered new though.Transatlantic try very hard to be 'all things to all men' but at the end of the day this is just a little bland for my liking.Can't really criticise it though if I'm being objective.
Report this review (#7343)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This CD is what is right about music!

Long instumental passages, upbeat and positive lyrics, a good singer, mood changes - a perfect starting point for new proggers!

The first track, the 30 minute epic "All of the Above" starts with a four minute jam, then has three more throughout the track. Each instrumental passage is slightly different. The beginning jam the most "prog" like, the passage after "Full Moon Rising" slightly jazzy, the passage after "Half Alive" hard edged guitar, and the final grandiose outro.

The shortest track "We All Need Some Light" is an acoustic guitar piece by Neal Morse with inspiring lyrics. That this song was not picked up by mainstream radio just shows how screwed up the radio industry is. Other than being played by a "prog" band, there is nothing to this song that would stop the masses from enjoying it.

The next track "Mystery Train" is my least favorite of the album. A good song, but not compared to the rest of the music on this disk. I can't describe it, as I tend to skip this track.

Roine Stolt's contribution "My New World" follows. This piece provides a nice change of pace from the sound of the rest of the album, as Neal Morse wrote the previous songs. A 17 minute piece that flows as one long song (unlike the separate pieces of "All of the Above").

The disk closes with the remake of "In Held Twas In I". I have never heard the original Prool Harum version (much to my detriment), so I cannot compare this version to the original. This track definitely fits with the rest of this disk however.

This is a great starting point for someone just getting into progressive music, and therefore I award it a 5 star rating. It is a good starting point for two reasons: first, the music is fantastic. But once the listener appreciates this disk, they can then sample from the cannon of the musician's other bands. They will discover prog metal (Mike Portnoy's DREAM THEATER), neo-prog (Pete Trewavas' MARILLION), Christian prog (NEAL MORSE's solo masterpiece), and spacier prog (Roine Stolt's THE FLOWER KINGS).

Highly recommended!!

Report this review (#7345)
Posted Thursday, October 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Only two stars? Let me explain. I came to this album having first owned and worn out Bridge Across Forever, which followed SMPTe (see my review of Bridge). For me, SMPTe is the prototype for Bridge, which, apart from the crass track Charlotte, is one of the best pieces of music I have EVER heard. I can see how SMPTe got such acclaim upon its release simply because Transatlantic are obviously a supergroup - but once you hear Bridge it's clear SMPTe was the settling-in album, four individuals looking for a voice, and in Bridge they really found it. What an album!! So get Bridge, remove Charlotte, and just blast the sounds through your body day and night!!
Report this review (#7346)
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love this album...I think it sounds really great. It's quite long album and it's quite hard to hear it good, if you want to listen whole album. I think this band is superb, because there are two great progrock "brains"-Roin Stolte and Neal Morse and when you put this two "brains" together, you have got Transatlantic...But you need also great drummer and that is Marc Portnoy. I don't like Dream Theater, they are too hard, but his drum style is great. I love it. And than bass line from Trevawas. It is not as hard as another bass lines (for example TFK or Yes) but it's ideal for this style...So I love this album and I hope, that Transatlantic will make lot of albums for us..
Report this review (#7347)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brought up as I was on the classics of YES, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, JETHRO TULL, etc, I never expected to find music as rewarding, made in recent years. However, thanks to this great site I have; no better example being TRANSATLANTIC. without knowing too much about the individual members' "home" bands, I am completely knocked out with the compositions and performances on this record. Perhaps the only improvement could be on the vocals, which are competent but not outstanding, but this is a minor criticism. Any old time progger like me should acquire this album, and its sequel.
Report this review (#7350)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an incredible masterpiece. It's amazing how these fab four guys merged so perfectly their individual skills and musical tastes to create this wonderful sound, at the same time sweet and full of energy, always pleasant but never predictable. Neal Morse's voice is fantastic and full of feeling (but the others are very good in singing too); Stolt's guitar is full of taste, always at the right place; Trewavas' bass is groovy and funny, perfect for rhythm and melody; and what to say about Mike Portnoy... he demonstrates another time to be not only a monster of tecnique but a genius drummer able to create musical beauty and feeling with his instrument. In particular "All of the above" and "My new world" are timeless masterpieces, and the Procol Harum cover is amazing for the ability to elaborate the '68 sound in a modern way (in my opinion this is far better than the original!). Not only DT, Marillion, Spock's beard and Flower Kings fans should listen and treasure this record, but anyone who loves music made with mind and heart for mind and heart.
Report this review (#7351)
Posted Sunday, March 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars All ingredients needed for a superb prog experience are here - excellent musicians with impressive track records, lenghty compositions, solid instrumental work....and still it does not quite catch on fire. In my ears this album sounds just a little bit too perfect, too structured and even sterile in the 'official' mix. Not much in terms of new innovations in this release, which leaves a feeling of having heard it before, and it gets pretty boring after a few listens. I have heard the 'Roine Stolt Mix' ltd release, which sounds much fresher and less sterile, and which is hugely recommended compared to the official release. Transatlantics first effort is by no means an essential release, but deserves a listen, especially if you are into Spocks Beard and their likes. If possible, check out the 'Roine Stolt Mix'-edition rather than the ordinary release - it's a lot better.
Report this review (#7354)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, 4 very talented musicians have gathered into Transatlatic group (or a project) and recorded this album. Supergroup, they say? Both yes and know. Of course the album contains a lot of great musicianship and prog-ness that pleases progheads so much. But despite it all I cannot give this album more than 3 stars because of several problems. The first problem is the sound - each song sounds quite well but altogether the album sounds like a mess - it reminds of too many old (and modern too) prog pieces of music, with borrowings from here and there. If there is such thing as mainstream prog, it is surely this kind of style. I find no unique style here. The second problem is in the songs. I find All of the Above too long for my taste and has some weak moment (though it has good melodies too). We all need some light is one of my 2 favourite tracks from this album - short, memorable and very emotional song. And I sincery dislike Mystery Train from the first note to the last (especially the sound of the drums). My New World is a good song but it's also too long (and the melody repeats something from TFK's Garden Of Dreams) and a little bit too sweet for my liking. And finally, the best track is surely the rendition of Procol Harum epic - but it's a cover song after all. In general, SMTPe may seem a very good prog album - but only if you have not listened to real good prog of the 70's.
Report this review (#37895)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Transatlantic obviously modeled themselves on Yes in many ways. There are many good (even great) musical moments. But the vocals on any Yes album are so much stronger than Transatlantic's this leads to a little disappointment. I find myself liking the instrumental portions so much that it is still a great album.
Report this review (#38496)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Transatlantic is like a dream team in almost any sport game. It consists of those considered among the best musicians in the progressive rock field -- Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). No wonder, they have been labeled as "supergroup".

But they successfully prove themselves to be more than just supergroup on paper -- they manage to actually deliver beautifully crafted music as if they have been playing together for years. This album is amazing effort regarding the fact that they put the session together rather quickly.

Yes, one may find that the influences of 1970s progressive bands as well as elements of each member's original band are too obvious. These impressions, however, should not overshadow the pivotal fact that as a group they manage to merge those influence and elements in such a way so that the result, the music they jointly crafted, sounds theirs - - even fresh.

Look no farther than the first track, a 30-plus-minute epic "All of the Above". Listen to it with open mind. Those who know each member's original band well would easily find, between its grandiose yet tight arrangement, Stolt guitar playing which has been among the trademarks of The Flower Kings, Morse voices and keyboard touch which was significant during his tenure with Spock's Beard, Portnoy's signature drumming as magical as in Dream Theater, and Trewavas insightful bass playing usually found in Marillion's work. One should also not disagree that it deserves to stand among the best progressive rock music ever written.

Three original compositions follow and guarantee to bring new level of excitement to the listeners' ears: the uplifting "We All Need Some Light", the imaginative "Mystery Train" and another epic "My New World". As if they are not enough, a cover of the Procol Harum material "In Held (Twas In I)" added as a fantastic closing enjoyment.

Surely, this album has the right to claim a place among the masterpieces.

Report this review (#41216)
Posted Monday, August 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well for every 5 star review I do I try to balance it with a 2 or 3 star review (let's face it, you have to look hard to find a 1 or 2 star prog album). So I am led to review the first Transatlantic album. So many stars, so much promise here, and they almost did it. The album is brilliant, inconsistent, and fulfils and disappoints at the same time. The first song is brilliant. Surprising is Pete's amazing bass playing, and Mike's ability to play symph prog. Neil's writing is up to his usual (at the time) standard, and Roine takes a low profile sideman role here, though he also sounds great. But, unfortunately it's all downhill from here. We are treated to a few throwaways (think Spock's Beard and Flower Kings weaker tunes), and a totally pointless cover. In this case it is the brilliant "In Held T'was in I" by Procal Harum, a brilliant proto-prog item, the cover of which adds nothing and if fact subtracts from the absolutely brilliant and ground-breaking (should I say genre-inventing) original. If you want to hear this song in all its glory, get the reissue of their "Shine on Brightly" and don't look back. I'll go with 3 stars here because "All of the Above" really is great.
Report this review (#41250)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It seems like a dream come true, the new supergroup of prog (like ELP) filled with brilliant musicians, and long epics ... but ... It does not sound very interesting nor groundbreaking ... it sounds like mainstream progressive rock mixed with the Spock's Beard sound.

All of The Above 8/10 Starts this album, and it is a very solid epic that tries hard to be another Close to the Edge ... The problem? While the musicianship is superb ... Well, the song does not excite me a lot. It is missing three things for me (that usually is the problem with neoprog except for FLower Kings) : creativity, soul, and excitement. IT feels a little bland for me.

We All Need Some Light 7.5/10 : This is a pretty ballad with great acoustic work and vocal harmonies.

Mystery Train 8/10 : Excellent short song that really rocks. Many don't seem to like this track though, I may be in the minority. Download it in this site and judge it.

My New World 9/10 : Easily the best song from Transatlantic. IT has the spirit of the Flower Kings and feels like a "Heart Of The Sunrise II" ... while I have a little of a dislike toward some of the bombastic sections close to the end, This is a very satisfying epic with a great introduction, good vocal harmonies and guitar work, and yes ... exciting!.

In Held ('twas) in I 8.5/10 : This is the a strong epic, but flows badly ... but what I like about it, is that it is more exciting than All of The Above. Of course, like all tracks in Transatlantic, the musicianship is very good.

So, this is a very solid album that could have been better if it could have been more emotional and exciting like what you would hear in "The Flower Kings" and Neal Morse's solo work.

My Grade : B+

Report this review (#41717)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Transatlantic is certainly a very good group of progressive. The references to "Yes" are omnipresent in this album. Technically irreproachable. After several listening, the charm much less operated. "We All Need Some Light" is a superb slow dance. " My new world " a magnificent intense and lyric piece (in the tradition of the "big" groups of symphonic prog like Yes or Genesis). It is very well. Without more. A good pretext to discover "Spock Beard " and rediscover Yes (Relayer, Closed to the edge...).
Report this review (#46199)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm inclined to consider this album as a masterpiece of prog rock as the composition (arrangements and structure), songwriting, musicianship and overall performance are truly top notch. The only thing I'm facing is the overall structure of the album which I think needs some improvements because as an album it does not seem cohesive even on some segments of the epic track there is a bit of misaligned flow. One thing for sure, I always ask this question: "Is there any compelling reason why it must be a 31 minute long for an epic? Does the story require the epic consume that long? Or, was it due to musician ego to create something that truly prog by creating a song as lengthy as possible?". Having all of these questions in my mind every time I listen to this debut album, so that means I still have something missing to give this album with a well rounded five stars. An excellent album is a definite one!

The copy that I have on my hands is a pre-ordered 2 CD set with enhanced bonus CD. My chief reason to buy this enhanced version was the booklet which usually excellent - indeed, it is - and the special CD package. I was not eager to have the bonus CD because based on my experience it contains 'not so good' material - indeed, it is with this package. The extended booklet contains 32 pages full with colorful picture and lyrics. That's on the physical part; the most interesting thing is on the story behind the making of the album as the band members commented that most communication were done through the net because the members coming from different continents. It was okay for them but when it comes to artwork and final mixing, they found some difficulties. The situation was worsen with the facts that three members (Mike, Neal and Roine) were also leaders of their respective home grown band. You can imagine how the arguments were flowing around them. No wonder, after the final version and the album was released, Neal and Roine separately issued their individual mixes with CDs titled as "Roine Stolt Mixes" and "Neal Morse Mixes". Oh man .. what a bad idea! They should think big and not issuing another version proclaiming their own egos. Even though I had the two different mixes from my friend who lent me, I don't actually really care with these two different mixes. I still prefer the original version. Be it. I don't want to be dragged down into selecting which mix is better - I don't care man!

All of The Above (30:59) is an epic that comprises six parts. It starts with full energy and relatively fast tempo music heavily influenced by Spock's Beard music. Yes, overall album music has heavy influences from Spock's Beard. It seems like everything about this album is very Neal Morseish. The first opening part combines great sounds of keyboard, bass, guitar and dazzling drums. There are some organ sounds that remind me to the music of 70's. The changing tempo happens quite frequently with transition through quieter passages featuring vocals and piano touch. In the middle of the epic the music changes in style which happens not truly smooth. The organ sound inserts are really nice. The change to other style sometimes happen abruptly but it rocks as it continues with a stunning guitar solo. An excellent composition.

We All Need Some Light (5:44) is a ballad like Spock's Beard ballad song in "Day For Night" album with acoustic guitar as main rhythm section. It's a good one even though it's not my favorite track.

Mystery Train (6:51) is an upbeat tempo music with musical punctuation comprising a combination of dynamic drum, organ, guitar rhythm. When vocal line enters the music turns into funk style with some distorted sounds. The composition is really excellent combining funk and rock in complex style. This track has become one of Transatlantic favorite tracks. I like the part where only bass guitar and drum play the music followed with symphonic keyboard sound. Awesome.

My New World (16:15) starts off with a symphonic exploration in a classical music style. The music goes symphonic with guitar leading the melody accompanied with soaring keyboard sound. Nice piano work during first lyrical part. This track sounds like the Flower Kings song where it loans the style a lot from. The flow of music is excellent. The guitar solo followed by keyboard solo are stunning!

In Held ('twas) in I (17:21) is the band's cover for Procol Harum's sound and they do it excellently which I'm sure the members of Procol Harum would be very happy with this arrangement. Though it's arranged differently, some characteristics of the original version - like organ sounds - is maintained thoroughly and reminds me to the seventies music. This cover might be the reason for Procol Harum's fans to buy this CD enjoying another alternative of Harum's legendary track.

Overall, it's an excellent addition to any prog collection. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#46528)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Right off the bat I'd like to admit that this album did nothing for me. The opening 30 minute track was so overlong and guideless, I practically fell asleep. Only 'Mystery Train' held my interest. And to top it off, the CD was given to me for free. But a funny thing happened. I threw it on again after a few weeks, and lo and behold, the melodies were stuck in my head even tho I had thought them in one eye and out the other. Now after a few years since its debut, I can say with all cliche's attached, it took me a few listens but it's now one of my favorites post 2000. And the first track, (which is an album in and of itself) is my favorite epic of the past 10 or more years. It just has so much going on all throughout its 30 minutes, I never get tired of hearing it. It is absolute glory! 'We All Need Light' is a typical Morse ballad-like track and just doesn't do anything for me. 'Mystery Train' is a solid rocker, ala Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Stoner rock, man! 'My New World' has to be Stolt's best song since the early days of The Flower Kings. It's got his awesome guitar picking, ala Mr Howe. My second favorite track almost rivaling the opener. "In Held (twas) In I' is a super solid remake of the old Procal Harum track from 1968, (early long prog track, BTW), Trewavas's flat singing in spots is its only drawback for me. A stunner, nonetheless. A powerful album that is amazing given it took them less than two weeks to record, and I must mention Portnoy's fantastic drum work. It's remarkable, and I'm not a Dream Theatre fan at all. get this classic album for modern prog done stunningly right! 4.5 stars.
Report this review (#60312)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Without a doubt "All Of The Above" is the best Spock's Beard song ever recorded. Seriously though, Morse is all over this album which made me question the idea that this was a 4 person project. Still, I like what Spock's was doing at the time, and felt that the other 3 members of TA made enough difference in the overall sound and arrangment to make this a worthwhile album. And Stolts song, "My New World" is easily the second best thing on this album. So nothing terribly innovative on this album, but still quite good. As mentioned, first track AOTA is my favorite on the album, and I think the best thing this band ever did. Second track, We All Need Some Light, is pleasant enough, but fails to really rise to greatness. Still a good track though. Mystery Train seems like a reject from a Spock's album, and is easily my least favorite song on here. Not terrible, but not particularly good either. The live version is more interesting and a worked as a nice bridge into Strawberry Fields. Stolt's song is quite good, and not too much like the Flower Kings to seem like one of his songs for them (unlike Morse's songs on this album). The final track, a Procol Harem cover, is outstanding. I've never heard the original, but this a great prog/psychedelic track and a good ending to the album. I can't call this a masterpiece, as it doesn't really cover new ground musically. But I can say it is an excellent prog album. A solid 4 stars.
Report this review (#64381)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I found this whole album to be somewhat annoying on first listen because it's, well, quite poppish. I'm generally a Genesis/Gentle Giant/ELP sort of person, so when a friend of mine made me listen to the title track, my first reaction was "eww". I recognized the drums to be Portnoy right off the bat, though. However, on further listenings, I found All of the Above to be incredibly insiduous. Nearly six months after first hearing it, All of the Above is one of my favorite prog songs I've ever listened to. The other tracks, though good, really don't do much for me, although if you listen to them both back to back, it's hard to tell We All Need some Light to Roy Rogers by Elton John. Seriously, listen to it.

So for a recommendation, I'd have to say that if you consider yourself more of a metal fan than a prog fan, you should definitely give this a shot, and if you like Genesis and Gentle Giant, this is right up your alley once you listen to it a few times.

Report this review (#64880)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars well me being a huge prog metal fan and being in a prog metal band it was hard for me to get use to prog rock stuff like Yes, Genesis, etc. However though i told myself that i would get all the side project albums by my favorite drummer Mike Portnoy. So i decided that even though TRANSATLANTIC is a prog rock band i would still get it anyway. At first spin, i didn't even listen to the whole thing and that really was a mistake cause this album IS INCREDIBLE. Never before have i heard such awesomeness in such length of songs and such diversity of styles. This album definitely opened me up to a whole world of progressive rock. i mean come on with neal morse's creative keyboard work, roine stolt's smooth, heavy, and jazzy guitar licks, Pete Trewawas awesome rhythmic bass playing, and of course mike portnoy's playing style in a way of telling us IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT BAND OR WHAT STYLE I'M PLAYING CAUSE HERE TO KICK TAIL. This is a highly recommend album if you like new wave prog rock or old wave prog rock. 4 and 1/2 stars for me because i would give it five but i really am not a fan of cover songs i mean IN HELD (TWAS) IN I is a great track but i would've liked it better if they had another original song
Report this review (#69174)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Stolt, Morse, Portnoy, Trewaves: four of the most highly regarded modern prog musicians collaborating in this short lived, but highly impactive supergroup. While a common supergroup could just be written off as a big jam-session, Transatlantic can not. Just as much thought and care is put into this as in their own groups.

While there are nods to the classic prog rock bands, as well as each members respective band, it is Morse's sound that comes out the most, leading me to believe that he is Transatlantic's primary writer, though I do know they all pitched in on all but one of the songs. Maybe it was just the input of the other three members, but Morse is stronger than ever. In fact, this, as far as I'm concerned, is the album that launched Morse into the realm of brilliance he is in today. Ever since Transatlantic, he has been churning out incredible albums one after the other, and quickly too.

On their debut, the guys don't hold anything back. The first track is a 31-minute epic. "All of the Above" stands out as one of progressive rock's finest epics. It's meldoies are memorable, often catchy, and full of feeling. This is no shock; I regard Morse and Stolt as two of the finest melody makers in music. It is marvelling how the group has this naturally cohesive sound, especially when considering how long they've been playing together. Not once do I get bored during this song.

Following that giant are two shorter pieces, "We All Need Some Light" and "Mystery Train." The former is a slower tempo piece, the latter being the opposite in that aspect, but both are uplifting. Again, memorable hooks and great emotion lead the way.

"My New World" is the last of the original pieces here, and it's back to the extended format. This one, however, is only 16 minutes, just barely over half the length of the other epic. The quality is equal to the prior songs.

The album ends with a cover of Procul Harum's "In Held ('Twas) in I." A good cover for sure, but I, not being a big fan of covers, often end the album without listening to this one. It is good though; don''t get me wrong.

To sum up all of the above (and to throw in a silly pun), the music is highly catchy, memorable and emotional. Fans of Spock's Beard will definitely enjoy this, as will pretty much any fan of [new or old] progressive rock. The music, as you would expect, is technical, but it isn't overly gratuitous (a common criticism for Portnoy's main band). I would rate the album 4 1/2 stars. It is not very original, but it is very, very good. Due to the high quality and my personal sentiment, I have to give it the 5 star score.

Report this review (#77087)
Posted Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this is more like it ;-) At first I was skeptical of this band, since they are all members of rather inconsistent (in prog terms) bands, but together them seem to have a chemistry not found in Flower Kings, Marillion, Spock's Beard or Dream Theater taken separately. There is a certain creative spirit that the four of these guys release when writing together. Maybe it is just that each of them is trying to bring out the best elements of their playing and writing for this project - after all these are musicians at the top of their profession, and there is no room for sloppy work. The result is a tight, clean and focused music. The music that they have created is contemporary, yet timeless, melodic and yet technically complex, structured and yet there is plenty of room for collective improvisation. The songs are long, yet focused and tight without the annoying and self-indulgent jamming that makes the Flower Kings so frustrating to listen to at times. Just quality music, that makes you want to listen to it again and again. Overall style is symphonic progressive (with all the trappings - mini moog, Hammond B3, Mellotron, breakneck passages, pastoral interludes, gorgeous vocal harmonies) with with some art-rock influences. Besides the grand epics and a heart-felt ballad, included is a timeless, super-catchy-radio-friendly song with Genesis references, "Mystery Train", which in different (better) times would be all over rock radio. To sum up, the album is a thouroughly satisfying one and highly recommendded for people who like Yes, Genesis, Procol Harum, The Beatles, The Flower Kings, Canterbury Prog and Art Rock in general - in short, prog-head's wet dream.
Report this review (#77132)
Posted Thursday, May 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An Excellent piece of modern Progressive Rock! I bought this album being a Dream Theater and Spock's Beard fan. This isn't very Dream Theater influenced at all, however. This is pure Symphonic Prog.

Right away the Morse and Stolt influence is very evident. The first track is a 30 minute epic and is, in my mind, the best on the album and worthy of buying for this track alone. Morse's lyris are great, but don't seem to have much concept, overall metephor, or anything connecting the lyrics in the epic together.

The Bass and Drumming are very good, Pete Trewevas is a great melodic player, though not very original and Portnoy is great as usual and he isn't as wild as he is in Dream Theater. The ballad of the album is your average "good" Neal Morse ballad and is the weakest track on the album.

Mystery train is another just good track, with a slight psychedelic feel to it. My New World is the last original track on this album, and is the best track after the epic, though it's a little boring. It features both Stolt and Morse on vocals. The last track is a Procol Harum cover, which is quite good with everyone doing lead vocals at some point.

Overall this is a quite good album, and is worth it for the title track alone. Four stars.

Report this review (#85430)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars There is so much talent packed in this group. I didn't fell in love with this album with the first listen nor with the second nor the third. With the exception of We All Need Some Light (a great Morse ballad) and Mistery Train (wich is fun to listen to from the first time) the rest of the album must be listened several times in order to fully appreciate it's greatness.

All Of The Above is a HUGE epic, brilliantly crafted and smart. Is a nice mix of Spock's Beard (prog yet catchy) and The Flower Kings. One of the best symphonic prog epics ever.

My New World is a mini epic that only gets better with every listen. This song has great feeling and atmosphere, with that piano and Roine's vocals giving this song a melancholic touch (or maybe is just me). Pure delight.

The Procol Harum cover is very well done, interesting and changing. A moody, touching song.

They sound like a 70's prog band to me and in a good way of course, I don't know, I think their music carries a lot of magic, something wich isn't easy to find at all.

Report this review (#95192)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only the song "All of the Above" should already make this a 4 start album, but does the good stuff stop there? Heck no! There's only one weak song on this lenghty album (mystery train) but I'll forgive them. My new world is a Stolt composition and has a lesser Spock's Beard feel to it than the rest of the album. Last but not least there's a cover of In held ('twas) in I by Procul Harum, I don't know the original song, but it must've been good, at least this is. Anyone comparing this to a Spock's Beard album, I guess they're right, but then this must be the best Spock's Beard of all!

Very good album, especially considering it's of the year 2000.

4,5 stars.

Report this review (#97128)
Posted Sunday, November 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Transatlantic are arguably the first prog super group of the 90's generation (so of course, it was released in 2000), made up from leading members of four of the biggest bands of the 90's. Roine Stolt, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Pete Trewaves make up an extremely talented group of musicians and any band who's first song is 30 minutes long (!) is clearly ambitious.

This is an album clearly performed in the manner of classic Symphonic prog, big arrangements, big guitar solos, impressive keyboard solo's and genre defining bass guitar performances, the first album from Transatlantic has it all, and that includes intelligent sounding lyrics that tend to go nowhere. To be more specific the band sounds like a cross between The Flower Kings (largely from Stolts guitars and Trewaves bass) and Spock's Beard (from Morse's keyboards and Portnoys drumming).

Anyone that is familiar with these two bands will know what to expect, and that's mainly incredible musicianship ala Yes in their heyday. I feel that each of the four members here gave an impressively focused performance, there is no meandering into pointless instrumental parts that go nowhere, an accomplishment for Stolt as he is certainly guilty of this in The Flower Kings, and just break up the song. The opening track, the 31 minute All of the Above, is testament to this as it seems to go past in only half the time that it lasts, never being dull at all. This can also be said for the other two epics on this album, My New World and the Procul Harum cover In Held ('Twas) in I. The other trap that the band could have fallen into was the obvious attempt to create radio friendly tracks to gain attention (something that Neal Morse was guilty of doing in Spock's Beard from time to time). Thankfully, they've stayed clear f this as well.

Special mention should go to Pete Trewaves performance on this album as he really brought his level of playing up to that of the others, who are recognized masters of their respective instruments. Though no one could fault his creativity with Marillion, he never showed, or needed to show, highly accomplished levels of technical ability (I suspect because it wouldn't have fitted into the slightly simpler style of Marillion). But here he really pushes the boat out and shows what he's got, whilst keeping that impressive ability to always create an interesting bass line that grabs as much attention as any other instrument without overshadowing them.

Like the previously mentioned bands, Transatlantic doesn't re-invent Symphonic prog but gives it a more up-dated sound for modern times. This is rather derivative of the music pioneered by the classic groups Yes, Genesis, etc, but its just done so incredibly well that any fan of the classic bands should be able to get on with this like a house on fire. Each song is composed brilliantly and is both or either beautiful and exiting all the way through. As I said, its derivative of the classics but its just so enjoyable that I cant recommend this enough to any fan of the original bands. 5 stars without hesitation.

Report this review (#98841)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A progressive Dream Team? Hell yes. Their name is Transatlantic, and the four members Morse, Stolt, Portnoy and Trewavas come from Spock's Beard, Flower Kings, Dream Theater and Marillion. Really, not joking! This record is just incredible, and any symphonic prog fan will be literally in paradise with it. Altough sounding a little bit retro at times, especially during the only cover in the record, In Held ('Twas) In I by Procol Harum, it contains some of the most highly enjoyable moments that neo prog scene has ever had, and it displays all the creativity of the four members of the band, the smart and melodic Trewavas's work on bass, the energetic and beautifully sounding drumming of Portnoy (which is surprisingly different from what he usually plays with Dream Theater), and the marvellous compositional skills from Roine Stolt and the great Neal Morse, surely my favourite neo progressive composer. Overall it has an incredibly variegate range of musical ideas and suggests lots of images and colors and sensations. Quite rare in a record, to be honest.

The record starts with the big and majestic epic All Of The Above, which is a marvellous creature created probably for the majority of its parts by Neal Morse since it has some Spock's Beard reminiscences, so full of beautiful and joyful melodies and themes. Especially the opening part Full Moon Rising and the more folkish part Undying Love are incredibly emotional, and wonderfully arranged, with lots of dynamics and beautiful polyphonics backing vocals.

Then the mood slow down a bit with the heart-breaking ballad We All Need Some Light. Superb music, incredibly emotional, with a great performance from Morse.

Then comes Mystery Train, which is clearly inspired by the Beatles (remember Magical Mystery Tour?) , like almost all the other stuff from Transatlantic, as John Paul George and Ringo are one of the declared inspiration for this side project. Once again outrageously good music, pure prog rock at its best.

Then comes My New World, which is probably the best song from Transatlantic, together with Stranger In Your Soul from the Bridge Across Forever album. What can I say about this one? Stolt sings very well, and the overall mood is extremely eterogenous. From the majestic beginning, which is based on one the most memorable themes from Transatlantic, we move on to the verses, based on a marvellous chord progression and a fabolous rhythm that alternate between 5/8 and 6/8 flowlessly. Chorus is catchy and incredibly happy, as for most of their music. After a funky 9/8 jam it concludes with more epic and very touching moments. Perfect song guys, excellent job!

The record finishes with In Held ('Twas) In I, which is an interesting arrangement of the Procol Harum original, and concludes a masterpiece of contemporary progressive rock music. Fabolous!

Report this review (#99562)
Posted Sunday, November 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the album by the so-called supergroup, consisting of members from four well- known prog rock bands, Pete Trewavas (Marillion), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) Roine Stolt (Flower Kings) and Neal Morse (Spock's Beard). Sometimes, supergroups don't work particularly well; maybe the musicians just aren't compatible, or their egos kick in, or the songwriting isn't all it could be. With Transatlantic, the four musicians have created a tremendous piece of work. They sound, and play, as if they were a band that has been going strong a long time. Ok, the dominant sound of this album is a mixture of TFK and Spock's Beard. To my ears, there is little or nothing of Marillion, and less of Dream Theater, (though that is a good thing for me, not being a DT fan). Morse takes the lions share of the vocals and songwriting, as befits one whose project this is. Stolt is also well to the fore, though he sings less on this album. His easily recognised guitar style is prominent throughout. The first track, 'All Of The Above', is destined to be an all-time classic. It really is a wonderful song, and the highlight of the album. Superb keyboards from Morse, great changes in mood and pace, nice bass from Trewavas, and some killer guitar work from Stolt, sounding at times like Steve Howe. The whole never flags, or drags on too long, and at the end, Stolt puts in a brilliant solo to finish. 'We All Need Some Light' is the shortest track on the album, and the only one solely credited to Morse. A gentle song, it opens with some lovely 12 string acoustic playing from Stolt, and then the gentle melody wanders in. It's a great song, yet probably my least favourite track on the album - but only comparatively - as it is a very straightforward piece in which nothing particular happens. 'Mystery Train' is the album's 'fun' piece. Great off the wall lyrics, weird harmonies,it's an uptempo, pyschedelic song that grows on the listener the more he or she listens. And it has a great ending too. 'My New World' is Stolt's baby; he takes the lion share of the vocal duties, and it's another superb tune. The middle section onwards is really powerful stuff. The type of song that TFK could easily use. Finally, 'In Held ('twas) In I finishes the album in strong style. It's a cover version of an old Procul Harum song, and very well done too. Trewavas, (I think) speaks the opening sequence, and then the odd melody starts properly. Some nice Procul Harum style organ playing from Morse in this tune, and some great bass and drums too. I have to say Portnoy is a gifted drummer, and even though this is miles from DT, he does a fine job here. The end brings another great solo from Stolt, and it ends with Trewavas saying 'isn't it?' which is almost how it started. This is a very strong offering from some of today's best prog musicians When I first heard about this, I only knew of Stolt and Trewavas, but now I appreciate the other musicians too. This is a must have for fans of TFK, Spock's Beard, and good prog rock in general. Four stars, easily.
Report this review (#112028)
Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The two albums that Transatlantic has produced are incredible. They both deserve spots in the top 20 Symphonic Prog albums list (but we all know that will never happened because so many people are afraid to admit that anything can top Selling England/CTTE.) Anyway, this stuff is just amazing. Pity Neal Morse doesn't want to be involved in Transatlantic anymore. I mean, it isn't like Transatlantic would stop him from going on his little crusade haha!

Every single track is magnificent on this CD and it all sounds like a mix of Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Marillion, Dream Theater and The Beatles. Very catchy, melodic and epic stuff happening here. Progasmic almost. If I had to choose a weak track, it would have to be Mystery Train, but it's still a great, catchy funky little track. All of the Above is fun and epic, We All Need Some is moving and magnificent, My New World is just plain beautiful and In Held ('Twas) In I is sweeping and stunning. Epic is the only way to describe this band. I can't recommend these albums highly enough. If you like any of the bands mentioned previously, you simply can't go wrong here.

Report this review (#112257)
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The concept of a prog rock supergroup has loads of potential for overblown, pompous, and laughable music. That is not the case with Transatlantic! These guys have come together and put out a very nice album, and you can just tell from the energy and happiness of the music that they loved the process of doing it. SMPTe was one of my first official prog purchases from reading ProgArchives, and as such it functioned as a sort of gateway album. It led me to explore more Morse and Dream Theater (thank goodness) as well as Marillion and The Flower Kings (less impressed, but still some keepers).

All of the Above. Probably in my top 25 epics, this is just a great song: one of the few tunes that can make me feel as happy as when I'm listening to Yes. They are really on the same page here: some of my favorite Portnoy work (no double bass, thank goodness), Morse is quite tasteful on keys/synths (and his voice sounds great as well), Stolt is ever-present (great both on lead and backing), and Trewavas lays down some nice grooves. Extra kudos for the beautiful closing guitar line, and the Yes-like die down.

We All Need Some Light, Mystery Train. The shorter tracks are also well done. The former is a beautifully arranged, dreamy ballad- type, and the latter is a catchy rocker with a nice freakout in the middle. I like them both every time.

My New World. I probably enjoy this less than other reviewers, though it's certainly 16 minutes of enjoyable music. It's a bit too disjointed and slow in parts for me to really get into, but this is a Stolt song, and I often have the same impression of The Flower Kings' songs.

In Held ('Twas) in I. Not being familiar with the original, I have no standard for proper comparison, but for what it's worth, I really like what I hear! A true collaborative effort, with each member making important musical and vocal contributions, though Portnoy and Stolt stand out as sounding especially good here. Excellent way to end an album.

I'm very close to giving this masterpiece status, but I think it falls JUST short. Even though there is not a second on here that I don't enjoy, there is just a little bit of originality and creativity that's missing to be a masterpiece. That being said, I am quite fond of this album, and I believe you will be too.

Report this review (#138958)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is incredible; this supergroup of modern prog rock bands has made an album greater than any classic prog album. All of the Above is the greatest song of all time. Nothing compares to it's epic catchiness. Mystery Rain and My New World are super catchy as well. Recomended to every intelligent creature in the universe. Essential to everyone everywhere, everytime, in every dimension.
Report this review (#149321)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I always thought the successor was better than this debut but I'm not sure anymore. It's a fact to me that All of the Above is the strongest composition of both the albums. I consider it one of the ultimate epics ever, really tremendous. On the other hand it is also by far the best track of this album. We all need some light is a very nice ballad and My new world is another great long one. But the other two tracks are to be rated much lower. Still that leaves all in all a very good album, at least worth four stars but not good enough for 5. And that was also the case with Bridge across forever. So I think the albums are more or less equal in quality.

I think summarizing Transatlantic was a succesful project but I think it's wise to leave it at this. Two albums will do and it's better for the members to concentrate on their own bands, that's more important it seems to me.

Report this review (#150970)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars TRANSATLANTIC are a memorable supergroup formed in 1999 by ex-SPOCK'S BEARD main figure Neal Morse and DREAM THEATER's overcreative drummer Mike Portnoy,who recruited MARILLION's Peter Trewavas on bass and THE FLOWER KINGS'/KAIPA's leader Roine Stolt on guitars.''SMPTe'' was released a year later and it was what exactly progressive rock needed:A modern and fresh progressive rock album with qualitive musicianship,beautiful epics,killer individual performances,nice melodies and a vintage 70's like sound,especially in PROCOL HARUM's excellent cover version of ''In held (twas )in I''.The rest of the tracks (four that is) is a masterful combination of GENESIS' powerful softness,JETHRO TULL's energy,PINK FLOYD's atmosphere,YES' diversity and THE BEATLES' cleverness with nice moods,melodies and arrangements.A highly recommended work with classic prog inspiration,especially if you want to check out what progressive rock is all about.
Report this review (#150993)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars At the beginning of this year, I was looking for some music from a Portonoy project, who is, as we all know, an excellent drummer, on of the best these days. Though I haven't heard the music from the other band members (Neil Morse, Pete Trewaves and Roine Stolt), I decided to give this a chance. Plus, I've read and heard good things about this record. The music is, as expected, new prog rock, very symphonic á la 'old school' prog bands. The compositions are tight and the production is crystal clear. The record starts, oddly, with a 32 minute epic called "All Of The Above". It took many listens to fully appreciate, and lately I realised this is a phenomenal song: intrincate playing, sudden time changes, nice melodies (and a proggy memorable keyboard melody, which never lacks in this kind of compositions), and well keys/guitar solos, specially the guitar one at the end. Neil's singing was kind of an acquired taste to me, and with all those repeated listens I came to like it (there are some laughable vocal parts, though). The two followers, "We All Need Some Light" and "Mistery Train" are enjoyable and much more accesible than the other tracks, even commercial at times, with very catchy choruses. "My New World" (16 minutes) is another proggy one, in the vein of the big album opener, and has such great melodies. Another excellent track. So, why do I give it 3 stars? The closer "In Held ('twas) In I", which is a Procol Harum cover (never heard the oribinal song, by the way), seems incoherent to my ears, and because of that, boring. Even, it's a bit odd compared to the other tracks of the album.

Overall, a very good album with a weak closer. Enjoyable and precisely played, nonetheless.

Rating: 3.2/5

Report this review (#153063)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars It would make sense logically that one of the many inherent problems involved in assembling so-called "Supergroups" would be ending up with a whole lotta chiefs and not enough Indians. It's also naive to postulate that a utopian democracy would work, either, so I get the impression that at some point Neal Morse got designated as the untitled chairman of the board of this project, so to speak, because I find his influence to be the most dominant of the four on this album. This is not to say it's a detriment, however, and his tactful leadership probably kept this debut from becoming a free-for-all anarchy of egos.

Not being the personality types to timidly test the waters, Transatlantic boldly steps out and presents a 31-minute epic to introduce themselves to the symphonic prog world. It's quite a haul to digest at first but it definitely shows that they weren't afraid to reach for the stars. "All of the Above" is predictably long on music and short on decipherable lyrics but it makes for an enjoyable half hour of listening, nonetheless. It's divided into six segments and the first one, "Full Moon Rising," fades in like you're standing close to the edge of a mysterious abyss and soon you're immersed in an energized, instrumental mini-overture that features the inimitable growl of the Hammond organ. (Always a plus.) Morse takes the initial shift at the mike by singing something about a full moon appearing "while the sun burns bright as day" and off you go. "October Winds" offers a calmer atmosphere with dense harmonies, then a cathedral organ accompanied by Roine Stolt's guitar stylizations and fat tone elevate things to a higher level in a hurry. Neal tosses in a nice jazzy piano solo before moving to the organ and then he steps aside to let Roine's guitar blaze a wide swath again. Things smooth out once more with the haunting refrain of "maybe nothing matters anyway," leading to the graceful bass guitar chordings of Pete Trewavas that characterize the understated "Camouflaged in Blue," a somewhat traditional-sounding but pleasant ballad that provides some perspective. Stolt's raging guitar segues into the rockin' "Half Alive," yet another jaded glimpse into a musician's life on the road, followed by the quieter "Undying Love." Mike Portnoy's always-amazing drumming draws you into Roine's hot guitar lead and then you get a reprise of the opening section. Here the guitar playing is again very impressive as it swirls atop a huge cathedral of sound. You may find it odd but my favorite part of all is what I call the "shimmering" ending in which they patiently take their time to create a fantasy of suspended musical colors, reminding me of a mist-shrouded waterfall. While the whole opus fails to achieve greatness you gotta give them props for attempting such a large-scale undertaking right out of the gate.

No one writes better prog rock ballads than Neal Morse and "We All Need Some Light" is one of his best. The deep, ringing 12- string guitars and the clever interplay between piano and acoustic guitar in the middle compliment Morse's poignant delivery of lines pleading for a glimmer of hope in this mixed-up world. "Mystery Train" is very much an eclectic rocker in the vein of Spock's Beard (Neal's band at the time) with its unorthodox but alluring funky groove that Mike and Pete slip into with ease. There's some intriguing percussion rolling around in the shadows and it has a dreamy, Beatle-ish ending. Next is Roine's "My New World" and it may be the most cohesive track offered here. It starts with a classical twist, then establishes a big wall of sound around the fluid guitar. A verse partially performed in 5/6 time and a full, three part harmony-embellished chorus are remarkable but it's the solo section that literally sizzles with various inventive forays off the beaten path. Neal's comforting Hammond organ ride guides you back to the verse and chorus, punctuated by some jazzy guitarisms. Overall, the well-thought-out and crafty arrangement of the tune makes this a true highlight of the CD.

Yet all this fantastic musicianship and cooperation didn't stop the proceedings from ending up in what I think was an error in judgment when they opted to revive the old Procol Harum ditty, "In Held ('Twas I)." While I can appreciate that they obviously came to a consensus concerning including a lengthy, involved song they all craved to cover for one reason or another, I have to admit that I'd never heard it before and I think there's a good reason for that. It's just not that memorable. Beginning with some flatly spoken metaphysical babble that evolves into an overly dramatic score, the tune meanders listlessly through different moods before entering a dated psychedelic arena where anything goes. That's followed by a build up that sounds like something from a cheap monster movie taking you back to some lackadaisical verses before transporting you to a weird pomp-and- circumstance motif where they perform an unusual variation on "God Save the Queen." While the song does give Portnoy a chance to kick out the jams on his drum kit as only he can do, I have to state the blatant fact that I don't "get" the total sum of this saga. It's kinda like having one of your friends play you something that just knocks them out but does absolutely nothing for you personally. And it's not like I didn't try my damnedest to like it. I gave it at least ten spins before giving up on it. So it goes.

This album has all the earmarks of a supremely talented foursome feeling each other out while attempting to find a unified sound. It's not weak or tedious at all but it lacks the cohesiveness that would personify their brilliant follow-up, "Bridge Across Forever," which I think is one of the best symphonic prog albums of the 21st century. I feel that if I'd gotten this CD first I may have hesitated to invest in their next one and I would've been tragically cheating myself so be advised that they get a lot better on #2. While I grant this one 4 stars (mainly due to the high level of musicianship and engineering involved) it really deserves a 3.5 in my book.

Report this review (#154790)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This is an uneven debut-album by this impressive supergroup. Although most of the band's material was pre-written by Neal Morse the longer tracks still manage to shine a lot more than the original demo recordings which can be heard on the album The Transatlantic Demos. A huge surprise for me was the re-recording of the great Procol Harum opus because I never really care much for that composition in the past but thanks to Transatlantic it now shines in a whole different light and I actually consider it to be one of my all time favorite lengthier pieces. Although it doesn't surpass the original it still adds to this album, beside it's great when a band gives credit where credit is deserved.

As for the original material that SMPTe has to offer, I just never liked it all that much. This might have to do a lot with the far more superior follow up album which perfects the formula of both the lengthy and shorter piece. I still do enjoy listening to All Of The Above since some of the sections are truly magnificent but, composition-wise, it just doesn't hold a candle to Duel With The Devil or even Stranger In Your Soul.

Eventually the band would come into their own on their next release which I highly recommend getting before this debut album. If you've already heard Bridge Across Forever and feel like hearing more from where it came from then, by all means, pick it up and continue on in you Transatlantic-quest!

**** star songs: All Of The Above (30:59) My New World (16:15) In Held ('Twas) In I (17:21)

*** star songs: We All Need Some Light (5:44) Mystery Train (6:51)

Total Rating: 3,84

Report this review (#161579)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars 4.5 stars

After 31 minutes of the song All The Above I just sat there. Stunned. Slowly I started to smile, even laugh! This is one of the greatest epics I've ever heard. Stunningly beautiful, catchy and utterly progressive. This is all the good stuff from the '70s paired with great modern music, resulting in a very accessible masterpiece.

There's Hammond organ, modern synths and other, more atmospheric keys and fantastic piano. And on top of this the rich guitar of my countryman Roine Stolt and an always interesting, yet subtle bass courtesy of mr. Pete Trewavas. Vocals are soft and warm and the drumming duties are taken care of by no other than Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater fame. Need I say more?

Well, I guess I have to. Because not everything on this album is as masterful as All of the Above. We All Need Some Light sure is nice and gentle, but I've never really grown fond of it. Something of a yawner. Mystery Train is great and more like the opener, but more aggressive and with powerful drumming from Portnoy. My New World is second only to All of The Above, with a bunch of different segments, filled with strong influences from Beatles, but most certainly also from Yes!

In held ('twas) in I is the last song and it's a cover. Procol Harum, and I haven't heard the original. It sure is a tribute, but 17 minutes of it? It's a nice song, but I won't count it in the review. Doesn't feel right since it's not the band's own material and due to the fact that I can't compare it to the original.

I love this brand of warm, 'happy' (instrumentation) progressive rock. Always reminds me of Kansas. Great!

Report this review (#162029)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars A stellar entry into the symphonic rock genre with soaring melodies, dynamic performances, catchy songs, and genuine energy; the label 'super-group' is truly legitimate here.

The lineup does not really need to be raved about anymore, but I feel it bears reiterating that although it includes two of THE names of the time (Morse/Stolt), 'SMPTe' does not necessarily feel like a clone of those player's bands. While similarities are all over the place, this release comes across with a unique feel and energy which picks up the best of what Spock's Beard/Flower Kings have to over and leave out their respective 'fluff'. Perhaps most fun for me is Stolt's infectious voice and amazing guitar without the trite lyrics that completely bog-down FK's music, but there is so much good stuff going on here that no single player steals the show.

First, is the songwriting, which shines in terms of its likeability, polished performance, and craftsmanship. As expected, there is an outstanding contrast of tempos and dynamics, with vocal duties being covered mostly by Morse (who is more restrained and less grating than in SBeard). Portnoy's drumming is tight and intricate (obviously), but not quite as gung-ho as in Dream Theatre; Trewavas on the other hand feels like a whole new player-- cranking out fat bass lines very unlike what he does in this era of Marillion's music.

There is an exceptional feeling of approachability to this songs-- they're pompous and long, sure, but there is a level class in 'SMPTe' which I feel might extend to those who wouldn't normally consider listening to this kind of music. Of course, for those of us who do... this remains one of the best options out there.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#165042)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Transatlantic´s debut album SMPTe was a nice surprise to me when it was released in 2000. I was a big fan at the time of both Dream Theater, The Flower Kings, Spock´s Beard and Marillion, where the members ( Neil Morse of Spock´s Beard on vocals and keyboards, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater on drums and backing vocals, Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings on guitar, vocals, mellotron and percussion and Pete Trewavas of Marillion on bass and backing vocals)of Transatlantic normally spend their working hours. My expectations were of course very high regarding this supergroup and they were met to some extent. By that I mean that I was expecting a new sound for Transatlantic but as it turned out Neal Morse wrote most of the material and SMPTe ended up sounding like a Spock´s Beard album most of the time.

I don´t have many reservations about this as I like Spock´s Beard allthough I could have wished for a more original sound with four such outstanding musicians. Here on SMPTe it just shines through who is in what band a little too much.

The album consists of five songs. Three of the songs are long epics while the two last songs are more simple while still in a progressive vein. All of the above is a 31 minute long epic song predominantly written by Neal Morse. It sounds mostly like a Spock´s Beard song and one of the better ones that is. All of the above is followed by the two shorter songs We all need some light and Mystery train which are also Neal Morse compositions. We All Need Some Light is a ballad type song while Mystery Train is a rock song. None of them makes the biggest impression on me. The epic 16 minute long My new world is a Roine Stolt composition and just as the Neal Morse compositions sound like Spock´s Beard My new world sounds very much like The Flower Kings. I like The Flower Kings so this is a treat for me. The 17 minute long epic In held ('twas) in I closes the album. It´s Procul Harum cover song and even though I don´t know the original this version is very good.

The musicianship is outstanding as you might have guessed with these musicians and of course there are millions of parts in the long songs and lots of soloing to satisfy most symphonic prog rock fans.

The production sounds very much like a Spock´s Beard album even though the drums have a different sound.

SMPTe might not be the most original album as it is very seventies retro in sound, but it is certainly a welcome addition to my prog rock collection. The compositions are of high quality and the overall impression of the album means that I will rate it 4 stars. It´s a long way from being a masterpiece but it´s far too good to only be rated 3 stars so 4 stars it will be.

Report this review (#172026)
Posted Friday, May 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Considering the all star team, I was a bit disappointed. This album sounded too much like Spock's Beard V. Certainly Neal Morse is the main character here and if you like his music, chances are you're going to enjoy this album a lot. Since I'm not a real fan of SB, Transatlantic's music sounds to me as other Spock's Beard releases: complex, interesting, very well done and does have his own style. (Morse's style, that is). There are very few things here that reminds me of The Flower Kings, Marillion or (much less) Dream Theater.

Although I must also say that these muscians are absolute superb ones (as you all know very well), this is the classic case where you know the album is good, but you do not hear it a lot. Even after reading all these glowing reviews and hearing the record several times, my opinion haven't changed much: it does not move me. Nothing's wrong with the band. Maybe the songwriting is not my taste. I wish the other members had added more of their strong talents to the final mix. Even if there are several writing credits for them. They became little more than the backing musicians.

A good prog album, no question about it. But it is definitly for Neil Morse's fans.

Report this review (#172191)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars Another excellent Spock's Beard album! Wait a moment... In the cover says Transatlantic? This must be a mistake!

Ok... There are some strange voices for being a Spock's Beard release, wich sound like Roine Stolt, and so are some guitar parts, even with the typical Stolt's wah-wah effect... And the drum's sound is uglier than the Nick de Virgilio's! It's dry, too direct, but very technical... I'd swer it's similar to Mike Portnoy! And what about this Marillion-like ambiental and bass-guided part in the minute 13 of All of the Above? It's so strange... What happened with the Dave Meros's strong basses? This bass sounds softer, although is great...

Let's see the booklet... Oh no, this is not a Spock's Beard album! Is really another group (or supergroup...) called Transatlantic! Then... Why is it souding like another Spock's Beard release? Maybe is because Neal Morse's talent is above the other's one. Or maybe because he was the most focused and interested memeber of the group, and he made most of the compositions. He is obviously the mastermind behind this proyect.

There are also some The Flower King's elements... Specially in My New World (because of Roine's vocals...) and In Held (`Twas) In, with some Roine Stolt's typical guitar passages, specially at the end. Like I said before, in All of the Above there is maybe a section wich sounds like Marillion... And except for the Mike Portnoy's typical and ugly drums sound and some double pedal playing, we have not Dream Theater here. So this album is a bit dissappointing for me, because I hoped it would be more diversed, and it has a big influence of all the original bands of the musician... But SMPT:e is just another Spock's Beard album with some The Flower Kings influences!

The two short tracks could easily be in Day for Night, and All of the Above, could be included in V, although it has not the quality of the long tacks of this album... So if you like the Neal Morse's old band, you'll like Transatlantic. Otherwise, you'll find more of the same thing.

Best Songs: All of the Above (really good Spock's Beard track, worthy of the album V...) and My new World (very nice track, with some The Flower King's feeling, and a lot of Spock's Beard again...)

Conclusion: if you like Spock's Beard, you'll surely like this album, like I do... But if you are not in the Neal Morse's style, then avoid this release. Because despite the great musicians involved in Transatlantic, Morse is the obvious mastermind of the group. This is the reason why I think this album is dissappointing. I waited something different, original, and diverse... And this is just another Spock's Beard disc. Nevertheless, is a very good one.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#175560)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This band was originally Mike Portnoy's idea, he contacted Neal Morse first who gladly said yes, Jim Matheos agreed to play lead guitar, and the final piece of the puzzle MARILLION's Pete Trewavas who signed on for bass duties. It should be noted that Mike Portnoy is a big fan of all three of the bands that these guys play (played) with. Unfortunately because of numerous delays Jim Matheos from FATES WARNING wasn't going to be availeable. So Neal suggested Roine Stolt to Mike who agreed. Hence we have 2 Americans and 2 Europeans: TRANSATLANTIC. Neal took the bull by the horns and became the leader of this band. Everywhere I read about this debut album from them people say it sounds like SPOCK'S BEARD, and I have to agree. Neal himself said that this recording is much more progressive than a SPOCK'S BEARD album, but the fact is that Morse's finger prints are all over this record. I was surprised it took about 4 listens before I started to really enjoy it,but now i'm a big fan of this album.

"All Of The Above" is the almost 31 minute opener. The first 1 1/2 minutes are classic SPOCK'S BEARD in my opinion .It sounds amazing. Great organ work. Pete is prominant throughout this song on bass. This is just a fantastic ride with Portnoy sounding awesome as usual. I love when Neal starts to sing 5 minutes in. Roine offers up many solos, I especially like it when he starts to rip it up 18 minutes in, and he sounds incredible later around 23 minutes. I really like the uplifting calm 24 minutes in. So many highlights on this epic track.

"We All Need Some Light" opens with some beautiful guitar, mellotron a minute in. This is a mellow track that does get quite powerful 5 minutes in. "Mystery Train" is my favourite. Mainly because of Portnoy and Trewavas. Portnoy is having a blast. "My New World" is actually a refreshing change with Roine on vocals. I like the lyrics too speaking about life in the sixties and how Jim (Morrison) and Janis (Joplin) got us higher. This song is over 16 minutes long. Another great tune. "In Held (Twas) In I" is a cover of a PROCOL HARUM song. It opens with a spoken word story before the music kicks in aggressively before 2 minutes. Great sound after 3 minutes. Check out the organ and drums after 7 minutes ! Portnoy's great again 9 minutes in. So many highlights though. Lots of mellotron in this one too. Roine is ripping it up 15 1/2 minutes in.

Easily 4 stars and my favourite of their two releases.

Report this review (#177052)
Posted Thursday, July 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The sum of the whole...

Transatlantic is likely the biggest prog supergroup to emerge since ELP did in the 70s. With musicians from each of the biggest modern stars in the genre what we have here is quite a mix of style that mix quite well. What's quite ironic about this band is that their albums rank above what most of the members have done with their original bands despite the fact that it really just sounds like all those band blended into a puree. Neal Morse of Spock's Beard is arguably the leader of this project with his name at the front of every song, but worry not those who think it will be highly religious because this album comes even before Snow (by Spock's Beard) which is where it could be argued that Morse became kind of an acquired taste. His voice is also the lead one here, even if it is a bit strange to hear his voice backed by the gruff Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater and the ethereal Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings (who also takes the lead for one track). Pete Trevawas of Marillion also appears to play a mean bass.

The style is basically as you'd expect it to be. If you said to your friend, ''oh! they're this new band that sounds like Spock's Beard meets Dream Theater meets The Flower Kings meets Marillion... but without Fish'' you'd be spot on. Each of the members brings an uncompromisingly large amount of their own style to this band and it actually works really well. I suppose the ego of any of these guys can't be too big - although at the time of writing this review the band is no longer around, so who knows. With each of the members considered the top of their respective instruments this album can really get over the top with it's sound, but who in the prog community really has a problem with that? It's not quite as out there as some prog metal can get, really it's just at the level of some of the old masters (however, we are only talking about over-the-top-ness right now though).

There aren't many tracks on the album, but it's a very long one none the less. The music on this album stuffs the cd to the max, with around 77 minutes of play time in 5 tracks. Mike Portnoy has been quoted as saying, ''our first album was just full of f***in' epics!'' and yes - yes it is. This can make the album both appealing and inaccessible since right off the bat you have a titan of a song hit you square between the eyes without any time for the listener to warm up as All Of The Above kicks into gear. This one really takes on the uplifting features of a Spock's Beard epic while keeping the outerworld feel of The Flower Kings in the slower bits. What's great about the song is that even though it comes to an abrupt stop and continues in a slow fashion right about the middle it really doesn't ever lose momentum. The meditative bass carries on where everything dropped off and then everything picks up again and carries us onto the end. Is this song really worth the 30 minutes of your time though? Short answer - Yes. Long answer - Yes, this is how modern symphonic prog should be played. It's retro, but it's contemporary, it's exciting and it grabs your attention. You really can't do much better than this when it comes to wanting to do a really, really long song. And believe me, each of these guys has tried (with varying degrees of success) in their other bands.

A couple of short songs follow the big one, these ones with different degrees of success. We All need Some Light and Mystery Train are both good songs, but not quite up to the standard of some of the other tunes on the album. We All need Some Light is your standard Morse tune with a slow pace thats full of emotion but fairly out of place coming right out of the giant uplifting epic. Mystery Train is the rocker on the album, still more to the mispaced side of things. Portnoy somewhat spoils this one with over ambitious drumming that becomes particularly annoying as he starts to drum out of time with the vocals coming into the second verse. Intentional - probably. Well used? - not really. Still a fun song that leads us into the next two epics.

Coming into the end we get a couple of real treats. My New World is the last original composition on the album and it's wonderfully highlighted by Stolt's vocals (it's strange because I like his voice in everything but The Flower Kings) and the backing of the rest of the band. This one is fairly boppy sounding as it skips along, it's another very uplifting tune that works very well on the album. Finally we get to the one that a lot of other people have been looking at with raised eyebrows... the cover of Procol Harum's In Held 'Twas I. Well, worry not, these guys do a wonderful modern version of the song. You can tell that each of the band members is really passionate about what they're doing since they each try to get their voices in there at least once (and it works each time) and they play the hell out of it in general. This one will likely never be known as better than the original, but it works in context very well anyways.

Like many modern prog supergroups this is prog music by prog fans for prog fans. Very well performed and executed this one is going to have to get 4 blimps out of 5. An excellent addition to any prog collection. Fans of each of the band involved in the project may enjoy this one more than others, but it's a good chance for those who are skeptical of the other bands to give their members another shot in a different light.

Report this review (#177958)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overall I must say this is a great album. All Of The Above is one of the greatest epics of all time, and is the album's headliner, and MOSTLY everything else on the album is very strong too. Portnoy's drumming is top-notch as usual, and Roine's guitaris distinctive and great too.

All of the Above- 5/5 stars, a great epic and is one of the greatest songs of all time. The ending guitar solo is some of Roine's best playing, and is overall a masterpeice.

We All Need Some Light- 5/5 stars, a great shorter song of Neal Morse's, and includes a great acoustic guitar solo in it too.

Mystery Train- 4/5 stars, another shorter song of Neal's, but nowhere near the masterpeice of the last song. It's a good song, but it doesn't really fit the album.

My New World- 5/5 stars, a great song (one of my favorites). It has sort of weird lyrics, but it doesn't matter in the long run considering how great the music is.

In Held (Twas) In I- 1/5 stars, Here's where everything falls. I never really liked Procal Harum, and they picked just about their worst song to cover on this album. I skip this song every time I listen to the album and in my mind there are only 4 songs on SMPT:e.

Overall, you have to buy this album, even if the last song doesn't fit the album. It is really a masterpeice with or without the cover song, and you will be listening to All of the Above non-stop.

Report this review (#179184)
Posted Friday, August 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#185261)
Posted Friday, October 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Music from a progressive supergroup. I have mixed feelings about this album. All of the above has very nice instrumental parts, but I am not very fond of Neal Morse voice. He can sing very well, but it just isn't my taste. I like Roine's voice more and I'm glad he has sung a few parts too. But I really like the instrumental parts. We all Need some Light Now just isn't my cup of tea. And is also compositionally not very interesting, to my taste. Mistery train is very nice, though. I really like the weird drum sounds in the couplets. My New World is really (again) a great piece, but this epic's chorus isn't my kind of thing. The vocals seem to be more in place on In held ('twas) in I. I think this is the best song on the album, although it's a cover. It's really great how the incoherent chaotic piece transform in the more coherent parts. At those parts, Neal's voice is at its best. I love the instrumental ending of this great piece. In general: Good musicians and good compositions (except in a few vocal parts), but not the nicest of vocals. If they made a few more good instrumentals, I would give them a higher rating. I would say this is just a so-so album.
Report this review (#189526)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars At first glance any prog fan would be drawn into the brilliant album cover of this dream team super group, with its eclectic space blimp soaring across a cloud streaked sky and stagnant seascape. The super group comprises of guitarist Stolt from The Flower Kings, Morse the keyboardist and voice of Spock's Beard, Portnoy drummer of Dream Theater and Trewavas the bassist extraordinaire of Marillion. The mix of musical genius works together to formulate an amazing sound with incredible musicianship from start to finish.

The first track, 'All of the above', is an epic and worth the price of purchase alone. At about 30 minutes it moves from song to song with subsections of instrumental prowess unlike anything the band members had tackled in their former groups. Unlike Asia, that virtually shunned the prog style to embrace a more mainstream subculture and indeed the music charts, ala the debut album, Transatlantic are unashamedly and gloriously prog. Time signatures are off the scale and at times they sound like Pink Floyd, or Yes or King Crimson, but mostly like Spock's Beard due to Morse's dominance in the vocal department. It is a terrific debut from the band and definitely one of the best amalgamations of prog legends.

Not every track goes on forever. There is a nice pleasant ballad, 'We all need some light', sounding very much like Morse's solo work.

The last 2 tracks are mini epics and very well constructed as are all tracks. 'In held ('twas) in I' sounded familiar and then I realised it was a Procol Harum song, as good as if not better than the original.

There is not one filler or throwaway track on the album and it is a very good debut for the band. I for one cannot wait to get hold of more Transatlantic in the future.

Report this review (#244399)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I thought I'd review Transatlantic's first effort, because all this talk of the Beatles influence on progressive rock was beginning to prick my Swintonian/Mancunian Parochial nerve. According to some this group of musicians had just produced a Beatles tribute CD !!! That's not how I remembered it, so it went on in the car for a few spins?Well it's a lot better than I thought (and that's a massive understatement), but since (I first listened to it) I have become more attuned to the Spocks Beard and Flokis music. This is definitely a FIVE star jobby, The opening track "All of the Above" is a brilliant effort with Stolte's genius supported by a stunning rhythm section driven by Trewavas and Portnoy and very nice organ and synth work and vocals by Mr Morse. A 30 minute opener, whoooo? and two fantastic guitar solo's to cap off a mighty epic. The next two tracks are a lot shorter but not bad little numbers before the next 16 minute Stolte written excellence. Lots of neat interlocking melodies and very tight musicianship (just like the opener) another high class effort and already this is a must get for prog fans everywhere ! Then the last track is a cover version of a Procul Harum song (I didn't actually know that till I watched a programme that featured PH !!) ? I like this track also, especially the God save the Queen based tune at the end. Now did this CD remind me of the Beatles? Well some of it definitely reminded me of the Moody Blues, with loads of Yes/Floyd/ELP and even a bit of Greenslade, it also sounds a lot like Spocks Beard and the Flokis?So you can all breath easily again ? this IS NOT A BEATLES TRIBUTE CD, JUST A VERY GOOD SYMPHONIC/JAZZ PROG CD ? BUY IT !
Report this review (#246110)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars What an ensemble- this quartet borrows members from four of the most revered bands of modern progressive rock. Neal Morse, best known for his work as the mind behind Spock's Beard, clearly handles the brunt of the songwriting duties, while tackling the lead vocals and keyboards. He is joined by Roine Stolt, the mastermind and guitarist of The Flower Kings. Mike Portnoy, a drummer for whom with every performance my respect grows, comes from that behemoth of progressive metal, Dream Theater. The fourth and least outspoken member is Pete Trewavas, the bassist for a band that is credited with beginning a movement, Marillion. As a whole, these four men create some remarkable music. Even still though, the entire project resonates more closely with the Spock's Beard sound overall, meaning that if I didn't know any better, I would have believed this to be another a lost Spock's Beard album, with Stolt as a special guest.

"All of the Above" Bristling with energy and finesse, this half-hour expedition is a grandly formulaic piece of modern progressive rock music. The piece contains a Trewavas-led riff that serves as a main theme throughout, but largely this epic piece is a playground for Morse and Stolt, the former on keyboards and the latter on guitar. Trewavas uses his bass almost as a rhythm guitar in the middle section, playing smoothly and evenly. Portnoy demonstrates his awesome versatility, always providing the music exactly what it needs rhythmically. The composition does not flow as smoothly as I prefer songs of this length to do, but these thirty minutes contain many memorable passages and some downright exquisite playing. Overall, I would not consider this the tour de force many would make it out to be, but it is still a solid suite of musical craftsmanship.

"We All Need Some Light" The shortest track is also the predominantly acoustic one. It features a pair of acoustic guitars, gentle vocals, and a gorgeous refrain.

"Mystery Train" This is a funky, almost psychedelic rocker with quirky tones from all over; once again, it sounds like something right out of the second or third albums from Spock's Beard. As expected, then, it has a catchy chorus with funkier fare for the verses, made complete by an excellent, bass-driven instrumental section.

"My New World" Lovely strings begin this exceptional song. Electric guitar leads the band through an interpretation of the majestic introduction. Piano and light bass take over, and finally, Stolt steps up to the microphone for lead vocal duties. There are some stellar keyboard passages throughout, and a very delicate middle section featuring lovely counterpoint vocals. This piece is the one that does sound more like The Flower Kings, which is natural, since Stolt was the main writer. Also naturally (because of this), several minutes should have been slashed to make the song much better.

"In Held ('Twas) in I" The final track is a Procol Harum cover, beginning with spoken word and spacey music. I'm not really sure what Transatlantic was meaning to accomplish by covering this piece. I think they do a respectable job, but it would seem a debut album (or any album) should close with something original...perhaps that is a foolish and arbitrary preference on my end. Stolt sounds incredibly strange during his vocal moments, as though trying to overcompensate for his vocal deficiencies, and to this date I cannot decide if I like what he is doing or not. In fact, I question whether the band had made the right choice in terms of what to cover, as this piece seems unsuited for their talents. All the same, I don't consider this the throwaway track some others consider it to be, and the dual lead guitar work that concludes the piece makes for a stalwart and worthy end to a fine album anyway.

Report this review (#250124)
Posted Thursday, November 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album is the dawn of a new birth in music....the three masterminds of he 3 greatest bands on the planet...dream theater,flower kings.and spock's beard(neal morse era) show that they are even more capable of writing prog masterpieces with each other than with their original bands...all of the abve is eppic in every sense of the word...seriously these guys need more recognition....the intense intrumental parts...and its not only good cause its technical every note played in their music has such significance to the overall emotion and power to their songs...its just absolute glory and beauty really....the melodies are unforgettable the music is unforgettable its overwhelming....of course it does take more than one listen to "get it" especially with songs like all of the above and my new world cause they r so massive in size and scope and so complex, but once it sinks in after so many listens you will be so happy you took the time to indulge your time into it......we all need some light in a heart felt ballad that will send shivers down your spine when the powerful acoustic solo builds the theme of the song in a musical sense of the words...mystery train is just such a catchy little tune that you cant help but love every moment new world is just a prime example of what a prog epic should be...solid musical melodies....incredible musicianship...every moment isnt wasted and every note plays a significant role in the whole feeling and emotion of the song...good job roine on this held twas in i is the weakest song and i am not rating it because its a cover but it is still awesome in its size and this is a much better version the the original more passion and soul i think
Report this review (#252570)
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album is absolutely stunning.....its starts off with the epic all of the above...this is one of the best pieces of pro music you will evr here.....the meldies for both vocaland instruments are incredibly memorable, the musicianship is pehnominal....its got all the ingredients.....but the most important thing it has is can tell they arent just trying to mimick their heroes....they pay tribute to the bands of the 70's genesis, yes, rush, pink floyd but while stayin gtire to who they are and what they are all about......we all need some light is a beautiful neal balllad, mystery train is just a very catchy beatles sorta song but still very prog and interesting, my new world is a stolt creation....epic memorable and beautful through and through...the solos and jamming are so memorable...when they solo they arent just showingoff they have such passion and spirit in their solos!!!....the last track is very good as well, but for me the most avoidable....its really just a cover, but they do and awesome version of procal harum....better than the original!!!
Report this review (#260986)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars

After I heard the amazing Bridge Across Forever, I knew there was more. Some people even considered Stolt Morse Portnoy Trewavas to be the best Transatlantic album out there. So of course I picked it up as soon as possible.

By no means was I disappointed! This album has some moments that live up to, and maybe even surpass the second album by this supergroup. Overall, it isn't as strong, but it is still an incredible album, and a journey to listen to the whole thing.

The epic All Of The Above kicks off this album. The almost funky intro transforms into a progressive instrumental section that has everything: changing time signatures, hammond organ solos and great guitar and bass. Being 31 minutes long, the song does not stay the same. Ten minutes in, it breaks down into a slower, more peaceful section. The vocals shine here. Not long after, the song builds back up, only to slow back down again. There are many changes throughout this epic. Definitely the highlight of the album. 5/5

Next comes a ballad called We All Need Some Light. Neal really shines on the vocals here, and there is a great acoustic guitar solo by Roine. Overall one of the weaker songs, but still very strong. 4.5/5

Mystery Train comes next. It, like the track it follows, is shorter in length. However, this one is more up tempo and rock. This track has the best drumming on the album, Portnoy is the drum god! 5/5

My New World is a cool song with a string intro, followed by another wild, progressive ride. There is some great guitar work near the end, and the vocals stand out through the whole song. 5/5

In Held Twas In I is actually a cover of one of the first prog epics by Procul Harum, but I had not heard the song before. It's not the strongest on the album, but it is still a great way to end the album. 4.5/5

If you like any progressive rock, you will love this album! Highly recommended.

Report this review (#263850)
Posted Monday, February 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nice standalone album, average album in perspective

These recent years, specially the last couple of them, (2008 and 2009) have been special to progressive rock as it comes to impressive new releases of new material from both young and old bands. I have, however, most of times enjoyed better the new releases from old bands, such as the new Cynic album, the new Delirium album, the new Maudlin of the Well album, the new Ayreon album, the new Meshuggah album and so on, mainly because they allow be to look (or listen) in perspective what they have done in the past and what they did in the recent years and enjoy better their past or recent album(s). With Transatlantic it was no different.

Upon listening repeatedly to their newest album, The Whirlwind, and their first two albums, A Bridge Across Forever and this one (SMPTe), I was able to put all of their works in perspective and, therefore, was able to enjoy more the band's two most recent studio albums wile their debut left me more and more cold: when compared to their other releases, SMPTe sounds less like a teamwork than Transatlantic's other studio albums. Some reviewers went as far as saying that this is simply a Spock's Beard album or a solo Neal Morse effort with other great and talented musicians but, despite the obviousness of Neal Morse's strong influence in the production of this album, that did made it sound somewhat close to some of Neal's work outside Transatlantic, the influence and the work of the other band members can be noticed throughout the album many times. So it is clear (or it seems so) that such result was mainly caused due to the lack of interaction in the daily work in the studio they had with one another until recording SMPTe, because, as far as I know, they had never worked together before Transatlantic's debut album.

Regarding the songs, musicianship and related features

As the title of my review and what I wrote before can show, SMPTe is one of those albums that shouldn't (or couldn't) have anything after its release. That is because, if the band keep on working, improving itself and making its music more refined, as has happened with Transatlantic, the flaws of such album become terribly apparent in the same pace as the qualities of the refined album become more and more appealing. So, when considered by itself, SMPTe is a very nice album, but when put in perspective and compared with other albums by the same band, it becomes obvious the drastic improvement they have done over the years.

The Highlights go to: All of the above and We all need some Light.

Grade and Final Thoughts

All in all, STPMe is a very interesting album. It is fun to listen and have some impressive music inside it, but due to its roughness and crudeness, the 3 stars grade seem to fit the album perfectly.

Report this review (#265110)
Posted Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, this album is certainly not any hidden gem of prog, it's a very well received album already gaining a classic status as a prog masterpiece of the new Millennium. TRANSATLANTIC is THE prog supergroup as we all know (and if you don't know the line-up, all you have to do is take a look at the cover). Already on their debut these guys work amazingly well together. The closest comparisons are naturally FLOWER KINGS and SPOCK'S BEARD, since Stolt and Morse are the main writers here. The resemblance with Marillion or Dream Theater are in a much smaller role, which of course doesn't mean that Pete Trewavas (bass) or Mike Portnoy (drums) were not equal members in the supergroup.

If you want epics, here's a 31-minute (!) opener, for starters. 'All Of The Above' fills excellently the ambitious length in six parts. It has inevitable moments of tight and complex prog attack (which would, on its own, be quite a tiresome listening to me) but also calmer moments of wonderfully melodic songwriting. It all forms a coherent suite with no out-of-place extensions. It is followed by a shortish, ballad-ish track by Neal Morse, 'We All Need Some Light'. A very good song, even if not anything very special. But the album need this kind of simpler stuff also, to be balanced.

The third track 'Mystery Train' is my least favourite in the album, noisier and rougher than the rest. Roine Stolt's 16-minute 'My New World' is another great track. It would grace any Flower Kings album too, as a midsize epic with a memorable, highly emotional chorus and a delicate dreamier section.

With 77 minutes in total, it's not a sin to use 17 minutes to cover an early prog epic. Yes, it's the one discussed recently in the forums whether or not it's the first full-blown prog epic. It must be if you ask me! PROCOL HARUM's fantastic 'In Held Twas In I' is actually very suitable number to be covered by a modern group. They take some liberties; if I'm not badly mistaken, some section is left out completely, while others are given some extra stretch. But I must say that I rather listen to the original from 1968.

4˝ stars. With one unpleasant track, I'll round it down.

Report this review (#277832)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A super-group for the modern progressive rock era, Transatlantic have, since their inception in 2000, become hugely popular, rivalling each member's individual group for both kudos and record sales. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last ten years the line-up is made up of ex-Spock's Beard vocalist-and-keyboardist Neal Morse(post his religious conversion)long-time Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, Dream Theatre-drummer Mike Portnoy and The Flower King's main-man and guitarist Roine Stolt. A genuine multi-national affair(Trewavas hails from Wales, Stolt is Swedish and Portnoy and Morse come from the old U S of A), the Transatlantic 'idea' was the product of a modern prog arena where all-star projects seemed to becoming the everyday norm. Thankfully, Transatlantic managed to imbue their love of good, old-fashioned progressive rock epic's with a sense of good-time fun, giving their debut album a lively, energetic feel that only goes to enrich the superb musicianship on show, thus demonstrating that a super-group set up can, in the right hands at least, work. The album itself kicks off with the half-hour long 'All Of The Above', a song worthy of any great prog album featuring dynamic interplay from the foursome, complex rhythms, jazzy hues, masterful prog breaks, and a genuine all-encompassing feel for all strands of modern prog before finishing off with a splendid version of Procol Harum's 'In Held Twas I', a song many believe to be the first ever piece of proper prog. In between these epics are a set of shorter, sharper efforts featuring Stolt's intricate guitar-playing, Morse's breathy vocals, Portnoy's barrage of drum tricks and Trewavas' rock-steady bass, with each piece displaying the hallmarks of a tightly-knit unit who obviously consider each other as equals. A real treat, SMPTE is an immensely entertaining album that more than fulfills it's obvious potential. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#293777)
Posted Sunday, August 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Out of the four musicians from this "supergroup", the only one I can't really acclaim is Neal Morse. Mixing religion and music has never been my cup of tea. But this band is indeed a fine combo on paper. So, let's listen to their music!

Well, as you could imagine: a mix between TFK for the instrumental parts (which are fortunately quite long) and "Spock's Beard" for the vocal parts. Juicy guitar sounds, jazzy tendencies and of course a solid drumming are quite alright during the long epic and opening song: "All Of The Above".

Over half an hour which can be related to "The Truth Will Set You Free": it features the same bombastic and positive feel; superb guitar melodies and vocal harmonies. Did you say TFK?

What is sure is that "All Of The Above" is quite a good epic which should please any Flower Kings fans even if it might sound as too much of a "Yes" derivative of course. A highlight.

The power of the band is fully expressed during "Mystery Train". Again, the bombastic effect submerges: being vocally or instrumentally. Each of the band members perfectly knows what to do, at the right time. A good song it is. Splendid keys as well!

This album is actually very good. Most of the songs featured are a highlight (except "We All Need Some Light"). Of course, the music that is proposed is fully TFK oriented. But of the best vein: harmonious, catchy, mighty and skilled. This album is technical but still human. The music is an absolute delight for most of the time. "My New World" is another highlight.

This album shows the best that one can expect when several great musicians get together. Skills are all there, and offer a great musical experience. I was quite skeptical before I first listened to this album, but this is really a very good one.

I don't rate this album with five stars because of the closing number which is too loose and below par on this work. This cover of one of the first prog epic released a long, long time ago by "Procol Harum" doesn't add anything to the greatness of the original. This track could have been perfectly avoided since this lengthy album clocks at over 77 minutes. Sixty would have been perfect.

Anyway: four stars with no problem. This is an excellent album.

Report this review (#308556)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Transatlantic is the hottest supergroup of current progressive scene, consisting of Neal Morse (Spock's Beard) on vocals and keyboards, Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Kaipa) on guitar, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums and Pete Trewavas (Marillion) on bass.

His first album, "SMPT:e", 2000, is really a masterpiece of the last times that I do not dissapointed.Since the masterful epic opener "All of the above" (second only to "Duel with the Devil" in the title best music of the band) until the closing track "In Held Twas'In (​​remake of the first progressive epic of history), there are no weak moments, and the styles of bands that are from the guys are easily identified, and the classic bands of the year 70.Beyond of the aforementioned tracks, we still have "We all need some light" (beautiful melody and guitars), "Mystery Train " (first track on the album I've heard) and "My New World" (another great epic).

Surely this is an album worthy of 5 stars.Great work, highly recommended!

Report this review (#319921)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am a young listener of prog, steeped in prog's earlier music, like Rush, Yes, and now Gentle Giant and a handful of others. This album is one my first forays into modern prog rock.

I was introduced to this band by having My New World played for me by my Gentle Giant station. I heard it and went, "Wow..." I was blown away. I was in love. That amazing song inspired me to purchase SMPT:e, from which that track was from.

All of the Above clocks at just under 31 minutes and is currently the longest individual song on my iPod. This track has grown on me and I thoroughly enjoy it. I find the "Camoflaged in blue" section a little less interesting than the rest, but that is one small section of this massive song. (4.5/5)

We All Need Some Light is a fine track. Nothing too different. It is a fine ballad. (4/5)

Mystery Train is another standout on this great album. The whole song is catchy in its non-4/4 rhythm-ness, which is hard to do. The guitar riffs and perfect vocal harmonies are what I enjoy most about this song. (5/5)

My New World has quickly become one of my favorite songs. I love Stolt's guitar playing in this song. He reminds me a lot of Steve Howe which is great in my book. Stolt's voice is also a great addition to this song, providing a refreshing change of pace with Neal Morse's singing. What I find most stellar about this song is that it is "one" song. Most long tracks are segmented songs put together, linked to each other by lyrical threads but not musical ones. My New World continues musical themes throughout, which enough repitition to have continuity but not bore you. This is my favorite track off this album. (5/5)

In Held ('Twas) In I is one track that I don't enjoy as much. For one, I do not know the original Procol Harum song, so I do not know how this cover stacks up the real song. The song is alright, not great. (3/5)

This album is one that I enjoy a lot and will continue to enjoy. I cannot wait to purchase Transatlantic's other albums. I hope they are as fine a treat as their debut has been.

Report this review (#362429)
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars And here we have the premier album from modern prog's best known supergroup. And it's everything we might have hoped it would be. Grand epics, with stellar performances from each member, with just awesome solos.

Being the first album from this group, it has many of the characteristics of the bands the members were most known for. The opening track, All Of The Above would fit in quite well on any of the Neal Morse-led Spock's Beard albums, with a similar structure to some of their epics. And on My New World, Transatlantic equals the sound of The Flower Kings, in both beauty and grandiosity.

The band really hits their stride with Mystery Train, a heavy, slightly funky tune that, although a bit murky at times, works better here than on the toned down live versions. And My New World, where each member gets to shine, is a wonder.

The only downer is Morse's We All Need Some Light, which starts with Roine Stolt playing a Steve Howe-like acoustic guitar intro, leading to some anticipation of a beautiful ballad. But unfortunately it turns into a bland religious ballad, with Morse singing some particularly naive Christian buzzwords. It makes me wonder if it's Transatlantic's tolerance of this type of song that makes Morse feel that he can continue to record with them, and not the Beardies. Still, the song is short, and doesn't mar the rest of the album.

Report this review (#528001)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stolt & Morse & Portnoy & Trewavas...

The debut release from the most acclaimed prog supergroup of the past decade. Featuring Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (ex-Spocks Beard), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion) you know you are in for a treat. It was initially criticized for sounding too much like Spock's Beard with Neal Morse dominating the vocals, this may be true, but I don't see it as a weakness, after all, the more time Morse spends singing, the less we have to listen to Portnoy!

It kicks off with 30 minutes of pure magic in the form of All of the Above, and to this day I can't choose between it, and Stranger in Your Soul, as my all time favourite Transatlantic epic. Sadly, like Octavarium flipped on its head, there isn't much else I find here that makes me want to listen beyond the opening track. We All Need Some Light has interesting lyrics, which is a bit of anomaly in the world of Transatlantic, but I can't really think of anything noteworthy to say about the remaining tracks.

The Verdict: Top heavy.

Report this review (#562283)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I suppose that a majority of the so-called "trendy" and "modern" music critics in 2000 would have argued that the last thing that poor old planet earth needed was a progressive rock supergroup, indulging their passion for the genre and whipping poor listeners back to its heyday of the early to mid 1970's.

Of course, the last group of people who we prog fans take a blind bit of notice of is the modern music critic. However, the background to the setting up of this project was, of course, the most favourable conditions commercially for the genre in quite a few years. Dream Theater had exploded onto the metal scene, and cleverly introduced a young audience to the joys of intelligent prog rock. Spock's Beard were no commercial slouches themselves, The Flower Kings were already beloved by those of us who loved grandiose, jazzy, symphonic prog, and, finally, Marillion were still a very powerful force within the rock music scene, with a very strong and loyal following. So, when this lot did get together, it was never really going to be a disaster commercially. The point, to me, was, would it be a disaster musically?

No is the strong and pointed answer. I am not usually a great fan of retro music, because I feel, in many instances, that it lacks a certain kind of originality, warmth, and you can, of course, always listen to the real thing. This, though, is different. This album deliberately set out to pay homage to the myriad influences that the cohorts loved, and to provide its buyers with an unashamed classical prog rock album, but did it in such a way that, the cover aside, all of it was utterly original, and brilliantly so.

The main opus is the opener, which would have taken up a whole side on the vinyl of yesteryear (and then some). As a statement of intent, All Of The Above really does take some beating. At half an hour long, it never once loses the listener's attention, either through the grandiose and pomp driven core, or, also, the delicious October Winds quieter passage. The extended closing guitar led passage is simply superb. However, at the very core of this track is about the finest example of bass playing I have had the pleasure to hear in my entire life. Trewavas is at the forefront of all of this track, and I remember seeing an interview with Mike Portnoy saying as much, and expressing his and colleagues utter amazement that someone could play bass so well. Not, though, that any of the others are slouches. The vocal performances by Morse & Stolt are simply amazing, the drums are a match for Trewavas on bass, and the guitar and keys combine wonderfully to create a soundscape that takes one back to the joy of symphonic Yes, Genesis, Camel, the best proto prog. In other words, all of the stuff that we loved so much in the halcyon days, mixed together with the best of the modern. I would here say that if you love this, then you must explore The Flower Kings (symphonic albums, not more jazz orientated) and Spocks Beard, whose sound and attitude it resembles most of the constituent parts.

But even this oral joy is not the best here. For me, this dream track is supplanted by the beautiful lyric and execution of We All Need Some Light. The live version I have sees Neal Morse dedicate this to the 9/11 victims of New York a little while later. At the time of it being written, the lyrics just express that lovely, and probably naive, hope that we as a race can all pull together and find some light and live together in peace. Morse puts in his finest vocal performance of a great career, and the guitar playing is straight from the heart, whilst Portnoy plays one of the finest understated power drumming I have heard. This remains one of my all time favourites.

Mystery Train is funky and bombastic, whilst the orchestral My New World is the finest track that The Flower Kings never got to record. It is clearly the work of a group, rather than those of disparate individuals, and the fact that this was recorded in such a quick time is testament to the talents on display here. It might have benefited, I suppose, from having a couple of minutes shaved off, but that really is a minor and pointless quibble. This was designed to be an over the top album. The strings at the commencement are just perfect as the opening, before the majestic guitar gets to work. The passage of Stolt singing gently, backed by a delicate piano and backing vocals, still has the hair raised on the back of my neck, and the main instrumental section is incredibly disciplined and enjoyable.

Lastly, there is the Procol Harum cover (at the time we did not know that this would become a staple feature of the group) In Held ('Twas) In I. This was one of the finest tracks that great band put to record, and this more than does it justice, from the opening poetry, to the guitar led close. I believe that it was Portnoy who pushed for this to be included, and I, for one, am glad that he did.

I remember twelve years ago being rather excited about this album's release. I think I saw it advertised in Kerrang magazine, although I could be wrong. Whatever, its simple joy and celebration of life and a genre I love has never left me, and it richly deserves the classification of essential, a modern classic with more than a nod to the past glories.

Five stars. If you don't have it, get it, and see what all the fuss is about.

Report this review (#707374)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Myself, as I'm sure many others, used Transatlantic as the gateway to find the members' main band. Of course, the styles of these bands are immediately recognizable. Transatlantic takes the chunky and rhythmic bass of Marillion, the happy and upbeat vibe of The Flower Kings, the powerful and dynamic drums of Dream Theater, and the unforgettable melodies of Spock's Beard and confines them into a perfect package. But everyone here is better than they are in their original band. After all, Transatlantic is better than the sum of its parts, and SMPT:e is the perfect example of this.

SMPT:e starts off strong with the amazing 'All of the Above,' (10/10) which is as much a prog anthem as Suppers Ready or Close to the Edge. This song has everything: energy, atmosphere, top of the line instrumentation, and most of all spectacular melodies and harmonies. The song is subdivided into six sections due to the immense size of this epic (31 min.) but they are all connected perfectly. Every moment in this song is so great it's just impossible to discuss highlights.

I would say those that know of Neal's work may note that this is probably more Morse-dominated than some of Transatlantic's later stuff as it does have that strong Spock's Beard feel. But you can easily find Roine's signature touch throughout, and Mike Portnoy's style is easily recognizable. I would say, besides 'Duel With the Devil' (from Transatlantic's second album), this is their best song.

'We All Need Some Light'(7/10) is the ballad of the album and is very similar to some of Spock's Beard's slower moments. It is acoustically driven, which complements the largely synthesized and electric guitar dominated rest of the album. Usually I'm impartial to songs like these, but in this case it's just beautiful.

Mystery Train' (8/10) is one of the supergroup's more unique songs It. has a fun psychedelic Beatles vibe which is always nice. The change-up at 3:09 which is led by Portnoy's crazy drumming gets me every time.

'My New World' (10/10) is an easygoing and fun prog song. It has a great positive, upbeat and flowing vibe similar to the Flower Kings and has all the great melodic moments you'd expect from Morse. This is as great in all aspects as 'All of the Above,' it's just half as long.

The album concludes with a cover of Procol Harum's 'In Held Twas I.' I usually try to avoid rating covers or anything that isn't original material so this rating doesn't really factor in to what I think of the album. I will say I hadn't heard the original before listening to this, so I have no way to properly compare. But after giving Procol's version a try, I believe Transatlantic's version is a bit better.

SMPT:e is the perfect example of what you get with four musicians at the top of the genre and at their creative peak. While this album isn't as much a team effort as their following albums, this is still modern prog at its greatest.


Report this review (#771409)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Transatlantic's debut album was released in the spring of 2000, five months before the SPOCK'S BEARD career peak of "V". Clearly the stars were aligned for Neal Morse that year, although I doubt the erstwhile Beard frontman would interpret his good luck in such pagan terms (insert rueful emoticon here).

The supergroup attracted some criticism for being musically skewed toward its keyboard player, a hollow complaint after hearing the new band's centerpiece epic "All of the Above", arguably the best Spock's Beard song not on a Spock's Beard album. It was a piecemeal opus, as usual for Morse, but the separate pieces all highlighted his compositional fluency, as well as a few performance skills I wish he'd exercise more often, best heard in strictly instrumental passages like the jazzy "October Winds" jam.

It needs to be said that the song's heroic length was more calculated than organic. If you own the Roine Stolt remix of the album, you'll hear drummer Mike Portnoy during the extended ambient outro urging his bandmates to "keep it going!" just to reach the half-hour plateau. But there isn't a dull moment over any of those thirty-one minutes, from the "Close to the Edge" fade-in to the final guitar harmonics.

The six-part suite almost deserves an entire review by itself, which I'll refrain from pursuing, except to note the understated beauty of "Camouflaged in Blue", one of loveliest ballads ever penned by the prolific Morse. Ditto "We All Need Some Light", an even prettier song until the bombast kicks in, and showing signs of belated lyrical maturity as well. "While the creep beats the rap on appeal / And the cop who can't stop shows the kids how to steal" is a clever bit of doggerel, and the heartfelt yearning of the chorus is a lot easier to digest than the medieval wish-fulfillment in a typical Neal Morse sermon from his later solo career.

But after that the quartet has to scramble to find enough material to fill a CD, with mixed results. "Mystery Train" is a not unpleasant throwaway rocker resembling an outtake from the "V" sessions. "My New World" is a lackluster Roine Stolt original with a trite storyline about a hippy chick and her soldier boy, complete with stock '60s references to Woodstock, Jimi and Janis, and Frisco (the latter a particular annoyance to any Bay Area native).

And the album ends with a curious piece of musical archeology, resurrecting the Proto Prog relic "In Held (Twas) in I", one of the earliest Progressive Rock epics ever recorded. The song hasn't aged particularly well, which in theory would make it the ideal candidate for a thirty-year face-lift. But the update sounds mechanical when compared against the richly arranged PROCOL HARUM original, trading the faux-pretensions of the 1968 version for the real thing.

In retrospect the band probably went into the recording studio too quickly, before enough of the new material was properly chewed and digested (which might explain why their 2001 follow-up "The Bridge Across Forever" was so much stronger). Apparently even a global alliance of Prog Rock superstars needs time to find its feet, but there were a lot of fans (myself included, at the time) willing to share those growing pains with almost masochistic enthusiasm.

Report this review (#903303)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars The last supergroup of the 20th Century is here. Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) thought it might be fun to work with Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), and a few e-mails later the line-up was completed by Roine Stolt (Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). The impression coming strongly through the music is that Neal and Roine have been the two largest musical influences, although Neal plays much more Hammond organ than would normally be found with the Beard.

The opener manages to kick in at over thirty minutes in length, and there are two other tracks (one of which is a Procul Harum cover, "In Held (Twas) I") which are over fifteen minutes long. They make the other two songs (both over five minutes long) seem very short in comparison. This is much more about traditional Seventies sounds, with a huge chunk of Steely Dan style sound being incorporated at times. Neal and Roine both sing lead vocals, while the others provide harmonies.

The music is very intricate, very complex, very prog, but doesn't move into the prog metal style beloved by Mike and (at times) Neal. It is certainly the most progressive album to involve Pete for some years.... It is an album that any proghead will be queuing for when it hits the shops on April 10th. These guys prove that it doesn't need loads of volume. All it needs is a tune, some vocals, and some interplay (okay, so the tune is moving through different time signatures, and is extremely complicated and diverse while the vocal harmonies are spot on). "Mystery Train" is the one that sounds as if it could have been lifted straight from 'Day For Night' as the restrained verse leads into a very Spock's Beard style soaring chorus.

Just simply, a superb album.

Originally appeared in Feedback #57

Report this review (#963493)
Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I believe the Spock's Beard is evident. But it is evidently not the classically-inspired Spock's Beard. It's the epic, driving Transatlantic.

"All of the Above" (9.0-9.5 / 10) - This is a fantastic song. It's full of balance, great input from all members (though later works from this group will be appreciated for having all members take shots at vocals). Everyone came to play, and this song was executed so well. There's no idea that's lacking. I must praise the melodic sense of this group of artists. One of my absolute favorite moments from a bass guitarist is the absolutely tasteful "Soldier of Fortune" bass line. The song is so melodically pleasing, with occasional great harmonic moments in vocal lines. The rhythm section is solid, as is everything about this song! It's solid. There's nothing overly ambitious about the song at all. It's just a very complete, thorough 30 minutes of timeless Progressive rock music. I'm so inspired listening to this song.

"We All Need Some Light" (8.0-8.5 / 10) - A more laid-back tune than the first, but relaxed is not a way to describe it. It's passionate and moving. The Morse influence is evident on this track, but the song is filled with heart, is uplifting, and by many many can be generically summarized as "real". Though not too "progressive" I consider it for what it is. Really good track.

"Mystery Train" (7.0-7.5 / 10) - A decent jam. I like the noodling and stylings of Portnoy with his unhinged sense of time. The song makes some pretty good use of dissonance. Overall it isn't anything established as its own. It's just a fun song.

"My New World" (8.0-8.5 / 10) - This is another song that emphasizes the Transatlantic sound. Even though it may not be as significant as "Duel with the Devil" on the next album or "All of the Above", this style really represents the group well and gives some distinction between it and Spock's Beard Part II. The Portnoy influence with the tasteful bass playing of Trewavas to Roine leading on vocals and guitar melodies. I feel Spock's Beard also tried to show off more classically-inspired prowess, while these guys have a sort of emblematic "epic"ness about them. This is a fine tune. Not the best song, but it emphasizes what's distinguished about this group as its own and not just another puppet of primarily Morse influence.

"In Held 'Twas in I" (8.5 / 10) - This was an excellent choice for a cover! These guys sound fantastic putting their own spin on an old record while still keeping the original song intact. I like the modified time sigs, changed chords, and the added flare to the performances. Only minor quibble is I would've liked to see what Roine could've contributed to the psychedelia that roots the song, giving more spacey textures and changing some of the atmosphere, but never mind. The song works very well the way it is. Great cover. Great closer.

This album deserves a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Maybe even 4 and a half?. If only ratings worked as such.

Report this review (#1158585)
Posted Monday, April 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have one of my Facebook friends to thank for introducing me to Transatlantic by posting a video of All Of The Above on my news feed. In doing so he indirectly introduced me to the music of Neal Morse, The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard and reignited my interest in prog rock generally. So thanks Craig. At the time I first heard SMPTe I was blown away, especially by the first two tracks. All Of The Above is still one of my favourite prog epics, and my favourite by Transatlantic. The melodic structure, memorable tunes and the way the different parts connect are really impressive. Then we get We All Need Some Light, which is a beautiful tune with very meaningful lyrics. Mystery Train I'm not so impressed by, but My New World is another great track (not so great as the first two though). Finally, I'm afraid that In Held Twas In I does nothing for me, even though it's apparently a prog classic. So, five stars for the first two tracks, three for Mystery Train, Four for My New World, and two for In Held. I reckon that's 4 stars for the album as a whole.
Report this review (#1552850)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Showing us what a true progressive rock supergroup looks like, Transatlantic brings together some of the biggest and most influential musicians from the prog world, such as Roine Stolt of the Flower Kings, Pete Trewavas from legendary rock band Marillion, Neal Morse, best known for his work with Spocks Beard and his countless solo albums, and of course, Mike Portnoy, known mostly for his work with Dream Theater, and also literally every other band in the universe.

Featuring just five tracks, three of which are fairly lengthy, 'SMPTe' is a fantastic prog rock record, which pays homage to all the great bands of the genres early days, while maintaining its own contemporary sound. Full of lavish instrumentals, complex yet engaging arrangements and emotional vocal work, Transatlantic are an exceptional band that will go on to be more than just a "side project".

Album opener, 'All of the Above' measures in at 31 minutes long, and is truly an "epic" in every sense of the word. Well paced, well composed and well executed. Full of incredible musicianship and catchy vocal sections, not only is this a fantastic song in its own right, but is a fine representation of progressive rock. Period.

'We All Need Some Light' and 'Mystery Train' are both shorter songs in comparison, being a beautiful rock ballad and a funky, all-out rock song respectively, both are infectious pieces that do a perfect job of bridging the gap between the longer tracks, which leads us to 'My New World' (hitting the 16-minute mark) and a cover of Procol Haram's 'In Held ('Twas) in I', which reaches 17 minutes. Both are fantastic pieces that maintain the high quality of music throughout the album.

There's a very palpable chemistry between all four musicians, with each member playing off of each other with ease. The music is energetic and fun, and wonderfully crafted. An added bonus is that all four men cover vocal duties. No doubt Neal Morse carries the bulk of it, but having four vocalists shakes things up and makes for better storytelling.

All-in-all this is an monumental album, and one that everyone should own. It will impress old fans and convert new ones, and is a true gem of progressive rock.

Report this review (#1778897)
Posted Sunday, September 3, 2017 | Review Permalink


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