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4 stars Just got my hand on a Promotional copy of the Whirlwind days ago. This promo has only one song, the Whirlwind of course, but separated into 12 integrated subsections. So exciting!

After a few spin, I realize that Transatlantic guys are back in a big game! They come up with a whole new material. Unlike the first album, the sound this band has no longer dominated by Morse and Portnoy but a real mixture of idea from all bandmates (BTW, I really don't like the sound of Portnoy drum; it's too heavy for symphonic prog.) I can hear much of driving influence from Stolt and some, if any, from Trewavas. It sounds a bit darker than the previouses, which are a little bit too sweet and lush on keyboard. Bass and guitar are gaining much role. Some part sound very close to classic Pick Floyd. I love it!

Majestic, beautiful and fun, a good album. Every prog fan should hold your breath and pre-order it now (I did weeks ago). I now can assure you that you won't be disappointed. Recommend!

PS. As it is a promotional disc, every song has at least 1 spoken interjection like "you are listening to a promotional version of the new Transatlantic album, the Whirlwind"; understandably that this is a measure taken to avoid file sharing infringement. However annoying these are, this album sounds amazing.

Report this review (#243383)
Posted Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars A comment from a promotional copy ,but a good promo.

A review of one of the longest songs ever written. Well that is a merit from this album.

You can be interested for more than 70 minutes,and excited too.

Well what can you expect from this album. ¿Something very original ? May be not. A masterpiece? I don,t think so. This is a very good piece of work ,no doubt.

I think the remarkable quality of this album is that for the first time Transatlantic mix the music of their genius creators :Mainly Neal Morse and R Stolte.

The before albums had a very strong touch of Neal Morse and Spock's Beard ,but in this one we can find a mixture.

Because this one is a perfect mix of Neal Morse music with Flower Kings music with a little touch of Dream Theater. And is a mix of the best music of Neal Morse with the best one of The Flower Kings.

So at least 4,0 stars.

Report this review (#243472)
Posted Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hellow fellow prog-heads!. This is my first TRANSATLANTIC review for their 2009 album, "The Whirlwind". 5 years have passed since I wrote my first review, I rushed into writing it at first because I liked the album so much - now I have listened to it all, many times, I can full-heartedly give this album 5 stars!!.... Immediately I was blown away: Portnoy's drumming amazed me - it is fast and intricate, and most importantly - melodic. The first voice that is heard after the opening Overture, is interestingly Roine Stolt's!. Neal comes in after that. My favourite piece so far, is "The Wind Blows Them All Away". I am sure this will change with time. This is, for 100% sure, a classic in the TRANSATLANTIC cannon! One person said before, "Their last song on their last CD was "Stranger In Your Soul" - how can you top that?!" - I believe they may just have here! This is definitely a masterpiece of progressive rock music! -Ben aka SkUnKaDeLiC
Report this review (#243569)
Posted Thursday, October 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now there it is, the long-awaited third Studio-Album by today´s only remained Progressive-Rock-Supergoup. I admit that it took me three or four times to listen to the entire album before I could get warm with it. Now I would not like to comment on each of the 12 Whirlwind-parts. But all in all can I say that if there is something negetive at all to this Album, it´s just at highest stage. I think this album includes everything that belongs to a classic symphonic-prog-album. Couple of tricky instrumental passages, even though not as long and distinct as on the two previous albums (Overture, Pieces of Heaven, end of Is it really happening), lots of measured symphonic passages (The wind blew them all away, Dancing with eternal glory) and some memorable melodies (f.e. the different themes appearing in the Overture). The main difference to the two previous albums is the fact that the band had only seven days together in the studio to write and to record drums and bass-parts, I think. All the guitar-, keyboard and especially the vocal parts were recorded by each of the four members on their own. For the instrumentals this has the consequence thar there are not as many diferent technical ideas in it as on SMPTe and Bridge across Forever and some themes are protracted to get the song up to 77 Minutes so that in the end, they become a little boring. On the vocals, the short studio-time has the effect that there are only a few symphonic choir-vocals as there where lots f.e. in Suite Charlotte Pike or Duel with the Devil. So I miss them a little bit. Instead, some choir-passages are simply replaced by additional keyboards so that the keyboards sometimes become too dominant in my opinion. But all in all, these are just small things and I like The whirlwind as much as the two previous albums, so please, give this album a chance and be happy that there is still played great symphonic prog in the present time.
Report this review (#246449)
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I found this at the local record store the day this came out and was in for a very plesant suprise. After waiting several years for Transatlantic's new album to come out I finally was able to hear another superb album from such a great supergroup. I was pretty intimidated by the 77 minute epic at first because it's not an easy amount of music to digest as well as the fact that it hard to keep the listeners attention for so long, but I think Transatlantic pulled it off.

What I really liked about this album is that it felt like there was even more input from the other members that their last two albums, especially the first one. There seemed to be even more influence from Stolt which in my eyes is not a bad thing. He has a lot more singing parts than he did before as well. Pete does a great job with the bass work throwing down some great lines all over the place. Morse and Portnoy gave their usual incredible performance, and i'm suprised that the band was able to hold together so well after a break from all these years

The epic piece, The Whirlwind, is one heck of an adventure! The choruses are more catchy than usual in some sections, and the insturmental sections work very nicely and it flowed well as one whole piece rather than feeling like a multi-parted suite. Of the 77 minutes as a whole, i found maybe 5 or so minutes that weren't up to the standard of the rest of the piece, but by no means were they bad! 72 out of 77 minutes of great music is fine with me. The bonus disc was also great as well. Especially the song Spinning which i found to be the other strongest piece. It has a great middle section that must be heard. The covers aren't bad themselves, and I know people are going to be especially intruiged with "Return of the Giant Hogweed" a Genesis cover. While maybe not as good as the original, it was still a good, fun, effort. Overall I give Transatlantics latest release 4.6 stars which rounds to 5.

Report this review (#246910)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Although I know I am in the minority here, I am of the opinion that Transatlantic's material represents a fundamental problem with a lot of modern progressive rock, or perhaps several depending on how you approach an album as ambtiously constructed as "The Whirlwind".

And what's this fundamental problem you may ask?


After coming to this conclusion after a few run-throughs from start to finish, I will make a few points in particular that clarify my distaste with 'The Whirlwind' and why I feel it fails on even the most basic of levels-

1. The vocals and lyrical content are, as to be expected, sub-par, as evidenced in particular by the cringeworthy 'The Wind Blew Them All Away' and 'Spinning'. Although I am not a big fan of the whole Kansas-esque approach to progressive rock to begin with, a combination of a washed-up Neal Morse and Stolt's ever-tiresome drawl really puts a damper on any enjoyment one could have here with the compositions. How can somebody enjoy the forced vocal harmonies and delivery here when there are half a dozen other progressive rock bands currently doing music who leave this supergroup in the dust? (Ex: Moon Safari).

Basically, failure to deliver vocally or lyrically = failure of an album. Moving on now-

2. The playing is good, but unmemorable and unfocused. 'The Whirlwind', much like Porcupine Tree's 'The Incident', is simply not well constructed when looked at as a whole. The Genesis and Santana covers are lackluster and too polished for their own good. In particular, Portnoy's supposedly great technique is absolutely laughable on 'Soul Sacrifice': Michael Shrieve blows this poor chump out of the water!

3. The production quality is way too compressed and polished. This is problem that a lot of modern groups seem to have with their releases, but it's particularly evident here. I mean really, is there even a bassist here, because he got majorly BURIED in this mix, lol!

Overall, albums like 'The Whirlwind' make me feel ashamed to even be part of a supposed "progressive rock" community. Much like the mainstream idiots you people seem to dislike so much, the fact that you kids throw four and five stars to an album simply because it has a track over 20 minutes and features people who are skilled in the technical department is an ABSOLUTE disgrace.

So pull out your smokes, give Yes's "Close to the Edge" or Moon Safari's "Other Side of the Sky" a morning spin, and then come back and seriously say without bursting into laughter that anything this supergroup has done in 3 albums is really worth a [&*!#]. Good riddance!

Final verdict: 2 stars because these guys can play their instruments. Giving it anything more would be an insult to the bands who actually know what the hell they're doing.

Report this review (#246944)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Okay, I've been listening to this on constantly since yesterday morning. I love The Whirlwind. Like Porcupine Tree's The Incident, the title track is a group of pieces thematically and technically joined together into one long epic. And, for the most part, unlike the latter, this piece flows effortlessly between the many sections. If it wasn't for the track numbers changing on th CD player, I would hardly notice the transitions. And the writing and musicianship is spectacular, as you would expect from this supergroup.

The only fault I find on the first disk is the final track, Dancing With Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise), which I assume was tacked on to the piece to satisfy Neil Morse's obsessive faith. The piece is both musically and lyrically banal, and does not fit thematically with the rest of the piece. At each listen, I have found it cringeworthy.

So, 4 stars for disk one (it could have been 5).

The bonus disk has some moments. After an inauspicious start, Spinning turns into a nice 6/8 jam. Lenny Johnson sounds like it wants to be a John Lennon song. For Such A Time should be on a Morse solo album. Lending A Hand is okay, but forgettable. The Return Of The giant Hogweed is impressive. Portnoy's drums at the end are just amazing. A Salty Dog is just as maudlin and unbearable as the original. I need You is a clever mix of America and The Beatles, and Soul Sacrifice is a great jam (let it play to the end).

3 stars for disk two.

3.5 total, rounded up.

Report this review (#246974)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Note: This review is of the Deluxe Edition, which includes The Whirlwind, a bonus disc with a couple original songs and a couple of covers, as well as a 100+ minute DVD chronicling the album's creation.

After my first couple of listens to The Whirlwind, I had settled on a 4 star rating. But after taking into consideration the extra material, as well as the fact that the only part in particular that I don't like is Dancing with Eternal Glory, there's no way I can't label this as "essential".

I think I'll start by emphasizing how much I loved the making-of DVD. Seeing how all these amazing players collaborate with each other and manage to put together the bulk of such a beautifully epic project in a matter of one week, is really inspiring to me as a musician. So if you can get your hands on it, watch this DVD and I think it'll give you a greater appreciation of this project. The only downside was that Roine didn't have time to shoot any of his individual footage... Most of the writing process documented here is focused on the interplay between Neil and Mike it seems, although there is a section that makes it clear how instrumental Pete is in the writing. It's obvious that Neil loves Roine in particular - he says something along the lines of whenever Roine is present, it's a whole new level of magic. We just don't get to see much input that he has in terms of the actual song structures.

Enough about the DVD, though. The Whirlwind is broken into 12 tracks, with the only weak point in my opinion being the final piece. I've always been awful at breaking music down on a track-by-track basis because I'm prone to ramble. I will say that overall this is Transatlantic's best album - it feels the most coherent to me.

I've found that the vocal melodies and lyrics are sticking with me more this time around than on the previous albums. I'm a huge fan of Roine's voice and I couldn't help crack a smile when I discovered that he sings the first couple lines of The Whirlwind. One particular favorite track of mine is Out of the Night - again, Roine has a large presence here and that probably has something to do with it. It's got a great upbeat chorus with lots of vocal harmony. The beginning of Evermore sounds a lot like Neal's solo material (think Sola Scriptura).

There are very few lowpoints throughout. It basically alternates between material that sounds like solo-Morse, old Transatlantic, and maybe a bit of TFK. Honestly I love all three of the styles listed so it's great for me.

If you're one of the people that think Transatlantic is prog-by-numbers or just emotionless music, this material will probably bore you and won't change your mind. But I think this combination of musicians is great together and they have a unique writing style as chronicled by the DVD - there's room in the prog world for music that has has been mulled over and left to stew into a tasty meal, as well as for music like this where it's a very spontaneous production. I don't think they're churning out material for the heck of it - they put a lot into this and it shows.

Report this review (#246991)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars A nice surprise in a year full of nice surprises! Not bad at all! I have to sayI was never a big fan of Transatlantic. Not that they were bad, no way. I have both their first albums and I think they are quite good. But I felt something was missing even if their sound had most of what a prog fan wanted: great musicanship, good songwriting, good production and the right influences (meaning symphonic rock of the 70´s). But it lacked a kind of spark. Besides, Neal Morse was clearly the main protagonist on those CDs, making them sound a bit too much like Spock´s Beard (never one of my favorite bands).

Well, I´m glad to say that with The Whirldwind they finally made the album we were all waiting for when we heard those musicians were assmbling a group. The record drips with the power and conviction that lacked on the previous CDs. And Roine Stolt definitly takes the spotlight here much of the time. Now the band sounds fully like a band. Peter Trewavas is playing some of the heaviest bass in his career (much in the vein of the great Chris Squire), while Mike Portnoy shows he is a truly prog drummer, with a subtlety I had never noticed before. The interplay between those four guys finally reached a point where they sound like no one else, even if the familiar influences are all there.

The songwriting has matured a lot and the CD, a long suite divided by several different segments, is something every symphonic prog lover should listen to. Great guitar and keyboards interplay! Tasteful arrangements and inspired perfomances. What else could a fan ask for? The production is also very good. It´s a joy to listen to, from start to finish. Exciting, powerful and perfectly done.The main CD is sure 5 star affair.

My copy of The Whirldwind came with a bonus dics that includes four new songs and 4 covers. Stolt´s Spinning is the best of them, a fine prog rock that shows him (and the others) in his top form. On the other hand Lenny Johnson is definitly not on par (it is ok, but, as another reviewer noticed, it seems he tried too hard to write and sound like John Lennon). Morse´s For Such A Time is a good acoustic number, while Trewavas Lending A Hand is defintily the weakest track of the whole CD, too long and just plain boring.

The four covers are a treat for all fans: all done with passion and respect for the original ones. The Return Of The Giant Hogweed ispretty much like the original which is a compliment (great drumming!). The classic Procol Harum´s A Salty Dog does not work that well. I guess it would be asking too much to duplicate Gary Brooker´s terrific interpretation (though they do try!). the mix of America´s I Need You with the Beatles song of the same title was a very good idea (even including the riff of Day Tripper in the middle!). The vocal harmonies here are the highlight and show theose guys are not only brilliant instrumentalists. The last cover is Santana´s classic Soul Sacrifice, a fine showcase of everyone´s virtuosity. they just bring the house down. awesome!

Conclusion: Best Transatlantic CD to date! The one the finally fulfilled the great expectations of having such extraordinaire musicians doing something as a group. But be sure to get the special edition two CD editon. Even if the bonus disc is far from perfect, it has too many merits to miss it. Final rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#247077)
Posted Thursday, October 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars It is blowing, one of these long time awaited albums (I remember how sad I was when I realized that Transatlantic released just two studio albums about year ago, then I found about that this one was in production). Very important here is that it's full of new ideas. After all, it took whole 7 years than T-A fans were satisfied with another release. When first disc was first slowly finishing, I was little bit worried, because I've started to be quite tired. So long epic, having in mind that it all is one big, long, huge, but as I know now, all it takes is time. Because this is not one of these albums where it ends before you get accustomed to it. Maybe first tracks (parts), OK, you can really enjoy them. But fifth, or even twelfth, it's quite torment. Maybe it would be better to listen first half, then pause and then second half. But that sounds silly even to me. In total 134 minutes, that's revolutionary. But I'm aware that every Transatlantic album promise a lot of minutes to listen, CD's packed to full capacity. And about second disc, Lenny Johnson reminds me The Flower Kings a lot. And covers are done fine, I think that they should satisfy us, prog lovers. I was only disappointed with last, Santana cover, but only because I don't know original.

5(-), but only after repeated listens. After first one, I would give 3 stars. EDIT: And after few days of listening, I can decisively give masterpiece rating. There's one pattern that is similar to Neal Morse's "?", to Karmakanic's "Boss", Roine Stolt's TFK. It is feeling that I have after listening these. That all other albums sounds suddenly less interesting than before.

Report this review (#247454)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I decided, after hearing the new Transatlantic album The Whirlwind, to register as a member of this site and post a review. This is something I have considered doing for some time now. Other albums have almost prompted me but I know that I am prone to go on and on so up until now I thought I'd best leave it to the experts!

A little bit of background - I have been a big fan of progressive rock (particularly symphonic) for about 25 years. I have always loved Genesis and Yes - and Marillion for a lot of that time. In more recent years I became a fan of Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Dream Theater... (spot the connections lol) .. etc. I heard Transatlantic for the first time about 5 years ago. They immediately became one of my favourite bands. I loved both of the first albums and I dare say that Bridge Across Forever even beats Close to the Edge as my favourite prog album ever. Until now.

However I say this it will sound over the top so I'm going to put this very simply... With The Whirlwind, Transatlantic have created what is, in my opinion, probably the best music I have ever heard. Simple.

I have listened to the album 20 times now - over a very short period of time I admit. I really don't think, knowing how much I love the first two albums, that this is going ot change. If it does, I will be sure to update my review.

One thing that strikes me about reviews of Neal's later music is that it almost inevitably gets good reviews from religious people. That is, of course, absolutely fine. I just want to say that I am not religious but love it as if I was (if that makes sense?!) I love the emotion in Neal's music and love equally what Roine and Mike add to it in particular.

I am only going to comment on Disc 1 as the rest is bonus material anyway.

What I love overall about the Whirlwind is that, in 20 listens, there has not been 1 minute that I've wanted to skip. I am also amazed that no one else has said this!

With some epics/concept albums, once the overture and opening have been you usually get a bit of a lull. Not here. The Wind Blew Them All Away is one of the strongest sections of the piece. I love the two parts Out Of The Night and Rose Colored Glasses. The instrumental section and ending of the latter is as fitting a close to a piece as any I've heard. I can't help smiling when it's over when I think, ok 40 minutes down - just over half- way through!

Unlike some other reviewers I love Dancing With Eternal Glory. It makes the piece for me. And bear in mind, I am not religious. The way it segues into A Man Can Feel and Whirlwind is just breathtaking.

I could go on even more but I think you've probably heard enough from me.

I simply cannot recommend this album enough. I know that there will be many who say that it is musically nothing new and that Neal's style is not for them. If you are a fan of his then this is singlehandedly the best thing he's ever done.

It will be a long time before it is as easy for me to give 5 stars to a new album again.

Report this review (#248010)
Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm a huge fan of all the 4 bands that the musicians of TRANSATLANTIC come from. Though I still believe their best work is in each one of their different groups (DREAM THEATER, THE FLOWER KINGS, SPOCK'S BEARD/NEAL MORSE, MARILLION), Portnoy, Stolt, Morse and Trewavas have given me moments of beautiful music together, and their first album as a super-group, "SMPTe", was one of the first progresive-rock recordings ever to grace my collection (in fact, I met 3 of the main bands after, and thanks to, my first experience with TRANSATLANTIC). So, this band is very close to my heart. How does "The Whilrwind", then, compare with their two previous efforts?

I'll say it now: this is a great album, but it suffers from the same gigantism that recent Stolt and Morse works suffer from. The album starts with one of the greatest introductions of the last years, with joyous, exultant melodies that signal a bright future. Henceforth, the music develops in the expected ways, with repetition of the main themes, with Stolt and Morse taking turns in the lead vocals (with some participation by the other two members). the music tends to have a high-spirited taste to it, I think deeply influenced by the beliefs of Morse and the always-positive attitude of Stolt (Portnoy and Trewavas usually make darker music). "The Wind blew them all away" could've been extracted from a recording from Morse, for example.

Melodies are great, musicianship is great (Portnoy is very restrained, like always in TRANSATLANTIC, and Trewavas actually has more of a chance to shine here than in previous albums in my opinion). But the band makes one mistake: they are enjoying it too much, and they forgot that us, listeners, are not playing with them, but listening to their playing. The album tends to drag toward the end, and when we finally reach the final track we're exhausted. "Dancing with the eternal glory/Whirwind" seems to have been extended far beyond its reasonable running time, with a coda that is as long as it is unnecessary.

I still prefer "SMPTe", with incredible songs like "All of the Above" or their absolute best ever, "My New World". I rank "The Whirlwind" right next to "Bridge Across Forever", which has only four very long songs but incredibly appears more restrained. I think "The Whilrwind" is a fantastic progressive-rock album, with some of the best music that can be produced in the symphonic-rock world, but it misses perfection due to the inherent excesses of the genre. I think 4 stars are just what it deserves. With some trimming and editing, it could've reached an easy 5.

Note: The second disc, made of covers and 4 original songs, leaves this reviewer cold, as the four songs are rather forgettable, and the covers are usually entertaning but irrelevant in a review, for me.

Report this review (#248432)
Posted Friday, November 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Whirlwind is Transatlantic’s third studio album, released eight years after Bridge Across Forever. Eight years is quite a lot of time and a lot can–and actually did–change in each musician’s lives, though I’m referring here mostly to Neal as he’s the person behind the lyrics on The Whirlwind. This mind shift, I think most clearly visible on his solo albums starting from Testimony, had an obvious influence on album’s lyrical layer.

Other than what I’d call a classic-transatlantic you can find here some resemblances to early Flower Kings–let’s say the Retropolis era–in “A Man can Feel” or some classical-rock singing, bit like Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler’s, in “Lay Down your Life”. On a strictly instrumental level, the album does not present so many joyful arrangements as previous CDs did. The mood is kept solemn for the most part and the album introduces more heavy riffs, with “Dancing with Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise)”, the longest and not necessarily full- speed-multi-note composition in the mood of Dream Theater’s “The Spirit Carries On”, bearing most resemblance to Transatlantic’s previous songs. Still, you can find some interesting themes here and there, such as a Bigelf-like passage near the end of “A Man can Feel”, or a short but utterly amusing keyboard tune, quite like a main theme from my childhood’s cartoon Koziołek Matołek, in the tension-growing passage of “Overture / Whirlwind”.

So to sum it all up, The Whirlwind–a 77 minutes long epic, though only because it has been called one on the “making of” DVD as listening to the album did not gave me such an impression–is an interesting but I wouldn’t daresay essential album. If I were to rank Transatlantic albums, I think I’d place The Whirlwind right after SMPTe with Bridge Across Forever on the top. This is strictly personal impression that depends on what are you looking for in music and The Whirlwind is a wee-bit different than what I’ve expected to come from Transatlantic.

Report this review (#248818)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The biggest surprise of the year. Who would have thought that Transatlantic would reunite to write a 78 minute long song? This album is complex, entertaining, coherent, and superior to their previous two efforts. In addition, it truly feels like a band effort this time, rather than a version of Spock's Beard.

Of course, Neal Morse is still the main songwriter, but this time it feels like every part of the epic (except for the last ten minutes) shows musical ideas from the other members, particularly Roine Stolt (Flower Kings' leader). Also, Neal Morse's keyboards are generally lower in the mix, making the instruments sound more balanced.

Roine Stolt, who often complained that Transatlantic's potential was not reached with the first albums, sounds very excited in this album, providing excellent vocals and some of his best guitar work. I'm also pretty sure that some synthesizer work comes from him as he's a pretty good keyboardist as well. Pete Trewavas (Marillion) is put higher in the mix this time and this has to be his finest hour in his whole career as a bass player. His punchy bass tone recalls Chris Squire and Mike Portnoy (drummer) is very inspired here as well.

Let's get the negatives out of the way. First, while this is a 78 minute long song, there is a slight pause or distortion between the tracks unless you convert the songs to mp3, making the transition between the movements a bit awkward sometimes. Also, the ending of the album is somewhat boated in length and anti-climatic lyrically, with the disappointment of having Neal Morse preach to G-d in a similar way to his solo albums, which is overdone and one-dimensional. I could add that the sheer length of the album makes it quite inaccessible on the first listens and you would have to endure those first listens in order to understand the album in a musical sense. My last complaint of the album is the quality of the studio songs in the Bonus CD; only Roine's "Spinning" is good enough, yet it's not much better than an average Flower Kings composition.

Overture/Whirlwind and The Wind Blew Them All Away is the first sign that shows Neal Morse taking the role in the epic's structure. Neal Morse usually begins his efforts with an overture that introduces various motifs that would be developed later and then play a gentler and possibly acoustic song. It's no different here and it's a winning formula. The Overture is energetic, essential, and is one of the spots where the musicians could show their chops without hurting the flow of the music. "Whirlwind" plays a main theme that would be revisited a few times. Unlike other epics like "Stranger in your Soul", when melodies are revisited, they come in a logical way and not as if the band was suffering from writer's block. "The Wind Blew Them All Away" starts as a Morse acoustic ballad with Roine bringing a soulful guitar solo and then introducing a heavier passage that was played in the overture.

On The Prowl has a great rock beat provided by a single bass line and Neal Morse has a great moment, jazzing up the piece with hammonds, Rhodes piano, and minimoogs. Roine, on the backseat, provides great subtle guitarwork. After an angry vocal-led section, there is an interesting turn with Roine bringing a beautiful jazz riff. A Man Can Feel has "Flower Kings" written all over it and is one of the highlights of the piece. It has a dark, somber feel with catchy vocal harmonies in the choruses and an extended instrumental section ending spectacularly with a sinister mood and incredibly awesome and twisted guitar work recalling Steve Howe on Yes ? Relayer. It has to be heard to be believed!

Out of the Night has a beatle-ish beat in its choruses and brings back the main themes of "Whirlwind" while Rose Colored Glasses brings a strong melody that was introduced in the early stages of the overture. This song is a very emotional moment in the epic and Morse's vocals are surprisingly good, helping make it one of his better ballads. Roine plays a very soulful guitar solo halfway thru the track with his commonly-used wahwah-pedal.

Evermore 's ELP-influenced introduction lead to an awesome eclectic piece that is a joy to hear. The bass and guitar playing is impeccable and the main theme of the piece is memorable. Another highlight. Set us Free is unspectacular but necessary to gel the pieces of the song together and the ending is a quite creative rearrangement of the guitar riff on the second half of "The Wind Blew Them All Away". Lay Down Your Life made me realize how much Neal Morse improved on the vocal department, achieving some difficult falsetto-style vocals in the choruses.

Pieces of Heaven is a short but sweet instrumental blending the styles of The Flower Kings with Gentle Giant. The quirkiness of the piece took a while to get used to for me. Is it Really Happening is a much needed break as the first half is atmospheric with vocals reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Waiting for the Worms". Subdued in volume yet very powerful. This piece is the climax and turning point of the album, with frantic instrumentation in the second half that has what many modern symphonic albums lack: passion. I already described the last piece previously and I have to say that it's a fine piece of music despite my complaints and wraps things up successfully. The issue I have is that it sometimes hints endings that don't come, making it a bit exhausting.

Before ending the review, I have to say that the covers of "Return of the Giant Hogweed" and "Soul Sacrifice" are very entertaining; the latter is impressive in that it was done in a single take. It really shows that Portnoy, Trewavas and Roine are virtuosos at their respective instruments and that Neal Morse who is a songwriter, not virtuoso, can handle his own pretty darn well. Another cover that caught my attention is "Salty Dog", just because of Mike Portnoy's singing. His vocals range from embarrassing to mediocre in Dream Theater and here they actually sound as if he was the lead singer of a band! Not excellent, but on par with Neal Morse and Roine Stolt.

I have to give a 5-star rating with this album as it's rare that a 78 minute long song can be so well structured and coherent. These four musicians are meant to be together, they have perfect chemistry and there does not seem to be any battle of egos. It is a shame that they are not very well known, are very far away from each other, and lack the funds to be a permanent band. If there comes the unlikely event that they play together in New England, I'd go without hesitation.

Report this review (#248875)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whoa, whoa, whoooooa-- wait, wait, wait--had a listen, many listens--it's good, good, good - - -"Well Dick it has a good beat and it's fun to dance to. I give it a TEN!! Yep , yep, yeppppp.

Naysayers, naysayers, wait, wait, wait, hold, hold, hold----hoooold on. CD is technically sound, technically sound -(no pun, get it no pu-never mind, whatever). Solid performers here, no slouches, masters all, heads of the class, yep yep yep -- like, you know, Frippertronic, Peart-ian, Howe-lingly good, etc., etc. Solid solid solid, good good good. Naysayers. Didn't give it a chance, need more than one listen, probably over your head if you don't listen closely, made up your mind too fast -- this music is subtle - minor chord progressions, recurring 'Whirlwhind' theme, it foreshadows, gives us a hint, wait for it, wait for it---it comes around again. "Too much Morse" you say--no such thing, no such thing, he was brilliant as a follicled Vulcan, good pipes in worship (how come it's okay to poke fun at Christians but not any other...but I digress). Threw us a Lifeline and we under-rated it , fair enough---much of the same, knock 'em when they're up and all that. Not THE WHIRLWIND. Nope. No way Jose. "But it's so derivative, sounds like all their other stuff" - (naysayers naysayers who say nay to Neal) Never understood what 'derivative' really meant -- a catch all, over-simple, and/ or why is this a bad thing???

Need a template, a true yard-stick, merit-o-meter of Prog. Many opinions, experts, specialists -- trust them, they know, yep yep yep - those who dislike any accessibility (prog snobs, prog snobs, tsk tsk tsk) others who want 1970s re-visited, YES that's right, back to the beginning, to the GENESIS, the time when Prog was in the PINK, not needing any h- ELP (couldn't resist) . Then there's those who want just noise and mess and mystery, good for them, good for them, good good good,.

Ah, but what is excellence, what is 'genius', what's a 'masterpiece' (meaningless words, over-used, burned out, useless --shame shame shame). Want to know what's good Prog? Do ya? Well then, look no further than THE WHIRLWIND -- has it all - meets all the criteria: gets better with age, still holds its charm on a weekday, never leaves the old CD player no- no-nooo! Trust me, try them, go get one, really good -- you can trust these guys from the Azores (ooops- sorry! That would be mid-atlantic not TRANSATLANTIC). The dodo, the whale, humans, symphonic prog-- all on the list--you know what list--yes you do, Their time's up! But this song gives us hope-- gotta keep the faith. Totally classic, comfortably positioned in group photo with a Lamb, an Edge, a Brave, an Animals, a Crime, Hope, a Lex (rex too), and a Double Dimple (yeah you heard me).

So you disagree do you, well it's you're right, it's you're prerogative, I will defend to the death your inability to recognise good Prog when you hear it (you may need more patience, let it grow, listen close, listen up, listen listen listen). Listen to this CD. Real Prog. Real symphonic.

THIS is how it's done.

Report this review (#249091)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Majestic sounds and chords with noise opening signs there's gonna be something special... beginning of The Overture, though, with the strings in obligatory vein of Morse's solo overtures, disappoints me. The song is divided to many different parts. Some of them are really cool (3:16 and on), and especially when Hammond organ with bass drive the song and Stolt'voice enters and after him Morse change the lead vocals and intense solos.

The Wind Blew them all Away led by Morse is quite good, but a lot similar to his solo albums, pompous, in the end over-the-top. On the Prowl is good, mostly instrumental, but quite forgettable for me. A Man Can Feel led by Stolt is track I totally adore, so relaxing, great spooky verse (in vein of TFK's A Vampire's View etc., with immediately catchy bluesy refain and thunderous, melodic bass line). Out of the Night, again catchy, Beatles-like lively song, led by Stolt again, then quite nicely trading with Portnoy, in second verse with Trewavas and finally Morse in refrain. Beautiful.

Rose Colored Glasses again sounds like Morse's solo, so seriously pompous.. There is small hint to Pink Floyd (coincidentally as it is on latest Porcupine Tree album). On Evermore Stolt is in charge and it is one of better, airy tracks. Set us Free mostly develop motive from overture, seems to me here like lack of ideas. Lay down your Life is led by voice of Morse, who tries to be heavy and angry, but it sounds forced and a bit comical to me, as the whole heaviness of the song.

Odd rhythm of Pieces of Heaven is so obvious and also somehow unnatural in this case, but it is playful and fun. Is it Really Happening? is the most moving piece and one of the best on the album. Unusually minimalistic and silent for these musicians, surprise. One motive culminating almost through the whole track, in the end of it Portnoy gets really mad. The final track is again mixed bag of feelings, typical sentiment of Morse latter days, too much pomp... it has its parts again, moments (segue to A Man Can Feel, Whrilwind), but doesn't work as a whole.

Second bonus CD I like, because it sounds way more relaxed, though not too ambitious. Spinning reminds me a lot SMPTe, My New World (which is good thing, as it is one of my all time fav albums), led by Stolt. Starting as simple, romantic piece, sweet Hammond sounds and infectious refrain. Then it turns out into evil 6/8 jam. Lenny Johnson sung by Stolt again has reference to Agents of Mercy I think, relaxed bluesy track. For such a Time is simple mostly acoustic Morse's piece, god-inspired, listenable at least. Trewavas's piece, Lending a Hand sounds a bit naive, but it is fresh and different, Beatles-like, though long-winded.

Cover of Genesis's The Return of Giant Hogweed with Morse's singing is quite good and fun. Then we have Procol Harum's A Salty Dog (it happened that original I heard last month sung by Brooker himself in Petersburg). Though original is unsurpassable, this is great as well. Portnoy puts his heart into it and do surprisingly nice job (he sounds raspy a bit like John Mitchell on It Bites or Kino). I Need You is beautiful piece, composed cleverly of tracks of the main band's influence - The Beatles, and also band America. Santana's track I don't know, but it is great jam.

Overall view - both discs have their moments, but I also tend to skip a lot. I miss more new and original, often it is still the same routine. What I like very much is sound of bass, listening to it is pleasure itself. As a whole, their return haven't dissapointed me, but it is not on par to their previous albums. 7 years profiled writing of members too much (especially Morse's) and seems to me it is not possible to write album strong as two previous anymore. But still some signs of collective genius and spirit survived, it is something that I didn't have big expectations for.

3,5 stars

Report this review (#249117)
Posted Monday, November 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars In arguably the biggest surprise of the year, Transatlantic announced that they were re-forming earlier this year and have re-united after a 7 year sabbatical from their last release, 'Bridge Across Forever', to record also arguably the finest prog release of the year; a CD consisting of one epic 78 minute track of a segue of songs. (Is it one song divided into segments, or a segue of songs? - I expect the arguments will carry on a long time on this subject matter, but I firmly favour the latter argument.) After all, if Porcupine Tree can do it, why can't Transatlantic? The truth is that this one puts PT's partly disappointing effort into the shade and far surpasses it in virtually all respects, not just length. After a few listens I concluded that this album is, I would say, even superior to their own previous two efforts (and they were both fantastic albums anyway) and it certainly is more grandiose in scale.

Neal Morse is still the main songwriter and seems to be still the main protagonist of the band, but this time it feels like more of a group effort, in particular Roine Stolt's guitar playing is given more prominence than before and has never sounded better than here.

Before reviewing in more detail, there are some small negatives aspects re this new recording. In particular, and perhaps inevitably in a complex segue of sophisticated songs, some of the transitions between the segments seem to work better than others, some even sounding forced just to carry on the continuity of the music.

Now let's review The Whirlwind in more detail;

1a) (As in any self respecting prog epic) The Whirlwind announces itself with an Overture that after a slow build up introduces various motifs that will appear again later in the CD. A slow start with sound effects (Is that a hint of Pink Floyd's 'Breathe' we can hear?) and then horns and strings lead to the 'The Whirlwind Theme' and then some bright interplay with several changes of tempo between all the instruments, excellently driven by Portnoy who's percussions are, as always, superb throughout the whole recording. Eventually, there's a reprise of the theme and the first vocals come in with,

1b) Whirlwind. Surprisingly it is Roine who leads into the verses, while Neal sings the choruses. The Whirlwind is not an epic but is a good song with a very catchy chorus and which (slowing) leads effectively into,

2) The Wind Blew Them All Away. A slower song but also one of the most powerful on the CD. Some great vocals and lyrics by Neal and a killer Roine guitar solo leading into a heavier passage that was previewed in the Overture, which fades and allows a bass riff to emerge with a faster beat to introduce,

3) On the Prowl. One of the up tempo segments; a great rock beat (Pete's bass riff is the star here) guaranteed to be impossible to listen to without getting your feet tapping and/or fingers clicking. Surprisingly the bright instrumental opening leads eventually to some heavy guitars and menacing and threatening lyrics delivered aggressively by Neal.

4) A Man Can Feel. Clearly a Roine song that has Flower Kings all over it and is sung by the man itself. Not a bad piece that continues in the same menacing vein as the previous song and features some very good keyboard and guitar work and becomes quite heavy in the latter stages. All of a sudden the tone lightens with,

5) Out of the Night. A very 'poppy song' that has a familiar 'Beatles Tribute' feel about it, reminiscent of parts of 'Bridge'. A light song and Pete is trusted with some of the vocals. (Surprisingly, in the middle of this light song, Neal is allowed to use a passage from the closing song as a bridge; and it works very well). A repeat of the Whirlwind Theme and some brilliant Roine guitars lead into Neal's acoustic guitar and naturally forms one of the best transitions into,

6) Rose Coloured Glasses (actually it's the American 'Colored' here). An excellent acoustic song with a great melody by Neal. It's a classic Morse song delivered with some impassioned vocals, (a viewing of the 'Making of' DVD reveals it is actually a penned tribute to his recently deceased father and one of the highlights of the DVD is Neal's recital of this song to the rest of the band) and there's also a great guitar solo by Roine. The song ends with a blasting of the 'Whirlwind Theme' and fades and one might be excused for thinking this epic is ending but (after only 40 minutes) we're only half way through (!) as Neal's swirling keyboards gradually emerge introducing,

7) Evermore. An up tempo eclectic piece delivered by Roine with another Flower Kings sound, there are some truly amazing guitar and (to a lesser extent) keyboard effects. It's a piece that grows on you and features some excellent driving riffs and guitar work. A brief reprise of one of the themes of the overture provides a seam into,

8) Set us Free. One of the lighter songs with a jazzy feel and a very catchy chorus, with which Pete is trusted again and he does a good job. The end features a repeat rendition of one of the riffs that appeared earlier in the Overture. Neal's keyboards emerge and introduce a menacing riff leading to,

9) Lay Down Your Life. A complicated Neal song with some complex, heavy driving riffs and a heavy guitar solo. The song to me highlights Neal's latter Beatles influences and also showcases Neal's vastly improved vocal talents as the song is delivered a la an angry John Lennon. Almost imperceptibly the tension lightens,

10) Pieces of Heaven. The first instrumental piece since The Overture with a superb marching but slightly comedic rhythm which dies and leads to some effects and to,

11) Is It Really Happening? A strange chanting piece that has the slight feel of the 'The Wall' (Is There Anybody Out There?) about it. It also has a slight 'filler' feel about it - did 'Is it Really Happening? have to be repeated quite so many times? But then you realise it was merely the introductory forerunner to something very much greater as the vocals concede and allow a beat and the music to develop into a quite incredible passage that starts with a blinding piece of guitar work and spirals dervish-like faster and faster until it feels that the band can't possibly control the frenetic pace for any longer. One of the most extraordinary instrumental passages in the history of prog. All of a sudden it ceases and Neal's grand piano enters to introduce what seems to be the most hotly debated song,

12a) Dancing with Eternal Glory. Definitely a song from one of Neal's recent solo projects, and therein lies the controversy in the clearly religious lyrics. However you feel about this piece as a fitting conclusion to this project this is unarguably a beautiful song with a haunting chorus and is flawlessly delivered by Neal and the band (including yet another classic Roine solo). Does it really fit in with the rest of this project? Hmmm?not completely sure, but it certainly contains the necessary gravitas for the occasion in my opinion.

12b) Whirlwind (reprise) (Actually the whole band's rendition of the chorus of 'A Man Can Feel' briefly intercedes before the reprise starts.) And this immense piece of work finally ends with a reprise of the title track theme with the lyrics continuing in the same religious context of the previous song. Finally concluding with 'And from the whirlwind comes the breath of life.'

Well, how do you summarise an album on this scale which has attracted so many diverse reviews and opinions? In my opinion, it's certainly a truly excellent album and there's enough greatness in it to be rated as a 5 star 'masterpiece'.

I would recommend getting the deluxe edition with the 'Making of?' DVD which illustrates how the band works together and leaves you flabbergasted as the short timescale of the composition and recording of this incredible piece of music is revealed and helps you to appreciate this band's outstanding achievement even more.

Report this review (#250025)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Album of the year '09!

I've always considered Transatlantic to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) supergroup in the history of prog. Their first two albums were excellent, and everything I could dream of. Come on, what's better than a supergroup made up from the mastermind Neal Morse, the crazy drumming of Mike Portnoy, the great basslines of Pete Trewavas, and the guitar heroics of Roine Stolt? Not much at all in my opinion. So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I heard they were getting back together to create a 77-minute epic concept album!

I was not at all disappointed when I first heard this album. It was everything I'd hoped for, and a lot more. This is pure perfection from beginning to end, and there is no other way I can describe it. From the incredible overture opening to the epic ending, this album takes you on a journey and is one of the best albums released in the past 3 years.

So what makes this album so great?

Well, it's really a combination of things. To hear such excellent musicians finally play together again is really great. The chemistry between the musicians is clearly there, and I've always thought that they've played together perfectly. This is also the most balanced Transatlantic album to date, and this definitely features more equal participation from each band member. While I think the first two albums are 4 and 5 star albums regardless of this aspect, this doesn't sound as much like a Neal Morse solo project anymore. While it is obvious that Neal and Roine do impact the overall sound of the band the most, this features more lead parts from Pete, and Mike Portnoy has a few lead vocal sections as well (don't worry, he doesn't growl!).

In addition to that, Transatlantic has always been excellent at creating excellent prog-rock epics. Songs like All of The Above, Duel With The Devil, and Stranger in Your Soul are some of the best 20+ minute songs I've ever heard, so a 77 minute epic works absolutely perfectly for them. The overture is one of the best I've heard, and the bombastic ending doesn't disappoint either. Everything in between has a perfect blend of emotions, beautiful melodies, and excellent soloing. Now on to the track-by-track review:


"Overture/Whirlwind"- The opening to this concept album begins with some light sound effects and a repeated voice. Soon, some light horns come in playing the main theme to the album. A string riff goes into one of the main themes played by a synth. The overture is incredible, having everything a good overture needs. It covers all of the themes it should cover, and has some great moments. After some uplifting organ chords and a great bassline, the first vocals of the album enter. They are surprisingly enough Roine Stolt's, and Neal Morse's soon follow into the catchy chorus. This is a noteworthy opening that should be recognized as one of the strongest in prog rock.

"The Wind Blew Them All Away"- The previous song flows right into the second track on this epic album. An acoustic guitar riff opens it up, and Neal's vocals soon follow. It has a kind-of ominous feeling to it, and it definitely sounds like something that could come from a Neal Morse solo album, particularly Testimony. It has a great guitar solo shortly before the middle of the song, as well as one towards the end that incorporates one of the main themes into it.

"On The Prowl"- The third song opens with an excellent bassline. Soon the drums, keyboards, and guitars enter. It starts as sort of a jazz fusion jam-session, but it soon evolves into a prog rock song. It has a heavy verse, and a great chorus. It has frequent use of the organ, and it really adds another layer to the music. A great song!

"A Man Can Feel"- A short little heavy intro opens it. After the brief opening, a majestic harpsichord chord progression enters. Roine's vocals here are very creepy and mysterious. The chorus is very catchy that soon enters. The Mellotron chord progression that follows reprises the mysterious opening, and it is very effective. The instrumental section near the end is very strong, and it has a few moments (around 5 minutes in) that could have clearly come from an album by The Flower Kings.

"Out of The Night"- After the ambitious instrumental section that concluded the previous track, this is a lighthearted track that reminds me a lot of The Beatles. This features many vocal tradeoffs, and Mike Portnoy actually has a lead vocal part (and again, don't worry- he's not growling on a TA album!). Some strong acoustic sections, musical reprises, a great outro, and beautiful melodies make this relatively straightforward track one of my favorites actually.

"Rose Colored Glasses"- After the climax at the end of the previous song, a light acoustic melody with Neal Morse singing. This just screams solo Neal Morse left and right, but it is still a great track, with many memorable melodies. After the bridge there is a reprise of the main theme to the album, and it works perfectly. There are some classic Roine Stolt guitar moments here, and he definitely does a great job with the guitar solo.

"Evermore"- The seventh song opens up with a cool piano progression. There are a couple of riffs from the bass, guitar, drums, and piano that contrast the airy chord progression. It soon turns into a steady beat, and then the riff changes into an excellent section with a great bassline. When the vocals enter it sounds very similar to The Flower Kings, and that is not a bad thing. It has some hintings towards the song "Is It Really Happening?" near the end of the song.

"Set Us Free"- This opens up with one of the main themes to the album, and I absolutely love the sound of the synths in contrast to the rest of the band here. Soon a rhythmic electric piano, bassline, and drum beat enter. Neal Morse's vocals are the first to enter. After that Mike Portnoy has the lead vocal part again. His vocal melody reminds me of the song "Frequency" by IQ every time, but by the second or third measure the melody changes. I love the chorus to this song as well.

"Lay Down Your Life"- A low string melody begins this song, and it reminds me of something off of Neal Morse's "Testimony" album. It has a kind of symphonic hard rock feeling to it, and it has some Flower King overtones. The chorus is pretty strong, and it can manage to get stuck in my head for days. This is a pretty standard verse-chorus-verse song.

"Pieces of Heaven"- A complex organ and harpsichord rhythm open up the third to last track. This song is entirely instrumental, and builds off of the same theme for the majority of the song.

"Is It Really Happening?"- This opens up with a very Flower King-ish piano scale that soon ends and sound effects enter. A vocal melody continuously builds without the listener really realizing it's happening (pun intended). It builds into one of he greatest instrumental sections I've ever heard. An excellent guitar solo from Roine is everything I could wish for in a solo, as the rest of the band is going frantic (just listen to Portnoy here!). The guitar solo progresses into some wonderful riffs, until we reach the climax of the song. The song completely changes key signature, and a synth line enters. The synth line changes slightly, and guitars play the same riff along with it. It just keeps getting faster and faster until we're at light speed! This is the closest the album gets to prog metal, and let me just say it is AWESOME!! This song is superb, and the instrumental section near the end is one of the best I've ever heard, and is a great way to go into the emotional closing piece.

"Dancing With Eternal Glory/Whirlwind (Reprise)"- A light piano melody opens the song. It progresses into one of the main themes on the album. Neal sings this section beautifully, and I do find his voice to be terribly underrated. He does an excellent job especially in the beautiful chorus. I love the strings applied to this section, and it truly is excellent. There is a point where I can't even describe such magnificence with words. You just need to hear it. A great guitar solo transitions into the theme from "A Man Can Feel", and it works perfectly back into the main theme to the album. All in all, this epic conclusion sums up everything in the album absolutely perfectly, and there is no flaw here. This is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) endings I've ever heard to such an epic piece of music. This is what all musicians should model their endings to an album like, because it doesn't get any better than this.


I think I've made my point clear by now. This album is a masterpiece that should be heard by anyone who even remotely likes progressive rock. We all had some doubts about creating a 77-minute album, but Transatlantic pulled it off with ease! These musicians work so well together musically, and it really shows in this epic concept album. I am so glad to see that they are back together again. Now I'm just counting the days until the next masterpiece.

5 stars.

Report this review (#250058)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Dear, oh dear. I bought this against my better judgment and my better judgment is now laughing at me. Seventy-seven minutes of blandness, of formulaic, (ironically) soulless neo-prog without feeling, ending with the most cheesy revivalist number I've heard since I left the church.

Thing is, as much as I want to hate it, parts of this album are actually very good. The musicianship is superb (though PORTNOY could hold back on the drums every now and again, surely) and some of the compositions are reasonable. It is let down by two things, in my opinion: first, it simply doesn't have the compositional strength to justify an hour and a quarter of your time; and second, oh dear, that finish.

From 'On The Prowl' to 'Rose Colored Glasses' I felt this had the makings of a four-star album, but what followed descended into Christian cheese. This bible verse and that bible verse patched together like a Vineyard or Hillsong worship tape - and that last song! A more deliberate, cumbersome and ineffective attempt to pump up the emotions I've never come across. Not for me, sorry.

I bought this thing off iTunes and didn't get the bonus disk. I'm kind of relieved, having heard their version of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond.' If you like TRANSATLANTIC and can stand the cheese, you'll probably like this. But for me it's a good half-hour of music spoiled by what surrounds it. Barely three stars.

Report this review (#250270)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Disclaimer. We will not take responsibility for any emotional harm affected by reading this review. It's nothing personal, we sure can understand why Transatlantic are popular. I'd even say they are recommended to Kansas, Asia and Ayreon fans. But we just want to spread the message that this does not guarantee it will also work for you. And of course we wanted to have a bit of fun at bashing Transatlantic :-)

When looking at the Transatlantic album covers, Transatlantic seem to have crossed the Atlantic in some kind of primitive vessel around 2000. Then they reached mountain heights in 2001 and now 8 years later, they finally seem to have passed beyond the stratosphere. At this pace it will take them at least another 20 years to get to the moon. I'd call that pretty sluggish progress.

And so is their progressive rock. Lethargic.

Not that they don't play well or fast. Of course not, quite the contrary. When they jam a bit they are even quite enjoyable, but playing well doesn't give any guarantee for meaningful music. If they would abstain from injecting their music with those blaring pop vocals and horrible AOR melodies, it might even lead to something. Alas that is not the case.

What these songs crave for is a heart, passion, meaning, content or whatever name you wish to give it. Now it is merely "form without substance". An empty shell with syrupy melodies that come close to the sensations you get from average musicals (I could as well leave out 'average' here).

I can understand this focus on 'form' from Pete Trewavas. After all he's in a band that, in the last 5 years, has seemingly given up on playing anything challenging at all and instead has focussed entirely on the emotional delivery of its vocalist. So he's all about escaping his 'substance without form' trauma. Besides, his bass picking is really good here. I can also understand it from Mike Portnoy. True musician that he is, he would plaster just everybody's albums with drums. 24 hours a day if he could. Fine by me.

But what about the other two? Spocks Beard? Flower Kings? I've known those names for years now, but after hearing the first Transatlantic 8 years ago, I never checked them out and frankly, I don't see it happening now any time soon neither. They don't give me any reason to do so. Their vocal melodies are lifeless, uninvolved and uninspiring.

I expect music to be bright, emotive and stellar, but the stars? No, I don't think the Transatlantic spacecraft will get there in another zillion years. Since I reserve the one star verdict for albums that can't get any note in the right place, I will have to play my 2-star card. However, with the stars so far out of reach for Transatlantic, it should rather be regarded as 2 lightbulbs.

Report this review (#250273)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a fantastic, continuous piece of music we've got here. After a long break, I'm so happy to see Transatlantic return with so many new ideas put together in a form of a new album. Im not sure if I was surprised really, since I couldn't help but maintain my trust in this powerful combination of musicians coming from the very top of the current progressive rock scene: Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Dream Theater and Marillion. Stylistically, I guess this is "regular" progressive rock, so the elements arise from all over the place: grand symphonic themes intertwine with jazz absurdities, one after another, but a good amount of pop touch and heavy rock gives them a little air and catchiness, so it won't get totally exhausting at any point (remember it lasts for 77 minutes straight). Give it a chance, and you'll find tons of inspiration and deep exploration of musical terra incognita, once again.

With this album, these four musicians also have made a strong comment about things happening and things to come, about the ongoing global ecocatastrophe. Already in the cover art, you can see an obvious reference to an infamous topic: climate change, or global warming, if you will. It's good to have a powerful musical vision dealing with these common concerns amongst the flood of cold information that has been coming out in the last years. The way things are presented here is so touching and filled with beauty, sometimes in a sad way, sometimes just plain happy, that in the end of the album, things will definitely look a bit clearer to you. It'll make you reconsider your life once or twice, for sure.

Wow, quite a rant, huh? But then again, this is quite unbelievable as well!

Report this review (#250396)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I shall Refer you to J-Man's excellent review for the track by track synopsis. He has it spot on. Now I shall attempt to add my two-penneth. This was an eagerly awaited release as the other two TA studio CD's were excellent and each worth a minimum of five stars. The Whirlwind - a 78 minute track (the non proggies at work were guffawing and coming out with all the old "Wizards hat skater;s on ice" dogma...oh well) SEVENTY EIGHT MINUTES and it's awesome......Muscianship so tight you couldnt penetrate it with a titanium spear, memorable harmonies and themes and Guitar work so excellent it would make a pickled onion weep. The standout track is "is it really happening" - music that reached all the right prog synapses in my brain....The main theme is loosely based on Promenade by Mussorgsky and this is reprised in the bombastic ending. The only irritation is that Mr Morse seems hell-bent on ramming his dark-age religious delusion down our collective throats, sort of preaching via prog. I shall chose to take another more darwinian interpretation of the Whirlwind - I shall consider it a metaphor for the gene-pool and the master is in fact the blind-watchmaker - which is the non- random selection of mutated genes...There I feel better already FIVE STARS............
Report this review (#250806)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A lot of fuss about this latest album by the prog band of all prog bands albeit that Transatlantic is still no more than a project and not a real band. I always considered TA a potential jewel because after all there are three genius songwriters in the line-up, well at least two (Stolt and Morse) because Portnoy is not often writing true masterpieces all by himself, if he does it's most of the time along with Petrucci.

Anyway, potentially a fantastic line-up and I have to say if I look at their two previous albums I don't think they totally proved that there. SMPTe just had one masterpiece track (All of the Above) and Bridge across Forever initially overwhelmed me in a way but hardly stood the test of time for me. Though the compositional quality was pretty high mainly of the two epics, nowadays I hardly play the album anymore simply because I'm through with it, the book is closed. And that's a fairly timid harvest of this super project isn't it ? Couldn't they really have done more with their talents ?

With Whirlwind they ultimately proved they could ! Finally the super masterpiece we've all been hoping for. Sure, it's always possible to be blasé about this magnum opus and say you've heard it all before, it's retro prog, unoriginal etc etc. That's the negative way to approach the thing. But as I always say, if that's the way to do it contemporary bands might just as well cease their activities and we can all sit down and gush about what prog was in the seventies. But there's also another approach possible and that's simply listen to what is being achieved nowadays and admire the talent of nowadays. And that's what I chose to do here. With my second paragraph I think I proved I'm pretty critical about this project band and don't just adore automatically everything they do. But here they finally live up to what they have in store. And then I'm not just talking about quantity, a 77 minute epic is bound to impress, especially if you're an epic lover like me but the quality is much more important of course. And believe me if this quality would have disappointed me I would have told you.

Don't forget my expectations were really high with this one and I have heard a long line up of progressive masterpieces by now and comparing this with those I can only say: it fits in that line up, the only thing you have to do is be open minded about it and give it a real chance and then you can only come to this conclusion: a new masterpiece is born. 5 stars.

Report this review (#251459)
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Pleasure for symphonic fans

If someone asks me: can you tell me one pure symphonic rock 2009 album, I would answer him: yes, there is at least one pure symphonic release of the year and it is The Whirlwind by Transatlantic - a supergroup, consisted of Neal Morse(now - solo, before - Spocks Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). At the beginning of my listenings I can feel I was highly impressed by this album. It's full of memorable songs and dynamic sound, well-constructed conception and superb musicianship. Some themes repeat all around the album. But after a few hours spent on this album I have felt the flaws exist. I would like to say these flaws are disguised very well by these superb musicians and this charming subgenre - symphonic rock. These flaws are: lack of much ideas, quite simple songwriting, existance of some pop moments and the most important - a lot of repetitions.

To be honest, there aren't weak songs and the album looks like a Dream Theater's one in some aspects, except in terms of heavier sound. Here is the moment to say, that in comparison with Dream Theater's last release I would vote for Dream Theater, instead of Transatlantic. The best song on The Whirlwind by far is: Is It Really Happening - perfect music and highly influenced by Camel (first 3/4) and Premiata Forneria Marconi (last 1/4 (hi La Luna Nuova!!!)). Overall: easy pass through the barrier of 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#251509)
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The year is 2007. Through Dream Theater, I discover a supergroup called Transatlantic, made up of Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Pete Trewavas (Marillion), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), and Neal Morse (Spock's Beard). I am stunned by their musicianship and their ability to make insanely long songs (over 30 minutes) but keep them fresh enough to sustain full listens time and time again. They were my first exposure to long-form songs, and what better place to start?

The year is 2003. Neal Morse, keyboardist and frontman of Transatlantic finds God and pursues an incredible solo career where he keeps flexing his prog muscle while keeping his music religiously-themed. Sounds bad on the surface, but his music is as good as ever. Unfortunately, this leads to the permanent disbanding of Transatlantic. When I read this after discovering the band, I was incredibly disappointed. I was so blown away by the two albums they put out (not to mention some of the best live albums ever recorded), I felt it was real selfish for Neal to screw things over for a supergroup that had such an amazing sound.

The year is 2009. Neal Morse changes his mind and Transatlantic gets back together, and not only that, they are putting out a new album by year's end that contains ONE 77-minute song entitled The Whirlwind.

I never thought I would ever hear anything new from these guys. I've never been happier to be wrong. Transatlantic are, in my opinion, not only one of the best supergroups of all time, but the closest thing to modern day Beatles that we'll ever get. I feel like they are what the Beatles would be if they continued on the path they set for themselves with Abbey Road.

So after all this time, have Transatlantic come back from what seemed to be a permanent end and taken back their crown? In a word: Yes. The Whirlwind is not only one of the most ambitious symphonic albums I've ever listened to, but a truly glorious revival that matches their previous work while all at once branching out in exciting new directions. It's at once both familiar and totally different, channeling the sounds of all four bands the band members occupy. It's essential listening for prog fanatics and one of the most exciting and surprising listens in a year that's already been full of truly brilliant music. To put it bluntly - The Whirlwind is a masterwork.

The Whirlwind is broken up into an album's-worth of movements, but presented as one staggering 77-minute song. Thankfully, Transatlantic retained the one trait I've always loved most about them - The ability to make long songs a breeze to listen to. They have a beautiful sound that makes the time pass like few others. The same is especially true for The Whirlwind, which is easy to listen to despite its daunting runtime. It's a testament to these four geniuses skills as musicians to be able to craft something so coherent (not to mention in such a small amount of time).

There isn't a single wasted measure, and the highlights are scattered all over the place. The opening movement (Overture / Whirlwind) is a smashing intro to the piece, and if you've ever heard any other Transatlantic material, you'll feel right at home here. It's very familiar-sounding, but as soon as the vocals kick in, you know you're in for something different. Instead of Morse taking the mic as usual, it's Stolt! Excellent! Morse comes back shortly, of course, but Stolt sets up the mood of this piece very well. Everything retains its familiarity until the fourth movement, A Man Can Feel, which immediately shifts gears into something totally different. It sounds like something straight out of The Flower Kings' library, and is a welcome change of pace.

From here until the final movement, Transatlantic explores musical avenues that they never have before. Previously, they were always given flak for employing a very Neal Morse-esque sound and not really utilizing the strengths of the other band members. Now, Transatlantic finally finds their own sound with The Whirlwind. The interplay between these four geniuses is fantastic, and trumps everything they've ever done prior to this. Roine Stolt has a commanding presence on this record, giving the band's sound a more unique flair that you'd be hard-pressed to find these days. In particular, Pete Trewavas is responsible for writing a majority of this record, and throws down a lot of excellent basslines. He's clearly making up for lost time, not having nearly as much creative freedom in Marillion to flex his obviously great musical muscle. It's just so good, people. Everything falls into place like a game of Tetris.

One of the final and more emotionally-charged movements is entitled "Is it Really Happening?" I found myself asking the same question when listening to The Whirlwind. I never thought I'd hear these guys perform as one unit again, and I never thought such a monumentally huge song would be so great to listen to. I've tried listening to plenty of enormous songs from other bands (some of which these guys are members of) and nothing even comes close to this. There is a lot to love about The Whirlwind, but the biggest thing I love about it is that it means one of my favorite musical acts is back from the dead, and haven't lost, but GAINED skill, ambition, and creativity.

I was careful not to just simply toss this album at the top of my list as a reactionary move. I gave this album about 15 spins before I threw it at the top of the list. 20 more would solidify its position as not only the best album of this year, but one of the best symphonic prog albums I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. This album is head and shoulders about the rest of this year's output, and that's saying something. This was a year filled with truly divine music, and I never thought for a second that this seemingly rushed Transatlantic album would be anywhere near the top, especially after being completely floored by Mastodon, which held the top spot until a month ago when this piece of prog gold dropped from the sky.

Mike, Pete, Neal, and Roine: It's great to have you back. Thank you for this wonderful album.

Report this review (#252214)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Welcome back!

After so many years TRANSATLANTIC return back with an incredible album. This symphonic rock of high level and it is very remarkable that it was made in a very short time. I was very surprised by the skills of Neal Morse on keyboards in the entire album and the contribution of Pete Trewavas on bass was truly amazing. The guitar sound delivered by Roine Stolt is solid as always. One thing that amazed me on this record was in the vocal departament where we found the very well recognized ones by Neal and Roine and the colourfull addition made by Pete and Mike Portnoy. It is a very well balanced album made by great musicians and I recommend to listen to the second cd with bonus tracks and a very interesting approach to covers composed by Genesis, Procol Harum and Santana. In the deluxe edition the third disc is a dvd with the making of...that is very ilustrative of the band's talent to work in just few days. I don't want to forget to mention the drumming delivered by Mike....awesome! A strong recommendation for fans of classic prog and candidate for album of the year!

Report this review (#252261)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's been 8 years since the symphonic prog supergroup of Neal Morse (ex Spock's Beard now solo), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion) released a studio album under the Transatlantic banner. Was it worth the wait? Well The Whirlwind is no doubt a very good album so I suppose the answer is yes. I do however have a few reservations that stop it making classic status.

The Whirlwind is available as a double cd, with the second disc being half covers. The Whirlwind itself as I'm sure most people are aware by now is a single piece of music reaching almost 78 minutes in length, sub divided into 12 individually titled parts. The musicianship as expected is top notch and with players of such a high calibre it doubtful if they could release a complete turkey.

On first listen I was far from impressed and looking back at the notes I made with a review at a later date in mind I had jotted down comments like prog by numbers, bland, one paced lacking highs and lows etc. Of course I would never base a review on only one listen and after a few plays like many good albums The Whirlwind started to reveal its charms.

It's a record full of strong melodies and enjoyable though rarely edge of seat instrumental workouts. Musically and not surprisingly it sits between the symphonic sound of The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard/solo Morse including sections that could easily fit on those bands albums. Trewavas doesn't really bring any Marillion with him nor Portnoy Dream Theater. In fact much like on the first 2 transatlantic albums Portnoy plays, in keeping with the music's requirements, with far more restraint than in his day job. Morse takes the lions share of the vocals followed by Stolt. Portnoy and Trewavas are each given small parts to sing though it has to be said that while adequate it seems a bit pointless and could have been better handled by the real singers in the band. I suppose we should be thankful that Portnoy doesn't attempt any of that ridiculous growling that he does on Dream Theater's latest. When Trewavas sings he does so on a section that sounds very Beatles inspired, as it does in one or 2 other places.

Where The Whirlwind falls a little short of the great epic it surely could have been is it is a little predictable. Okay maybe I shouldn't have expected any surprises as each musician in their own individual main band with perhaps the exception of Trewavas with Marillion has tended to slip into a formulaic approach, drifting little from the template that makes their recognisable sound. I've no problem with that however as long as it's good, which it is. The other problem is the sheer length. Now don't get me wrong, I like an epic as much as the next prog lover, but whilst some parts are excellent there are also a few sections that come across as padding. Perhaps in the attempt to write the longest song in prog they lost sight of quality control occasionally? It's at its worst on the Is It Really Happening? section which is tedious and repetitive. It does improve however when the repetitive chant is replaced by one of the more dynamic instrumental parts of the album.

Moving onto the second disc which is 4 originals and 4 covers. Of the originals Spinning is very good starting with a simple, light almost country rock approach it surprisingly turns into an excellent prog instrumental workout in many ways more exciting than most the instrumental parts on The Whirlwind. Lenny Johnson is weaker; a short song with a Beatles vibe but is nothing spectacular. For Such A Time is also fairly unremarkable, starting off as an acoustic track building into a power ballad. Pleasant enough is the best I can say. Lending A Hand is another nod in the direction of The Beatles and plods along nicely enough but outstays its welcome.

I've never been a fan of cover versions, always feeling they are a bit pointless, especially when covering songs that were so brilliantly executed in the first place. Such is the case with all 4 covers here. All classics in their own right there's nothing here that improves on the brilliant Genesis track The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. It's played faithfully to the original but falls a long way short of the original. Ditto A Salty Dog, I Need You and Soul Sacrifice. However, this is intended as a bonus disc and on that level I wont judge it too harshly.

Getting back to the main feature then, to sum up The Whirlwind is a welcome return for Transatlantic. A very good album though not as good as their 2000 SMPTe debut by some margin. If you already like the band then this one's worth getting, if you don't then this one won't change your mind. Very good but nearer 3 than 4 stars.

Report this review (#252339)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars first off i want to say that i am a huge transatlantic fan and am also a huge fan of all 4 of the individual bands these guys are from(aside from marillion).With this album it took me about 3 listens to reall "get" it, and probably about 5 to really realize just how incredibly awesome it was....and what do you expect from a 78 minute piece of takes quite some time to digest...but once you have fully digested this album what a gem it is indeed!!...this is just as good as smpt:e and bridge, but in a slightly different is more epic and more diverse in terms of the different inputs and styles put into the mix...and the fact that it was made in only some days is beyond impressive and its not like even saying o its awesome cause they made this in so many days....this would be a master work if it was made in a year, but still its completely impressive that they always pull of these masterpieces with ease....and its no surprise they are all musical gods and musical genius's in their respective bands, but i just didnt expect this album to be that good....with neal morse's lifeline's dissapointment, black clouds and silver lingings dissappointment and the somewhat of a dissapointment of sum of no evil i thought this would prbably be a flawed work, but it's PERFECT!!. in every way... from the bone chilling overture...the catchy melodies that are so memorable like a man can feel and out of the the way i hated out of the night when i forst heard just GREW on me...rose colored glasses is a perfect ballad with some poweful progresive moments...roin's evermore is alos impressive and i just love set us free...the music is awesome and the vocal melodies are great ....and portnoy sounds so cool here...pieces of heaven is an awesome odd time signatured proggy piece that is never it really happening is a very pink floydy building to a climax kind of starts off slow and kind of draggy, but it is just used to build the emotion of the song and then it just explodes into this epic powerful ending and very impressive technically from mr portnoy..well every song is impressive from portnoy...i mean listen to this guy...he never loses his touch with the emotion of each song and how crazy is too crazy in terms of technicality....finally dancing with eternal glory is a very morsy kind of vibe...but i dig it.....if you love his solo work then this is reminiscient of that...its great and the finale is so darn epic and fullfulling....transatlantic have been sent on earth from heaveb in a time where prog is frowned upon and music is almost dead....i believe they will help give rise to music in general in our musical future...i mean look at what dream theater accomplished...they wee just behind the jonas brothers and black eyed peas on the billboard.....I <3 TRANSATLANTIC
Report this review (#252568)
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've really been enjoying this album the past week or so. I'm a big fan of all four of these guys and especially Neal Morse who's voice just "does it" for me. I didn't realize it's been 8 years since the last one "Bridge Across Forever" but the boys are back in town. I actually wasn't thrilled with the last one but the debut made quite an impression on me at the time. If anything stands out for me on this new album it's Trewavas' bass playing. He does not sound like this when he plays with MARILLION does he (haha). Very chunky and in your face bass, kind of the opposite of Myung from DREAM THEATER you could say. And while they call this a single track divided into 12 parts all of these songs like "The Incident" are seperate songs. It's not like GREEN CARNATION's "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness" which IS one long song. The two negatives for me are the length of this album at almost 78 minutes and the final track which I could do without.

"Overture / Whirlwind" opens sounding like something is happening but were not sure what it is, then after 1 1/2 minutes it kicks in with Portnoy out front along with the chunky bass.The guitar from Stolt comes in playing over top then it changes to a bass / organ / drum soundscape. This is nice and heavy. Amazing sound. Check out Trewavas before 5 1/2 minutes. The tempo then picks up as Portnoy leads. Vocals finally come in at 7 minutes. This is so uplifting. "The Wind Blew Them All Away" has some great lyrics on it with Neal's yearning vocals.The guitar solos beautifully after 2 minutes until Neal returns vocally 3 minutes in. Mellotron and some power follows, then guitar. Neal sings with passion 5 minutes in. It settles to end it. "On The Prowl" opens with some nice bass as drums join in. Keys too and a full sound follows. Nice. Vocals before 3 1/ 2 minutes, lots of organ too. Mellotron follows. "A Man Can Feel" hits us hard then settles as Roine starts to sing. Fat bass comes in with drums. Mellotron then guitar follows. Great section. The guitar solos tastefully before 3 1/2 minutes then the organ takes over as bass and drums continue. "Out Of The Night" opens with vocals and keyboards. This is catchy and brighter. It's pretty uplifting before 3 minutes as Neal sings. "Rose Colored Glasses" has some cool lyrics as Neal sings from the heart. Such an emotional track. Excellent guitar solo after 4 1/2 minutes.

"Evermore" features the piano trading off with the bass and drums. It kicks in before a minute. Can't help but think of Chris Squire on this song. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. I like this one a lot. "Set Us Free" makes me think of THE FLOWER KINGS early until it settles down. "Lay Down Your Life" has a nice heavy sound to it. "You've got to lay down your life" good stuff. Love the drums and bass,mellotron too. "Pieces Of Heaven" is led by bass and organ early. I like the mellotron when it settles. Contrasts continue. "Is It Really Happening" opens in a similar way to the first song. Almost whispered vocals come in. Piano follows as the tempo picks up. Mellotron too. Guitar after 4 1/2 minutes as the tempo picks up again. Lots of synths late. "Dancing With Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise)" opens with piano as reserved vocals come in. As I said in the intro I could do without this track but I don't mind it. It's kind of mellow with the focus on the lyrics. Nice guitar solo from Roine before 5 minutes.

Too much to like here for me to give it less than 4 stars. Still prefer the debut though. Nice comeback album guys.

Report this review (#254464)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I hear anything from "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" I always end up thinking about "Teenage Rampage" by Sweet. Somehow memories of things I did at the time, places I went become blurred. If Teenage Rampage was suddenly on a new remaster of The Lamb just after The Lamia I wouldn't be at all surprised. Although the differences are nowhere near as wide, I'm always going to end up thinking about "The Whirlwind" by Transatlantic at the same time as "Down and Out In Paris And London" by The Tangent. Thy once shared a guitarist, they are/were both "Supergroups" they both begin with T, they are both very good, well, much better than just that, and they both released an album in November 2009, I had looked forward to both in the months coming up to the release.

The big difference in anticipation factor was that where The Tangent have released a steady stream of albums since 2003 with at least one product every year since then, it's inevitable that my thirst to hear Transatlantic together again (and with the same people) was somewhat greater. Both of the bands made stonking and genre defining debut albums, both bands as far as I am concerned released a weaker sophomore set shortly after-wards. The Tangent got their chance to recover (which they did - admirably so) and Transatlantic waited until now to have their shot. The big question was, would they, could they do it again? It's a question that I am sure many others would ask, and a comparison I'm sure many others will have made and at the time of writing I see that this forum actually has a thread about which of the two bands is the best.

At least with Transatlantic we were guaranteed our favourite people again. However, I think that there are huge differences in personnel with Transatlantic. How so? And here I simply have to go straight for the horns by saying that the principal writer and obvious lynchpin in Transatlantic has come back to the project as a completely different person. An openly converted and quite radical Christian believer with a mission, an established chain of successful Christian tinged solo albums behind him with a message which to quote the man himself is a "Whole nother trip".

This album chooses to kick off with a fireworks display and the OVERTURE section (god I LOVE titles like that, used to get everyone at The NME and SOUNDS so annoyed). The album screams its trademark from the word go, that big fat synthesizer theme, urgent and in your face drumming, the bass running about all over the place (with a fantastic sound!!) and Stolt's wonderfully weaving guitar. Big grin all across my face, banging my knees in time and then getting caught out - this is what I want, I've wanted it for years and now I've got it. Welcome back. You have been gone too long.

As the overture gives way to the first song, they surprise us and it's Stolt who is the first voice to appear, just as you expected the first long Morse note that starts so many of his projects. the Title track "WHIRLWIND" is classic Transatlantic, Stolts's vocals soon (all too soon) giving way to Morse for those big tuneful and exciting choruses, pulsating latent verses and general "joy of prog" stuff that the band are so good at delivering. I am "in the zone" so are they and this album has kicked off with a glorious first impression.

I am not going to do a track by track analysis of this album (besides which it's all supposed to be one long track which it simply is not). Suffice to say that it features dazzling musicianship, great tunes and throughout gives you that whole Transatlantic sound which is dear to so many of us who like our prog rock to be joyful and upbeat. It is just fantastic. And now is a good time for the "buts". here are a few of the major "Buts"

BUT I would argue that since the first Transatlantic album, there have been an awful lot more Transatlantic albums than just the two official ones. The formula that worked so astonishingly well on SMPTe has been used and re-used again and again. I'd argue that V by Spock's Beard had far more in common with SMPTe than it had with "The Light". I feel that I have been listening to Transatlantic when I hear "Testimony", when I hear "Question Mark" and when I hear "One". Despite the great input from Stolt and Trewavas on all Transatlantic material the fact is that Morse and Portnoy have such big and proud standing roles within the band that they simply can't be detached from all those other records they have made together (V excluded for portnoic reasons) Those great fat synth lines are also in the Morse solo work, the same with all the choruses and verses, the writing, the lyrics, the sound, the production are all so similar that its very difficult to really see what the nub of Transatlantic IS other than a well know trademark under which to sell yet more Neal Morse led material.

BUT the lyrics. I mean, really "BUT THE LYRICS". I am not a subscriber to Neal Morse's new Christian lyrics. I'm not a Christian, and I'm not really planning on becoming one at 56 years old. And But within But, BUT I support Neal Morse's right to write about anything he wants, and if he believes in something enough, well it's his right, he might even say his duty, to write about it. I've still listened to all his prog stuff since, enjoyed a lot of it, and sometimes repressed a few shudders of distaste about what he's saying, but overall can live with it because of the quality of the music. On this album he sounds like a priest with his hands tied up. Sounds like a Vicar opening a village fete who has to "say something but not make it too religious", yet who desperately needs to convert this potential flock of secular people to come to Church. So the direct references to "my Lord", "God" and "Jesus" have become references to "The Master", the "Giver of Life", the "True Breath" and I'm afraid that the people at the village fete who are waiting to get on with the mud wrestling and welly wanging are not in any way fooled by this thin disguise.

In fact I find the lyrics rather blurry. they're simple yet don't convey much at all. I'm not sure what it's all about although it feels very Old Testament Noah stuff. I feel I'm being preached at, but don't really know what it is I'm supposed to be being taught. And the lyrics are very thinly spread, lots of repeated lines, reprises and themes stated over and over all of which may be disguised or justified by saying "well it's all one long song" or could be cynically dismissed as "not enough marmalade for so much toast"

I don't think either Transatlantic or The Tangent have ever given us something really new. Even from the off. Both of them have given us what so many of us wanted, tastes and flavours of the music we loved earlier in our lives with a sharp modern edge. I don't think either band would claim to be great innovators, Trewavas and Tillison have been far more innovative in other bands than these two (hence I like the others less). Tangent have kept their styles moving around the central core of what they do from symphonic prog to straight Jazz fusion and Transatlantic have stayed exactly the same, straight down the line. The Tangent's music has always been more collages of recognizable nods to many different bands and styles whereas Transatlantic/Spock/Morse have always had a fixed and readily identifiable sound of their own. Both these positions are understandable and even likeable. Most of us hate it when "the band's we're in(to) start playing different tunes" which is all a part of our own inflexibility. And in recognizing my own inflexibility I have to recognize why it is that I like Transatlantic so much, why all Morse's sermonizing, why all the clichés, why all the similarities with other Morse led material will not stop me loving this record by Transatlantic, because despite my higher ideals of "progress" and "development" I have to admit at the end of the day (no pun intended) that this is just about the record I wanted them to make. Thank you for doing it to all of them. I remove two stars for the lyrics and give one back for just being such a damn fine band. 4 stars therefore. My second review for this site.

Grim Tim December 2009

Report this review (#255094)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I was hyped when I heard that these four individuals under the moniker Transatlantic were planing to release a new album but when I finally heard it for the first time I was somewhat uncertain of my feelings towards The Whirlwind.

The intro part was far from the majestic intros that were featured on the previous two studio albums and to be honest I often skip it just to get to the good stuff. Fortunately Neal Morse delivers a wonderful ballad performance on The Wind Blew Them All Away which does take away most of the sour flavor of the Overture-section. Still this 70+ minutes of music was surprisingly difficult to digest at first.

Eventually after 15+ spins I found it to be quite enjoyable and although the album still seems somewhat inferior to their previous release it does feature that distinct Transatlantic feel to it. The band doesn't progress their sound on this album but if you can accept it then it's quite an enjoyable ride indeed! The second CD lacks the intensity and fun that made the Limited Edition of Bridge Across Forever a must have for me. Excellent but far from essential.

***** star songs: The Wind Blew Them All Away (6:10) Rose Colored Glasses (7:54) Pieces Of Heaven (2:17)

**** star songs: On The Prowl (6:03) A Man Can Feel (6:35) Out Of The Night (4:22) Set Us Free (5:03) Lay Down Your Life (5:11) Dancing With Eternal Glory/Whirlwind (Reprise) (12:04)

*** star songs: Overture/Whirlwind (9:54) Evermore (4:10) Is It Really Happening? (8:11)

Total rating: 3,92

Report this review (#255293)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars For some reason I've always had a bit of trouble with Transatlantic. I've listened to their two previous albums multiple times and I'm a huge fan of Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse in general, but the music just didn't stick with me. I remember enjoying them well enough but not much more. Fortunately, that has all changed with "The Whirlwind". This album feels more structured and tightly composed than "SMPTe" or "Bridge across Forever" and the individual songs work well together in telling a cohesive (if somewhat abstract) story. There's also much more variety in the songwriting. The classic prog rock/metal sound is prevalent throughout, but there are enough other sounds and styles blended in to keep it fresh.

"The Whirlwind" begins with a classical style overture that evloves into an energetic proggy opener. Afterwards, the tone takes on a more foreboding tone with "The Wind Blew Them All Away", then shifts to a jazzy feel in "On the Prowl". After the jarring intro to "A Man Can Feel", the next few songs take a softer approach, culminating with "Rose Colored Glasses", a characteristic Neal Morse ballad, with some nice guitar soloing added in.

"Evermore" kicks off the second half of the album with a very eclectic sound and some great instrumentals - one of the best tracks on the album. "Set Us Free" builds upon some of the themes used in the earlier songs, but introduces a slight building tension which grows into the next track. "Lay Down Your Life" is dark and heavy with some particularly impressive singing from Morse. "Pieces of Heaven" is a short but engaging instrumental interlude which leads into my personal favorite track, "Is It Really Happening". It begins with a beautiful piano flourish followed by some soft, plaintive vocals which are very reminiscent of Pink Floyd. The volume gradually increases as the piano returns to provide a beautiful harmonic counterpoint to the vocal melody. As the volume rises, the tempo joins in and the soloing starts. The intensity grows and grows, then just when you think it can't get any faster, they crank it up to 11 for a few more seconds and cap off the song with an incredibly satisfying climax. The final song, "Dancing With Eternal Glory" is actually my only real complaint with this album. Normally I love long, epic style tracks, but in this case I just feel like there's not enough material to justify the length, and the style is a bit too reminiscent of Neal Morse's solo albums. It feels somewhat out of place when compared to the tightness and originality of the other tracks.

All in all, despite the slight misstep at the end, "The Whirlwind" is still a great album and easily deserving of a spot in every prog fan's collection. 4.5 - rounded up to 5

Report this review (#255525)
Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I first spun this up I was (forgive the pun) blown away by Transatlantic's third album which not only recaptured the style and bombast of SMPte and Bridge but moved on from those earlier works. We had the symphonic overblown wonderfulness, we had the catchy riffs and lyrics (The Wind Blew them all away), so by the time of Out of the Night (31 minutes in) I was truly hooked, and this continued through the next few tracks.

Then it all went horribly wrong. The closing tracks of this album are excruciatingly bad - I mean not just excoriatingly bad but excrementally bad. So bad I wanted to claw my ears off and reverse time so that they never existed and had never been recorded.

Now I know Neal Morse is a bit of a god-botherer and a bit of a message is not to be unexpected but there is a difference between the subtle approach of, say, Snow or even Sola Scriptura and the closing 20 minutes of the Whirlwind which is pure christian polemic and suffers musically for it.

I guess the message is this - leaving religion out of it - if you are going to make a 77 minute epic... don't [%*!#] it up in the last 20 minutes.

Report this review (#255580)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I picked up Transatlantic's "The Whirlwind" as I was attracted by two of my favourite musicians - Morse and Portnoy, I was not disappointed!

"The Whirldwind" is a 70 minute epic symphonic track that entertains all the way through! I'm always impressed with the challenging task of creating concept albums, the time put into this one has certainly paid off! Plenty of great melody and carefully crafted solos to keep you hooked. I love Pete Trewavas' bass work. Each track has a unique feel, and I love the way the tracks transition.

I like the concept also. I think it's obvious that the chief proponent of "The Whirlwind" is Neal Morse. I love the second disc also, particularly "Spinning", and the Genesis and Santana covers!

There really are almost no flaws in this album. I just love it!

5 stars!

Report this review (#255695)
Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Prog lovers love long songs. Songs like Supper's Ready, Close to the Edge, Echoes, Thick as a Brick, Harvest of Souls, Sleeping in Traffic, A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, etc. have made many prog-lovers happy. And Transatlantic is well known for their epics. This being a 77 minute epic, how could I go wrong checking it out, even as my first Transatlantic studio album?

Initially, this album didn't grab me until about Evermore. The opening had some appeal, and On The Prowl caught my attention briefly, but overall the first half seemed to drag on. When Evermore rolled around, the jarring keyboards and guitars grabbed my attention, and I found myself enjoying the second half of the album much more.

So, what have we here? This is a 77 minute concept album/song, although I'm not entirely sure what the concept is. Many references are made to something called "The Whirlwind", which is obviously a storm of some sort, but whether it is a literal storm or a metaphorical storm is up for debate. Constant themes of Christianity abound throughout the album, and if I had to guess, I would say there was some themes about mankind losing faith or being swayed away from the ways of God. Some sort of apocalyptic theme seems to be lying underneath, and I even caught what sounded like a reference to global warming. Satan even makes an appearance. So my best understanding of the concept is some apocalyptic storm (perhaps brought about by global warming) has mankind clamouring for salvation.

With this in mind, I find the amount of people complaining about the last track surprising. So much of this album seems to resonate with Christian undertones (which is expected with the direction Neal Morse has gone of late) that some sort of resolution that is full of the glory of God is expected. I actually enjoyed it, for it was really a beautiful, joyous song - what could be more uplifting than being saved from damnation by the hand of one who has loved me since the dawn of time? I'm not Christian, but I still have an imagination and am able to appreciate the track for what it is.

After my first impression, and gaining some idea about what this album was about, I am able to enjoy it more than I was initially. It still does not resonate with me enough to be considered a masterpiece, and the opening, while much more enjoyable now that I am familiar with the concept and the music, still leaves me a little flat. I feel like it is a little uneven for the 78 minute time commitment. Overall, I would give this album a solid three stars.

Report this review (#256634)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I had to wait a little before picking up this album. I only have "Bridge Across Forever" and even if I found it interesting, I never grew addicted to it. So I decided to wait for some of the review before picking it up.

"The Whirlwind" was definitively more likeable right after the first listen. I immediately got the impression that I was going to like this album. There is definitively "Yes" influence in here. I like the way some of the themes or melodies are recurring or coming in later songs. It is very well constructed and the flow from one song into another is seamless.

Strong moments for me are: Ouverture/The Whirlwind", "The Wind Blew Them All Away", "Rose Colored Glasses", "Lay Down Your Life". The last third of that first CD seems a little weaker and the closer just doesn't leave me with a wow impression. It makes you wonders if they just spread it a little to thin for the sake of doing a 77 minutes song. Nonetheless the overall result is strong and solid. Now, the bonus CD? It offers 4 original tracks and 4 covers. The 4 original tracks are quite different from on another and have the merit of being more exploratory. But, quite frankly they are far from being exceptional. They have either a retro feeling to them or they somehow remind me of the late Beatles era.

The covers are OK. I like "Salty Dog" as this song was unknown to me. So it does appears original (to me at least!). "I Need You" is barely tolerable. I never really like the original. I like the remake of "The Return of Giant Hogweed", it somehow got stuck to my brain for weeks. I can't say that the remake is that great, I think it is just a reflection of the fact that the original is such a great song. In fact, it made me dig my "Nursery Cryme" album and made me listen to it again. And as usual I prefer the original work.

Ending this CD, is a long and boring cover of Santana that I usually just skip (and believe me, skipping a tune is a sin for me! I listen to my albums whole!) But this might be just an echo that I am not a fan of Santana.

If I would rate the overall package, I would hesitate giving it 4 stars. But I will discard the bonus CD from the rating and judge this album rating based on the main purpose of this release which is the 14 parts title song. Based on that, 4 stars.

Report this review (#257311)
Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With their third studio effort The Whirlwind, Transatlantic documents just why it's branded as a supergroup in an excellent manner. In a good way that is - most so-called supergroups ends up as something far less than the sum of it's parts, but this is an example of the opposite.

The foundation of this -long- concept album is symphonic progressive rock, with a firm foundation in the traditions from the heyday of this particular style. Elements from other genres are blended in - fusion in particular - with the rock guitars and at times massive multiple layers of various keyboards. The organ is a key instrument, adding that vintage sound of the 70's, and I do think some 'trons are wheezing around the banck somewhere as well from time to time. But this isn't about a band or an album solely looking back in time for inspiration.

Transatlantic incorporates more contemporary musical elements to their brand of music as well. Not extensively so, but modern sounding keyboard layers is a part of this, and an emphasis on distinct moods and strong atmospheres from the neo progressive school of thought is another key element in this musical mix. Aggressive bass lines and quirky drum patterns may not be something new in itself, but are other effects utilized to good effect.

With a slick, modern mix and production the songs get their final glossing, slightly subduing the subtle dissonances and instrumental contrasts to make them non-obtrusive. Yet very much present if someone want to find them.

The end result is a stunning album, at least if symphonic progressive rock is a srtylistic expression you normally enjoy. Perhaps a bit too slick and contemporary sounding for die-hard fans of vintage Yes and Genesis, but it is a production that many will find truly magnificent. And without doubt a classic album, of the kind that will be regarded as such many decades from now.

Report this review (#257926)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Majestic, epic and catchy as all hell.

Ah, TRANSATLANTIC. Thank you! Hearing this album made me realise that I've been waiting a very long time for somebody to make an album just like this.

First things first, if you're looking for an album which literally progresses the art of rock by introducing new and bizarre elements, I'm afraid to say you'll be disappointed with this output. However, if you're looking for an incredibly well structured, well recorded album that borrows heavily from Yes, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson, there is no better place to look than right here.

While the influences on show may be very obvious, and they may be the same influences we always see, I would argue that no band has ever created an homage to 70s prog that even comes close to the excellence of this one.

I think this next point is an extremely important one for potential buyers - I do believe that this album demonstrates the best work of all 4 musicians involved.

At the moment, I only own one Spock's Beard album and two Flower Kings albums. I find these bands quite acceptable, but their discographies are somewhat patchy, particularly with Spock's Beard. And yet, the work of Stolt and Morse on this album is unequivocally superb. They really bring out the best in each other. Morse's sugary ballads benefit immensely from Stolt's emotionally affecting guitar work in such a big way that I can honestly say Morse's songs here are my favourite of his career. Similarly, Stolt's optimistic, boppy sound gains much needed depth from Morse's intricate, layered keys.

To speak of Mike Portnoy is to speak of a drumming legend. I think it's fairly clear that the man has always delivered a dizzying set of beats for whichever album he has recorded. Here he is just as polished as always, perhaps even getting better with age. Incidentally, the actual sound of the drums on this album is second to none. Whichever engineer had the task of recording them should win some sort of prize (i mean that seriously!).

The real surprise for me on this album is Pete Trewavas. I am a fan of 80s Marillion, but being fair, the early albums had a very simplistic, 80s bass sound. No bass lines for him to prove his worth on. Well, it seems the TRANSATLANTIC boys have a little more faith in his ability, because he goes crazy all over his fretboard and proves he is truly one of the world's premier bass guitarists. Wow. I never thought I would say that, but it's the god's honest truth.

This album may not represent a true evolution for rock music. What it does represent, however, is four talented men at the very highest summit of their powers, creating the single most respectful, majestic piece of symphonic prog ever created outside of the 70s. Highly, highly recommended.

Report this review (#258687)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink

PROS: You have a group of talented musicians, all of them already the masterminds - or sort - of their respective groups, all of them shining high in the prog paradise.

CONS: if you already own their groups (or solo) records, you can easily recognize their way.

PROS: If you are set to start listening to Transatlantic, this is a good access point, since you will find an almost full palette of their capabilities...

CONS: ...but if you want to get the best Transatlantic, be ready to step up to "SMTPe" and "Bridge Across Forever" for a wider symphonic prog rock ministrations...

PROS: The Whirlwind is anyway an excellent record, with great music and singing (as other wrote - Neal's singing - not precisely his voice - for me is unparalleled, how it enflates songs with his passionate singing), some novelty on it (fusion/jazz bits), interspersed in the long (77' + 56' !!!) high-level production...

CONS:...and, if you owns Spock's Beard, Flower Kings, Neal Morse discography (as I do), you can find so many similarities with the music they already played...

Highlights: The disc 1 stands well in level, with some higher peaks (Ouverture, The wind...,Out of the night, Rose Colored glass, Is it really happening), Dic 2 best moments are "Spinning"(nice straight playing and melody) and "Lenny Johnson"(very funny)

All in all, an excellent addiction...ooops, addition to any music collection. For the masterpieces, please refer to previous records! 4 stars!

Report this review (#259203)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been listening to progressive rock for about 38 years, since I was first enthralled by the Yes tracks 'Yours is no disgrace' and 'heart of the sunrise'. In that time I have heard a wide variety of prog rock, but I have to say that I think 'The Whirlwind' is quite simply the best piece of symphonic prog ever recorded. It is a magnificent epic with glorious symphonic themes weaving in and out, culminating in a superb climax. I did not think that 'All of the Above' would be superceded, but it has been, and I doubt if I will ever hear a better piece of extended prog in my lifetime. Everything just seems to come together, and Messrs. Morse, Stolt, Portnoy and Trewavas, have produced together something which is far greater than the sum of its parts. I expected that 78 minutes would be hard going at first, but I was hooked from the beginning. Congratulations, guys! Six stars if possible!
Report this review (#259272)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The epic to end all epics.. that's what we have here, a 78-minute huge 12-piece epic. Expectations were very very high because the other TA albums were some of the nicest prog-stuff in the 00's. And I don't think you can really be disappointed in The Whirlwind. There are all the elements of a decent prog epic here, such as the beautiful calm-down part (Rose Colored Glasses), a growing jam-section (Is It Really Happening?), epic Overture and grooving, happy part (Out of the Night). All parts flow together nicely, though there is a clear little break between part six and seven. It's hard to name the highlights in this piece, for there are so many.

The singing is improved a lot from SMPTe and BAF, and Portnoy and Trewavas get much more singing parts here. Especially Portnoy shines in some songs (Set Us Free, Whirlwind). The guys have also tried some new singing styles like Morse's metallic scream- like style in Lay Down Your Life. Lyrics are mostly from Morse, so if you don't like his christian-like lyricstyle then too bad. I myself find the lyrics good and even heart-touching at parts.

Musically the album is a nice packet. The main theme isn't that inspiring, but most other themes are great and emotional. There aren't many odd time structures, but that doesn't really bother because this album doesn't need them IMO.

The second disc has its moments, but isn't really The Transatlantic Quality. It is still worth its price, as it has some nice covers (The Giant Hogweed!!). The bonus DVD is also nice and shows how much fun the guys had in studio. Hopefully we'll have another TA CD coming out soon..

Report this review (#259455)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I picked up Transatlantic's The Whirlwind a few days after its US release after seeing it on this site's homepage everyday for about a month leading up to its release. I had never listened to (nor heard of) Transatlantic prior to this album, so I really had no idea what to expect, however, the instant I put this in my CD player, I fell in love with this fantastic, 2009 album.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#259479)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars this has got to be the GREATEST album of all time....sure its not much different from what transatlantic has offered us before,but its certainly BETTER....with each new release they keep getting better and better.....with this one it is best listen to as a whole...if you cant find time to listen to 78 minutes of straight music then just listen to 40 minutes at a time or the first 6 tracks.....its so worth it....when i first listened to this record i was quite didnt exceed my expectations or even meet them for that matter....but i listened agian.....found it a lot more interesting but still didnt love it then i listened again i started to reall like some parts and not so much the fifth listen i was hooked....i cant believe i didnt love this album on firstlisten...but good music requires GOOD LISTENING..and that is exactly what i did....frig...what a MASTERPIECE.....itsgot every thing a prog lover likes...odd times signatures, epc parts, quirly cool parts, excellent melodies both musically and vocally......just everything....every musical moment serves a purpose and isnt wasted......the way the whole enitre 78 minutes song is structured so well just blows my friggen mind...these guy deserve a lot more recogniton and fame...and r defenitely making CLASSIC records her in the 00's
Report this review (#260996)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "The Whirlwind" is a masterful concept album from the minds of Neal Morse, Roine Stolt, Pete Trewavas and Mike Portnoy. When I heard that Transatlantic was reuniting for another album, I was ecstatic. "Bridge Across Forever" is my favorite album of all time, and when I discovered that Transatlantic essentially broke up after this masterpiece, I was crushed. I figured that I would never hear new Transatlantic material. Thankfully, I was wrong, and not only did Transatlantic meet my high expectations, they exceeded them. "The Whirlwind" is a beautiful album that captures for me four talented artists at the peak of their creativity and ability.

"The Whirlwind" is one long epic piece split into 12 separate sections. You can't have a large epic without an overture, so this album begins with a perfectly constructed overture. The overture contains many of the main themes that will be highlighted throughout the whole album, and I feel the overture itself is a good metaphor for the whirlwind itself, as the music gets more intense as it goes. "The Whirlwind," I'm sure can mean different things for different people, but for me it is the distractions and worldliness and trials that plague us in this life. The things of the world are temporary and will just be blown away by The Whirlwind that is bound to come. This is the theme of the second piece, "The Wind That Blew Them All Away." People are trying to find things in life to make them happy, but these things are all temporary and of this world, and will be blown away by the whirlwind.

"On The Prowl" begins with a brilliant bass line from Pete Trewavas, who I must say is exceptional on this album. This piece has a great groove and a cool organ solo from Neal. The purpose of this piece is to show that God is the one who is in control of the whirlwind and is using it as a test of sorts to try to make people turn to him and away from the things of this world. "A Man Can Feel" begins with a brilliant vocal by Roine Stolt before it hits the sublime chorus. This piece is showing how alone man can feel when the whirlwind tears away all the things of this world and takes away all the things that he thought made him happy.

"Out of the Night" is a moment of temporary relief where the person feels they are out of the whirlwind. But, the whirlwind comes raging back, and they must continue to face it. This happens many times in life, where you feel you are finally free of your trials, you have a "sudden alright," but a new trial comes and once again you are back in the whirlwind. This piece of the epic is a great showcase of all four vocalists and it goes through several themes that have occurred so far in the epic. "Rose Colored Glasses" is one of my favorite pieces and may seem out of place in the epic because it is a song written by Neal about dealing with his Father's death. However, I feel it fits in well with the concept because I feel it is a real life application to a whirlwind that we face- death of a loved one. But, it is by having the right perspective that we can look beyond the whirlwind to the true meaning of things. I believe this is a good centerpiece for the epic because it shows that there are real trials that are faced, but there is a hope if we just have the right perspective, which leads perfectly to the second half of the album, which basically outlines how to have this correct perspective.

"Evermore" is a glimpse at the promise that is given if we endure the whirlwind. "Set Us Free" is a cry for help to be free of the wrath of the whirlwind that continues to rage around us. "Lay Down Your Life" gives us the method that we need to get past the whirlwind- we must lay down ourselves, and all the worldly things that have their hold on us and truly give ourselves to God. "Is It Really Happening?" is the shock and awe that we feel as we realize the greater purpose of life that is ours if we lay down our natural selves. Then, the big grand finale, "Dancing with Eternal Glory," brings the message home and ties the whole album together. It is an expression of the beauty and true majesty of eternity and life beyond the whirlwind. Especially meaningful to me is the idea that God has always been there in the whirlwind helping us through and trying to show us the right way and give us the key we need so we can partake in this Eternal Glory. We can all be partakers of this Eternal Glory if only we endure life's trials and seek out God through the whirlwind.

This album, at its core, is deeply religious, which isn't hard to believe since Neal Morse is involved. The surprising thing is that the rest of Transatlantic is not as religious as Neal is, and yet they allowed such a strong Christian message in this album. There has actually been some controversy about this since many were hoping that this album would allow for Neal to express his creativity without promoting his Christian message that has been such a big part of all his solo albums since leaving Spock's Beard. However, I believe that Neal feels so strongly about his religious convictions that he can't help but include them in any project he works on and that those who are offended by it just have to not listen to Neal anymore unfortunately. Obviously the other guys in the band were fine with the lyrical content and even contributed to it, so I'm sure they are all happy with the finished project, and the message isn't as blatant here as it is in Neal's solo albums (except perhaps in the last piece, "Dancing With Eternal Glory").

But, I don't have a problem whatsoever with the lyrics (which could have to do with the fact that I'm a Christian myself). What I can say, is that I feel this album is a huge success. I focused on the lyrics in my review, but the music is also incredible. Pete Trewavas really impresses me with his bass work on this album, it is consistently amazing throughout the album. Roine Stolt has some amazing guitar solos peppered throughout the album (some of the best in my opinion come in the middle of "The Wind Blew Them All Away" and "Out of the Night"). Mike Portnoy is amazing on drums as usual and I always love Neal and he continues to shine on this album. I also want to point out the last half of "Is It Really Happening?" as one of my favorite musical moments of all time where the music gets faster and faster and all members of the band play at breakneck speed- it always puts a huge smile on my face.

I love the creativity that abounds when these four individuals get together to create music and I hope to hear a lot more from them in the future. There is a sense of fun in this record that is infectious and that is part of what I love about what Transatlantic brings to the table. They can be goofy and fun in one moment and heartfelt and passionate the next. They truly have a love of the progressive rock of the seventies and that shines throughout the album as well. I can't wait to see these guys in concert in April and I love everything that they are involved with. This album is most definitely a masterpiece and I expected nothing less from the creative forces at work behind it.

Report this review (#263193)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A couple of months before Transatlantic announced The Whirlwind, I became a huge fan of their music. After listening to SMPT:e and Bridge Across Forever countless times, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that this band was reuniting. Not only this, but they were making a 77 minute song. A prog-lovers dream.

As soon as the release date was out, I counted down the days (from about 67) until finally, the CD arrived at my house. No sooner said than done, it was in the CD player, and a new musical journey was about to begin.

One minute and thirty two seconds into the first track, the ambient sounds explode into the one of the many recurring themes heard throughout the CD. Overture/Whirlwind highlights everything it should highlight. The instrumentals are perfect, and the first vocals are sung by Stolt! Then, Neal comes in and sings the chorus. The up temp melody breaks down into the acoustic intro to The Wind Blew Them All Away.

Much like Bridge Across Forever, the vocals are shared between all four members. There are time signature changes (although not as many) and lots of instrumentals. The main difference is that there are a lot more guitar solos, and a lot less keyboard solos. While this may throw off some prog lovers, it didn't do anything to me. Roine Stolt is one of the best guitar players of today. He never overdoes the solo work, and has many creative ideas.

The highlights, besides the tracks that I mentioned, are the ballad Rose Colored Glasses and the amazing Is It Really Happening? The first has the best vocals on the album ("we will cross that bridge and enter into life...real life..."). An incredible guitar solo follows. The second song I mentioned has the best instrumental on the album. The first half of the song is slow, and repetitive, but by the end, there are double bass drums, shredding guitar and smoking bass and keyboards. This is the climax of the album, and the highlight.

Transatlantic really lived up to their previous two albums. After 10 years of waiting, they return with the best album of 2009, and one of the top 10 of the decade. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#263853)
Posted Monday, February 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, I've had some six weeks in which to listen and grow accustomed to the easily most awaited release of 2009. My patience in awaiting the album and in waiting to review it have not been in vain. This is, quite simply, symphonic prog at its most grandiose and will appeal to all fans of the sub genre and also, of course, fans of the bands that make up the component parts of the supergroup.

What other band could, I wonder, come up with a single slab of music lasting some 77 minutes long, and not only get away with it, but also confound all of those critics who instantly assume anything lasting more than a few minutes must be overlong, self indulgent, and, by extension, rubbish?

Because they do, by and large, get away with it. Certainly, there are some, few and far between, moments that stand out as filler, but mainly the piece de resistance comes across as it should - a grand homage to the genre itself.

Neal Morse is, of course, the main driver behind the piece, certainly in regard to the lyrics and vocals, and there is no doubt that his conversion to Christianity drives the lyrics throughout. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so, and certainly I regard his thoughts and moods as poetically relevant as were, for example, Jon Anderson's mystical musings in Yes and his solo career - in other words, they most certainly do not get in the way of the album itself.

All collaborators play their socks off on this work, but special mention really must go to the rhythm section of Portnoy & Trewavas, who really do absolutely belt out their respective parts. This album most certainly does need to be played on a good system to fully appreciate all of the intricacies and noises produced.

As regards CD2, I have enjoyed the four original pieces, none of which could possibly be described as essential, but are most certainly enjoyable. As regards the band's tradition of covers, these are, as usual, hugely enjoyable. Special mention goes to Giant Hogweed, which is quite simply a massively fun tribute to the whole music of that period, but especially A Salty Dog, which I regard as being one of the finest covers of any band's original music ever. The singing and playing on this are simply quite exquisite.

I will not give this the ultimate five stars, but it most certainly rates as being 4.5, and is an excellent addition to any collection. Highly recommended and a very welcome return by one of the genres true legends.

Report this review (#264571)
Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I find something to like about many genres but I'll readily admit that I prefer symphonic progressive rock over any other style of music. But, with almost half a century's worth to digest, it's easy to be jaded and aver that no entity working in that medium in this age holds a candle to the giants of yesteryear who cultivated the movement. I'm talking Yes, Genesis, ELP and sundry other headstrong heroes who made unquestioned masterpieces that still hover in the upper echelons of every prog hall of fame list worth a hoot to this very day. Yet if I'm honest and maintain intellectual perspective regarding such matters I have to add Transatlantic to my roster of greats without reservation. This prog supergroup has not only met expectations but exceeded them. Their debut was decent, their second was outstanding and "Whirlwind" is better than both put together. (Maybe they should go pro.) This towering epic is a modern marvel of composing, arranging and performance. Rarely has an hour and eighteen minutes of uninterrupted music elapsed so quickly and without my experiencing at some point an overwhelming desire for the artists to "get on with it." While expertly utilizing recurring themes and the essential ingredient of melody throughout, there's no redundancy or slothful repetition to be found. Somehow these talented friends have found a way to leave their egos in the studio parking lot and collectively create a cohesive, entertaining piece of symphonic prog that will stand the test of time. I tried my damnedest but failed to find a single note to knock. This is greatness no matter which angle you approach it from.

They start with an overture, the beginning of which sounds like the band's trademark mothership descending into our choking planet's atmosphere, picking up random snippets of earthnoise. An ingenious pump organ rendition of the central theme plays, followed by a full ensemble version. Overtures can be tiresome but this one benefits from thoughtful editing. Bassist Pete Trewavas' contributions to the first two albums were no more than par for the course but the incredible tone and forceful aggressiveness he displays all the way through is extraordinary. He's as good as Squire and Rutherford and I don't bestow that accolade lightly. "Whirlwind" is a straight-ahead rocker that firmly sets the tone both musically and lyrically for the whole shebang to come. "We got caught in the whirlwind/torn by the storms of our lives/we counted on something/that never could hold up our lives," Neal Morse sings. It's no secret that Transatlantic often dabbles in the spiritual realm and, in the case of Mr. Morse and Roine Stolt in particular, they tend to promote a subtle Christian content within their collective wordsmithing. That aroma wafts about this effort, too, but direct references to Jesus and scripture are nowhere to be found. Their ode to mankind living in the planet's end times is downright Unitarian. Those who suffer from bibliophobia will be able to enjoy it without fear of debilitating seizures.

On "The Wind Blew Them All Away" Neal employs a Petty-styled vocal slant that's very effective as this excellent song explores the ephemeral nature of human leadership. ("Picture in your mind a silent statue in the sand/a dust cloud comes and leaves no hiding place for beast or man.") Roines' solo is passionate (he respectfully nods to Clapton's famous wail on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"), Pete's bass is exquisitely fat on the instrumental bridge and the huge chorus at the end is wholly gratifying. Trewavas lays down a strong pulse under a jazzy Rhodes piano for the opening of "On the Prowl," a structured jam that evolves to include Hammond organ, hot guitar licks and synthesizer jabs. Drummer Mike Portnoy is unbelievably tight, as always, and he boldly steers the quartet as they flow seamlessly into the ominous verses and chorus where they caution us to be on our guard. ("Listen to the wind/a bark and a howl/changing voices/from a moan to a growl.") The mood turns on a dime to a quiet, mysterious groove for "A Man Can Feel," yet another exemplary tune and one that features Stolt's strange yet not distracting voice singing "the dogs of labor leaning on their spades/that pokerface won't stand a fall from grace/now did you find the satisfaction needed?/or did it leave you with an empty feeling?" Once again I'll draw your attention to Pete's fantastic bass work. Can you say "underrated"? The organ and guitar solos are tasty and the ending is fierce and compelling.

"Out of the Night" is upbeat. Everyone contributes vocally to the pleasant harmonies while the poignant words continue to penetrate. ("I was once at the forefront/once I was happy in life/but mostly I don't think about it now/I smile like I'm doing alright.") After a revival of the Whirlwind theme they segue to the 12-string beginning of "Rose Colored Glasses." There's a Pink Floyd aura to this number that suddenly grows Genesis-sized on the expansive bridge where Roine delivers a tempestuous ride that leads to the sort of big-ass climax that can only be found in Progland. "This world is not our home/you can live like a rolling stone/but you cannot escape with your life," Morse sings. "Evermore" is a pile- driving rock fest with Trewavas tearing up the road and the whole band kicking tail like there's no tomorrow. The "Is it really happening?/is it really going to be?" chant is chilling and effective. Following a frantic onset "Set Us Free" drops down into a soulful feel that glides like an Olympic speed skater. It's either Mike or Pete that steps up to the microphone here but their alternative timbre freshens the air.

"Lay Down Your Life" is a riff-heavy, hard rock tune in which Neal shocks the daylights out of me by channeling Axel Rose vocally and taking no prisoners. "Roll up, it's a storm chaser's life/with a burnin' yearnin' for excitement every night/with the world in breakdown you run/shout through the streets/like an atomic gattling gun," he screams. This track is my favorite. Portnoy kills his kit. He is to drumming what Einstein is to basic algebra. And the way they cleverly twist the riff in the latter going is awesome. (I've hit repeat a time or two for this bad boy.) The instrumental "Pieces of Heaven" is next and their use of a 6/4 time signature is a wise move at this juncture. Its involved, intricate structure is almost Yes-ish. After a large splashdown "Is It Really Happening?" ensues with another sample of earthnoise eaves-dropping and a slowed down, dramatic rendering of the haunting questions the song poses. Morse's acoustic piano is grand as they eventually build up mass and tempo to a ferocious peak. Their keen awareness of dynamic tension is evident on the intro to "Dancing With Eternal Glory" where the piano calms the seas once again. It's another superb tune to treasure as they conclude with a strong message of hope. "There's a reason you're here/this is not by chance/when the giver of life/is asking you to dance," Neal offers, along with "all who seek will find the truth/after all the storms will pass you by." They rev it up a notch with a timely key change and dense synth strings, then they reprise the Whirlwind theme and leave you breathless with a suitably magnificent, pompous symphonic prog finale that slays. Now THAT'S how you do an epic!

Most groups (even those that've been together for eons) would take at least a year to compose, polish and record something as impressive. Transatlantic did it in a few months and still had time to fill up a bonus disc, to boot! Stolt's Yes-inspired "Spinning" satisfies musically (especially the instrumental bit in 5/4) but lyrically it's trite. His nowhere man curiosity, "Lenny Johnson," is the pits and should've been jettisoned from the ship. Morse's "For Such a Time" is a nice little song that would've been right at home on his "Lifeline" CD. Pete's "Lending a Hand" is Beatleism in a George Harrison, Magical Mystery Yellow Sub kind of way. Its lazy loll grew on me over time but, at 8:42, it needed pruning. Their faithful cover of Genesis' "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" is tighter than the flat original and would've surpassed it if it weren't for Neal singing more like McCartney than Gabriel. On Procol Harum's "A Salty Dog" Portnoy proves he's no Brooker sing-alike but this song is so fine it'd be near impossible to screw it up and they don't. "I Need You" is a novel juxtaposition of two different tunes with the same title (Courtesy of America and Mr. Harrison). The three-part harmonies are spot-on and Roine's playful injection of classic Beatles' guitar lines elicits a smile. I looked forward to hearing their take on Santana's "Soul Sacrifice" and while it lacks the raw energy of the source they're still having more fun than a barrel full of proggers. Stolt doesn't have the Latin instincts owned by Carlos and Morse's Hammond organ ride is just respectable but Mike gets to dazzle on the timbales and his finely-tuned tubs. It's not a long solo but it's immaculate. He's a force of nature. The coda, the band's unaccredited anthem sung over a lone Ukulele, is silly but excusable.

When I reviewed Porcupine Tree's "The Incident" I crowned it the best album of 2009. I've changed my mind. While that project is still worthy of my highest accolades, it didn't surprise me that it was brilliant. This did. Since this supergroup hadn't met to coalesce in 8 years I didn't anticipate being blown away but that's what they've done. "The Whirlwind" is exactly the kind of progressive rock that used to amaze and encourage me back in the 60s and 70s. But don't get the wrong idea, this is no retread. It's the real deal and the album's 21st century fidelity will knock your jockeys off. This is a bonafide masterpiece that resuscitates my hope that symphonic prog has a future. 5 stars.

Report this review (#266194)
Posted Sunday, February 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Transatlantic returns after a long hiatus with a 78 minute epic!

The prog supergroup Transatlantic's third album, The Whirlwind, is a 78 minute epic. And it's just amazing. For the first time in all three albums I feel that the guys really clicked as a group. This sounds less of a Neal Morse side project and much more of a band effort here.

A description of the music: There are hints of several different musical styles here. There are several jazzy influences in tracks like "Set Us Free" and "On The Prowl." There are symphonic elements in "Overture/Whirlwind" and "Dancing With Eternal Glory." "Is It Really Happening" takes on some Floydian influence. "Lay Down Your Life" is a combination of glam and prog. "Out Of The Night" is a Beatles influenced song. "A Man Can Feel" should appeal to fans of The Flower Kings because of Roine Stolt dominating the vocals and the chorus seems like something of their style.


The production: The production quality is just amazing. The sound of Portnoy's drumming is crisp and clear, probably some of the best drumming quality I've ever heard. The bass really has a punch to it. In many bands (Dream Theater is a prime example) the bass can be barely heard and is just a small background noise. Here, it's loud and clear and it really has a neat sound to it. The vocal harmonies are also great.

The musicianship: There is no absence of virtuosity in this album. Mike Portnoy is using his complex and technical drumming as usual, but I think he's better here than he ever was with Dream Theater. Not only are his drumline difficult, but here they tend to be incredibly catchy. Pete Trewavas' basslines are also terrific, especially in the track "Evermore" which contains one of my favourite basslines of all time. Roine Stolt proves himself as one of the most underrated guitarists out there in this album. He shows he can play with proficient speed (Overture/Whirlwind) and he with incredible soul (The Wind Blew Them All Away).

The composition: Some of the longer epics tend to repeat themselves after a while and get very bland. This one manages to repeat moments, yet at the perfect time. I also find that the ballads have great placement throughout. They are placed just when you might need a rest from the heavier tracks.

The intro: I find every epic needs a strong intro, and this is an incredibly strong one. It starts with a quiet symphony that suddenly begins to rise and then explodes as all of the instruments come in. The overture also does a great job of representing the themes of the album yet giving them nice little touches.


Length: Lets face it. 78 minute long epics are not for everyone, even some prog fans. If you feel like you can tackle 78 minutes, then you probably can. This should only be a con for some people.

Lyrics: The lyrics can be a little cheesy and nearing towards the end get quite religious. I guess you could expect the religous lyrics from Neal Morse, but I really find it didn't belong in this song.

Track Ratings:

Overture/Whirlwind: 10/10 The Wind Blew Them All Away: 9/10 On The Prowl: 9/10 A Man Can Feel: 10/10 Out of the Night: 9.5/10 Rose Colored Glasses: 10/10 Evermore: 10/10 Set us Free: 8.5/10 Lay Down Your Life: 6/10 Pieces Of Heaven: 8/10 Is It Really Happening: 10/10 Dancing With Eternal Glory: 8.5/10

Recommended for: People looking for a retro-symphonic sound, but with sleeker production.

My rating: 5 stars. 2009 was a year of disappointment for me as both my favourite bands (Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree) came out with albums not so good for themselves, but this album definitely made up for it. Best album of 2009.

Report this review (#267126)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rating this album presents me with what I guess is a frequent dilema: should we rate albums without their context or within their context?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#267213)
Posted Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I sooooo wanted to like this album. I loved the first two Transatlantic albums. I was a big fan of Spock's Beard before Neal left, and Transatlantic introduced me to Roine Stolt and the Flower Kings.

But something happened. Neal Morse decided to put his evangelical Christianity first, and become a kind of rock-evangelist. I have tried to like his work, but I think that his priorities now have had a detrimental effect on his songwriting.

I have loved the veiled Christian mysticism of Yes, Kansas, Robert Fripp, The Flower Kings, and many other progressive acts. It seems like Progressive Rock is the perfect place to explore realms of the spirit.

But when doctrine dictates what you're writing, the result is like a pathetic sermon, dressed up to appeal to "the kids."

"The Whirlwind" is about the end times and the last judgment, and everyone who doesn't invest in God being "blown away." It's strange, because I'm a Christian, but when I hear Neal Morse singing it, I don't like the religion or the music. I just don't see things that way, and the lyrics stand in the way of the music too much to enjoy it.

It's interesting, because a similar sentiment of lostness and the need for redemption was explored on their last album, "Bridge Across Forever." But that work was filled with compassion for the "Motherless Children," where this work seems to have faceless contempt for a humanity that won't obey.

I can tell that some hard work went into making this album. There were some real melodic possibilities laid as a foundation for this work. But a concept album takes the risk of being ABOUT something, and if that something isn't worth an hour of your attention, then the music can't save it.

Also, a concept album needs music that fits the lyrical ideas. I get the sense that not all of the band's prepared ideas fit with Neal's lyrical concept, but that they were jammed in anyway under Neal's sermon.

I rarely do this, but as soon as I finish writing this review, I'm taking the CD out to the dumpster and thenceforth pretending it was never published.

Report this review (#267650)
Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars With several years between studio albums Transatlantic felt it was time to meet again and record some more new tracks. Mike Portnoy (drums, Dream Theater), Neal Morse (keys, vocals, Spocks Beard & Solo), Pete Trewavas (bass, Marillion) and Roine Stolt (guitar, vocals, The Flower Kings) were all back for another round at Neal's home studio nestled in the country backwoods of Tennessee.

The end result was a prolific two disc set titled Whirlwind (total time 77:56). The version I was so fortunate to enjoy is the special edition box set with the insightful "The Making of Whirlwind" DVD.

I decided to watch the DVD first before listening to all of the tracks in order to understand the band's driving force and process. It always helps to be familiar with the musicians (I am extensively), and to see how the entire project fell into place. Firstly, each member respects each other immensely and that is why Mike Portnoy created this project to begin with. Each band member is successful in their own right with their respective bands, side, and solo projects. In the past collaborations such as this have failed because of egos and personalities clashing, this was never the case here, the premise here is to create great music on a level playing field for all and everyone provides equal parts to the whole. Mike and his strong personality and leadership skills are accepted gladly by the other members and he is very laid back and all ears with his mates to accomplish their goals. It really is an amazing thing to watch and the DVD really made me feel right at home with them in Neal's studio. I do not think you could get together four more talented and humble musicians; this is truly a miracle band that creates magic every time they meet, Whirlwind being no exception.

The first disc consist of 12 tracks, all master strokes of prog-rock genius, how could it not be with these four legendary performers? I would be hard pressed to name any drummer right now that is better than Portnoy and Morse is a fantastic writer/singer/keyboard player. If you ever listen to any of the older Spock's Beard or any of his solo material?well the proof is in the pudding as they say. Those unfamiliar with Morse's career path should know he went from Spock's Beard into a prog-rock Christian solo career. Those influences are apparent in this release and relevant to the grand scheme of things with this band, but not overbearing. Stolt is simply amazing, and always has been, The Flower King has been one of the busiest people in music, and he is involved in so many different things I cannot keep track! Pete Trewavas is an awesome bass player that does a little singing too not to mention some fantastic abilities to put together a song, constructing it from the bottom up. Neal mentions this fact in a short interview on the DVD. Ok, enough of my over indulgent kudos but I think they all deserve it.

All 12 tracks are vintage Transatlantic and what is special about this recording is that you can hear the influences of every member's band yet they create a sound that defines the word progressive while maintaining a certain originality that I find hard to describe, which does not surprise me considering the uniqueness of each contributor. I loved the way the album kicked off with the nearly 10 minute opus "Overture / Whirlwind". It starts with a regal keyboard opening and orchestration then changes into something you would hear on a Flower Kings album with a beautiful instrumental intro and a positive vibe that carries you through the entire listen. The highlight of this track is when Roine and Neal do a give and take vocal response. It goes without saying the excellence of musicianship that supports all the vocals, that remains consistent from start to finish.

As you make your way through each track you start wishing that this band would do this more often but it is a side project and schedules are tight so you remain grateful for what you are hearing now. By the time Neal's "Rose Colored Glasses" rolls around you do not want this prog-rock nirvana to end. That track is a heartfelt composition from Neal to his father, who passed away last year. It's the kind of track that has tremendous meaning but keep intact the elements of prog while offering enough commercial feel that you could imagine it as hit single playing on the radio. It also breaks up the album at mid-point before launching back into a full scale prog-rock onslaught with all the trimmings on the following tracks. Everything is here, the power and majesty of the genre, rocking moments and times of gentle reflection with spacey interludes, and then it all changes as quickly as it started in typical transitory prog fashion. There is nothing left for chance here, make no mistake about it.

If that isn't enough the bonus disc takes you through a rock 'n' roll/prog 101 class with exceptional covers including Mike doing a great job on vocals with his father's favorite tune, the Procol Harum classic "Salty Dog". The cover of "Soul Sacrifice" is excellent and not a particularly easy song to cover with its intricate melodies and percussion yet they pull it off with flying colors. Another fun listen is the fine representation from the Genesis catalog of "Return of the Giant Hogweed". They lay their stake in the ground as one of the best group of musicians in the world with that cover. Always the first to acknowledge and credit their influences, bands from the world of prog believe in giving credit where it is due. So do I and this is a masterful production that everyone that enjoys prog should add to their collection. Even some jazz fusion listeners would find enjoyment in this recording as at times that genre sneaks in and gives you a jolt.

This is 100% prog rock with some of best delivering it.

Report this review (#270563)
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Some reviewers of this album have already pointed out that Neil Morse's lyrics are so overtly evangelical as to make the atmosphere of the album pious and trite. After a listen through, I can only confirm this assessment. Admittedly, I had hoped to encounter a musical and lyrical experience with sparks of messianic force. That is, of course, a very tall order, but my experience of progressive music is that there are such possibilities. "There's an angel standing in the sun, and he's crying with a loud voice, 'This is the supper of the mighty one'. The Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Has returned to lead his children home, To take them to the new Jerusalem." I have rejoiced to those lines delivered at the final climax of Genesis' "Suppers Ready". The boys from the Charter school were, of course, brought up in the heart of Christendom. They worked with their material (Christian symbolism, but also myth, fairy tale ...) in a manner that empowered me to explore the interworkings of my own Christian/Western moudling. I find that this continues to hold true for many of my favorite exponents of progressive music today. When I listen to Kino's wonderful prog-pop tune "Perfect Tense", I am uplifted to recall singing in choir, experiencing something that went beyond the walls of the church, when John Mitchell sings: "He talks to me in mighty arcs of monotone / My faith revered, it shrinks beneath the heavy drone / And catapulted upwards by the sound / And splinters heaven bound, again, return to me."

"The Whirlwind", though, does not achieve anything approaching these qualities, which I personally cherish in my relationship to progressive music. Much of the music sounds generic and the lyrics are one tiny step away from pious propaganda. I just don't get into the dancing mood when listening to "And you are dancing with eternal glory / There's a reason you're here, this is not by chance / When the giver of life / Is asking you to DANCE!" If the music were unfettered, I might get over the cheesy lyrics, but there is an inhibition at work that the music either contains or triggers for me. Actually, I find that Morse's voice sounds nasally constrained during many sections.

I remember having an ambiguous relationship to the music of Kansas, because they often skirted going flat on their citings of Christian symbolism. But "Carry on my Wayward Son", for example, manages to stay so musically sharp that the biblical referencing works just fine. Not so with "The Whirlwind".

It may be unfair to have tried to enjoy "The Whirlwind" while I am also discovering "The Underfall Yard" of Big Big Train. Now that's what I'm talking about! We are invited to explore the black waters below Winchester Cathedral with the diver who had to secure the foundations in the dark: "Two worlds apart, the people say their Sunday prayers. / Music fills the vaulted space; / the organ covers up the hammer falls. / But the water's edge is closer than you think, / You can see it in his staring eyes, the dripping shell, / the lower parts of hell are just beneath you." Such a song takes us somewhere with this Christian symbolism, both lyrically and musically. Fabulous! In comparison, "The Whirlwind" is wimpy.

I do have tickets to a Transatlantic concert. I will do my best to overcome the cleft between my preferences and whatever they might have to offer. The cover of "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" on the extra disk of "The Whirldwind" is great. I hope they play something from Genesis.

Report this review (#272453)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars Well, I'm rather shocked with how many people find this album not just listenable, but also interesting or progressive! I've never been a TRANSATLANTIC fan, but they had some nice tunes back in those times when they started, I must admit. "The Whirlwind", unlike "Bridge Across Forever" or "SMPTe", is simply bleak. It's boring, it's unoriginal, it's mostly pointless, vulgar and pretentious. I wonder for how long Prog fans would consume the same food under different monikers. It's 2010, HELLO!!! OK, I like to play good old stuff myself, but I'd never go as far as these guys did. Avoid this, this is just bad YES karaoke
Report this review (#272476)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to confess that were it not for, I would never have heard of this band. I was just checking them out on this site after I saw this album on the most popular section. I have been wanting to get it for a few months because of the 77+ minute tune. Last thursday I finally got my hands on it.

I have to say here that I would really like to see the price for CDs drop a lot. At over $25 bucks a shot for music, you would have to be a rich man/fem to get all the good music out there. With the internet, a band could sell their own stuff for a few bucks and still make out like fat rats. My wallet is really a limiter as far as buying good prog music goes.

Anyway, I listened to the whole song "Whirlwind" in one setting and I didn't get bored at all! There are a boat load of ideas going on here and it didn't get stale, even after the last note was played.

As far as the music goes, this is true prog and well worth listening to again and again. It has a ton of great moments to it. I enjoy it more everytime I listen to it. A couple of my favorite parts are "On the Prowl" and "Evermore." Lots of heart here and good mood shifting.Pete blended in well on the bass. Great effort!

On the 2nd CD, the first song I listened to was "Return of the Giant Hogweed." All I can say is you have got to hear this! It is amazing! These guys sound very hungry, even starving here. I was deeply impressed! Genesis and Peter Gabriel would be very pleased with Transatlantic's version. The singer really did great on the words. The difference between Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel is that Phil sings the words good, but Peter not only sings well, he becomes a part the the song itself. This is exactly what the singer, I think Neal Morse sang it, did when he sang. I had to listen to it at least three times. This only made me want to hear other Genesis music. When a band can do that to you, they have something there.

The next one I listened to was "Soul Sacrifice." The starving is there also, and it really comes through. Mike is playing some killer stuff as is Roine and Neil. Again, Santana would be very pleased with their version as well.

The 2 songs I didn't care for were, "Lenny Johnson," and "A Salty Dog." "Lenny Johnson" was kind of boring and I couldn't wait for it to end. "A Salty Dog" was the same. When I saw that it was originally written by Procol Harem, I knew why I didn't care for it, since I have never been a fan of theirs.

The rest of the songs on the 2nd CD I can take or leave. They are likeable, but I didn't really want to hear them again right away, unlike the first two I mentioned. All in all this is a historic effort, and the musicianship is immaculate. For this effort I will give it 4.75 stars, because of the epic "The whirlwind," and the two cover tunes I previously mentioned. So for Progarchives, it gets 5 stars!

Report this review (#274603)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well you could also add another star in the evaluation, by avoiding the derivative moments and the lack of inspiration too (sometimes hidden by means of a couple of famous covers). But if you regard instead such a good Roine's performance (actually not completely original), as well as a bunch of remarkable and non- unforgettable melodies, you could change idea...of course in my opinion a modern prog album should be characterized by many different creative features (without forgetting the past, as in the early Echolyn albums or in the modern ensemble of After Crying, like within "6"), that here you cannot find...moreover the presence of N. Morse and his "Christian" lyrics once again, make the present work quite similar to his solo works.

Naturally such a personal opinion is not affected by the music background of each band member, but at the end the artistic creativity is more important than the skill of each musician; and here, above all within side 2, these elements are not present!! Then you can appreciate the length of the suite, sometimes a bit boring, even though the modern mix as well as a good production, make improve the general quality level of the the album could be worth checking out at least, but now we are in 2010 and it could be so important to look ahead and towards a different music scene in the future too...but you have to make your own choice, as usual!!

Report this review (#276079)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Now I'm not a huge neo-prog fan, nor am I an expert on the genre. I've heard a few neo-prog recordings and can tell you that this is one of the very best I've heard.

It's a long one and I had to ready myself to sit through it from beginning to end but thorougly enjoyed it. The music is symphonic prog and the lyrics are good in that they sit well with the out-of-this-world sound that symphonic prog has. There is also a lot of good, more rocking parts. I like the vocals, they're quite good.

The bass line is pretty mean and the rhythm guitar is quite aggressive but beautiful, airy synths preside over it and the songs sometimes have good choruses, I think 'Coming out of the night' was a catchy song and plenty of the other songs were catchy but also had very good instrumental playing. This is the 'neo-prog supergroup', if you like, so they really SHOULD be good.

That said I think after this I put on 'A trick of the tail' by Genesis and I thought that the instrumental section were a lot more 'inspired' than the instrumental sections on 'The Whirlwind'. Don't get me wrong, their 'sound' is very good, very big sound as usually comes with symphonic prog, and their song-writing is very good, but their instrumental work, while good, solid, interesting, sometimes inventive, is nowhere near as inspired as the instrumental work on early and mid Genesis albums, and this album does not do too much to add to what has already been said on the progressive rock scene, at least musically. Maybe the last two songs stretch it out a bit but I'm sure we've heard that sought of thing before. It's not really re-inventing the wheel or trying to stretch what Progressive rock can do, it is merely showing that it's the 'best of the bunch' on the current progressive scene. I downgraded from 4 to 3 because I think it is not that original, and it defienitely is not as well done as a Genesis or Yes album, so how can it be as good as a 4 star album?

Still this is very highly recommended to progressive rock music fans.

Report this review (#278633)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars As progressive rock fans, we support a genre that so often pleasantly surprises us. We love great prog even more when we didn't expect it to come our way.

With the Whirlwind, Transatlantic are completely predictable. This is not terrible in and of itself, although I feel this album has been terribly flamed by some simply because it's predictable. Transatlantic are clearly playing and writing for their fans, and that is to be admired, particularly if it results in some memorable music along the way.

(One exception to predictability, as noted by others, is the surprisingly great mix on this album--particularly Pete's bass, which really resonates nicely)

As for expectations, on one hand, we could see the 77-minute run time and hope for the most mindblowing, colossal epic in history. Or, we could be realistic and hope for some great moments while knowing that there would be a good deal of filler to wade through. As you can imagine, the latter is a more accurate description of the Whirlwind.

Highlights: Overture, On the Prowl, Rose Colored Glasses. If you pop this album in for the first time, during the overture you may be thinking something along the lines of "If this is just the first song, how great is the rest of the album going to be?" Unfortunately, Whirlwind is heavily frontloaded, with the best material coming first; however, it really is some good material, particularly the upbeat, energetic introduction of the vocals. On the Prowl is also a highlight: a nice rocker and catchy tunes.

Some will argue, but for me, the album is as good as over after Rose Colored Glasses. Here is the dramatic finale, with poignant lyrics, a killer emotional guitar solo, and even a brief, triumphant conclusion. The rest of the album is largely revisiting previous themes and has some serious difficulty with maintaining momentum. For example, Is It Really Happening comes to a near standstill, only to build into a jam that doesn't really fit with the rest of the album (including Portnoy's double-bass assault) and is almost painfully derivative of Morse's older work. It's not all filler, but the ratio sure increases toward the end.

I'm definitely thankful that Transatlantic are back together and still making some good tunes. That being said, I'm sure thankful they divided this "epic" by track, because I cannot imagine many occasions where I'd want to listen to all 77 minutes.

Report this review (#282763)
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, I was expecting this.

To be honest, when I heard these guys where reforming, I did do a wee dance.

This was really unexpected. I know their last album was just perfect in everyway, but a 78 minute song, wow, that was something unheard of.

I think this is the longest song ever made, and 2009 was the year of big long songs (Procupine Tree's 55 minute epic The Incident). But which is better...there is only one way to find out...FIGHT!!!! (only Harry Hill fans would understand that).

I. Overture/Whirlwind - A beautiful instrumental stating all the themes, in all their beauty. 10/10

II. The Wind Blew Them All Away -Great song with some amazing vocals from Neal. Very calm and suprising eerie. 9/10

III. On The Prowl - That bassline is very Pink Floyd. Very rocking with a great chorus. 10/10

IV. A Man Can Feel - Suprisingly touching and very joyous. 9/10

V. Out Of The Night - A more rocking subject. Great riffs and instrumental work. 9/10

VI. Rose Coloured Glasses - Has a bit of a country feel to it. Great chorus and vocals provided by the band. 9/10

VII. Evermore - Great vocals. Amazing isntrumental work. 10/10

VIII. Set Us Free - Loving the return of the keyboard theme. Great chorus. Very joyous. 10/10

IX. Lay DownYour Life - Wow, what a riff. Very death march theme. Amazing and very angry vocals from Neal. 10/10

X. Pieces Of Heaven - Pretty kick ass instrumental. Very crazy. 10/10

XI. Is It Really Happening? - Quite laid back and sombre. The instrumental sections are amazing. 10/10

XII. Dancing With Eternal Glory/Whirlwind (Reprise) - Very epic and very beautiful. Great ending. 10/10

CONCLUSION: Definitly a contendor for the best album of last year. Very epic and if you disagree, then you have no soul (their is no such thing as a soul, but you know, metaphorically speaking)

Report this review (#292476)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A shining example of what I like to call, "comfort prog".

When I first listened to this album, I thought it was kind of dull. A more-of-the-same feeling stayed with me through much of it, and I just felt it was a going through the motions type affair. But knowing how prog albums can creep up on you the more you hear them, and wanting to give a band that contains two musicians I've always been very fond of (Morse and Stolt) a chance to change my mind, I continued listening. I'm not sure when it was, but probably around the 4th or 5th time through it all just started to click and make sense. The recurring themes and melodies, as well as lyrics, really making it feel like a 78 minute single piece of music.

Though, in all honesty, there are distinct "songs" here as well (much like in Supper's Ready, for instance, which it should be noted most prog lovers don't criticize for using the "suite" approach). But even those are woven so tightly into the fabric of the piece that it just flows along like a single piece. There is no doubt it's retro, no doubt it's not startlingly original. In this case, I can't see how that can be a criticism since the band never made any pretensions to creating something shockingly new and cutting edge. Some people seem to confuse genre's with inventiveness in musical creation, but that's an issue for the forums here at Progarchives, not my review.

Because of the cohesiveness of this behemoth, I really won't go into great detail about the contents. There is a traditional overture, relating most of the major themes and melodies to come, followed by a suitably upbeat and bouncy introductory vocal section. There is gritty prog (On the Prowl, Lay Down Your Life), balladic prog (Rose Colored Glasses), mellotron overload (A Man Can Feel), instrumental excesses (Pieces of Heaven, Is It Really Happening?), and a suitable uplifting finale (Dancing With Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise) ). The latter was the most difficult for me to appreciate, due to the "praise God" type of lyrics and even music that is employed in the first part. Plus, it does seem a bit drawn out, even for these guys. Originally, I felt the actual ending was not nearly as over the top and grandiose as it should have been for such a lengthy, epic song, but repeated listens have changed my mind on that somewhat. The last 12 minutes really do work as a good dramatic, emotional ending, even if I can't really get on board with the emotions being referenced and even if I still think they could have easily shaved a few minutes off. But that minor complaint aside, I find this a very enjoyable chunk of symphonic sweetness, perfect for when I don't want music that is too challenging, complex or original and just want to have waves of formulaic symphonic bliss sweep over me. I write that last line in all seriousness, because let's face it, truly progressive music (in the dictionary definition sense) is often not pleasurable to listen to, even if it is like nothing you've heard before. There is just something about the symphonic prog genre that just pushes all my musical buttons and I'm not ashamed to say that if it's well done, like it is here, I couldn't care less how original, or not, it is. But I still say this band takes the ingredients of mainstream 70's symphonic progressive music, and creates something new and very worthwhile to listen to. I probably don't need to say this, but these are 4 extremely skilled musicians who play everything flawlessly, with Roine even injecting a decent amount of soul and finesse into his vocals and lead guitar work. Though I could say the same for Neal, he seem to have a specific way of singing that changes little across his various musical outlets, so I'm not really sure if it's genuine or not. I'm going to assume it is though, because I mostly enjoy it. Also, Trewavas kicks all sorts of ass with his bass playing on this album.

A quick word about the bonus CD. Spinning is quite good, sounding like it would fit right into any of the last few Flower Kings albums (fantastic instrumental section), but not really sounding like a Transatlantic song. Lenny Johnson is a decent, if unremarkable Stolt "pop" song, with some good lyrics. Such A Time sounds like it should have probably been put on a Morse worship album, not on a TA album. Lending a Hand has a nice Beatles vibe and seems quite good, for the first 4 minutes or so after which is seems to just drag on for no real reason at all. The covers are played fairly flawlessly, yet lack any of the soul and fire of the originals. Which is usually how it is with covers, unless they are reworked to make them more interesting. Still, Soul Sacrifice sounds pretty neat to me, with Roine doing a pretty convincing Carlos Santana impression (and Portnoy shows that he really can sing, kind of, on A Salty Dog). But really, I'd rather have had more original material, even early demos of the main album.

All in all, a solid 4 star album that is probably this bands masterpiece without a doubt. It's the most cohesive and consistent thing they've done BY FAR, not counting the bonus CD, of course. My impulse to give it 5 stars has not surfaced, and probably never will, which has been true for all their albums. This one, however, is the best by a long way, and it's a shame we don't have a bit finer rating system to allow me to show a bit more difference between my ratings of their albums.

Report this review (#296752)
Posted Monday, August 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Convincing Rug For the Balding Mammoth

John Wayne was asked by a student, 'Is your hair real?' Wayne responded in the affirmative, then added, 'It's not mine, but it's real!' (he wore a toupee) Whenever I play this album it's that anecdote that always springs to mind. That is not to say that Transatlantic are involved in the art of concealment so much as a brilliantly executed and affectionate homage to the classic Prog elements of the early 70's. Are they to Progressive Rock as Tarantino is to cinema? It's not the composition or arrangements that are necessarily derivative either but perhaps just the instrumental textures deployed and the sheer unfettered scope of the undertaking. There are no copyright laws applicable to stylistic spirit after all. Shiny modern replicants of Mellotron, Hammond, Moog and 'heroic' lead guitar pick up the discarded glove thrown down by Yes, ELP, Kansas and Genesis with the ensuing duel being a damn sight closer than anyone could reasonably hope to expect. (My money was on them taking a dive in the 2nd) Transatlantic have youth on their side and have learned more than a few tricks from their ageing tutors in how to 'fight dirty' when the need arises e.g: The fondant I Need You and For Such a Time might have cropped up on a Phil Collins and David Gates 'duets' album if the pair were down to the bare bones of their last couple of million. These anodyne atrocities are barely above the breadline never mind the waist. Dancing With Eternal Glory sounds uncannily like a very timid Barclay James Harvest (who even at the height of their powers were about as feral as socially awkward bank clerks)

However it's the strength of the bulk of what remains plus the variety of imaginative treatments of this thematic material on The Whirlwind that sets Transatlantic apart from the current crop of Retroprogressive visionaries.Yep, as the 'Rotten' one would have it we mean it Man and a dearth of post-modern knowingness will always receive a warm welcome from this rodent. In 2010 we should all be so over that tiresome game of 'sincerity vouchsafes innocence' played out to a coterie of smug winking ironists (and thank god for spell checkers)

The spectre of plagiarism does hover fleetingly over Is it really happening which starts as several uncomfortably numbing minutes of what just about every Pink Floyd song ever written 'post Syd' sounds like to me. Such grumbles aside, the remainder develops into a hugely enjoyable display of fiendish chops wedded to robust, malleable and memorable melodic ideas.

I guess that the 2nd CD in this package represents Transatlantic's take on Bowie's Pin-Ups being a trawl through the band's cited influences and avowed inspiration. As you would expect the mood is somewhat lighter and playful here and they even embark on a very spirited gallop through The Return of the Giant Hogweed which is only sullied when the singer unwittingly conspires to remove any lingering doubts that Genesis were the most quintessentially English of Prog bands. Lending a Hand is a very accomplished but weird hybrid of what the Beatles might have sounded like covering an XTC song cribbed from erm... the Beatles. Speaking of the Mop Tops, their own wonderful ditty that shares its name with that of America's I Need You simply relegates the latter to the status of 5th cousin twice removed. The Procul Harum cover is darkly definitive and it is interesting that Transatlantic bring out the hitherto unheralded sinister aspects of A Salty Dog which casts a song habitually viewed as nothing more than a pleasant ballad in a whole new light:

all hands on deck, we've run afloat!' I heard the captain cry 'explore the ship, replace the cook: let no one leave alive!' Across the straits, around the horn: how far can sailors fly? A twisted path, our tortured course, and no one left alive

I've always viewed Santana as the doomed marriage between a sultry volatile Hispanic and her pale air guitar enthusiast groom. The 10 minute Soul Sacrifice is not one I am prepared to make fellas,sorry.

Given the prodigious length of this whole extravaganza I found it difficult to come up with a satisfactory rating for this album. This is heaps better than I envisaged and my trepidation about musicians normally employed in bands I heartily loathe, is mercifully unfounded. There is nothing here that sounds to me remotely like Dream Theater or Marillion while what vestiges of Spock's Beard or the Flower Kings can be detected are unobtrusively subtle. The core of the dominating The Whirlwind suite itself is very strong throughout and probably worth the admission price alone.

Much has been debated about the Christian slant of Morse's lyrics and although such an orientation holds little interest for this reviewer they are no sillier and considerably less wilfully impenetrable than those of Anderson, Sinfield, Lake and Gabriel et al.To his credit, Morse at least resists the temptation to encode his message beneath the camouflage of arcane allegory. I think he chooses wisely here as he knows full well that such an approach would lead to his lyrics being decoded as chicanery by his gleeful detractors.

Thankfully there ain't no sanctimonious preaching hereabouts as the message is very mundane and secular indeed: If you party all night long without taking responsibility for your actions and treat people like skittles instead of helping them up, yer life will probably turn out like [&*!#]e and you'll be a miserable bastard that no-one loves.

If you think that's proselytizing, then your toupee has grown over your ears pilgrim. (A Miracle)

Report this review (#298504)
Posted Saturday, September 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I listen to "The Whirlwind" I'm always asking me why this album is so long. It would work much better if it would be 30 minutes shorter. The first half of this album is just unbelievable. Till "Rose coloured Glasses" every song is great with wonderful themes and melodies. But then the songs become more and more dull and its very hard to not skipping to the last track which is fantastic again. Two or three tracks lesser would be better.

The music is typical transatlantic-style. Not very complex and catchy but nice melodies. Fans will love it and all the other people who dont know the band (are they exist?) will like it too.

So, "The Whirlwind" could be a masterpiece but its too overfilled. 4 stars

Report this review (#300448)
Posted Saturday, September 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I stopped listening to this album after i saw them live (i dont know why?), and i picked it up last night for the first listening in ages, and i was impresssed, the entire album flows effortlessly and the muscianship is excellent, looking at the songs individually there is a clear highlight in 'is it really happening' the guitar work and drumming is excellent , the only downside to this album i think is the theme and lyrics, they are far to forced, and always relating back to morse's religious views. yes we all know your christian Neal so we dont need you preaching to us in every song, other than the over religious lyrics (listen to dancing with eternal glory) the album as a whole is brilliant and i wouldnt hesitate in giving it 4.5 stars, the second cd however apart from 'Return of the Giant Hogweed' is a slight dissapointment, songs like 'I need you' and 'Salty Dog' are slow and boring and there doesnt seem to be any song other than 'RotGH' that stands out and leaves any lasting appeal. so Overall given the musical genius behind the composition and general musicianship on the album and of coarse the subtle transitions between the tracks of the album, and taking into consideration the dissapointment that was the song choice on the second album, i would still give this album a good 4 stars. well worth the wait!
Report this review (#307853)
Posted Monday, November 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Unlike my fellow prog mates, I can only acknowledge that this album is pretty much a usual affair. Good music, crafted compositions: who could think of a lesser album?

The usual suspects are all very much present: jazzy sections, melodic guitar, sustained rhythmic section. Did you think of TFK? OK. You're in line. Now, to be honest, the whole of this album is well produced, well preformed, well ? anything you like actually.

It is just lacking of personality. This album consists of a long epic divided into short pieces that are quite different the one from the other and I therefore consider them more as a bunch of songs than a true epic. My fave is "A Man Can Feel" that is a pure TFK clone song. But, the passion and skills are all here. Hectic and jazzy passages, performing drumming: what else can you expect? Not much, I guess. This is one of the best songs available on this VERY long album.

Most of the songs are made of the same mould: melodic guitar and decent vocals. It works, but at the end of the day these tracks are quite anonymous and only passable ("Rose Colored Glasses"). The more I listen to this album, the more I believe it is just one out of many.

Let me also warn you that there some flat songs available as well (the combo: "Lay Down Your Life" and the short "Pieces Of Heaven"). The last couple of songs are on the longer edge and they are quite good (finally!). Nothing to write home about but "Is It Really Happening" features some great guitar play while the closing track holds the most poignant melody of all the songs from "Whirlwind".

The "Deluxe Edition" comes with a second CD which includes some unreleased material as well as some covers. If "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed" might sound legitimate (featuring a great Portnoy on the closing and wild section); the second cover song I would like to mention is "Soul Sacrifice" from whom you might know.

This song belongs to my all time fave (especially the long Woodstock version). To have this one played by "Transatlantic was quite unexpected. I am a fanatic of this tune and I was quite interested to listen to the fantastic percussion work and how it was rendered by one of the greatest drummer of the last two decades.

As far as I know, it is the only cover for this huge song and although Portnoy is quite a drummer, the solo recorded during the fabulous Woodstock performance is still unrivaled.

This album is not a masterpiece of any kind. Average music, upgraded to three stars.

Report this review (#308569)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Oh, man ... you do not realize how much I was happy to learn that Transatlantic.Mas yet when it was revealed that the new album would consist of a single 77-minute song divided into 12 sections! It was everything I wanted!

But "The Whirlwind" is in many respects disappointing.

This album is good, but far inferior to its predecessors "SMPTE"and "Across the Bridge forever"(which are true masterpieces of modern progressive rock). Sometimes brilliant, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting, sometimes banal-my feelings for this album are very mixed.

I love epics, but 77 minutes is too much.A music that has 40 minutes already has considerable size.

The truth is that I loved "The Whirlwind" is not on a CD, but CD 2.The "Spinning", composed by Roine Stolt.Pure The Flower Kings!

3 stars: The Whirlwind

3 estrelas.No is so good.

Report this review (#377558)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Transatlantic is a supergroup comprised of Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), Pete Trewavas (Marillion) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). In 2000 they released their debut CD to glowing reviews. Although only a few months were spent between conception and final mixing, the music exhibited a depth and complexity that progressive rock fans had been craving. A year later the four members convened again for an intense writing/recording session that yielded Bridge Across Forever. Building upon their strengths, their follow-up began to see a more distinctive style emerge. But the project disbanded when Neal Morse took a sabbatical from progressive rock to concentrate on his solo career. Over the next seven years speculation and rumor would keep the ghost of Transatlantic alive. Ironically, Neal Morse would incorporate several of the supergroup's compositions into his live sets. But now the rumors and speculations are at an end. The four have reunited and brought forth their most ambitious epic to date ? a 78-minute concept piece called The Whirlwind.

From the opening notes it's as if no time has passed at all. Everything that we've come to expect is here ? vintage keyboards, soaring guitars, pounding drums and bass. There are generous doses of vintage Spock's Beard, classic Flower Kings and more than a few nods to Pink Floyd and The Beatles. In fact, everything sounds so familiar that long-time fans will warm to it instantly.

Being a 78-minute sprawling epic in most hands would feel over-blown and needlessly self-indulgent?and just too damn long. But somehow Transatlantic manage to skirt these pitfalls. The different sections of the song (there are twelve total) all segue nicely from one to another; the transitions never feel unnatural or forced, and this goes a long way to sustaining the mood across the entire disc.

The only real complaint I have would be the lyrics. During the last few minutes I feel they become a little too Christian-specific for my taste, and this from someone who feels Neal Morse's best solo release (so far) was Testimony. Transatlantic has certainly dealt with religious themes before, but the lyrics were more open-ended and could be interpreted for any faith. For myself, phrases like "His Hand", "Eternal Glory", "River of Life", Breath of Life", "Giver of Life" all seem too specific.

Those who opt for the 2-disc version will get four original compositions that are generally pretty good ("Lending a Hand" just seemed completely lifeless to me), and four cover songs. Transatlantic have never been shy about covers, but I did feel these seemed a little lack-luster. "Return of the Giant Hogweed" is a virtual note-for-note recreation of the original with vocals by Neal. Next time perhaps give us an instrumental version of "The Battle of Epping Forest", or a prog-metalized version of "Robbery, Assault and Battery". The cover of Procol Harum's "A Salty Dog" was nice, as well as the Santana tune "Soul Sacrifice." But don't hit the eject button too soon ? there's a short hidden track at the end?which is actually probably the best thing on the disc. It's a short ditty on ukulele ? it's completely off the wall and I hope the band incorporates more of these 'odd' excursions into their main album next time.

For the uber-fan, there's the Super Deluxe edition that's housed in a small box and includes a making-of DVD. I have not watched this yet ? I want to live with the album a few more months before diving into the mechanics of putting it all together.

In the end, it doesn't matter which version you wind up buying. The real treasure is The Whirlwind. It's everything you want in progressive rock ? great music, great melodies, meaningful lyrics (with the above caveat) and superb musicianship.

Report this review (#381611)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I say. 78 minute song. My favorite song too. Wow, what band can record that and play that live and dominate the world. Transatlantic. The opening keyboard theme alone on overture is so wonderful. I'm slightly biased since I've seen them on the Whirld Tour and Neal Morse is like my favorite musician heck person right now. But the Whirlwind is such a pleasure to grace my audible senses with every listen. The vocals from everyone sound great. Portnoy actually sounds pretty good here. Wonderful melodies permeate throughout the Whirlwind. Roine's guitar solos are the best here and most upfront. Portnoy's drumming. Well everyone already knows, so no need to rant. One member really shines the most and that is the fabulous Pete. His bass lines are insanely wicked. Take the evermore segment, that bass line is so amazing. Anyway all the instrumental passages are amazing. I personally love the concept and think it's intelligent. Dancing with eternal glory concludes the piece peacefully and makes sense after the worst of the storm aka the crazy is it really happening (at which one point it literally sounds like a whirlwind ha ha). As far as the Christian lyrics, all the previous Transatlantic albums had undertones. Even Morse stated in his autobiography that the masterful epic all the above was about God coming to him. (He came, full moon rising today.) Stranger in You Soul, yeah that's pretty specific and Morse mentions that too in his book so the Whirlwind is no different. Well after clearing that up the Whirlwind is obviously a masterpiece. So many great things on it. Highlight other than the first 78 min. for me would be overture, on the prowl, a man can feel, coming out of the night, evermore, and is it really happening. It's all really sweet though. 5 out 0f 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Transatlantic!!!!!!!
Report this review (#393206)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars An Epic Tale of Apocalyptic Scale

After a prolonged time since their last collaboration when they made "Bridge Across Forever" in 2001 (one of the best albums of the decade), Prog Rock's premier super group, Transatlantic, have given us the incredible gift of "The Whirlwind." This is an epic story both musically and lyrically, a magnum opus with eschatological undertones but with hope in the midst of suffering.

Musically, the sound is distinctively Transatlantic: an intriguing stew that mixes Neal Morse's (ex-Spock's Beard and a critically acclaimed solo career) sophisticated themes, catchy melodies, and seamless transitions with the quirkiness of Roine Stolt's (The Flower Kings) compositional genius. This is old-school Prog, in the vein of Kansas, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, with plenty of influence from The Beatles of the late-60s.

You'll find layers of guitars, both electric and acoustic (Roine Stolt has won plenty of awards for his guitar prowess - having been compared with David Gilmour, Steve Hackett, Steve Howe, and Frank Zappa), lush keyboards (dominated by organ and synth and with flashes of piano by the virtuoso singer/keyboardist Neal Morse), bass guitar that gets perfectly fronted plenty of times (from Pete Trevawas of renowned Neo-Prog band Marillion), and drumming that moves from heavy to delicate and back again with ease from the legendary Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater). There is simply no better rock drummer performing today than Portnoy.

There are plenty of instrumental flourishes on "The Whirlwind," the highlight being "On the Prowl." Vocals are shared by Morse, who excellently sings with both emotion (especially on "Rose Colored Glasses") and intensity (he particularly nailed it on "The Wind Blew Them All Away"), and Stolt, whose vocals are an acquired taste (a taste that I have actually acquired!) and does a wonderful job as well, especially with a mad-scientist sound on "A Man Can Feel."

This album is meant to be understood as one continuous, 12-part, 78-minute epic composition. In Neal Morse's normal MO, the opening track includes an "Overture" giving the listener a foretaste of the musical themes that tie the album together. The main Whirlwind theme draws you in instantly, and with that opening track, your appetite is whetted, and you're ready for the musical journey on which these four men are going to lead you.

Lyrically, the songs are dominated with the Christian worldview of Neal Morse. Morse converted in 2002 and left the band he founded (Spock's Beard) as well as Transatlantic in order to pursue more strictly Christian themes in his music. Morse's solo albums have been critically acclaimed for their musical genius, even by those who have not appreciated his Christian lyrics. When Transatlantic announced a reunion, I wondered how much leeway the other band members would give Morse lyrically. The answer is: A lot. The other three seem to respect Morse's faith enough to allow him to express it in his songs, which speaks highly for Morse and his relationships with these men.

The story that "The Whirlwind" tells is apocalyptic, the story of judgment and turmoil, but also of hope and mercy. In "The Wind Blew Them All Away," Morse sings,

"And in the master's house / They're partyin' down / But there's no resting place / In this prodigal town / But there are some we know / Thought they'd go all the way / But the wind blew them all away"

"Set Us Free" is more explicitly apocalyptical, with a cry for help:

"Look at the people / Tossed in turmoil in the street / Satan like lightning falling down / The ungodly world / Is like a vicious troubled sea / Feels like our ship is sinking down

We have been blinded in our hearts, we want to say / And somewhere inside we know it's not supposed to be / Come bring this ship out of the whirlwind and set us free, free, free, free"

The album is very accessible and intriguing through the first eleven songs?telling a story that all can relate to with music that is captivating and cutting-edge musically. It talks of finding meaning in hardship, of justice, and of finding hope for the next life in the midst of all of it. But then comes the final song, the sappy "Dancing with Eternal Glory." I understand the need to tie up the story with a glimpse of heaven, but this song seems out of place, too cliché, too kitschy. Morse sings,

"And you're dancing with eternal glory - Taking a step to another land - You are dancing with eternal glory - This is much more than time and chance - When the giver of life is asking you to dance"

This is a bit too cheesy for such an amazing album, too trite. I have simply pretended that the first six minutes of this song does not exist, and skip immediately to the final six minutes where the reprise of the main theme occurs.

Transatlantic has placed themselves in the upper echelon of the great rock supergroups of all time. How good are they? Good enough for me to drive eight hours to Philadelphia to see them live in concert back in April. What a show! After they played this entire album through, they took a break for intermission and then played songs from their first two albums. Before leaving the stage for intermission, a sweaty Mike Portnoy stood next to his drumkit and said, "Well, that was our first song. How's that for an epic? A 75-minute opening song!"

It is indeed epic, and worthy of many, many listenings.

Report this review (#442708)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars In short, this record was well worth the wait. It is tremendous in every way. Great melodies everywhere, tons of hooks, lots of great instrumental work, and both a great beginning and finish. Really, while the first disc is technically a 77-minute song, it is really like 12 songs that all run together. Think of it almost like a concept album, where there are recurring melodies and themes, but most of the songs do stand on their own as great stand-alone songs, so we get the best of both worlds. The bonus disc has four new songs as well. Spinning, in particular, is just dynamite; clearly written by Roine Stolt, it has Yes written all over it. It also has four covers, several of which are nice, and several of which are kind of meh. Their cover of Santana's Soul Sacrifice is pretty sick; it was laid down in one take, with all four guys doing percussion following the take.

I have seen accusations of this sounding like a Neal Morse solo record but with different musicians all over the place, and honestly, that doesn't make any sense at all. I mean, shouldn't it go without saying that the writing style of the primary songwriters, of which Morse is obviously one, are gonna come out in a project like this, regardless of how collaborative the effort is? I mean, songs like Spinning, Out of the Night and Evermore would have all fitted right at home on a Flower Kings record, so can we say that too much of the record sounds a Flower Kings record? Roine Stolt and Pete Trewavas quite obviously contributed far more on this record than they did on the first TA records. In fact, Roine Stolt has stated that this record was much more of a collaborative effort than the first two TA records. Plus, the prog rock styles of Morse and Stolt are both so distinctive, that it would pretty difficult for either of them to write a lot of material and have much of it NOT sound like their respective styles.

As for Neal's lyrics, his christian lyrics are only heard in a few songs, and even then, they are not as obvious as most of the ones on his solo records. Besides, if the three other guys in Transatlantic, none of whom write religious lyrics on a regular basis, had a problem with his lyrics, simply put, they wouldn't have made it on to the record. The spiritual overtones are no more overt than the ones on the first two TA records.

In short, if you are a fan at all of the first two Transatlantic CDs, odds are that you will dig this one like crazy, too.

Report this review (#450401)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The Whirlwind' - Transatlantic (7/10)

Since the 1980s, much of the so-called progressive rock mainstream has become something of a contradiction. While the meaning of the word 'progressive' inherently means to be moving forward with something, many prog rock bands opt to go for a sound that might sound a little too much alike the old giants like Genesis or Yes. In other words; these bands may be able to craft highly intelligent suites of music and play their instruments with often virtuosic skill, they are not holding true to their label and actually moving the sounds of rock music forward into the future. Such is the somewhat discouraging case with prog rock supergroup Transatlantic, a band that features an all-star cast of prog musicians. From well known bands like Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Marillion, and Dream Theater, Transatlantic's reputation preceeds them, and their individual talents as musicians and artists cannot be disputed at this point. With their third album together, Transatlantic makes an expansive two-disc set of music with 'The Whirlwind', an album that received great amounts of praise from prog rock circles in 2009. Looking back on it, the talents of each member is shown quite clearly in the music here. It is no small feat to create an hour plus epic suite, and all things considered, Transatlantic pays an immense gratitude to the old greats of progressive rock with this album. However, even factoring the masterful execution of the album into the judgement here, 'The Whirlwind' still feels more like an homage to 1970s prog rock, than an individual artistic statement of its own.

From start to finish, 'The Whirlwind' dishes out all of the cliches and trademarks of classic prog rock epics into one sprawling piece; orchestral introductions, recurring musical themes, fantasy-based lyrics, and liberal instrumentation. The first disc of this double album is entirely devoted to the title track, a seventy seven minute observation that draws upon each of the band member's talents and in no dearth of musical ideas. Although mostly a Neal Morse and Roine Stolt driven project here, all of the band members put in their distinctive sounds into the music. Although having risen to fame as being a metal drummer, Mike Portnoy's distinctive drum sound translates very nicely here into the laid-back prog rock that Transatlantic plays. Moreover, all members sing on this album, although once again, Stolt and Morse take up much of the disc time with their voices.

On top of a spot-on execution in terms of performance and production, the album is also very well composed, although this should not come as a surprise to anyone who has heard the music of any of these guys' flagship bands before. Although 'The Whirlwind' is a bit shallow in emotional dynamic, everything is given a lush arrangement, as is best heard in the complex keyboard and vocal harmonies. However, although the execution of the music here is close to perfection, the formula that Transatlantic is using still feels stale, no matter how much flash they may try to douse it with. As has already been said, 'The Whirlwind' offers very little to a listener that they have not already heard before; pleasant and cheerful symphonic progressive rock was already mastered as an art form a good forty years before this album dropped. Moreover, there does not feel as if there is much contrast or dynamic throughout the seventy seven minutes of length. The emotions are kept fairly light, and there are rarely any moments of cutting tension to give the epic a sense of dramatic conflict. Although this constantly mellowed and 'rose-tinted' music may have been exactly what Transatlantic was aiming for, it can feel slightly monotonous even long before the epic wraps up. 'The Whirlwind' in total though is quite an enjoyable piece of music, and although the whole act feels fairly unoriginal and not as inspired as I may have liked a project like this to turn out, the sheer depth of the performance and arrangement to the music is alone worth the experience.

Onto the second disc here; 'The Whirlwind' does feel as if it ends on the first disc, and the second is simply a compilation of bonus material. A compilation of some less successful original material and cover tracks, the same musicianship is carried over here, but especially with the covers, the whole thing feels somewhat unnecessary. Due to the fact that Transatlantic's entire gimmick seems to be around making 1970's progressive rock, the covers don't bring anything new to the songs that would be worth checking out on their own, unless the listener is a big fan of any one of the musicians playing. In any case, while the second half of Transatlantic's project here is much less successful than the main attraction, it does not deter from the power that the band has conjured here. Although I do feel somewhat underwhelmed by the band's derivative style and the band would be a failure were it not for the legendary talents of these men, 'The Whirlwind' is still a perfect record for a listener looking for a complex piece of revivalist symphonic prog rock.

Report this review (#459388)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
5 stars A man can feel

Transatlantic is group (more often known as a "supergroup") known by countless people in the progressive community. The mind child of Mike Portnoy, drummer of Dream Theater, and Neal Morse, former vocalist and keyboardist of Spock's Beard, the band was formed as a side project to their full time bands (at the time Morse was a member of Spock's Beard still). Portnoy originally wanted Jim Matheos of Fates Warning on guitar, but they contracted Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings when Matheos couldn't join. To complete the already killer lineup, they recruited the veteran bassist of neo-prog giants Marillion Pete Trewevas. Before even recording an album, it was apparent this band would make some of the best new progressive music there was. That happened, for in 2000 the band's debut album SMPTe was released, which is a highly regarded modern symphonic prog album. The band returned in 2001 with Bridge Across Forever, which pushed the members creative boundaries even further into producing yet another fantastic record. However, in 2002 Neal Morse announced he was leaving his current bands, Spock's Beard and Transatlantic included, to explore his newfound Bourn Again Christian faith. Although Spock's Beard continued with drummer Nick D'Virglio taking over the vocals, Transatlantic ended, as the band thought it was not complete without their signature lead vocalist and keyboardist. In 2009, Transatlantic made an incredible new announcement - Morse had returned to the band and they were making another album. The album came together in incredible speed, for each member had written small bits of music throughout the seven year hiatus. In only a few weeks, the album was written, arranged, recorded, and mastered. What resulted was an epic album - epic not only in the fact that it was a single 78 minute long song (broken into its 12 movements), but epic in the fact that the music is some of the greatest symphonic prog made in the past 30 years. The music is natural and as free flowing as the wind, rising and sinking like the tides with the themes of the music and the lyrics. Emotion, passion, and drive run amuck in the perfect amount all throughout the album. The musicianship is prime and incredible as ever. And, on the special edition, and second disk containing both originals and covers, adding a fantastic dynamic to the lengthy track on disk one. Overall, The Whirlwind is a tremendous achievement for the band, and a tremendous classic to be adored for years to come.

Now one may look at my intro and think it in and of itself is the review. But no, that's just the intro. This album's depth and complexity is incredible, and although some may deem it and dismiss it as "retro-prog" and the musicians are "stuck in the past," this album truly shows the four guys incredible ability to fuse that classic influence of Yes and Genesis and the like with more contemporary influences, flares, and styles. The production is clean as can be, making the album easily listenable and making the fantastic music crystal clear and seemingly effortlessly made. The 78 minute song flows with incredible ease, with the segue between movements being no more apparent than a verse change in a normal song. It's also apparent the band didn't make a long song just to make a long song, as the music is completely natural, not forced, and has such an effortless aura the lengthy track flies by with alarming speed. Each movement has an incredible signature sound while at the same time adhering to the overall theme of the music. In the end, the natural, logical flow of this music is supreme, and it makes this album a truly spectacular show of symphonic prowess.

The lyrical theme is something many people give the album flack about, but compared to the band's former albums, it seems supremely natural. Morse had produced a number of Christian-themed progressive rock albums (as well as a number of non-prog albums), so a number of people believed that Morse's faith had spilled over to Transatlantic. However, in retrospect, Transatlantic had always had a goodly theme regarding the lyrics. Songs like "We All Need Some Light" off SMPTe and "Bridge Across Forever" off the album of the same name have similar Christian-esque themes, and the goodly theme runs across most of their work, so the lyrics on this album, which detail a tragedy and how we look to God (or the "higher being," whatever) for guidance. It explores themes of how we react to tragedy, strife, war, and other bouts of human negativity and how in the end we succeed. Although the epic ender "Dancing with Eternal Glory" has an obvious evangelical feel, overall that song and the rest of the album's Christian theme is shrouded more as goodly lyrics than an officious attempt to convert listeners. Anyway, it is much easier to listen to the spectacular music displayed across the album than brood over controversial lyrics!

The second disk contains a number of originals and a number of covers from various sources. The originals show the band does have the ability (although popular belief is otherwise) to write a song shorter than 30 minutes ;-). They are shorter, peppier (with the exception of the dour track "Lenny Johnson"), and a lot of fun to listen to, especially the great 6/8 jam "Spinning." The covers are indicative of the band's wide influences, with covers including a Genesis track, another Procul Harum track, a Beatles classic, and Santana. The second disk is a lot of fun, with each of the band's members taking a stab at lead vocals for a track (even the not-so-gifted singer Portnoy doesn't do a half bad job on "A Salty Dog").

In conclusion, I think I've made it amply clear this album is a definite masterpiece. The music is perfection, with perfect balances between each instrument, with wonderful mixes of mellotron, synth, piano, and Hammond as well as acoustic, clean, and overdriven or distorted electric guitars, and the various bass tones that Trewevas uses. And of course Portnoy is perfect as always ;-). The music is dynamic, diverse, and extremely fun and fulfilling to listen to. Each track is incredibly inventive and ingeniously arranged, and the entire production was executed with incredible perfection. The album is easily one of the best modern symphonic prog albums, if not the best. Each note is in the perfect position, each organ run perfectly executed, each solo pristine, and every section of rhythm graceful and well-executed. Dammit, this album is perfect. 5 stars.

Report this review (#491742)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Let me first tell you that this album has nothing to do with metal, it is simply a progressive rock album. But that's not a bad thing at all. The main problem of this album is, as strange as it sounds, its perfection.

Let me explain you this antithesis. The band really concentrates on the concept of the album, on the different instrumental parts and transitions that they forget about the emotions. The album is technically perfect, but it has no surprises. This album has great and interesting lyrics but not a single catchy chorus. The band really delivers value for money with a completely filled CD and even a bonus disc on the special edition, but less would have been more in this case. Even for progressive fans and fans of the bands in which the band members play or played in, this album isn't easy to approach and sounds just overlong and overloaded. This album is the example that perfection leads to boredom. Those little mistakes and the little risks and tricks that connect us to an album are completely missing in here and there is nothing special about this album.

That's why I can't give anything else than a boring average note to this boring stuff. The album is too complicated to get a better rating but technically too perfect to get a lower one. I would only recommend this album to people who listen regularly to progressive rock bands like Spock's Beard and who might really take their time to get an approach to this album and listen to it a dozen times to discover all the details and transitions. If you are really patient, you may get rewarded. If you are a musician and you want to learn and get some inspiration, this album may also be interesting to you because it is like a boring school lesson with four long teacher's speeches: it may frustrate you and make you tired, but if you want it or not, you are still learning something. I can really not recommend this album to people who are only progressive metal and not really progressive rock fans or people who are looking for a catchy album and something innovating.

Originally published on on October 10th of the year 2010.

Report this review (#508336)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Motherless reprise, wandering nowhere...

Ok so maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it does sum up my feelings towards this album, excellent though it is. I guess many who's first experience with Transatlantic was through 'SMPTe' felt the same way after hearing 'Bridge Across Forever', and despite being well aware that 'The Whirlwind' is most likely a masterpiece, there is also an underlying reluctance to rate such a similar sounding album on a par with what I already know and love.

'The Whirlwind' consists of a single 77 minute track split into 12 sections. Some are amazing (On the Prowl through Out of the Night) and some are totally dispensable (The Wind Blew Them All Away and Rose Colored Glasses). The standard of instrumentation is incredible, the vocals are hit and miss, and the lyrics are almost cringeworthy. All you would expect from a Transatlantic album really!

The Verdict: Despite marginally preferring 'Bridge Across Forever', I would probably recommend 'The Whirlwind' to Transatlantic newcomers.

Report this review (#562253)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Over-blown, over-long and over-rated. Yep, it's Transatlantic!

I didn't get much out of their first album, and didn't bother with the second as a result. I wouldn't have even tried this, but it was at a really good price! So...

I think that maybe I DIDN'T want to like this from the outset. I mean, I listen to it again, and again, trying to dissect it, trying to evaluate it. It's not difficult to listen to, but something can't be quite right. I mean, I'm rebelling against all those who totally love it. Surely nothing, NOTHING made these days can be THAT good, can it?

Overall, I'd say it the best Neal Morse solo album I've heard. Because, that's what it sounds like to me. All of his others sound the same...This one could too, but Roine sings the odd track, which breaks the repetition.

An example of why it can sound like Neal Morse's solo work is at the beginning of 'Evermore', where we have the classic bass/drum/piano sound SO associated with NM. I personally find it annoying in the context of this being a Transatlantic album.

Creatively, it could also have been better. What we get is a well-versed formula of Prog at this level. What we don't get is the genre being challenged to any degree. There's a bit of Yes (Out of the night), a bit of Genesis (A man can feel), and even a little bit of Roger Waters (Is it really happening?),but I don't find this a problem though. I also feel that it gets better towards the end. More spacial, less rushed perhaps.

I'm a bit disappointed by the drumming, given that I recently re-heard 'Wind and Wuthering' and was thrilled once more by Phil Collin's drumming. That was Prog rhythm at its best. If Mike Portnoy likes Prog, why hasn't he taken advantage of the freedom that the genre provides? It's perfectly competent, though not as expansive perhaps, as it could be.

Four renowned musicians have come together, but they haven't challenged the genre. They've simply gone over a well-worn formula, and delivered. Could we have expected more? Given all the hype, possibly so. Going over familiar territory may please the accountants, but it may not satisfy the artists.

Report this review (#566667)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I thought their second album was the end of this supergroup. But in fact thy still made this album eight years after their second effort. I salute on this part as they still consistent in making progressive music that initially was predominated with the kind of Spock's Beard music. I find it hard here with this third album as, I think, they have made their own identity crafting from their individual talents. Yes, I find the music is very captivating from start to end and I fell like I am enjoying a very long song that has 77 minutes duration. Even though the song comprises twelve pars but I still find it like a one song as it flows nicely from one part to another. I think the band has successfully introduced a lot of the newer prog fans to a style of progressive rock that hadn't been recorded or appreciated in decades, melodic 70′s prog in modern technology.

The overarching scene of the music is their creativity to form composition that blends their individual talents where Neal Morse was previously the frontman and major composer of Spock's Beard while Portnoy was a significant contributor of Dream Theater's composition. I can find there is little Portnoy's metal influence right here with this wonderfully crafted album. Roine Stolt style is unique and he left his style with Flower Kings way behind and put himself as member of supergroup. While Marillion bass player Pete Trewavas has much more significant role in his basslines work right here with this album. The result is a beatiful music that flows nicely from start until end. I find myself drown into deep whenever I listen to this music. Yes there are parts that represent musical breaks through mellow style in some segments but as a whole this Whirlwind epic is an excellent one to enjoy. I really like how the band presents themselves in varied tempo and style changes with their own instruments that make the overall album is an enjoyable music. Looking at its overall composition, I find that the album has an excellent and memorable melody throughout the epic even though at micro level there were some changes - otherwise we will get bored with it. The harmonies produced through combined work of keyboard, bass, guitar and drums are truly excellent. They all contribute great rhythm section for vocal line. There are various changes in signatures, tempo and style throughout the album where the movement from one part to another have been bridged beautifully by the band so that you would not feel there is a change that is happening while you listen to it. The structure of the music is also gorgeous as you find it enjoying just one long song but you don't get bored. There is a structural integrity of its music that makes the music sounds cohesive from start to end.

What I take away from this album is that it was a solid effort by some of the best musicians in progressive rock. I'm happy they are back together to give us this very enjoyable album. This album proves the ultimate achievement in composing music until the limit of the technology where the maximum of 80 minutes on a CD is closely reached by another 3 minutes .... This is an excellent album that you should not miss at all. 4.5 star rating. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#580820)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars After hearing All of the Above, I didn't think that I could find a better song than that by Transatlantic. Boy, was I wrong.

This really is one long song and it's almost impossible to listen to one track at a time because it flows so well. The Overture has this amazing build up that explodes into the first notes in the most glorious way possible. The band members sound like they're having so much fun playing it, as can be seen in the Whirld Tour 2010 DVD. Once the overture is finished, they head straight into the first lines of the song and, surprisingly, the first voice is that of Roine Stolt (and apparently Pete wrote the opening lyric melody). Neal gives us a couple choruses before the song fades into the next...

The Wind Blew Them All Away is undoubtedly a Morse song, but the highlight is definitely Roine's fantastic solo. Seriously, this might be the best solo I have ever heard him do, with him souding a little like Steve Howe on Sound Chaser, but with that Roine Stolt style.

On the Prowl is just fun. Basically, it's a long keyboard solo with some verses at the end, but I love it. Neal can really solo and this song shows it.

A Man Can Feel is very dark sounding (but it's Transatlantic, so it can't really be too dark) and it's a little quirky with the harpsichord and everything. However, it's a good track and the end is great.

The next song is one of the "reprise" songs. Though most of the tracks reference the main themes, Out of the Night is pretty much built on previous themes with a catchy, Beatles-like chorus. And it leads perfectly into...

...the best song on the first half. Again, it's a Morse track, but it's absolutely stunning. He sings with so much emotion, and even if the lyrics are a little cheesy (a word I honestly don't use to describe things), it doesn't matter because of how good the melodies are. I just love how Neal sings the bridge before the solo. Speaking of the solo, another great one by Roine.

The next two tracks are more reprise tracks, which transition so well that I sometimes forget that they are changing. However, Evermore is clearly Roine and Set Us Free is definitely Neal. That's one thing about Transatlantic: it's really easy to tell who wrote which tracks and parts. One thing I'll also note is that I actually enjoyed Portnoy's singing on Set Us Free.

Lay Down Your Life is another dark/Neal track. with a great riff and a Paul McCartney esque vocal this track is really cool. The double time section with tthe solo is also neat, especially how they keep pushing the riff back a beat (listen to it to see what I mean).

Pieces of Heaven reminds me of a less heavy Dance of Eternity. Listen to the drums and you'll hear it. Is It Really Happening is one of my favorites. It's a Pete song, which you can tell by its atmospheric nature. After the chant we get a fantastically heavy instrumental section which speeds up to the climax. It'll keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time!

Now, I need to ask something, what's so wrong with Neal's Christian lyrics? What's so bad about him wanting to profess his faith? And couldn't we all use a little religion in our lives from time to time? I mean seriously, I keep reading, "the last track sucks, it's too Christian." Dancing With Eternal Glory is a great track, and better than any other Christian music. So don't hate it, just listen and you'll hear the beauty. The Whirlwind reprise is basically a wrap- up of the album. At the end, during the last three minutes, it hit. That same feeling when I listen to the end of Close to the Edge or Supper's Ready. That spine-tingling rush of hearing the end to a beautiful piece of music that any symphonic fan knows. A great ending to a grreat album.

So don't think this of album as retro or emotionless. If you do, you could miss out on some wonderful music played by those who really enjoy making good, symphonic prog.

Enjoy -Matt

Report this review (#637858)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Whirlwind" is the 3rd full-length studio album by multi-national progressive rock act Transatlantic. The album was released in October 2009 through Metal Blade Records in the US and InsideOut Music in Europe. It´s been 8 years since the release of the band´s 2nd full-length studio album "Bridge Across Forever (2001)", but the four members of Transatlantic found time in their busy schedules for another recording session and here we have "The Whirlwind".

"The Whirlwind" originally came in three different versions. A standard edition one CD version, a double disc special edition (the bonus disc features 8 additional tracks) and a deluxe edition which featured a 105 minutes long making-of DVD.

"The Whirlwind" is a 77:47 minutes long progressive rock journey. While the album is considered one track, it is sub-divided into 12 tracks, which might seque into each other but come off as individual tracks. As the case has been on the first two albums by Transatlantic, the music on "The Whirlwind" is a combination of the sound of Spock´s Beard and The Flower Kings but with some additional "outside" ideas, which are probably mostly courtesy of Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). To my ears though it does sound like it´s Neal Morse (Spock´s Beard, Solo) and Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) who have been most involved in the songwriting.

If you are familiar with the earlier material by the band, you won´t be surprised to find very well written material, outstanding musicianship and a polished and powerful production on this album too. At 77:47 the album might be a bit too long for the casual listener but I doubt if the hardcore fans will find this to be much of an issue. Personally I could have done with a couple of surprises and also a bit more grit, but then again that´s not really what Transatlantic are about. They are pretty much satisfied with paying tribute to their 60s and 70s heroes and it´s hard to argue that they don´t do that very well albeit in a polished and "safe" fashion. A 4 star (80%) rating is warranted.

Report this review (#760819)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my review of Bridge Across Forever I said I was surprised about how a band could write two fantastic albums in just two short years. I believe I am more amazed at how, after seven years the supergroup has still got it. Surely they would have run out of ideas in this time period, given that they use a lot of material for their main bands but this couldn't be further from the case. This is every bit as exciting as their first two releases. With that said, there really isn't too much different from their others, as this relies on the sound and style since established on the debut. Perhaps this is the band's most equal as far as contribution. Neal probably came up with a good majority of the melodies here, but the contributions from the others has increased significantly since their debut, especially Trewavas, who adds some truly great stuff.

The opening overture is probably the strongest part of the whole song, and is packed with interesting and catchy melodies. It is an opening that is to be expected from anything Neal Morse related, at this point, as he is most likely behind most of the themes. 'The Wind That Blew Them All Away' is another great part, with some dramatic vocals from Morse. Roine's guitar seems to be the dominate instrument, for which he plays some soulful guitar pasts.

'On the Prowl' is based on a chunky bass line from Trewavas, but has pleny of interesting riffs to make it varied.

The following two songs have Roine's footprint all over them. 'A Man Can Feel' is slightly haunting, with Roine's unique vocal style taking the lead. The rest of the band adds some great backing vocals in harmony. The latter 'Out of the Night' I believe originated as one of Roine's ideas for which the band built upon. It mixes an up-tempo, cheery section, as is so common with The Flower Kings, with a reprise of the Whirlwind theme.

'Rose Colored Glasses' originated from a little diddy Neal Morse wrote on acoustic guitar for the passing of his father. I believe Neal and band do a great job of passing on that sentimentality in the music. The guitar solo from Roine is what I would consider one of the climax's of this lengthy piece.

'Evermore' and 'Set Us Free' both are very jam-oriented piece. The flowing bass, and Roine's signature guitar lines along with the musical drumming of Portnoy gives them a rather loose feel.

'Lay Down Your Life' is a rather heavier piece with plenty of string use that is so common in Neal's solo work. Neal's vocal work on this is also very interesting, and much different from his normal style. I especially like the main riff, in addition to Portnoy's drumming which gives it an odd rhythmic feel in spots.

'Pieces of Heaven' is probably the most complex song on the album despite being only two minutes. It changes time signatures frequently; with some parts in 11/8 is a very hectic song with some parts in 11/8, and not to mention some interesting syncopation parts.

'Is It Really Happening' opens with a rather melancholic atmosphere which builds up beautifully into what I would consider the best few minutes of the album to make this the appropriate climax.

The ending 'Dancing Eternal Glory' is a rather lengthy concluding section with Neal's soaring, dramatic vocals. The song isn't terribly special, it simply reprises many of the melodies found in the earlier sections. Though most people do not think highly of this, I believe it is an epic conclusion to an epic song.

The bonus tracks of the two-cd set consist of some covers and some orinigal tunes. The covers are alright, but I never care them anyway. The original songs are written mostly by the individual band members. The highlight is the band's 'Spinning,' but Roine's 'Lenny Johnson' and Pete's 'Lending a Hand' are rather nice.

There we have it, a journey of flawless musicianship and musicality that should define the band and modern prog in general. While I prefer Bridges Across Forever, this one easily ranks within my favorite prog albums.


Report this review (#771411)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars When you come up with an album as stunning as Bridge Across Forever and when you take a hiatus for 8 years and announce a reunion, expectations will be heavy and it isn't easy to live up to the expectations. Yet how can you create an ever lasting impression when you have so called "reached the peak" with Bridge Across Forever? Its by coming up with a single track album cloaking a massive 78 minutes. Generally, bands hesitate to come up with long songs with the fear of exposing their weaknesses in songwriting, making the album less commercially successful, or making it quite boring. Yet, Transatlantic defied all the odds and came up with what could arguable be one of the greatest progressive rock epics, "The Whirlwind".

Right from the start, the Overture gives you an idea of what is to come throughout the full song. You wouldn't fail to notice the influences from possibly all the genres which progressive music covers. Take it classical or rock or funk or metal or ambient. The various progressions in the song are split into 12 tracks which do justice to the lyrics and the theme concerned.

There are a lot of positives in this album. 1)You need the guts to make a 77:54 minute song and make it not sound boring or technically mediocre. Even for soft listeners who don't like listening to long songs, this is an album/song which anyone can and will finish in one listen. Such is the journey the album takes us through 2)This album has something Transatlantic were criticized to not have. Equal vocal contribution from all the members. Everyone has their own uniqueness in their voice and their contribution adds to the diversity in the song. 3)Individually, everyone were at their peak. Neal Morse's voice has never been better and so are his keyboard parts. Roine Stolt does justice to the album with his emotional guitar work and singing. Pete Trevawas incorporate a lot of groovy and melodic bass lines which give a sense of completeness to the song. And Mike Portnoy able to steer the whole song with his technical drumming and increased contribution vocally. 4)The lyrics really add a new dimension to this album. The themes vary and deal with a lot of topics but yet gives a subtle emotion in each of the tracks. 5)The Grand Finale is something no one can forget. Dancing With Eternal Glory, which clocks 12 minutes in length, just blows the listener off with its intense emotion and atmosphere. Even though there are strong religious influences, it makes everyone shed a tear or two. Arguably the best segment of the album, this makes it hard for the listener to not listen to the whole track again.

However, a very critical mind can look at a drawback or two 1)Pete Trevawas, who blew everyone away with his strong voice in Stranger In Your Soul, wasn't given that much importance in the lead vocal contribution but that is compensated by the majority of the backing support. which he gives 2)The song stretches a bit during On The Prowl, Lay down Your Life and Is It Really Happening.

Overall, this is probably Transatlantic's greatest album and one of the best progressive rock albums of all times. Any music lover should listen to this masterpiece and let the world know what they are truly missing. The Special Edition version has a whole lot of covers as well Released on October 29.2009 through MetalBlade in the US and InsideOut in Europe, this 77:54 minute masterpiece is a must listen. A perfect 10.

Report this review (#800985)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Eh, really, if this is a masterpice of progressive rock, I'm Mickey Mouse, I don't get what the fuss is all about this release. From the beggining I can say that they never and will never release a better album then Bridge across forever with the best piece they ever done Duel with the devil. After disbanded in 2003, each musician involved return to their own bands, Portnoy with DT, Morse with his solo career, Trewavas with Marillion and Stolt with Flower Kings. They got together in 2008 and they manage to come with this release from 2009 named The whirwind. To my ears this is an usual album, if almost mediocre in places, but overall not bad, only good and nothing more for sure. I can't understand why so many peoples think this is a masterpiece, they are blinded by the line up and maybe forget about the music, is their own choice after all. Back to the album, this is ausual affair, double album, with more then 2 hour of music, is hard to grasp all pieces on one listning, but with few spins I got my opinion. This album is less intresting and captivating then anything they release before and for sure weaker then Bridge across forever, their best album to date. Not a single pieces is i front, almost all has same level. The musicianship of course is great, they are excellent musicians, but together and specially on this album the ideas they gather are weak and to predictable and usual. Is true the album is progressive, has plenty of melodic parts, complex passages, but in the end I can't remember anything from what they offer, is was not the cas with precedent album. So, to me this is only a 3 star album, nothing more , nothing less, and far from masterpieces status, I know and have hundreds of more intresting albums only from that year not to mention from that period. In places it sounds like some leftovers from some Neal Morse solo album or some The Flower kings release. I don't know if this is a very welcome return in prog rock world, maybe if the next release will sound better I will return to them with a more opned mind, untill then I'll stick to Bridge across forver.
Report this review (#843334)
Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've been waiting for years for this CD. Parts of it are incredible, while other parts are eh able. Some of the songs are excellent - such as Overture/Whirlwind, Evermore, and Is It Really Happening? from the first main disc, and Return of the Giant Hogweed and Soul Sacrifice from the second (bonus) disc. However, there are two songs I don't like at all - Rose Colored Glasses is incredibly repetitive and grating and Salty Dog, the Procul Harem cover, which I have never cared for. The musicianship throughout is, as always, phenomenal, but I feel the material is more of a let down. Still, it is good prog with a good message.
Report this review (#904107)
Posted Friday, February 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars If all the written reviews here were only by fans and apologists, these archives wouldn't be worth very much. With that in mind, I freely admit to being a fan of Transatlantic's first two albums, enough to insist on a contrary opinion of their latest studio effort to date: yet another ersatz sermon by Neal Morse dressed, like the fabled emperor, in all-too transparent Prog Rock finery.

The idea behind the album was suspect from the start. Presenting a single, 78-minute opus was really just a stunt, aimed at hungry progheads who might have forgotten that Ian Anderson's LP-long "Thick as a Brick" was intended as a concept album parody. Here the supergroup simply borrowed the epic SPOCK'S BEARD / FLOWER KINGS formula and inflated it to ridiculous length. But the model itself remained unchanged: after hearing the opening theme you can bet your mother's mortgage that the album will end with the same melody, played at a slower, more majestic tempo, and augmented with strings and bass pedals all piled skyward atop Morse's melodramatic singing (The "Supper's Ready Effect", a trusted strategy in modern Prog composition).

A (hopefully) quick digression: I single out Neal Morse over his bandmates because he was obviously the driving force behind this project. Musically and thematically, his songwriting has always teetered (in a manner of speaking) close to the edge separating true inspiration from Neo Prog tackiness. But his headlong embrace of Christian fundamentalism upset that delicate balance, and pulled even this veteran partnership right over the brink.

It still might have worked, if he didn't peddle his message like a used-car salesman. The libretto for "The Whirlwind" is a whopping 2,270 words, and yet they boil down to a simple lesson: life stinks, but eternal glory awaits us if we surrender to God. On first exposure it almost sounds like a Born Again jihad against sinners and unbelievers ("...the wind blew them all away", etc), but that's only the knee-jerk reaction of an oversensitive freethinker. A closer reading shows the metaphorical tempest to represent the misfortunes we all face from cradle to grave ("we got caught in the whirlwind / torn by the storms of our lives..."), which according to Morse can best be withstood through blind devotion to primitive monotheism ("come bring this ship / out of the whirlwind / set us free, free, free!")

Worse yet: all that suffering is apparently a part of His Divine Plan ("before we're raised up / he's got to break us down"), which to me sounds uneasily like cult bullying, on a cosmic scale.

And that's only a taste of the opening twenty-five minutes, with almost an hour's worth of artless proselytizing still to come. What it all amounts to is Neal Morse again putting all his superstitious insecurities on paper, and then trying to make them rhyme: "You've got to lay down your life / like rain in Spokane", so forth. (A mild ecological nitpick: there isn't much precipitation in the rain shadow of eastern Washington State, so what exactly is he demanding here? Reluctant submission? Would "cattle in Seattle" have made a better metaphor?)

I would like nothing more than to overlook the wall-to-wall text and simply enjoy the high caliber of musicianship, never less than stellar from all four players, including Mr. Morse: a truly gifted keyboard artist and arranger. But that would be like telling a nervous agoraphobe visiting the Grand Canyon to just ignore the view. Transatlantic borrows so many elements from other Golden Age Prog giants, it's a shame they didn't also sneak a peek at PETER HAMMILL's playbook. The 1971 "Pawn Hearts" album in particular could have been an invaluable model ("Still waiting for my savior / storms tear me limb from limb...")

Failing that, any self-respecting deity would have (gently) broken Neal Morse's fingers, so he couldn't write another lyric until he learned that music alone can be its own spiritual epiphany: just ask Mr. Fripp, or the shade of the late Florian Fricke. Indeed, on those occasional moments when he shuts up the astonishing skills of each performer really shine through. The tense jam at the start of "On the Prowl" is Transatlantic at its instrumental best, and the escalating pinpoint madness leading to the climax of "Is It Really Happening?" is a technophile's wet dream (this at around the 60-minute mark, better later than never).

Dynamic Prog Rock overkill and naïve religious dogma: not the most rewarding combination, especially when stretched over 78-continuous minutes and played with sometimes sledgehammer finesse. Give the band credit for stamina, at least. The whole roadshow production actually peaks after 40-minutes (in "Rose Colored Glasses"), and the quartet then has to rebuild its momentum from scratch, without even the courtesy of a potty break. Theology aside, the album stands as an argument in favor of long-playing vinyl, where the need to flip the record over presented a natural intermission.

Golden Age proggers like YES and GENESIS, besides being a little more Gnostic in their spiritualism, were all about quality over quantity, even when assembling side-long epics like "Close to the Edge" and "Supper's Ready". It's a pity Transatlantic didn't learn that lesson better, instead of merely aping the more superficial cosmetics of the classic prog style...

...Which leads to a brief addendum on the bonus disc: a quartet of shorter songs (shorter by comparison, that is: two of them approach the ten-minute mark) plus four oldies paying affectionate tribute to our shared Prog Rock heritage. The original stuff is hardly superstar material, and doing the covers might have been a miscalculation, serving only to underline how much better the originals were. "The Return of the Giant Hogweed", for example, is only a note-perfect clone of the 1973 "Genesis Live" version, even quoting Peter Gabriel's stage introduction in a faux-English accent. Like the other selections here, there's no attempt at interpretation.

Report this review (#904934)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars What was the defining prog album release of 2009? For sure, it was 'the Whirlwind'. For a super group this release did not disappoint, with all 4 participants contributing to contribute to an epic result. I'm so glad that I saw them play the entirety of the first disk LIVE at Victoria Park at the end of July 2010 (and what a warm up for the following evening when for the very first time I saw Emerson Lake & Palmer. Happy days/daze........). I feel truly honored and blessed to have seen this performance and the memory will stay with me for ever, particularly the competition and inter play between Morse and Portnoy vying for attention and well deserved adoration! Talk about upping the game that night, it was truly truly magical. That Saturday evening in London between 8 and 9.30pm, as the sun set over East London was a night for memories. As you might expect, with the musicians in attendance (to include Roine Stolt and the chap from Marillion) the reproduction of the cd was note perfect. As a lapsed Christian, I'm attuned to lyrics that might feel uncomfortable in a wider setting, but really, this is not in your face evangelism, the lyrics are both responsible and sensible (after all I can't see Roine putting his name to something overtly and obviously Christian). The musicianship is supreme, the way in which the album builds and peaks in an organismic manner at various times is the work of masters in the prog genre. To cap it all, for the encore Steve Hackett came on stage for the encore 'the return of the giant hogweed. Confirmation indeed, that the batten had been passed from the old to the new...........
Report this review (#905091)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Transatlantic's 'The Whirlwind' is a mammoth album with one colossal epic that sounds as great live as it does on this studio release. Neal Morse's crystalline clean quality voice permeates the album along with his keyboard wizardry. Stolt is exquisite on guitar injecting some powerful riffs. Trewavas is wonderful on bass and, Portnoy is dynamic as ever on drums.

The opening track of the 77:47 epic 'The Whirlwind' features minimalist feminine sections of symphonic beauty which are augmented by the masculine rock sections, with sporadic drumming patterns and chaotic punctuation, balancing out the quieter moments where keyboards drift along waves of beautiful guitar phrases. It is a multi-movement suite in classical music tradition, wth grand crescendos tempered and counter balanced by serene passages of tranquillity. It climaxes with the huge wall of sound that is essential Transatlantic. It is a masterful track broken into 12 segments. It sounds incredibe live too, which is where I first heard it, and I am more into that version as it has a heavier feel and very atmospheric in the live setting.

On CD 2 Santana's 'Soul Sacrifice' is mind blowing, one of my favourite's so it was great to hear a rendering of Carlos' guitar lines. The band's performance of 'The Return of the Giant Hogweed' is exuberant and does the classic justice. Morse handles the quirky lyrics with finesse and the intricate structure is delivered with powerhouse guitars. It is terrific to hear new covers of 'A Salty Dog' by Procol Harum, and 'I Need You' by America and The Beatles, though The Eagles' version is still superior.

The artwork on the cover is one of the most iconic covers of 2009, with its golden paintwork, turbulent storm and the enigmatic starship swooping across. This is one of the best Transatlantic albums undoubtedly, though "More Is Never Enough" is the way to really hear this, complete with incredible visuals.

Report this review (#905881)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars For me, this is a progressive rock masterpiece. Stolt, Morse, Trewavas and Portnoy have collaborated again to make another wonderful album.

All of the tracks on Disc 1 piece together seamlessly to make up the 78 minute title song. Similar to Morse's solo records, or the Flower Kings' albums, there are catchy melodies throughout the album as well as proggy time signature changes ("Pieces of Heaven", especially) and nice instrumentals.

Noteworthy on this album is Trewavas, who shines on the bass, playing every note with emotion and intensity. There is a bass line used in the main "whirlwind" theme that is reminiscent of "Yours is No Disgrace" by Yes. Nevertheless, it doesn't feel like it is "copied" in any way. The influence of classic progressive rock bands such as Genesis, Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd, and Rush are clear on Transatlantic's music - but they always manage to keep their music fresh, impressive and unforgettable.

Stolt, Morse, and Portnoy play with an unparalleled standard of creativity and proficiency. For example, listen to Portnoy's meticulous drumming on "Set Us Free". Stolt's guitar solo at the end of "Out of the Night" is simply awesome.

Favorite Parts: "Is it Really Happening" "Overture/Whirlwind" "Out of the Night" "Dancing with Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise)"

Don't miss this album.

Report this review (#951196)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars What upsets me is how everyone tries to see this as one long song. It's got its divisions, ideas that flow into each other, and though all essentially relative to each other, it's not really different than many concept albums out there to me. This album is bound to receive praise and criticism for containing the longest song in the world (at least formally structured Prog and excluding music containing drones). But this album contains some excellent examples of reprises. No idea is wasted, and everything is expanded on enough. This album is too satisfying. The Whirlwind theme comes back multiple times, and my favorite is when we get sneak peaks of the lick from "Dancing" early in the album and in the middle. It's like a movie with great replay value that you come back to again and again, because there's more to find with each and every viewing.

Musicianship is top-notch, and the album is one of the few that strives to be as "epic" as possible. It doesn't sound like Spock's Beard to me. Spock's Beard tried to show off its classical roots, while this group happens to feature Morse, but the Transatlantic sound is a sound that tries to be big, epic, and goose bump-inducing. This album is a tremendous effort, and these guys succeed greatly. "It doesn't have enough to support 77 minutes". Again, look at this as if you're listening to an album. Not a song that takes days to listen to.

One of the finest pieces of Progressive music.

Report this review (#993947)
Posted Wednesday, July 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars . . . In my not so humble opinion.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, this album did so little for me despite my repeated attempts to enjoy it. I tried, I mean, it's got Neal Morse and Roine Stolt, two of my favorite prog musicians. It's got Mike Portney, nothing more is needed to be said there. Pete Trewavas too . . . this is the definition of a super group, so why did it leave me cold and lifeless inside. On paper, I should love this.

Why, is the real question, what is wrong with this album? Yes, there are some pretty significant religious overtones, not my thing, that's not the problem on this one though. I enjoy some of Neal Morse's preachy albums, Sola Scriptura and ? are brilliant. I'm pretty good at ignoring the content of the lyrics as long as they aren't laughable. There's something deeper going on here.

My first thought was the lack of hooks, but I realized that's not entirely correct, there are hooks all over the place, they're just not very good ones. The more that I think of it, the album is really just a long series of mediocre hooks with a lot of different notes thrown in between. Listening to this album, I just get this picture of Neal Morse jumping from instrument to instrument a-la Buckaroo Banzai with the cheesy smile that keeps saying 'look at how good I am'. I'm sorry Mr. Morse, but your hooks run into each other and your solos seem to involve a lot of notes in succession that work theoretically, but have little staying power. There was a time when I found this band new and exciting, I loved everything Mr. Morse was doing, now even the 'strange off time parts' seem rote and predictable to me.

I'd love to give this a higher rating, I would, but other than the somewhat tense 'Evermore' and the novelty of 'The Return of the Giant Hogweed' this album leaves me totally unimpressed. This album killed all excitement that I had for Transatlantic to the point that I still haven't cared enough to give the follow up album (that's right, I can't even remember its name) a spin.

I wanted so much to enjoy this album.

Report this review (#1232655)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have recently returned to progressive rock, the music of my high school days, after long periods exploring other genres. More specifically, I have gotten back into Neal Morse and all of his projects in a major way, and I wanted to explore the new Transatlantic albums that had been released since I put them aside several years ago. I enjoyed SMPT:e, but overall the the songs and sections of the various epics seemed strung together, the solo sections were a bit too long, and Neal seemed to dominate the composition, not allowing much room for Roine Stolt or Pete Trewavas to really show their composition styles. Bridge Across Forever had some of those same problems, but there was much more of a focus on band composition, and at least Neal and Roine traded singing on different sections. Not only that, but the recurring musical themes tying the different epics together and the sheer scope and grandeur of Stranger In Your Soul give the album a transcendent quality that puts it amongst my favorite progressive albums.

With The Whirlwind, I think they've finally nailed what they set out to do from the beginning. Setting the difficult task of composing a 78 minute long song actually gives the whole band a lot of room to stretch out and really dig into their various ideas with gusto. The typical opening instrumental opener is longer, given about 7 minutes to introduces the various musical themes and it hits the right balance between musical composition and instrumental virtuosity that really kills, with Roine and Neal both showing their skills with flourishes and riffs but never threatens to dominate. The first vocals, surprisingly, come from Roine Stolt which is indicative of how much of a collaborative effort this is. The Whirlwind vocal theme is as melodic and catchy as anything they've ever written, and gives a wonderful driving start for the album.

"The Wind Blew Them All Away" gives way to eerie minor key acoustic guitars and an offbeat vocal from Morse. Roine gets in a nice solo in the middle, and we get a reprise of one of the dark and heavy themes from the overture near the end. Then the upbeat theme kicks in and melds seamlessly with the chorus of this section to create a powerful climax. As the final note winds down, Pete's bass leads the way into "On The Prowl", a 6/8 section that seems structured to give plenty of room for extended solos but really offers Neal and Roine space to kind of play off one another with their different instruments, and then roars into the vocal section with some darker lyrics and singing from Neal.

"A Man Can Feel" is probably my favorite section taken as an individual song, and sounds very much like Roine got to write this whole section. Spooky harpsichord and singing from Roine give way to a driving rhythmic pre chorus and burst open into the soaring chorus with excellent backing vocals from the rhythm section. Excellent bass riffing here as well, with another great guitar solo backed by Neal's Mellotron-Chorus. After the second chorus, the melody starts in line with the chorus and another guitar solo followed by Neal's first organ solo of the album follow, and a darker instrumental section misleadingly leads into the driving "Out of the Night", another Roine-led section that alternates verses and choruses with Neal reprising the album's main theme.

"Rose Colored Glasses" is a longer section led by Neal that starts as a slow acoustic piece that builds and builds into a strong climax with interweaving themes and a soaring guitar solo. After it winds down, "Evermore" begins with a haunting piano riff constantly interrupted by some darker riffs and drum fills. After some instrumental fireworks, the singing comes in and alludes to a later section before kicking into "Set Us Free", picking up one of the most drivingly rocking themes from the overture and really hammering it home before settling into a kind of funky groove that sets the stage for Neal's vocals. Some ambient piano riffing takes us into the next section, another favorite of mine.

"Lay Down Your Life" kicks in with heavy cello riffing and some deep grooves from the drums. Neal sings this section with high falsetto and some screams that suit the heavy groove, and the chorus is incredibly hard rocking and creepy at the same time. Another great guitar solo and another chorus takes us into "Pieces of Heaven", a short instrumental section. This doesn't last long before going into "Is It Really Happening?", a slower, ambient mood piece for the first half, with chanting from all four members that seem to be spoken from a trance. As the drums get louder and more complex, the song gets faster and a truly killer guitar solo kicks in and tears the sky open, and then Neal's synths join in to drive the section home.

"Dancing With Eternal Glory/The Whirlwind (Reprise)" follows with a slow piano introduction from Neal. A brief word on Neal Morse's epic compositions: he loves to end them with the same theme that began them and this is no exception, but this final section introduces his religious tinged epic ending, and then throws in several of the main themes from the album to boot before literally ending the album of the same riff that began it, and maybe I just love the riff, but its a damn solid way to bring this epic to a dramatic close.

I didn't mention Mike Portnoy once during this review, and I just wanted to include some words on him here. He's an incredible and versatile drummer, and he just kills it all over this album, going crazy with riffs and fills at all the right moments, giving a driving beat and extra few beats to really keep the tempo, slowing down when he needs to, and holding back when he needs to. I can't say a bad word about the guy, he's just constantly on point no matter whats happening in the music.

The music never bores you, I can listen to it several times over and find new parts to love, this album is a true delight from some of the best progressive rockers out there.

Report this review (#1238964)
Posted Friday, August 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
5 stars After a long, long wait of almost an entire decade, these four monsters made a triumphant musical comeback into the nowadays Prog Rock scene in the most incredible and impressive way. 'The Whirlwind' is an almost seventy-eight minute piece indexed into twelve tracks that unveils the best piece of work the multinational supergroup has produced so far. The display of musicianship shown in this concept album outruns anything previously created and released by TRANSATLANTIC to such extent that 'The Whirlwind' instantly turned into the main reference to tell the band's distinctive signature from the rest.

"Overture / Whirlwind" reveals the base chords and passages the entire suite will continuously show all along this epical journey, almost as if these chords turned into the main and supporting characters dwelling in this musical narrative. And so, the first gleam of emotiveness sparkles marvelously on 'The Wind Blew Them All Away', a song filled with intense and crushing lyrics that almost at the same time soothes the impatience of devouring the entire album once and for all.

'On The Prowl', 'A Man Can Feel' and 'Out Of the Night' carry on down this road plagued of massive progressive passageways that bring back that old school TRANSATLANTIC we all waited for almost ten years until 'The Whirlwind' was released. Every song completes the following superbly in a way that you can pretty much feel you're lending ears to a classic TRANSATLANTIC medley within the depths of this musical whirlwind.

'Rose Colored Glasses' is to me, the next song in importance when it comes to depict the album's sense of emotion and sensitivity right after 'The Wind Blew Them All Away'. The simplicity of the instrumentation suits the lyrics perfectly. The song merges both music and words endlessly. It is simply the turning point of the entire album.

'Evermore' is where I got to feel a slight change of direction, if not completely; in the way 'The Whirlwind' was flowing. And it's a great one indeed. There seems to be a certain kind of contrast between that old school TRANSATLANTIC and the brand new one. It keeps the essential and yet it reveals the freshness of the band's renovated genius that flies throughout up to the very end of this masterpiece.

'Is It Really Happening?' and 'Dancing With Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (Reprise)' are two very enjoyable tracks, so rhythmical and greatly arranged. They've got all the pianos, guitar riffs and drumrolls you've been expecting to get in return for patiently waiting nearly ten years. The bundle has got keyboards played marvelously by Neal MORSE, a guitar department managed superbly by Roine STOLT, the passionate bass work displayed in the hands of Pete TREWAVAS and the signature thundering performance of Mike PORTNOY on drums. Nothing more to ask for in here.

So, it was worth the wait. 'The Whirlwind' has now become the cornerstone to devoted and new TRANSATLANTIC fans. All in all, the album deserves a standing ovation for the effort, the passion and lyricism altogether. It already ranks high among my personal favorite top prog rock albums of all time and I'm pretty sure it will stay there unarguably.

Report this review (#1451664)
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars The positives are that overall this is a good album, it's epic, meandering and bombastic, with a sprinkling of pompousness. It changes moods and has it's fair share of catchy hooks and quiet moments. It's well produced and recorded and has long moments that you can lose yourself in, which for me is why I like Prog in the first place. It also isn't trying to recreate and rehash old Prog music from the past, which so many current prog bands do, basically because nice middle aged, middle class people want them to. The music nods to a number of different influences, which you can plainly hear, but doesn't plagiarise.

The inescapable fact is that it is strongly influenced by Neil Morse, who many people either like or dislike; he's a rather polarising figure. If you're familiar with the other members of the band, you can hear their influences on the Morse based infrastructure of the music, like their leaves on his tree, if you'll pardon the pretentious analogy.

Having listened to a lot of Spocks Beard and Neil Morse, I have become slightly weary of his blunt didactic lyrical style and his reliance on familiar musical themes and styles - a la Gentle Giant etc. You can almost predict the little motifs such as da da da, da dada da. Got me? :-) There is absolutely no doubting his fantastic ability on the keys. He has a good voice, but again, he doesn't vary much from his usual repertoire.

I happen to enjoy Pete Trewavis' bass and vocals and also Roine Stolts guitar, although Roine's playing can be a little predictable and the wah wah pedal is often overused. Portnoys drumming is the usual high standard and his enthusiasm is palpable; I like him a lot. I listened to the album many times, which is in itself a good sign, IMHO. I also bought the dvd, which is great, even though Morse is highly annoying a lot of the time, and seems full of his own importance and not a little pious.

The lyrics are... well....erm.. acceptable. As usual the lyrics are full of references to "The Light" and the "epic struggle" of blah blah, and swamped in hyperbole, and contain the de rigueur, half hearted anti establishment/ anti bankster references to try to stay current and inclusive.

While there is no doubting Morse's religious fervor and enthusiasm, a few of the other lyrics sometimes miss the mark because they don't always appear sincere. However, this isn't uncommon amongst Prog artists these days and clever, poetic lyrics of a really high standard are rare and often with current Prog bands (or any other type of band/ musician), they are just there to break up and punctuate the music. This is fine if that's what you're looking for, but for me, I am looking for more.

It's not groundbreaking and it's nothing new and it even comes across as a bit rushed at points, but it's a good album by some very good musicians and I'd definitely recommend it.

Report this review (#1452159)
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2015 | Review Permalink
2 stars If I may be so presumptuous as to first add a note on my opinion of supergroups in general : The only supergroup I was really ever truly impressed with was Asia. The combination really worked and I still have that album as part of my cherished collection. However..... in spite of many other supergroups which have appeared on the scene for a brief period, I haven't yet come across another one which really works. Somehow - to my ears at least - and regardless of past achievements of individual members, supergroups just never seem to gel properly, and in spite of the musical prowess these four have previously demonstrated in their respective 'other' bands I find Transatlantic to be no exception. I've tried to like them to the point of buying 3 of their albums including this one, and have listened to them all several times but something just doesn't cut the mustard.

In terms of musicianship I can't really fault this as it's as good as anything else out there and I particularly like the slightly restrained and tasteful guitar work from Mr Stolt. There are no Petrucci-esque type solos played at 1000 miles per hour on here and everything Stolt does on this album is done tastefully and with grace, but not with speed, so if you're looking for a kind Dream Theater mk II, forget it because 'you wont find it here' (unintentional pun there - think about it..! ) . There's lots of lovely acoustic work and some nice vintage sounding electric guitar work and overall I have to admit to being very impressed with the guitar skills demonstrated on this album.

The bass sound is awesome too - punchy, clear and quite toppy and the playing is superb. Quite upfront in the mix too which works for me.

Keyboard sounds are many and varied and as with the guitar very vintage sounding which is again a plus in my old ears.

Then we have Portnoy - what can I say..? The guy is a superb skin basher and he doesn't disappoint on this. Drum and bass synchronisation and chemistry on this album between Portnoy and Trewavas is very fine indeed.

The big disappointment for me - and it is huge enough to knock 3 stars off the rating in my opinion - is in the vocals. Both in the quality of the actual singing and the lyrical content which is at best cringeworthy. In fact it's downright bloody awful. Perhaps if they had kept religion out of the subject matter I might not have been so cruel about it but I find the concept of having someone elses religious beliefs rammed down my throat to be distasteful in the extreme, and especially on an album which I've paid for with my hard earned cash and where I am in effect a member of a captive audience. Very poor show on that front.

In conclusion : despite the great musicianship I find that I really just can't listen to this album without cringeing so it doesn't get a place on my playlist and I've sold my CD copy of it on ebay. 2 stars only. :(

Report this review (#1593043)
Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Transatlantic is a supergroup formed for legends of progrock scene and this album shows the evolution of band, for me the best of all. One song divided for many sections is so hard for a composer to mantain of atmosphere of composition. Ride for a core melody in the keys of master Neal Morse and the contribution of others there are a variety the sections, but constant. Transatlantic is like many groups in one; in this album specially DT Spock's Beard and TFK; my objection is the poor vocals of Pete Trewavas. This album sounds so different of previous of the group, no only for the big epic, but for the creativity inspired in this.
Report this review (#1673396)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've listened to the album a couple of times, but before writing this review was the first time I sat down, put on a great pair of Bose headphones, and paid close attention. I literally am questioning my existence right now, while a bunch of flashbacks run through my head. I swear I'm not high.

This album is stupendously, ridiculously beautiful. The lyrics may seem abstract, but they give you a direction so you can attribute meaning to a lot of the content. And, if you do it well, it will do the job waaay better than 10 self-esteem boosting books. You're not alone, and it's up to you to take out the most of your life while you're here.

Alright, now let's talk about the instrumentation on this little beauty: as astounding as the lyrics. Literally, it is one big song divided into twelve parts, and under no circumstance one shall start if from somewhere other than the first track. The recurrence of themes, the instruments and equalisations so carefully planned as to what was going to be where sounding like how is so good I lost track of time and the tracks on what, I believe, was still the first part/song.

The quartet of Transatlantic was the perfect fit for this masterpiece, and the musicianship is really hard to top here. Portnoy knows exactly when to go nuts, and if it should last one or sixteen bars. Neal Morse's voice here gets close to the one of an angel, given the context of the album. Trewavas' bass hits you really hard when it needs to, and smoothly goes to the background when it's time. To top it all, Stolt's guitar sounds like Genesis 2.0: trippy, yet full of solid riffs and perception of the others.

Seriously, after writing this I'm heading straight to, for having this in physical copy has just become a top priority. I hope it hits you like it did with me. Sit down, grab your best headphones, concentrate on the music and you tell me later.

Report this review (#1844464)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars The supergroup, Transatlantic, has quite the impressive line up when it comes to its performers. These are all musicians that have played in other neo-progressive bands. You have Neal Morse from 'Spock's Beard', Mike Portnoy from 'Dream Theatre', Roine Stolt from 'The Flower Kings', and Pete Trewavas from 'Marillion' performing together on this album. So, you would expect a lot of great music from this, wouldn't you? Lots of amazing keyboards, guitar, bass and percussion, with plenty of meter changes, mood shifts, dynamics and everything else you expect in a typical neo-prog band. So how does everything work together in this record? I must say that it's rather straightforward and a good rock album for the most part, but it definitely isn't challenging.

I obtained this CD several years ago while working for a music store chain. As usual, I was interested in everything progressive, but I knew I didn't particularly like Neal Morse's vocal delivery in most cases with 'Spock's Beard', so I wasn't really that interested in buying it. But since this was a demo that was sent to the store, and since it was a practice to give away promos to employees a year after they were received by the store, I was happy to snatch this one up. Since this time, I have determined I am not really a huge fan of Transatlantic, though their music is definitely progressive, I have a hard time with it feeling like the music is just too forced, too predictable, and not really authentic.

The album itself is a double album, with the first CD being made up entirely of the 77 minute title track, which is a suite divided up into 12 tracks. Now that's ambitious, isn't it? The first track consists of the 'Intro' and the title track 'Whirlwind' combined into one track. The 'Intro' has everything you would expect, some great (but short and undeveloped) solos, meter changes, and so much else going on. It sounds great on paper, but there is a lack of development in all the short sections. The hope here, right off the bat is that this is like many other Intros to other epic works, basically a preview of themes and etc. that are going to be going on throughout the suite. If that is the case, then this is all understandable. You can easily tell when 'The Whirlwind' section of the track starts, because things immediately fall into an simple 4/4 meter with a simple, straightforward feel and the vocals start off almost immediately. This main theme continues through the rest of the track. Pretty much what you would expect so far.

'The Wind Blew Them All Away' is a straightforward rock song, albeit, it is decent with some great soloing, but there is nothing really groundbreaking that stands out here. It's just a good rock song. 'On the Prowl' begins with a good keyboard-led section, with a jazz fusion feel. Soon a nice guitar/violin call and answer section starts up, and it develops into exactly what you expect. The vocals start eventually, but again, it's what you expect it to be, nothing extraordinary, just some good musicianship. The same basic feel continues through most of 'A Man Can Feel', just bright rock, but we do finally get into a minor key during the last half, which is a welcome change, but it's short lived as the next song; 'Out of the Darkness', sounds like a pop song.

This basic pattern of straight forward rock/pop, with some nice solos, pretty much describes the rest of the first CD. It's good rock music with some good solos and a few short sections that approach prog-iness (like 'Evermore' and the 2nd half of 'Is It Really Happening?') which are always over much too quickly, but not much more than that. Not a lot of emotion really, more like a job that has to be done out of necessity. By the time you get to 'Evermore' you realize that this is actually Christian rock. Oh yeah, a lot of the lyrics are corny'.'You got to lay down your life/Like rain in Spokane/You got to fall through the sky.' (?????) As far as the suite overall, it's got some great moments, but they are far overshadowed by the many weak moments. Except for the last track, there is not a lot of emotion in the vocals either. But that last track is just a lot of pageantry that goes on far too long. I can just imagine the people at their concerts with one hand raised in the air, rocking back and forth slowly. I often wondered why no one has thought to put a pane of glass in front of them, put some glass cleaner in one hand and a cleaning rag in the raised hand and Presto! have your windows washed.

The 2nd CD has 4 original songs and 4 covers. 'Spinning' starts off the original songs, with a duration of 9 minutes. The vocals on the first section are corny and unmistakable Pop. The 2nd half of the song is instrumental and much, much better. It is obvious that the strong suit of the band is the instrumental sections. It's a shame that the vocal sections are so annoying. If you pay attention, you will notice the snippets of Grieg's 'Peer Gynt Suite: Morning Song'. Next is a 4 minute song called 'Lenny Johnson', a story-song about a loner. I guess this is their 'Eleanor Rigby' or something. Pretty much a straightforward song. 'For Such a Time' comes next, more acoustic driven, a somewhat religious, soft rock song. 'Lending a Hand' is a boring 8 minute mid tempo song that goes nowhere for 8 minutes with some Beatle-esque harmonies in the choruses.

The second half of CD 2 is all covers. It starts off with Genesis' 'The Return of the Giant Hogweed'. This is quite an ambitious song to cover on an album that has been fairly mediocre up to this point. The adaptation is pretty faithful, the vocals are a bit stronger than the original sung by Peter Gabriel, and it sounds a little more updated, but other than that, it doesn't add or take away much. Okay, my wife just said this song is annoying, so there you have it. The next cover is 'A Salty Dog', a beautiful song originally done by Procol Harem. The cover is once again, quite faithful to the original, but I do prefer the vocals on the Procol Harem version, and that mysterious feel of the original is missing. Other than that, it's good. 'I Need You' is the next cover, but it is actually 2 different songs with the same name, on done by America and the other by The Beatles, specifically George Harrison. They should have just left this one off altogether, it's absolutely pointless and its Boy- Band awful. Last of all is a cover of Santana's 'Soul Sacrifice'. Again, it's faithful to the original, but therein lies the problem. This was originally a song meant for improvisation, and as such, it is a shame to make it sound so polished and perfect. Yes it's amazing that the band can keep up with it, but if you are going to do a cover of an improvised song, then improvise it. Otherwise, your cover is pointless.

So, overall, this is a good rock album. There are some excellent moments, most of those are in the instrumentals, but there are also bad moments. This is far from an essential release, and for the most part, it is not very progressive. Emotion is lacking most of the time and it is more rock oriented, and as such, it's a good Christian rock album. But that is it. 3 stars.

Report this review (#2011322)
Posted Friday, August 31, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars For a band that has unashamedly composed prog epics of unmatched length, they leave no doubt at the start of this 77-minute epic that you're in for an epic of epic proportions... ;-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#2439397)
Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | Review Permalink

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