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Transatlantic The Whirlwind album cover
4.07 | 1036 ratings | 101 reviews | 43% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

- The Whirlwind:
1. Overture / Whirlwind (9:54)
2. The Wind Blew Them All Away (6:10)
3. On the Prowl (6:03)
4. A Man Can Feel (6:35)
5. Out of the Night (4:22)
6. Rose Colored Glasses (7:54)
7. Evermore (4:10)
8. Set Us Free (5:03)
9. Lay Down Your Life (5:11)
10. Pieces of Heaven (2:17)
11. Is It Really Happening? (8:11)
12. Dancing with Eternal Glory / Whirlwind (reprise) (12:04)

Total Time 77:54

Bonus disc from 2009 special edition:
1. Spinning (9:58)
2. Lenny Johnson (4:20)
3. For Such a Time (5:23)
4. Lending a Hand (8:43)
5. The Return of the Giant Hogweed (Genesis cover) (8:26)
6. A Salty Dog (Procol Harum cover) (4:59)
7. I Need You (America / The Beatles cover) (4:39)
8. Soul Sacrifice (Santana cover) (10:00)

Total Time 56:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Neal Morse / vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitars, percussion
- Roine Stolt / vocals, electric guitars, Mellotron, Minimoog, soundscapes, percussion
- Pete Trewavas / bass, VST synth, orchestrations, vocals
- Mike Portnoy / drums, finger snaps, vocals

- Marc Papeghin / French horn
- Chris Carmichael / strings
- Colin Leijenaar / finger snaps
- Henk Doest / finger snaps
- Jessica Koomen / finger snaps

Releases information

Artwork: Per Nordin (blimp) with Roine Stolt (logo) and Thomas Ewerhard (design)

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 319 (2009, Europe)

2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMSECD 319 (2009, Europe) Sp. Edition w/ bonus disc including 4 original songs and 4 covers (originally performed by Genesis, Procol Harum, The Beatles and Santana)

The main album, while indexed into twelve tracks, is considered by the band one song.

Thanks to Amarok for the addition
and to Prog Network & NotAProghead for the last updates
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TRANSATLANTIC The Whirlwind ratings distribution

(1036 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(43%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

TRANSATLANTIC The Whirlwind reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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 70īs). 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 Spockīs Beard (never one of my favorite bands).

Well, Iīm 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. Itīs 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. Stoltīs 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). Morseīs 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 Harumīs A Salty Dog does not work that well. I guess it would be asking too much to duplicate Gary Brookerīs terrific interpretation (though they do try!). the mix of Americaīs 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 Santanaīs classic Soul Sacrifice, a fine showcase of everyoneīs 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!

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Zitro
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.

Review by J-Man
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.

Review by russellk
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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by progrules
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.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
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.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by TheGazzardian
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.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by m2thek
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.

Review by lazland
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.

Review by Chicapah
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.

Review by Gerinski
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.

Review by Muzikman
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.

Review by Prog-jester
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
Review by lor68
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!!

Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by 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.

Review by Andy Webb
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.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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. Itīs been 8 years since the release of the bandīs 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 Spockīs 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 itīs Neal Morse (Spockīs 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 wonīt 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 thatīs not really what Transatlantic are about. They are pretty much satisfied with paying tribute to their 60s and 70s heroes and itīs hard to argue that they donīt do that very well albeit in a polished and "safe" fashion. A 4 star (80%) rating is warranted.

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by Neu!mann
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Warthur
5 stars The return of Transatlantic in 2009 with The Whirlwind, an album-long prog symphony in some twelve parts or so, was perhaps just as surprising as their original hiatus. The project had gone into hibernation back in 2002, when Neal Morse quit it (and Spock's Beard), declaring that he felt a calling to make more explicitly religious-themed work and he didn't think it would be right to drag those band projects down that same rabbithole. Whilst Spock's Beard was able to solider on with a reconfigured lineup, Transatlantic was explicitly constructed as a supergroup of four personalities, and so didn't feel they could keep going without Neal onboard.

However, Neal's departure was not as final as it might have first appeared. For one thing, there was an extra dimension to Neal's decision which hadn't been widely aired at the time, though it would eventually become more generally known: his young daughter had been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition, which had apparently corrected itself. Such an incident not only explains why Neal felt an intensifying of his religious feelings (because he attributed this recovery in part to prayer), but clearly would have given him ample reason to dial back on band projects with significant touring requirements associated for the sake of spending more tame with the family.

The passage of time would eventually cure Neal's need to distance himself from band projects; in his solo career he would not only put out a range of prog albums which combined his distinctive musical approach with various Christian themes, but also had a little cottage industry going when it came to putting out more straight-ahead worship music. Furthermore, as the years passed and his daughter's health troubles were more firmly in the past, perhaps it became easier to contemplate doing the odd Transatlantic project and tour, with the immediate need to spend as much time as possible together as a family being alleviated.

In retrospect, there were clues all along that Neal wasn't 100% done with Transatlantic. For one thing, Mike Portnoy of the band had also performed drums on all of Neal's solo prog albums, so it's not like he was out of contact with the rest of the group; for another, during his solo career he had been producing a steady trickle of cover versions of mostly secular songs (compiled on the Cover 2 Cover series), so it's not like he felt every single musical endeavour he turned his had to had to be 100% exclusively Christian-themed. Moreover, Roine Stolt of Transatlantic has worked in some Christian themes into his music here and there - such as on The Flower King solo album which provided the seeds of the Flower Kings project to begin with. Transatlantic might not have been the right project to do entire concept albums explicitly based on Biblical stories or Church history, but the other musicians are hardly the sort you'd expect to toss their instruments down and leave the studio in a huff if there turned out to be a religious theme here and there in the music.

As it stands, 2009 feels like it was the perfect time for a Transatlantic reunion to come together. Neal's prog solo albums were for the most part pretty solid, but listening to Lifeline - his last prog solo album before this reunion occurred - I can't help but think he might have been running a bit short of ideas, and so pivoting to a band-based project might have been the perfect opportunity for Neal to recharge his prog batteries, with collaborators to both propose their own ideas and to help refine his own.

Roine Stolt, meanwhile, had just put the Flower Kings on hiatus after wrapping up their 2008 tour commitments, and wouldn't come back to that project until 2011. Marillion had put out Happiness Is the Road in the previous year and were finding their creative reserves a little tapped - they'd do the Less Is More album of acoustic rearrangements of existing material in 2009, and then take some three years to bring Sounds That Can't Be Made to fruition - so Pete Trewavas wasn't so busy with the day job that he couldn't come around for bass. As for Mike Portnoy, he hadn't officially left Dream Theater yet, but they had completed what would turn out to be their last studio album with him, and when he did leave in the following year he cited enjoying other projects more than he was enjoying Dream Theater himself.

Clearly, then, the weather was blowing in the right direction for the good ship Transatlantic to set sail again, and this return voyage turns out to be a real treat. On Bridge Across Forever the band had found a sound in which their different musical personalities were all finding expression and which by and large sounded like its own entity, rather than "Spock's Beard By Other Means" as their debut album, SMPTe, sometimes came across. Neal Morse takes the bulk of the lead vocals, but hasn't pushed Roine Stolt out entirely here - rather, Roine is given those sections which his voice better does justice to, so both of them are playing to their strengths in that respect. In return, there's a better demarcation of duties when it comes to guitar: Neal is handling acoustic, Roine is on electric, which means that Roine's presence is better expressed (because any time you hear electric guitar - and there's some great solos there - it's Roine). Meanwhile in the rhythm section, Portnoy and Trewavas let rip with their particular skills, providing the engine which really gives the album a sense of forward motion.

As far as the overall composition goes, it sounds like another Neal Morse long piece in structural terms, but that's fine - Neal's always been a dab hand at structuring these things, and whilst there's moments here and there which sound a little bit like a Neal-ism, there's just as many which sound like a slice of the Flower Kings. More to the point, whilst parts sound like something you could imagine Neal contributing to the stew, none of it entirely sounds like his solo career, despite half the band being key musicians on those solo albums. If Neal was being the "big picture" guy here, taking everyone's contributions and fitting them into a framework, it's worked out just fine, because the mosaic that results sounds distinctly different from the sort of thing he'd cook up by himself whilst still having his fingerprints on it.

Thematically, you can certainly still pick up some of Neal's religious convictions if you've a mind to, but it's not as front and centre as in his solo work. Sure, his solo work is often very unsubtle on this point - but here he's not giving any explicit thoughts on church doctrine or delving into particular incidents from the Old or New Testaments, it's more the sort of material you might hear any cosmically-inclined, slightly hippy-ish prog band wheeling out where you can probably track where the lyricist's head was at when they wrote the words, but they're more interested in expressing broad universal themes than getting into specifics.

I've spoken a lot about Morse in this review, but that's largely because his decision to first leave Transatlantic and then come back to the project hangs so heavy above the project. As it stands, The Whirlwind ends up being the best sort of supergroup project, in that it simultaneously clearly makes best use of the strengths of the various contributors and allows their different personalities to be felt within the music, but at the same time it becomes a whole greater than the sum of its parts, producing music which shows the trademarks of all the contributors but at the same time doesn't quite sound like the sort of thing any one of them would produce on their own.

Of all the members of the group, Morse is the one who had been most immersed in producing stuff on his own rather than in band projects in the time since Bridge Across Forever, so it's gratifying to see him moving smoothly back into a band project and finding new ways to express his particular compositional style whilst at the same time embracing the opportunity to work with collaborators as equals. As far as the band as a whole goes, this really sounds like they haven't missed a beat; had Transatlantic stuck together after 2002 and produced a new album instead of Neal going off on his solo career, I can't imagine them producing something much better than this.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nš 760

Transatlantic is the best example of a super-group to me, with four very talented musicians from four of the greatest progressive rock bands ever, Dream Theater (Mike Portnoy), Marillion (Pete Trewavas), Flower Kings (Roine Stolt) and Spock's Beard (Neal Morse). And I'm a huge fan of all these four bands and of the four musicians. But this doesn't mean necessarily a guarantee of the quality of Transatlantic. However, Transatlantic isn't, for sure, one of those failed experiments. It was proved before with two previous amazing studio albums, albums that are branded as two classics.

"The Whirlwind" is the third studio album of Transatlantic and that was released in 2009. It's available in three formats, a standard traditional edition, a double disc special edition and a deluxe edition, which is mine. The standard traditional edition has the main album, while indexed into twelve tracks, "The Whirlwind", which is considered as only one song. The double disc special edition, in addition to the main album, has a bonus disc that includes eight studio recordings, four original Transatlantic's songs and four cover songs. The four cover songs are "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed" from Genesis, "A Salty Dog" from Procol Harum, "I Need You", a song that is a combination of America's and The Beatles and "Soul Sacrifice" from Santana. The deluxe edition, beyond the main album and the bonus disc, contains also a DVD. This release of "The Whirlwind" is probably the version that most fans will desire, and that it will be by a very good reason. The DVD contains a rather lengthy and very insightful journey with this super group. Namely, it tells that Roine Stolt, Neil Morse, Pete Trewavas and Mike Portnoy as they reunite and go about recording this new Transatlantic's album. All over the DVD, we can clearly see that they have an amazing chemistry between each other.

"The Whirlwind" is a concept album divided into a twelve part epic, running just about seventy-eight minutes. It deals with ecological and political issues. The full piece has some recurring themes, both lyrically and musically. Lyrically, there are a lot of references to the wind in most songs, while musically the themes of the album appear on it at different times and in different forms. The concept is more difficult to grip than many usual concepts. For instance, it's easy to find out the concepts behind "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", "Scenes From A Memory", "2112", "The Wall" or "A Thick As A Brick". It revolves more around the struggles faced in live, not just in ours, but in other lives too. Many running themes that will pass the album are the whirlwind, the ship and the lives that are affected by the whirlwind.

One of the greatest advantages of this album is that the concept is split into twelve parts, making some of the songs more accessible and easier to listen to. That was some elements that were missing from the other two earlier studio works, with tracks sprawled between ten minutes and a half an hour. The balance between the vocals and the rest of the band also improved. Morse and Stolt share their vocal duties equally and the four musicians bring more highly complex instrumental works into each track. This became an important advantage that was gained in the making of this album.

Musically, the album arising with an orchestral introduction, the customary cool prog instrumental arrangements follows and the Transatlantic sound returns as they used to serve us. There are many fine musical arrangements here, which combine vocals and instrumentation that sound wonderfully. Subtle musical references to symphonic prog rock legends like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and Pink Floyd are audible and recognizable here. However, fans of The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard and the solo albums of Neal Morse will also love this album. The craftsmanship of these four musicians is outstanding and the compositions are even better than those on their previous albums. There are many fine arrangements that combined with the vocals of the chorus sound wonderful. "The Whirlwind" has ample twists and turns to maintain your attention, with their enthralling musicianship Transatlantic have again given us a fine release.

Conclusion: Many improvements were made on "The Whirlwind". The album is more accessible, better balanced and laid a great foundation for the concept to lie on. None of these elements were so well contained in the past two studio albums. So, "The Whirlwind" is a better album than its predecessors. Transatlantic isn't an everyday band, but a group of extraordinary and accomplished musicians who have come together to do what they do better and record the kind of prog music that they and their fans like. So, give to "The Whirlwind" the time to be perfectly digested as it deserves. Albums like these are the reason why I love prog. So, this new Transatlantic's album deserves an inclusion in your prog collection. Just to finish, I need to write some more few words about the disc two. As I wrote above, the second disc is actually a bonus disc. It's one half originals and the other half is covers. I personally enjoyed it, but it's just only a nice bonus disc to the really impressive first disc. I particularly enjoyed the cover songs on it. It's always a pleasure to hear such songs performed again in a more modern way, as a tribute to so many great bands and musicians from the past.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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5 stars Multinational and highly respected progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic releases an album in 2009 after their most acclaimed "Bridge Across Forever", the band took a whopping 7 year hiatus, and finally, dropping not only a new album but the longest epic in progressive rock history. 78 minut ... (read more)

Report this review (#2501387) | Posted by ComaEcliptic | Tuesday, February 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Roine Stolt, Neal Morse, Pete Trewavas and Mike Portnoy are great musicians, but being great musicians doesn't guarantee great music. The Whirlwind is 78 minutes of lifeless, boring music. If you don't fall asleep listening to it, about 56 minutes in you get the suggestion of a hook when the mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#2453394) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Friday, October 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 in ... (read more)

Report this review (#2439397) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1844464) | Posted by guiservidoni | Thursday, December 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 an ... (read more)

Report this review (#1673396) | Posted by nandprogger | Wednesday, December 28, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 sup ... (read more)

Report this review (#1593043) | Posted by LunarSea | Sunday, July 31, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1452159) | Posted by BillyWhizz | Wednesday, August 12, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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 s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1238964) | Posted by The Ace Face | Friday, August 8, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 c ... (read more)

Report this review (#993947) | Posted by JCDenton | Wednesday, July 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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, ther ... (read more)

Report this review (#951196) | Posted by AlohaAwesome | Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#905091) | Posted by MarkGregory | Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 (bo ... (read more)

Report this review (#904107) | Posted by wehpanzer | Friday, February 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#800985) | Posted by appudds | Monday, August 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 u ... (read more)

Report this review (#771411) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#637858) | Posted by MattGuitat | Wednesday, February 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#566667) | Posted by sussexbowler | Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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