Transatlantic - The Whirlwind

12 songs
77:54 minutes
***** **


It was a glorious time in 2000 when Transatlantic was formed as a super-group whose line-up was a true who-is-who of progressive rock. Led by Neal Morse who would soon leave Spock’s Beard and Roine Stolt of Flower Kings fame, the quartet was completed by Marillion bass player Pete Trewavas and Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. Their impressive debut SMPT:e was followed one year later by the equally fascinating Bridge Across Forever, and that was it so far. Some live records and demo compilations followed, and the musicians were more than busy in their respective projects. Neal Morse started a solo career, releasing lots of CDs with long songs and also some Christian material that alienated him from some of his fans. Roine Stolt alternated between Flower Kings and his earlier, reformed band Kaipa. Pete Trewavas seemed underemployed with Marillion and co-founded the additional prog super-group Kino. Mike Portnoy must have been in too many bands to mention.

Their third album The Whirlwind has promised to become something really grand, namely a seventy-eight minute long epic. Dream Theater started the trends of exceedingly long compositions with the forty-two minute monster Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence in 2002. Porcupine topped that this year with The Incident running at fifty-five minutes. Too bad a CD can contain only so much music, or Transatlantic might have created something even bigger.

The problem is that The Whirlwind does not really feel like one track, but like a suite of twelve different pieces with sometimes recurring motifs, but that’s about it already. As an album, this is not really bad, but let’s not forget that Morse as well as Stolt have released hours and hours of similar sounding music during Transatlantic’s hiatus, so that the final result doesn’t really sound groundbreaking or original. Of course there is a lot of space for instrumental excellence, but when all is said and done, The Whirlwind sounds like a crossection of Morse’s American tinged prog sound and to a lesser degree Stolt’s Swedish Seventies roots. Lots of memorable melodies turn up all over the place, and it’s especially the instrumental escapades that ease the tension, but that’s definitely not enough to elevate this to the top of the artists’ combined discographies. It’s still a solid effort of very retro sounding progressive rock, and those who liked the first two albums should not be disappointed.

Fans had better get their hands on the special edition that comes with an additional one hour bonus CD featuring four unreleased songs and four cover versions by Genesis, Procol Harum, The Beatles and Santana. The luxury edition furthermore contains a DVD with a making-of documentary.

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