Band Website: www.transatlanticweb.com
Label: Radiant Records/Metal Blade
Release Date: 2009
Well unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years you’ve undoubtedly heard tales of the supergoup Transatlantic made up of members from The Flower Kings, Marillion, Dream Theater and Spock’s Beard. The quartet made up of Roine Stolt (electric guitars, vocals, percussion, Mellotron, Mini-Moog, soundscapes), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals), Pete Trewavas (bass, vocals, synth, orchestration) and Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitars, percussion) released two warmly received studio albums in 2000 and 2001 and then disappeared off the map. That is until recently when Morse who was working on a music demo and felt it begged to be a Transatlantic project. He contacted the others and they all jumped at the chance to make another CD. And from that we have The Whirlwind, and what a CD it is. Hang on to your hats because in my books this is as majestic as symphonic prog can get.
The Whirlwind is essentially one long piece of music that clocks in at just over 77-minutes but of course it’s made up of 12-parts that include an overture off the top and the reprise at the end. The individual song segments range in length anywhere from 2 to 12 minutes with most of them around the 6-minute mark. There really is no point in dissecting this track by track mainly because if you know the music of early Spock’s Beard, and Flower Kings or the other two Transatlantic discs you will be well familiar with what to expect here. The music is as I stated at the top a classic symphonic prog in the modern style. It’s melodic and yet allows for plenty of off-kilter moments through-out. Huge bass-peddle crescendos or massive Mellotron swells of music are followed by soft and subtle acoustic moments as each musical idea falls into the next. Musical sections that rock are next to segments sway and meander; the longer pieces allow for plenty of soloing that at times takes on a kind of jazz-fusion feel. Throughout Morse and Stolt trade off taking the majority of the lead vocals and their keyboard and guitar parts are constantly trading moments in the spotlight. Songs will build in intensity until they are whirling along at a fever pitch only to morph into something completely different at the drop of a hi-hat drum beat from Portnoy. Throughout the proceedings the solid bass from Trewavas working together with Portnoy provides a rock solid foundation. What can I say….I just love this group.
Fans of Transatlantic no doubt already have this disc in their collections. Most were waiting in line to pick it up, but for the many others out there who are new to the genre or haven’t yet sampled the delights of Transatlantic I strongly urge you to grab hold of The Whirlwind and don’t let go. It’s a classic and I highly recommend it.