Friday, May 09, 2014

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Review: Transatlantic - Kaleidoscope (2014)

Artist: Transatlantic
Album: Kaleidoscope
Year: 2014
Label: Radiant Records

Review: Diego Camargo

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Thoughts: This review could not start any other way without me telling how I got to know Transatlantic and why my expectations are always high when they release a new album.

I discovered the band back in 2005 when, by accident, I found their second album Bridge Across Forever (2001) in a CD shop. I didn’t know anything about this band, but I knew Mike Portnoy and I also knew that an album with only four songs two of which were 30 minutes long had to be at least interesting. I bought the CD and I was hooked! After that I had to wait four long years for a new album by the super group. It was worth waiting and when The Whirlwind (2009) was released I bought the special edition without even listening to a single teaser before.

Five years later the group formed by Neal Morse (solo, Flying Colors and ex-Spock’s Beard), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings and ex-Kaipa), Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Neal Morse and ex-Dream Theater) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion and Edison’s Children) was ready to release another album.
Much expectation and speculation surrounded their new album Kaleidoscope (2014). In an interview I did with Neal Morse in 2012 (read it HERE) he mentioned that he was trying to get the band back together to record another album, it took almost 2 years but here it is!

My version of Kaleidoscope (2014) is the special one with extra CD and DVD, but I’ll focus my review on the main disc.
Kaleidoscope (2014) doesn’t try to repeat The Whirlwind (2009) formula that was so successful, instead the band went back to the Bridge Across Forever (2001) period. Here we have 2 long songs and 3 short ones.

The opening track is the responsibility of the epic ‘Into The Blue’ and its more than 25 minutes. The intro of the song (‘Overture’) emulates the opening of ‘Duel With The Devil’ with the Chris Carmichael cello (yes, the same Chris that played on ‘Duel’).
The track has all Transatlantic’s trade marks: heavy drumming, guitars full of style and melody, brilliant and frantic bass lines, vintage keyboards that tie everything down and lots of different parts in the same suite.
An interesting fact to notice: after so many years having Daniel Gildenlow (Pain Of Salvation) as a back-up musician in the live gigs they finally invited him to participate in one of their records, nothing more fair. He sings in the fourth part of the suite ‘Written In Your Heart’.
I have to admit that despite the fact that the music is indeed fantastic, Neal Morse’s lyrics bother me a bit because he ends up preaching a bit (even if he does it in a subtle form). But overall, the track is one more epic with Transatlantic’s trade mark and signature on it which is always a good thing to have!


The second track (and first single of the album) ‘Shine’ is a track that could be easily fit in Neal Morse’s new solo album, the difference here is that Roine Stolt and Mike Portnoy sing on it. My favorite part is definitely Roine’s vocals always full of soul and with interesting delivery, just the same as his solo guitar on the song.
Then comes ‘Black As The Sky’ and this one is what I would call ‘Transatlantic classic’. It has a strong theme in a concise and with a powerful chorus (clearly wrote by Stolt). Probably this is my favorite track on Kaleidoscope (2014)!
Unfortunately, the track that gives continuity to the album is ‘Beyond The Sun’. I said unfortunately because this track is absolutely weak and in my opinion should have never be included in the album.

Fortunately, the next track we have another great epic, this time with the title-track ‘Kaleidoscope’ and its almost 32 minutes.
Once again the band hit the spot with themes that stick to your head and with choruses that you can sing-along  with, but at the same time you have what every Progger that buys a Transatlantic album wants: a little bit of challenge when you listen to their music.
The low point on ‘Kaleidoscope’ comes in the fourth part of the epic ‘Walking The Road’. After a part that reminds Pink Floyd we have Pete Trewavas vocals, Pete is a brilliant bass player but honestly he should stick to the backing vocals that he does so well. As a main voice Pete just doesn’t have it!
But all in all, the result in the end is just great!

As I mentioned before, my version is the special one and brings the main disc plus a CD and DVD bonus, thing that is already normal in new releases. Mimicking their previous albums the bonus CD is filled with covers only. As the previous bonus discs the band released all versions are faithful to the originals and very well played as expected. This time the band covered Yes, ELO, Procol Harum, Elton John, Steve Marriott, Focus, King Crimson and The Moody Blues. It’s a great bonus CD! The DVD, also as in the previous album of the band, brings the making of from the recordings of Kaleidoscope (2014), also the video clip for ‘Shine’ and some footage of the Prog Awards 2013. For me the DVD is absolutely great. I just love documentaries and making of’s.

Kaleidoscope (2014) is an album that doesn’t break any barrier (they’re not really trying anyway) in the superb discography of Transatlantic but the album also owes nothing to any of their previous albums.
Kaleidoscope (2014), in fact, is a breath of quality to a musical world that every week releases dozens of mediocre Prog Rock albums, most of them inspired in a fashion where the music seems to come directly from some Pop FM radio instead of actually Prog Rock artists.

The bonus CD and DVD only make Kaleidoscope (2014) more interesting. Buy the special edition!
This is certainly one of the great releases of 2014!

The band was included in our Podcast #37 and you can listen the song 'Black As The Sky' HERE.

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