Top critical review
Nice melodies, but does not resonate with me
on February 1, 2016
The music on this 2000 release is very cheery, uplifting stuff. It’s completely over-the-top stadium rock mind you, but still undeniably happy and bubbly. Although I tend to gravitate towards the darker stuff, the tunes on this debut had me humming and tapping my foot. I generally thought the album was OK – after all, it’s nice to have some mindless optimism once in a while.
The members that comprise Transatlantic come from other groups including the heavy metal group Dream Theater (drummer Mike Portnoy); the neo-prog/soft adult contemporary rock outfit Marillion (bassist Pete Trewavas; and the neo-prog/stadium rock groups Flower Kings (guitarist Roine Stolt) and Spocks Beard (singer/keyboardist Neal Morse). I generally like Dream Theater and Marillion, but don’t care much for either the Flower Kings or Spocks Beard.
The overall sound of this album is very much in line of what you might expect from 1996-2000 era Spocks Beard – yes Neal Morse is all over this album. There is an overly long 30-minute song-cycle that kicks the album off, along with a power ballad (We all Need some Light), another shorter track “Mystery Train” and a cover of the old 17 minute-long Procol Harum tune “In Held ‘Twas in I”. Neal Morse wrote most of the music, with Roine Stolt contributing the 16-minute track My New World.
Melodies are everywhere. This is the one thing that keeps me coming back to this album. The musicianship is also really good, although I think Mike Portnoy overplays sometimes. Then again, he lends the music some serious “punch” and “oomph”. The lyrics are atrocious and much to my horror, Roine Stolt is allowed to sing on one tune, with Mike Portnoy sneaking in some terrible backing vocals on the last track. They probably should have just let Neal sing on the whole album.
The sound quality on this album is fantastic, as is the production quality. The CD comes with a color booklet with lyrics, some photos of the group playing, and the recording credits.
All in all, this is a well-recorded album played by professional and seasoned musicians. I generally liked the melodies and the overall “cheeriness” of the album. The music, however, does not really resonate with me – I prefer an artier and darker sound.