Inside Out (2014)
Από τον Χρήστο Καραδημήτρη, 19/01/2014
With a unique chemistry that Heisenberg would be jealous of, Transatlantic create yet another masterpiece and deserve to claim the throne of prog
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I’m not quite sure how many people really understood what Transatlantic achieved with their latest, 2009, album "The Whirlwind". In a nutshell, they created the ultimate progressive rock album of our times. I’m talking about the progressive genre that was labeled some decades ago with all its pure elements, not by means of diversity and innovation. Transatlantic never claimed that they re-invented the wheel with their music. The only thing they did was master their art and they simply set the bar ridiculously high for any other contestant. And know with their fourth studio album "Kaleidoscope" they only have to prove they can keep up with the quality of the music they’ve made so far.

Well, it only takes one listen to answer that, so you just give them a tip of the hat and stop worrying about such things and instead you can just relax and enjoy the ride. Because, that’s what every new album of Transatlantic is about; It’s about the journey, it’s about the epic long tracks and the various little pieces of music that you discover every time you follow the flow of the music. It’s about the beauty of it all. And "Kaleidoscope" is nothing but beautiful.

The opening track "Into The Blue" clocks about 25 minutes, which surprises no one, and is a trademark Transatlantic song, with the big intro, the big keyboard melody and the epic feeling of classical progressive rock music. Neal Morse is the leader as he takes the listener to yet another spiritual journey on "The Dreamer And The Healer" part, while Roine Stolt takes the spotlight on "A New Beginning" which is groovier. The real surprise comes with "Written In Your Heart Section" and specifically on the 17th minute when the magical voice of Daniel Gildenlow creates a moment of unparallel music. Neal Morse leads to a grand finale in a song that every fan of progressive rock will love.

"Shine" is clearly the most accessible song, in the vein of "We All Need Some Light" led by Neal Morse’s acoustic guitar. It’s one of these lovely songs that everyone will sing along to during their upcoming tour. Also, the guitar solo is simply stunning, possibly the finest moment of Roine’s guitar all over the album; and trust me his work is stellar.

"Black As The Sky" is the most diversified track on the album, really proggy, up tempo and seems to have been the outcome of improvisation. Vocally, Roine is the leading person here, but the structure is based on Pete Trewawas bass lines, Mike Portnoy’s amazing drumming and crazy time signatures with Neal’s keys adding the perfect color. Overall, it’s a unique track of amazing beauty.

"Beyond The Sun" is Neal’s work alone. Music  wise it seems like the continuation of the title track from "Bridge Across Forever" as it’s Neal’s vocals with some piano, cello and pedal steel by his friends and long time associates Chris Caramichael and Rich Mouser. Lyric wise, it could be the continuation of "Rose Colored Glasses" from "The Whirlwind" as both songs are inspired by the passing of Neal’s father and talk about the afterlife.

Finally, the title track is the blueprint of the album, its finest moment and an epic song that only this band could deliver. It’s almost 32 minutes long and contains some of the strongest melodies they’ve presented. After the big "Overture" intro, Neal presents his "Ride The Lightning" section which is simply wonderful with a vocal melody you want to sing out loud on the chorus. Then it’s Roine’s turn with "Black Gold", before Pete takes the leading role for the first time in the album with a relaxing and beautiful soul searching section "Lemon Looking Glass". "Desolation Days" is one of my favorite parts on the whole album, with a catchy melody and "Lemon Looking Glass" is yet another fantastic instrumental part, before closing of the "Ride The Lightning" reprise.

Each and every member of this band is a chapter of its own in the book of modern prog, but the true magic about Transatlantic is that the outcome is bigger than the sum of its parts. They seem to have a unique chemistry that even Heisenberg would be jealous of and they deliver yet another album that should be considered as a classic rock gem rather than just another progressive rock masterpiece. Neal is the most important prog musician of our times next to Steven Wilson, Roine is one of the most underestimated musicians out there, while Pete is one of the most reliable bassist in rock music, truly one of a kind. Then, Mike Portnoy is the director, the man that runs everything, the one that pulls the strings, the reason this all is happening and the one who knows how the final product has to be.

True, this music is not for everybody but if someone resonates with it then he’ll find these moments that will touch his heart and soul as Neal claims. Each time Transatlantic release a new album, progressive rock music celebrates and "Kaleidoscope" is no exception to that. It’s a new masterpiece and the first real contestant for the best album of 2014. It comes out early in the year, but I’m curious to see who is up to the challenge...