Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beyond The Bridge – The Old Man And The Spirit



I gotta be completely honest with you.  I started listening to this release and thought it was just going to be a perfunctory listen, just so I could tell Racer that I had given it the once through but didn’t really care for it.  But a funny thing happened.  I got through the whole album, no small feat because it is a long release, and had to listen to it again.  And then I listened to it again the next night.  Before you know it, I’m writing this review.  So I guess you could say that I dig this release.

Beyond The Bridge is a new project from Peter Degenfeld and Christopher Tarnow.  Unless you’re really into European metal those names probably don’t mean anything to you, but trust me, these guys know what they are doing.  They write some really interesting and infectious songs, stuff you will be humming to yourself and find bouncing around in your head for days after you listen to this.
This is progressive metal, and I would add that there is certainly a symphonic flair to it.  And it’s a concept album, so when you put together the phrases “progressive metal concept album”, you might understand my first paragraph and my original apprehension over the album.  But it works pretty well.  To quote from the press release, the concept deals “with the polarity of human sensuousness and superhuman awareness”.   The Old Man in the title is “a bon vivant who has lived through all the highs and lows of human sensations”.  The Spirit is “the personification of all wisdom and awareness that is unachievable to mankind but that lacks the ability to feel”.   They are voiced by a male and female singer respectively.  I’m not sure what that all means, but the end result is some great music, and that’s all we care about, right dear reader?

There are a couple of absolutely beautiful numbers on this album.  “World Of Wonders” has a great melody and lyrics, and is of the aforementioned tracks that will stick with you.  The other purty track is “Where The Earth And Sky Meet”.  Both of these are great ballads and great examples of songcraft.  I really enjoyed them.

A couple other tracks that really stood out for me are “The Triumph of Irreality” and “Doorway To Salvation”.  Again, extremely well written music that really does make you feel, make you think, and does all of the things that music should do.

In all, the album is just very professional and well done.  Being in the progressive genre, you get your fair share of the “wheedly deedly” moments when the guitar player or keyboard player just can’t fight the urge to spray a barrage of notes out into the ether, but those moments do not dominate and most of the playing is restrained, especially for this genre.  For me this would be the perfect album to have in the middle of your CD changer on a road trip, mixed in with some heavier stuff, just to break things up.  You can just drive and just feel the music, and later on in your hotel room you’ll be humming something from this album, I guarantee it.  Unless you’re gonna do some hookers and blow that night.

 --ODIN



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