Thursday, 22 August 2013

Duel with The Devil (Transatlantic, 2001)

This epic, taken from "Bridge across Forever", the second album of the supergroup Transatlantic, is a five movement suite, probably one of their best compositions and performances and, IMHO, one of the best from any prog group of the 21th century. In a way, it's a very traditional prog epic, with all the most common ingredients of this genre in it: tempo changes, instrumental progressions, rock riffs, atmospheric ridges, epic lyrics, complex arrangements, returning melodies and so on. But it's a new and fresh song too, the real fruit of a cooperative work involving all the band members and full of joy, emotions, surprise and energy. That's why it can't possibly get old or trivial.

Transatlantic are, left to right, Pete Trewavas (Marillion & more),
Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theater), Neal Morse (ex Spock's Beard)
and Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Kaipa & more).

As those musicians are among the best ones in the current prog rock scene, when they work together and they share so many good ideas as in this suite, the outcome is simply stunning. "Duel with the Devil" is a challenging piece of music, with slow and fast movements and ever changing moods, also open to some jamming-born passages. So, classically ruled tunes follow jazzy, wild sections and also the instrumentation is unusually rich for the band, with additional violin, viola and cello by Chris Carmichael, Keith Mears' sax and even the charming Elite female choir. An abundance that never becomes confusion or musical pastiche, a variety that prevents tiredness and boredom.