Rating:
N/A
Beyond The Bridge - The Old Man And The Spirit
20 January 2012


01. The Call
02. The Apparition
03. Triumph Of Irreality
04. The Spring Of It All
05. World Of Wonders
06. The Primal Demand
07. Doorway To Salvation
08. The Struggle
09. The Difference Is Human
10. Where The Earth And Sky Meet
11. All A Man Can Do
12. All A Man Can Do [Orchestral version] [Japanese bonus]


In loving memory of Simon Oberender

Even though Beyond The Bridge's debut has been out since the beginning of the year, I didn't check it out until this month. The thing is, while all reports on The Old Man And The Spirit promised a proggasm, the words such as "epic" and "ambitious" popped up in every single one and that was a bit off-putting. Mr. Epic and I have had nothing but bitter arguments for a long while because I can't put up with his tediousness anymore. Now he puts salt in my coffee when I'm not looking, and I only make my side of the bed. I was too leery to approach him again.

Well, screw all that. I got over it and I'm glad I did, since Beyond The Bridge fucking slays. The only way you can make sure everything sounds this effortless, laid-back and easy is to work your ass off on it - and indeed, the album's been in the making for several years. That's why it doesn't sound like a debut at all.

Sure, the music is as classic prog metal as it can possibly be. Got an item in your prog metal shopping list? This band's already got it in their cart. But I keep thinking they know something I don't, because, instead of an awkward I-heard-this-before-feeling their variant of the genre is almost certain to give me, I'm getting vibes of warmth. A Christmas tree in red and gold decorations in front of a fireplace, a warm cup of tea and a good book, a summer's night out with an acoustic guitar and a bunch of good friends - that's how it feels. A prog metal band attempting to transition from a dynamic, intricate verse melody to a stretched-out, uplifting chorus more than once throughout the album has a chance of falling face-first into "unconvincing"-territory, but Beyond The Bridge pass with flying colors. A prog metal album where a ballad about making peace with your human destiny followed by a musically tense closer where the drummer gets a chance to shine is present would leave me yelling: "You're not Dream Theater, just stop it right there!" The Old Man And The Spirit brought me a nostalgic tear.

I hope it won't be taken as a slight to the rest of the band when I say the two vocalists absolutely steal the show. The Spirit, trained jazz singer Dilenya Mar, sounds angelic enough to convince you she's a divine apparition, but her voice also contains a mischievous quality (and the cutest German accent ever!) that comes into play when her character reveals her true intentions. The Old Man, Herbie Langhans, sounds more like The Tall Dark Handsome Romantic Interest, but I'll handle the discrepancy gladly to hear a singer that awesome. They often sing "against" each other, and what's remarkable is that, where other bands would come up with one vocal line, these guys and girl come up with two catchy ones which only gain value when you combine them.

The concept deals with The Old Man's slightly Faustian dilemma of, in short, whether or not he should give up his humanity to gain knowledge. The story could have a better pace and perhaps even clearer character motivation, but it is engaging, captivating and each of the scenes is wonderfully painted - just like the album, the story unfolds right in front of your eyes and it is a sight to behold and cherish. The Old Man's decision that no knowledge and satisfaction is worth giving up the memories of his one true love is a great twist in the original myth and it reminds us of an important truth, the answer to the age-old question of what is truly important in life. It's not something we've forgotten, on the contrary - it's something we all claim to know and live by, while rotting away behind our screens looking at cute cat pictures. I know I needed that reminder. What about you?


 



Written on 28.09.2012 by
Milena
A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.
More reviews by Milena ››



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The Voyager - 28.09.2012 at 03:55  
I remember thinking this album was actually sort of disappointing and uninteresting. Maybe I should revisit.
Lit. - 28.09.2012 at 06:03  
I've been seeing this around, but I haven't paid attention to it too much. Maybe I should find time for this.
Frodd - 28.09.2012 at 09:56  
Looks good.
BloodTears - 28.09.2012 at 13:02  
I need to check this out. I've been meaning to do that, but for some reason never did.
tea[m]ster - 29.09.2012 at 01:08  
I remember this...barely if at all. I can't comment until I hit replay. Milena, thanks for the review.
Dark Blood - 29.09.2012 at 21:39  
After reading your review I went straight to their website to have some taste of what this sounds like, and I must say I really liked it. The voice and chorus work seems really nice. I'm definitely checking this one out. Thanks for the review
Dentura - 01.10.2012 at 06:05  
Nice review, this is pretty sad actually that Simon is gone now. I thought his keyboard work was exquisite and divine, most especially in "A World of Wonders", which already moved me deeply even before I learned of his passing. RIP.
Milena - 01.10.2012 at 12:34  
Thanks for the comments guys. Since this is not out of the front page yet, I kind of wanted to post a piece of an interview that clarifies Simon's role in the band a bit - he was more than just a live player, he helped out with everything else:

"Frank: In keeping with the tone of you producing your own records as well, do you think that bands, nowadays, should have a hand in their production, or do you see the role of a separate producer as being important?

Peter: Well, I think that the producer role is one of the most important things. Actually, we didn't produce it - Simon (Oberender) produced it.

Christopher: Without Simon, this wouldn't have been possible at all. He was very important for the project.

Peter: Before, we had all the weight on our shoulders. Simon came in and suddenly, we could split all the responsibility into three people. Simon not only recorded and produced it, but he helped out with finding a label. He had all the connections to the business scene. We are newcomers in this business, but Simon already had a foot in the business. So, in that sense, he helped a lot. He also knows all the technical details about little things like making a movie or designing a web page, which he does together with Christopher.

For my part, I feel that the most important thing about the producer is that he has good ears. Good ears. When you're in the studio as a musician, and you played the last eight hours, the producer is the one that says, "No, that's still not good enough. Do it again." The producer takes a lot of responsibility, which you cannot take as a musician because you're playing. He is outside the playing part, and that's real important. Having good ears and making good decisions. That's what Simon was there for and he's good at.

Christopher: And he's still important! While we sit here and speak, he's sitting in our hotel room and preparing our keyboard backup. He still does a lot for us.

Frank: Does he play live with you as well?

Christopher: Yeah. He switches between keyboards and guitars.

Peter: Because we want to put him in the spotlight, not back there in the studio, so he's part of the band AND the producer. "
qlacs - 02.10.2012 at 20:20  
I've heard a couple of songs online, but i wasn't impressed. Maybe I'll give another try
Blackhand - 10.10.2012 at 23:41  
Need to check this out!
Felipe04sm - 14.11.2012 at 19:57  
This album has good songs. However I missed originality.
Rhiannon - 13.03.2013 at 14:16  
I agree with the review, great album, which doesn't sound like a debut at all. I don't listen to much prog, but to me they sound quite similar Dream Theater in some songs. I liked the two vocalists too.

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