Beyond The Bridge - The Old Man And The Spirit review
|Band:||Beyond The Bridge|
|Album:||The Old Man And The Spirit|
|Release date:||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 A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.|
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