Beyond the Bridge
The Old Man and The Spirit


4.5
superb

Review

by KJ Swantko USER (33 Reviews)
June 21st, 2012 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A spectacular prog-metal debut.

Progressive metal has fallen-off in recent times; what was once a boundary-pushing and at least moderately-exciting genre has become about as exhilarating as sitting and watching grass grow. It’s played out; boundaries have been pushed and most of the reasonable limits have been reached. The vast majority of prog metal bands today revel in the glory of wanking themselves into oblivion while offering little of substance to the listener. Finding a unique band that’s doing something fascinating is becoming more difficult with each passing year. Every once in a while though a rare band surfaces that injects some life and personality into the scene; seven-member group Beyond the Bridge is one such band.

An export of Germany, BtB do progressive metal the way it’s meant to be done- with an emphasis on songwriting while sporadically sucking their own dicks just enough for people to recognize the extraordinary talent they’re hearing. Absent are the dizzying, practically computer-generated time signatures, tempo shifts, and key changes often serving little-to-no musical or artistic purpose. As a result, the songs don’t feel forced which gives the album an aura of authenticity. It feels natural. Along with this more conservative approach, BtB have a male and female vocalist structure (Herbie Langhans and Dilenya Mar). Songs like “World of Wonders” (featuring Mar’s soothing, angelic voice) shine the spotlight on one of the vocalists while most other tracks have them both combining in brilliant harmony. This changing dynamic adds variety and identity to the album which helps prevent it from becoming stale.

One listen to BtB and the obvious comparison is to Dream Theater; luckily, Beyond the Bridge rarely cross the threshold into gaudiness and sounding like they’re trying too hard. Their virtuosic abilities are unmistakable, yet the story-like lyrical content, powerful chords and duel-vocal harmonies allow the group to do what most bands in the genre can’t- maintain interest throughout the duration of an entire album.

On the negative side, the album’s production is similar to Dream Theater’s Systematic Chaos which leaves a lot to be desired; the drums are rather flat and poppy with little depth, while the record itself also lacks atmosphere. With that said, the bland production is easily overshadowed by the top-notch songwriting, unique duel-vocal system, and simple-but-effective melodies. Beyond the Bridge bring all the amenities we’ve come to expect in stellar fashion: unpredictable twists & turns in the songs, piano work, heavy tracks with driving riffs, softer tracks displaying vocal skill, melodic solos, and a taste of nearly everything else fused in along the way.

All in all, The Old Man And the Spirit flows so smoothly that the song changes often aren’t noticeable if one isn’t paying attention to it. The eleven songs perfectly fit together like a puzzle. Beyond the Bridge’s debut is one of 2012’s best so far and should be regarded as a manual in properly-done progressive metal for our era. When it comes to prog metal, these classically-trained musicians get it.



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user ratings (32)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
KjSwantko
June 20th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What's good, friends? Highly rec this if you're into this style.

Willie
Moderator
June 20th 2012


16186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I just couldn't get into this. I listened to it for months trying to get it to click and move past a '3'. There are a lot of cool things going on in this album, but also some definite cheese.

Digging: Moonspell - Extinct

KjSwantko
June 20th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm really surprised at that, Willie; I find most progmet to be boring nowadays but found this one to be exceptionally good from the first listen. Dif'rent strokes for dif'rent folks I guess.

Willie
Moderator
June 20th 2012


16186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It was really good. That's the thing, but there just enough 'weird things' that didn't sit right with me that I never wanted to come back to it. I did anyway, just to see if it could grow on me. I could definitely see fans of Dream Theater and Fates Warning getting into this.

KjSwantko
June 20th 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not much of a progmaster anymore, but honestly this album rules in comparison to most in the genre nowadays. I'm blown away 3 of the 5 people so far only rated it a 3. Never the less, Cheers and enjoy, brotha!

Apollo
June 20th 2012


10379 Comments


good review man, you have come a long way since you joined the site. have a POS

may check this out

jybt
June 20th 2012


348 Comments


I can't say I enjoyed what I heard of this. The songwriting is weak, lacking cohesion and any particularly standout moments, the musicianship doesn't stand out either, and the vocals don't gel with the music; I liked the conceptual structure, but the music didn't support it well. This review is better-written, in all honesty.

KjSwantko
June 21st 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ jybt, as evidenced by my last two 2 reviews, clearly we have different taste when it comes to prog met. Never the less, your opinions and constructive criticism are appreciated. Cheers!



@Apollo, thanks.

AsoTamaki
June 21st 2012


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Aw, man. It's always a bad sign when a new prog-metal band gets compared to Dream Theater. The male-female vocalist thing seems interesting though. Will check it out for that.

MichaelSnoxall
June 21st 2012


12163 Comments


These guys are better than Dream Theater. Dream Theater are terrible.

Willie
Moderator
June 21st 2012


16186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

They've definitely got a DT vibe going on, but it's more old-style DT.

KjSwantko
June 21st 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Aw, man. It's always a bad sign when a new prog-metal band gets compared to Dream Theater. The male-female vocalist thing seems interesting though. Will check it out for that."



....Listen to the album; the obvious comparison is to DT. But yeah check 'em out, Aso.



"These guys are better than Dream Theater. Dream Theater are terrible."



...agreed, except for some of the old DT like Images & Words and Awake. That stuff is still legit.

TheNotrap
June 21st 2012


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"...should be regarded as a manual in properly-done progressive metal for our era."

Humm, this sounds great man, will check it asap. Have a pos.

Digging: Melechesh - Enki

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2012


4466 Comments


You've convinced me to check this out. I do love my servings of Prog.
good stuff. POS'd!

TheNotrap
June 21st 2012


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

All a Man Can Do is such an awesome song. Very enjoyable debut.

KjSwantko
June 21st 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Capt, I suppose this is the beauty of music- we all have our opinions.

MO
June 21st 2012


19301 Comments


good review man, but I heard this wasn't too great, will check it

HorrorBusiness78
June 21st 2012


111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm a huge fan of Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos, and early DT style prog metal, so this immediately appealed to me. So far it's my favorite release of 2012, the writing and performances are very impressive. Excellent review, I agree with pretty much everything stated. Pos'd.

KjSwantko
June 21st 2012


9448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, I'm surprised more people don't think it's a stellar album. And thank you, sir.

AsoTamaki
June 21st 2012


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A lot of this was very good. Definitely get the DT comparison, but it reminded me of Shadow Gallery more than anyone else. Everything from the guitar riffs, use of keys, types of vocal melodies, and even the way it flows conceptually. The vocals were strong from both singers. I liked how the female vocals were mostly limited to the softer songs and sections. Seemed as though her voice suits that best. It's nice they played to each other's strengths rather than them just trading lines or making sure everything was split evenly.



My only real criticism is that from "The Struggle" onward, the music wasn't that great. Kind of lost interest from there until the final track came on. I think this should get better with repeated listens though (assuming the story concept was well written). I didn't pay all that much attention to the lyrics.



Also, @Willie & Horror: I don't see why this would appeal specifically to a Fates Warning fan. No similarity whatsoever to any era of that band. What made you mention that?



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