At the time of the release of The Whirlwind (2009) no-one would have expected that it would take Transatlantic five years to create another progressive rock gem, but yet it happened! Most prog heads were waiting for The Whirlwind, part 2, but that didn't happen. Kaleidoscope is Transatlantic's fourth album; it contains 75 minutes of prog and features five new tracks. The band still consists of Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Whinery Dogs), Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard), Pete Trewavas (Marillion) and Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and the music on this new album hasn't changed either, although some fans were afraid it has after listening on-line to the new video single Shine.
Kaleidoscope features two epic pieces being Into The Blue and the title track, and three shorter songs. Shine will already be familiar with many fans. Well, this is a decent but not a spectacular track. It opens with sitar sounds and the best part of this melodious prog song is the breathtaking guitar solo of Roine Stolt. As far as I'm concerned Beyond The Sun is a real disappointing track as it is a typical Neal Morse piano ballad, just like the other utterly boring track Bridge Across Forever (2001), from the second album with the same name.
The epic piece Into The Blue, however, is a classic prog gem. It's divided into five parts of which Written In Your Heart − with the lead vocals of Daniel Gildenl÷w (Pain Of Salvation) − is the most remarkable part. The song is dominated by the emotional vocals of Morse, the electrifying guitar parts of Stolt and the band's already familiar melodies and arrangements. Lyrically this song is the most religious one on Kaleidoscope and again I have some troubles with Morse's 'preaching'. Black As The Sky is an almost straightforward rock song that reminds me of Mystery Train from Transatlantic's debut album SMPT:e (2000). It has an extremely catchy chorus sung by all four band members.
Last but not least, you can enjoy what I consider to be the best track of Kaleidoscope, namely the epic title track which lasts just over 31 minutes. What can I say about this piece? It's sheer amazing music containing great melodies, instrumental passages and lots of twists and turns. The combination of the voices of Stolt and Morse is very nice to listen to; it really adds an extra dimension to the music. I think the highlight of this piece is the instrumental part called Lemon Looking Glass, which turns into a master class of progressive rock! Please, play it loud!
Conclusion: although the music of Transatlantic hasn't changed that much and the band obviously tends to repeat itself, Kaleidoscope is a great prog album; just skip Beyond The Sun, and you have another classic Transatlantic album. Please check out the 2CD Special Edition which contains eight cover songs from Yes, ELO, Procol Harum, Elton John, The Small Faces, Focus, King Crimson and The Moody Blues. Unfortunately I didn't receive this bonus disk together with the promo, so I didn't have the chance to listen to these covers yet.
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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