Without further ado I can state here that the 5th Transatlantic album The Absolute Universe is an absolute masterpiece, and I can already label this album as the best prog rock album of the year 2021!!
The Absolute Universe is an unusual album as there are actually two versions of this album: The Breath Of Life, which is the abridged version, and Forevermore, which is the extended version, and it is remarkable that the The Breath Of Life is NOT an edited version of Forevermore. No, you can hear and marvel at different approaches of the songs, some songs even got fresh lyrics, some tracks are sung by different guys and some of the song titles have been changed. Compositionally some of the songs were altered and revamped to make the two versions different and more interesting to the listeners; this has actually never been done before!!
The Absolute Universe is a concept album, actually being one giant song split into chapters and the storyline deals with the day to day struggle all people nowadays have in every society; in short: The Absolute Universe deals with the craziness of the year 2020, so also with the impact of the horrible corona virus. Musically this amazing album really reminds me of The Whirlwind (2009, see review), but the main difference is that Roine Stolt's awesome guitar work defines this album and takes it to another, higher, musical level. Stolt's guitar solos, melodies and hooks are out of this world here; just listen to his irresistible guitar howl in the Overture or his amazing solos in Owl Howl and The Darkness In The Light. The World We Used To Know could almost be a Flower Kings song with classic Stolt melodies and solos. These aforementioned songs really give me the shivers every time I listen to them and I cannot get enough of it, so I must admit I am hooked on The Absolute Universe....
Other musical highlights - in fact there really are NO fillers here - are: Higher Than The Morning (very catchy chorus), Solitude (sung by bassist Pete Treweras) and Love Made A Way, a song where you can hear all the Forevermore musical themes once more.
This is actually one of the best prog rock records I have ever heard as no one plays like Transatlantic really!! To sum this album up I would say: dramatic, bombastic, brilliant, awesome, immense, bright, dark, expansive, vibrant, very ambitious and HUGE; in other words: utter bliss, I LOVE it. I would like to end my review with a quote from drummer Mike Portnoy about The Absolute Universe, being: “Absolute Universe will be any prog fan's wet dream!!”, I could not agree more!!
***** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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