December 22, 2012 by Beldrac
Beyond the Bridge – The Old Man and The Spirit
Genre: Progressive Metal
There have been many bands that have followed, or tried to follow, Dream Theater’s specific brand of Progressive Metal. To my experience they usually fail on either of two accounts: the music is dull and through trying to be progressive become predictable, or they sound too much like Dream Theater but don’t come close to matching their skills.
Beyond the Bridge’s album “The Old Man and The Spirit” steers well clear of the first failing and on the second…well they do it well enough for me to love this album for its similarities but never feel that they’re just copying. The resemblances are sometimes uncanny and I often found myself thinking (for example) “Jordan Rudess would’ve done something very similar right at this point.” I’m specifically reminded of the “Metropolis Pt.2”-period of DT which i.m.o. was when they were at the pinnacle of their career.
My drawing of such comparisons should by no means be an indication that this is just a rehash of music that’s been made before; if you’re looking for better description of a specific style of Progressive Metal, “Progressive Metal from Germany” is the best I can give. There are a few great German bands playing this brand of Prog and this album is up there with the best of them. It’s very melodic and soulful, but also thoughtful, grandiose, and powerful in the guitar and keyboard solos, whilst always retaining a sense of elegance (and so once again, the same attributes of said DT album.)
Concept albums are very popular in the Prog scene and Beyond the Bridge present us with a dialogue between (as the title suggests) “The Old Man” – questioning his continued existence on this plane – who calls on “The Spirit” for an answer. The vocal duties are shared between male and female and both Herbie Langhans and Dilenya Mar deliver stand-out performances, supporting them is a large choir which adds to the sense of grandeur – though somewhat subdued – that you’d expect when conversing with a spirit.
The overall mood of this album is very pensive but positive and I won’t spoil the story that plays out over eleven tracks by saying too much. The structure of the songs on the album is varied and the tempo slows down in the middle, with the excellent and soulful “World of Wonders” at the epicenter, to return to the fast and technical stuff. The lyrics are very well written and there’s much to be enjoyed in the music too, I often find myself focusing on one or the other, but the whole really is excellent. Everything about the album screams professionalism, the production is clear and well balanced, but also delivers when a little more gusto is needed.
I haven’t heard many good Progressive Metal albums this year and “The Old Man and the Spirit” is the one I’ll gladly recommend to anyone looking for a good album to engage the senses while pondering the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
(Tragically, one of the band members, Simon Oberender, passed away a few months ago, but a in a short message on their website the band pledges to create at least one more album.)