And what a grand, extraordinary work of art Beyond the Bridge has created. it’s in the realm of Dream Theater, Phantom Of The Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, and (without all the guest stars), Ayreon’s The Human Equation, Aina’s Days Of Rising Doom and Avantasia’s The Metal Opera I & II. They combine ’70s prog rock, ’80s thrash elements and classical orchestral arrangements and blend them all extraordinarily well.
Beyond The Bridge is the brainchild of guitarist Peter Degenfeld and keyboardist Christopher Tarnow. The members of the band are classically-trained and are very accomplished musicians. The production has a warm and organic sound. The drums are crisp, the guitars are crystal clear, the bass is audible, and the keyboards and other instruments are accented magnificently.
The Old Man And The Spirit consists of two acts with 11 tracks at over an hour long. The vocals are emotional and highly discernible. The story equals the music, similar to a cinematic opera. It’s dramatic to say the least.
There’s two main characters: “The Old Man,” played by male vocalist Herbie Langhans, and “The Spirit,” played by female vocalist Dilenya Mar. The duo interpret the story through singing, spoken word and a combined choir on the choruses. The vocals mix well with the music’s overall mood and atmosphere. The story unfolds naturally and the cinematic mood of the songs segue seamlessly into each other. It’s like a great book that you just can’t put down.
“The Spirit“ is “The Old Man”’s guide through the album and the answer to all of his questions. The listener can interpret the story in their own way due to the ambiguous lyrics, which can lead you where you think you should go. And, you’ll ultimately be satisfied with where you end up. The music and lyrics are reflective, vivid, emotional and cinematic — you can easily envision a movie unfolding before you. You’ll be on the edge of your seat like in a darkened movie theater awaiting the next thrilling moment that happens to the character in the movie you’re watching.
Human awareness is the theme in the first song, “The Call.” “The Old Man” character’s peace of mind is disturbed by the urge to know life’s secrets — the meaning of life, birth and human existence. Musically, you can feel a confrontation brewing. The extraordinary and spine-chilling call and response vocals between the duo vocalists in “The Struggle” is a great strength the band uses.
The Old Man And The Spirit is an ambitious release, to say the least. If you have the time to read the lyrics and allow yourself to be fully engrossed in the story, then it will be an even better listening experience. Hearing the disc through headphones is also highly recommended.
The Old Man And The Spirit will appeal to progressive, symphonic and general metal fans, as well as people who appreciate great music. In this day and age where time is valuable and our short attention span competes with our daily lives, something such as this release is most appreciated. For a band to create art such as this — to take the time to craft, create and render every fine detail like a well-crafted vintage automobile or a beautiful woman — is very commendable.
(released January 24, 2012 on Frontiers Records)