Label : Frontiers Records

Review by Tony Cannella

“The Old Man and the Spirit” is the debut release from the German Progressive Metal band Beyond the Bridge. Beyond the Bridge really swung for the fences on this one and has released one of the more ambitious debut‘s I’ve heard in a very long time. Beyond the Bridge features duel male/female vocals performed by Herbie Langhans and Dilenya Mar. “The Old Man and the Spirit” is a concept album (it seems like we’ve been seeing a lot of them lately). The story goes something like this taken from the bands web site: “The album “The Old Man and the Spirit” deals with the polarity of human sensuousness and superhuman awareness. The latter is embodied by the character of the Spirit. She is the personification of all wisdom and awareness that is unachievable to mankind, however, lacks of the ability to feel. Her opponent, the character of the Old Man, is presented as a bon vivant who has lived through all highs and lows of human sensation. Steadied by his old age, he searches for a sense, for coherence, for the meaning of his life in the maelstrom of transiency. As the story unfolds, the Spirit convinces the Old Man that there is no way for Man to overcome the limits of human perception. They can only be transgressed with the help of the Spirit’s wisdom. Aware of human curiosity, the Spirit offers to answer all of the Old Man’s questions – in exchange for his experiences and feelings. A high price, as they are inseparably connected to the Old Man’s memories”. So, sounds interesting enough – if somewhat complex, but you can have the greatest concept ever, but if you don’t have songs to match, than it doesn’t mean much. Fortunately, Beyond the Bridge has the songs, musicianship and song writing to make “The Old Man and the Spirit” a hugely enjoyable debut. Musically, I would describe them as a cross between early Dream Theatre and Arjen Lucasson’s Ayreon project, with a touch of John Arch era Fates Warning thrown in for good measure. The duel male/female vocals are well done. The male has sort of a rough metal voice (Andi Deris of Helloween comes to mind as a comparison), whilst Dilenya presents a soaring, passionate and heartfelt delivery on the songs. Right from the start, the opening track “The Call” really grabbed my attention, with its mix of heavy guitars, prog overtones and melodicism. Herbie Langhans is the main vocalist here. The 8-minute, “The Apparition” is up next and starts off with some middle-eastern style music and a male narration as the song proceeds to get heavier. On this song, the listener gets their first taste of Dilenya’s vocals as she performs an excellent duet with Herbie, choir like background vocals are also heard on this track. Other highlights include: the instrumental “The Triumph of Irreality”, “World of Wonders”, “The Difference Is Human”, “Where the Earth and Sky Meet” and the closing 9 ½ minute epic “All a Man Can Do”. There are several songs in the 7-9 minute range and they never get boring, Beyond the Bridge manages to keep things interesting throughout their over 1-hour debut. “The Old Man and the Spirit” is like a musical journey that succeeds on so many levels. The thing that I found interesting and cool about Beyond the Bridge, is that yes, while they will be thought of as progressive metal, they also mix in elements of power metal and more straight-forward and simplistic songs combined with more complex progressive music. There is also none of that over-the-top musicianship that is so often associated with Progressive Metal. With “The Old Man and the Spirit”, Beyond the Bridge has given progressive metal a shot in the arm that the genre needs. I can go on and on but ultimately it’s up to the fans and the metal community at large to give Beyond the Bridge a listen and decide for themselves.

Rating – 93/100

 

Tracklist

  1. The Call
  2. The Apparition
  3. Triumph of Irreality
  4. The Spring of It All
  5. World of Wonders
  6. The Primal Demand
  7. Doorway To Salvation
  8. The Struggle
  9. The Difference Is Human
  10. Where the Earth and Sky Meet
  11. All A Man Can Do

 

Line Up

  • Herbie Langhans – Vocals
  • Dilenya Mar – Vocals
  • Peter Degenfeld – Guitars
  • Christopher Tarnow – Keyboards
  • Simon Oberender – Keyboards & Guitar
  • Dominik Stotzem – Bass
  • Fabian Maier – Drums

 

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