The more senses involved, the more likely you’re to attract attention. An album cover can often say a lot about a band. We live in a world of brands. As much as we claim individuality, gold chains tend to be associated with rappers and long-haired males with metal. Looking at the cover for BEYOND THE BRIDGE’s The Old Man and The Spirit, i immediately thought prog rock or metal. In the midst of a cracked wasteland, a man stands in thoughtful pose, staring at a tall staircase that leads to nowhere. There’s obviously a story here which the band is sure to tell.
BEYOND THE BRIDGE, the German storytellers, are classically trained musicians who formed in 1999. Remarkably, this rock opera is their debut. Remarkable because it’s a skillful tackling of the ambitious concept album. Through the variation of Seventies prog keyboards, symphony and heavy metal, a male (The Old Man) and female vocalist (The Spirit) enact through spoken word, singing and chorus choir. He is the questioner. She is his guide.
Musicianship is awesome. It’s not just the appropriate use of off-time signatures but the fact that every instrument is given its due. I’m also relieved that they never fell into the trap of using too much keyboards. With vocals and instruments given succinct space, there’s layered cohesion. My sole criticisms are that i couldn’t always hear the vocals and they should have delivered a bit more of the catchiness expressed in the song ‘The Struggle’.
Favourite tracks are ‘The Struggle’ and ‘The Triumph of Irreality’, which display the different faces of BEYOND THE BRIDGE, and ‘All A Man Can Do’ which combines them.
The Old Man and The Spirit is a good introduction that’s sure to be welcomed by fans of Ayreon, Avantasia and Dream Theater.