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On disc: Beyond The Bridge

The Old Man & The Spirit - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars

The Old Man + The Spirit

The Old Man & The Spirit
(Frontiers Records - 2012)

Beyond The Bridge is presenting their debut album The Old Man & The Spirit, a progressive metal album. The septet started in 1999 under the moniker Fallout, but what started as a school band was put on hiatus when the band members visited universities allover Germany. In 2005 the creative core - and original members - guitarist Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg and keyboarder Christopher Tarnow started working on this conceptual album. Guitarist / keyboarder Simon Oberender works as an engineer in Wolfsburg and was involved in the productions of e.g. Avantasia, Edguy, Epica and Kamelot. After demoing during pre-production the band started recording in 2008, it took them quite awhile to finish recording.

The concept? This is what the band posted about the story at their homepage:

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 a coherence, for the meaning of his life in the maelstrom of transciency.
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.

Musically they are more based in progressive metal, but show a prog rock edge here and there. But when you listen closely you'll find references to other genres. So you'll find similarities to bands like Savatage, Dream Theater, Angra, etc. The keyboard opening passage of Triumph Of Irreality has a Savatage-esque edge and after a brief Dream Theater-like part they head again in a Savatage-like passage. When Dilenya Mar joins in with spoken words the song changes and afterwards goes into a Symphony X-ish part. But even if you can name several bands to describe the sound, they create their own sound out of it. Dilenya Mar has a powerful voice and her warm timbre makes her differ from most female-fronted bands. Especially in combination with her counterpart Herbie Langhans it sounds just great. At World Of Wonders it's Dilenya Mar's voice which will enchant you. Let them carry you away into their World Of Wonders. At Doorway To Salvation they storm off with heavy riffs combined with keyboards. After the almost thrashy riffage they stop dead and Dilenya sings a cappella and when Herbie Langhans joins in the band is back to head deeper into this complex tune. As the song are quite long they have enough space to vary, to embed different sounds and elements in their compositions. After The Struggle they change direction with The Difference Is Human, was the first showing the struggle and so had a chaotic edge, the later is slower, more melodic and bombastic. But again, you have to listen to The Old Man & The Spirit to get picture!

I highly recommend this album to all prog rock / metal fans! Everybody with an open mind and a love for great melodies and a cool story should check out Beyond The Bridge! I just hope they won't need as long as for a follow up as they needed to realize this one!

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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