Transatlantic: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

The progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic played the last concert of their Absolute Universe tour in July 2022. The group have hinted that it might be their final tour, so it’s possible that their studio catalogue might remain as the five albums they’ve recorded between 2000 and 2021.

It was such a special night last night. The last show of the tour and who knows maybe the last show forever. We’ve had a good run that’s for sure.
The European leg has been really great and to end it in such an iconic venue will be a very special memory for us all.
Thank you Paris you as always special.

Pete Trewavas, Facebook

That Transatlantic managed to make five albums is impressive – all four members started in other notable bands, and Transatlantic has largely remained a part-time venture, fitted in between other activities. Mike Portnoy was Dream Theater’s founding drummer, while bassist Pete Trewavas has played with Marillion for more than forty years. Guitarist Roine Stolte also leads The Flower Kings, while singer and keyboardist Neal Morse started his career in Spock’s Beard. Despite their part-time nature, there’s a good argument that Transatlantic are the premiere progressive rock band of the 21st century.

Here are their five studio records ranked.

#5 Kaleidoscope

2014
As the title implies, Transatlantic’s fourth album takes some cues from 1960s psychedelia – on the deluxe version there are covers of The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights in White Satin’ and The Small Faces’ ‘Tin Soldier’. The two epics, ‘Into The Blue’ and the title track, are impressive. The middle sags a little with sentimental Morse tracks, although his Moog soloing on the Stolt-led ‘Black as the Sky’ is enjoyable. Touring guitarist Daniel Gildenlöw, from Pain of Salvation, contributes vocals on ‘Into the Blue’.


#4 SMPT:e

2000
Transatlantic’s debut album was a quickly realised side-project – the tracks were written and largely recorded in two weeks. The fan favourite ‘All of the Above’ is one of the band’s weaker epics in this writer’s opinion, but Stolt’s ‘My New World’ is enjoyable. The album ends with a cover of Procol Harum’s ‘In Held (‘Twas) In I’, often held to be the first recorded progressive rock song.


#3 The Absolute Universe: Forevermore

2021
Transatlantic’s fifth album has a convoluted history – the band recorded a 90-minute album before the COVID-19 pandemic. When Morse revisited the album, he created a stripped-down 64-minute version. The band was divided into two camps, with Stolt and Portnoy preferring the longer version. Portnoy suggested releasing both – there’s also a 96-minute edition that combines both versions. It started as a sequel to The Whirlwind but became an exploration of how Morse’s Ayn Rand-inspired libertarian beliefs were replaced by Christianity. It’s more inspired by 1970s progressive rock than other Transatlantic records – Stolt’s guitar licks on ‘The World We Used To Know’ evoke Yes’ Relayer. If it’s indeed their final album, The Absolute Universe is a fine way to go out.


#2 Bridge Across Forever

2001
Transatlantic refined their approach for their second album, purposefully balancing the four members’ contributions after critics suggested the debut was dominated by Morse. The record’s dominated by three lengthy epics – ‘Duel With The Devil’, the surprisingly funky ‘Suite Charlotte Pike’, and ‘Stranger in Your Soul’ are all tier one Transatlantic pieces. Morse’s gorgeous, piano-led title track is his best solo spotlight in the band.


#1 The Whirlwind

2009
More isn’t always more when it comes to progressive rock – think Yes’ laborious Tales From Topographic Oceans. But Transatlantic’s best album is their most ambitious – The Whirlwind is a single 78-minute track, divided into 12 sections for listening convenience. Morse left Transatlantic after finding God in 2002, but upon their reformation, he brings God into Transatlantic – the grand finale is titled ‘Dancing With Eternal Glory’. Most crucially, the musical themes are the band’s most memorable – in particular the descending bass chord sequence on “We’re on a trip in a foreign land/Reach for home, where the kingdom stands” is my favourite Transatlantic moment.

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9 Comments

  1. I agree with your choice for their best and their weakest albums, but the three in the middle are all equally brilliant. I still recall my excitement leading up to the release of their debut, as I was already a huge fan of the members’ main bands, and it lived up to the hype. I’m amazed they lasted beyond one or two albums, which is how most of these projects end up. They may never top The Whirlwind but I hope they keep trying.

    • They’ve been making noises that their run might be over – they’ve only been making albums every 6-8 years since Bridge Across Forever, and Stolt will be well into his 70s if they keep doing that. They’ve achieved a lot for a side project. I prefer them to what I’ve heard from the parent bands, apart from the last two albums Fish made with Marillion.

  2. I didn’t know that you could do shit over on this WordPress thing. I didn’t even know this existed. I just clicked Reader cuz I didn’t know what it was and then it came up. How come it looks different than your blog though? I never really understood how all this blog stuff works. Is this comment going to show up on your regular thing too or just here? Does it send messages to email and stuff? This is so weird to me cuz I never saw any of this stuff before. I don’t know this band either. I see it has something to do with Marillion, whom I sort of know who they are. Kind of.

    • The Wordpress reader is pretty useful for keeping up with all the blogs I follow. It messes with some of the formatting though – it simplifies it and makes it more uniform, which is understandable.

      The comment came through to my blog fine.

      Transatlantic have (or had?) the Marillion bass player as a member.

  3. Interesting. Don’t know Whirlwind, but Morse’s relentless piety would be enough to put me off, I’m afraid. And I must ask you to step outside to discuss Tales From Topographic Oceans. It is rich, inventive, and rewarding over decades of listening (for some). 🙂

    • The debut STMP has much less religious content than the others and might be worth a crack. Morse is a really good vocalist – prog needs strong singers.

      To be fair I’ve owned a physical copy of TFTO for more than two decades at this point.

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