Review: Terra Atlantica – Beyond The Borders
Pride & Joy Music (September 16th, 2022)
Reviewer: David Pearce
When I found out that Terra Atlantica were releasing a new album, it was a given that I would want to review it. ‘The Age of Steam‘ released in 2020 was a great concept album, a sequel to ‘A City Once Divine‘, their debut album from 2017. Their world building continues, in this new album ‘Beyond the Borders‘. With the usual crew, Tristan Harders on lead vocal and guitar duties, Nico Hauschildt on drums, David Wieczorek on guitar and Julian Prufer on bass plus Khatarina Stahl, Anders Sköld, Alex Hunzinger and Joan Pabon guesting, it is time to set sail once again.
The first track, ‘Overture‘, is a fitting start to the album. It moves from tune to tune with a pleasing sense of cohesion and whets the appetite for what is to come. ‘The Scarlet Banners‘ is a massive tune that Iron Maiden would be pleased to call their own. ‘Harders‘ has a really smooth rock vocal that soars above the music, but barely seems to be stretched at any point. Along with the voice, he has a theatricality that is irresistible.
‘Far From Alive‘ starts with an unexpected jangly guitar and a song that sounds like Del Amitri, which gives it a very different feel to the opening track. This variety was something I enjoyed in ‘The Age of Steam‘ and I am really pleased that it is present and correct on this album. The instrumental break in the song raises the tempo and it reverts to the power metal style of the previous track. It is very well constructed and extremely enjoyable. The fourth track is the title track, which has fantastic drumming from Hauschildt and a thumping bass from Prufer to underpin a song that has choral singing and power to spare. This is a song that will be fantastic when they tour the album. ‘Sun of Pontevedra‘ is another excellent track with all the pieces of the band coming together really tightly to produce another epic piece of music.
‘Guns and Drums‘ has a Jethro Tull feel to it and goes about its business in the style of a sea shanty. It’s great fun and it serves as a full stop on the first half of the album. ‘Just One Look‘ is a rock ballad that starts the second half of the album with a bang. It benefits from Harders usual excellent vocal performance but is lifted above every other track by the guest singer Khatarina Stahl. Their voices blend perfectly and there is an echo of Meatloaf in the duets and the performance itself. For me, this is the absolute standout track on the album, and the best rock duet I have heard in years. Within the album it is terrific, but it works on its own terms, and when I compile my top tracks at the end of the year, this is guaranteed to be amongst them. ‘Hellfire‘, appropriately enough, takes us back into heavy rock territory with a loud, proud and visceral piece of music that once again demonstrates the ease with which Harders is able to soar above any piece of music, however loud. It is a bravura performance that shows he is without doubt in the top rank of rock vocalists.
The final trio of tracks starts with ‘Pirate Bay‘. It has a Madness style piano at the start and then the guitars and bass join in. it’s fascinating to hear the piano underpin the whole song especially with everything else going on. Terra Atlantica always seem to be having great fun when they play, and never more than when they are throwing the kitchen sink at a tune! ‘The Great Escape‘ is the seemingly obligatory epic song that bands put into an album to demonstrate their mastery of longer form songwriting. Not surprisingly, Terra Atlantica nail it. There is a piano at the start that sound for all the world like the opening riff from Money, Money, Money. To start off an epic song in the style of ABBA really makes the listener sit up and take notice! Hauschildt once again sets a thundering tempo with his drumming and the twin guitars of Harders and Wieczorek take up the cracking pace with ease. The bass playing of Prufer is the glue that holds it all together which is just as well in a song that includes sailors choruses as well as more changes of style throughout. The overall effect is of a song that knows it is overblown but realises that the only way to get away with it is simply to go for broke, which they do with great success. The album finishes on a high with the triumphant ‘Take Us Home‘. It is a hymn of praise to a concept that never wavers throughout a highly enjoyable album. There is certainly scope for a fourth album in this set of world building epics, and I will be first in the queue to review it if and when it arrives.
Terra Atlantica have done it again. Their fans can look forward to more journeys with this terrific band and I salute them!