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Neal Morse - Testimony CD (album) cover

TESTIMONY

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 353 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rebirth, Reformation, Transformation

After Spock's Beard's release and subsequent live outings of their two disc concept album Snow, chief composer and frontman for the group Neal Morse left the group for personal reasons. In that time, he found Jesus as some would say. Testimony, his first solo album after leaving Spock's Beard, is essentially an autobiographical tale about his journey to becoming religiously reformed again. In the process, Morse seems to throw in every possible cliche he's ever written about and weaved them together wonderfully with lush and vibrant music with the help of two of his main collaborators, Mike Portnoy and Randy George.

Throughout the two discs of a man pouring his soul out and telling his story so that everyone can understand how he feels, there are a lot of varying moods, but they all have that Neal Morse touch and flare that makes his music immediately identifiable. Tracks like Overture No. 1 reveal his rocking nature, filled to the brim with symphonic overtones and superbly crafted melodies. Like many Neal Morse tracks to come, there is some reference to the sun. In this case, there's Colder in the Sun, a song that at its core is about Neal becoming discontent with life in California. Songs like Sleeping Jesus and The Land of Beginning Again so his soft, acoustic nature that are improved upon on the song The Man is Gone on his next album, One.

I can't say that there is a specific part of the album I like the most, as the entire thing works superbly as a whole. However, that being said, the tracks in Part 1 seem to have the most appeal to me. To add to that, the entire second disc of this album is one of Neal's most inspired and heartfelt moments in his career, you can hear the man pour his soul onto every vocal, every riff, and every solo. Guest guitarist Kerry Livgren (Kansas) also shows some great chops with his solo on the song Long Story at the end of the first disc.

The album isn't without its faults, though. One can easily notice the cliches within Neal Morse's writing, and sometimes it may seem somewhat derivative of his previous works. Also, this album may come as a bit preachy to some, although to others this album really speaks to them. In conclusion, I find that this album is an excellent debut for Neal is his works as a deeply religious musician paying respect to the thing that seemed to help him through his darkest hour. Fans of Spock's Beard will enjoy this work, as it has most of the same characteristics of a Beard album. That said, fans of symphonic progressive rock can also find much to like with this magnificently crafted work. Recommended highly.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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