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Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura CD (album) cover

SOLA SCRIPTURA

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

4.18 | 465 ratings

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Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Despite all logical reason, the Morse train still hasn't run out of gas--sure, there may be some fumes, but overall this is a very creative and originally themed piece. I happen to think that writing extended prog epics about Martin Luther is a cool thing, and even with the definite potential for cheesiness, Morse again takes the engaging (rather than beat-you-over-the-head-with-a- hammer) approach, and remarkable does so successfully. The meat of this album is carried in the first two massive, multi-part epics, but they are cohesive and rocking enough to overlook some of the limitations of the final two songs.

The Door. As a nice new twist, there is no build-up for this one--it hits you right in the face and keeps chugging from there. Great use of synths (though some of the riffs become a bit redundant), EXCELLENT incorporation of strings, and of course always heavy and notable drums from Portnoy dominate this track. It's good throughout, but the highlights are definitely the closing sections: Keep Silent and Upon the Door. There's a great pensive build-up with the strings as Luther is preparing himself for what he must do, and then we have an absolutely chathartic, blistering solo from Gilbert just as the theses are nailed. This is just a great example of storytelling in music, and one of my top 25 epics.

The Conflict. Very solid epic, but not on par with the first in my opinion (admittedly a tough act to follow!). It sure starts well, with a heavier rocking groove that transitions nicely into a tension building synth segment. Then things die down into a Latin-flavored bit, which is good, though momentum is lost and the transitions are a bit extended. It cranks back up just in time for a mellow finish...but I find this a bit anti-climactic, uninteresting and repetitive. I really could take or leave the final ten minutes or so.

Heaven in My Heart, The Conclusion. As far as Morse praise songs, Heaven in My Heart is one of the better, and not quite as cliche as others, but don't expect much prog here. Regarding The Conclusion, I'm all for variation on central themes, but I like them to get better the second time, which is not what I get here. The new sections are nice (Randy's Jam and Come Out of Her), but the rest has a been-there, done-that feeling. It's certainly good, but for me excessive after the opening epics.

If you like Morse and wouldn't mind hearing more of his heavier side, this is your album. The arrangements are excellent, there are numerous catchy and captivating melodies, and there's a nice balance of virtuosic playing and storytelling that add up to very solid music. It all just falls short of masterpiece status.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |

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