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Neal Morse - One CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.11 | 455 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars For One, Neal gets his feet back under him, and he writes a solid progressive rock album.

Gone is the idea of sticking with a single sound or feel for a whole album. Here, the man plays with some spacey moods, some metal insanity, even a bit of ska. One details the Christian journey through the allegory of the prodigal son-- an allusion that isn't actually necessary to understand going into it, as Neal will fill you in on the important details. Plenty have slammed this album as preachy or obnoxious when it comes to the lyrics, but in truth, Neal reigns himself in fairly successfully for most of the album. The music does not suffer by the concept, and it's not like, for example, anybody who listens to Yes hasn't already learned to enjoy music despite the lyrics.

The two near-20 minute tracks, The Creation and The Separated Man, are probably two of the very strongest here. The Creation is a typical Neal track, with a crescendoing intro and some fun orchestral work. Goofy lyrics that I find highly reminiscent of his Beard years kick of the story of the man in the Garden of Eden. The Separated Man follows man's journey on his own, without God, and Neal styles this appropriately darkly, with some creepy vibes and suddenly leaps of wild intensity. A several-minute acoustic flair-fest fills out the middle of this song, creating a wonderful sense of the fellow's powerful tune-writing ability.

Of further note is Neal's first really heavy song, Author of Confusion. Not only does Neal break out some intense riffs, but Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater finally shows why he's playing the drums on this album. Blasting speed and creative fills mark this as one of the highlight collaborations between the two.The Reunion (final track) features a lot of neat reprisals of The Creation's themes, with the added bonus of brass and even more destructive drumming from Mike.

This album is the proof that many fans needed to understand why Neal left Spock's Beard. Here, the music gets its own legs, gains much more from a lack of the atmosphere of the Beard (which I still love, too, but it just wouldn't work here).

If you are interested in Neal's stuff, maybe through Spock's Beard or Transatlantic, this is the album I recommend you start with. It is both a reflection of Mr. Morse's past works and a foreshadowing of the darker sounds and themes he will play with after this one. It suffers from some weak ballads and some meandering passages, but it is easily worthy of a four star review.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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