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Neal Morse - Lifeline CD (album) cover

LIFELINE

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

3.13 | 284 ratings

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pulsar43
3 stars Lifeline is by no means a bad album; there are a lot of great moments to be found. The problem is most of these moments can be heard in earlier works. If only Neal traversed so many roads in his music, right?

When I read the press release for Lifeline on Neal's site months ago, I was intrigued. Here was a break from all those concept albums we've been getting - something new! However I overlooked another facet of the press release - in it, Lifeline is compared to his previous works no fewer than seven times!

Now the opener is not bad. It's a fun piece; its only problems are the guitar phrases that recall Duel With the Devil, and Neal repeating He gave me a lifeline about a dozen times more than he needs to. What irks me is that Neal has a seven-minute single version of this downloadable for free on his site. Translation: he knows exactly how to cut out the fat, but for whatever reason he doesn't.

Next up, is Way Back Home - a ballad with interesting vocal melodies; it is my favorite song on the album.

After that is Leviathon. The press release bills this as sounding like Sola Scriptura, but it couldn't be more wrong. Yes, it's heavy, but the similarities end there. Most of the cd's creativity can probably be found here, but I think if the rest of Lifeline were up to snuff this would not get rated so high. I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually see a sequel called Behemoth.

Okay, the rest of the ballads - God's Love, Children of the Chosen, Fly High. Children of the Chosen is the best of these, which is to say when it starts off it sounds like it has potential. The rest don't. The lyrics do nothing to redeem them in my eyes, and it should be mentioned here that I am a Christian. And when I became one all my problems did not disappear, as a certain songwriter seems to think. Neal makes straight-up worship cds now and then, and this is where these three belong. Other reviewers have compared these to CCM, but there are a few riches to be found in that genre - there aren't any here. In other words, these are the sort of commercial songs that probably pushed you to prog in the first place.

A little comic relief mid-review for you: the press release claims Children of the Chosen is as engaging as Wind at my Back!

So Many Roads is a half-hour lyrical repackaging of Testimony, only it's not as personal, emotional, or fun as its predecessor. The intro and outro call to mind the Light, there's a guitar solo that sounds ripped from the Door until it briefly evokes Bryan Josh of Mostly Autumn at its close, and many, many reminders that the title is, in fact, So Many Roads. Don't worry, the obligatory celebration fanfare (a la the One) and slow, drawn-out vocals toward the end (a la everything) are present. Granted, hooks still abound the epic, and tasteful sax work accompanies The Humdrum Life, making it the highlight.

In summary, this one is for the fans only.

pulsar43 | 3/5 |

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