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Neal Morse - The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure CD (album) cover

THE NEAL MORSE BAND: THE GREAT ADVENTURE

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 292 ratings

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thesimilitudeofprog
4 stars This couldn't have been easy. The Great Adventure'is a sequel to the band's last project,The Similitude of a Dream was to me, a flawless masterpiece. A hard act to follow by'any'measure ' and yet, here we are with'The Great Adventure, an unplanned- for'part'two'of what many have called the band's finest hour. The Great Adventure is really very good, but it doesn't surpass in any way Similitude of a dream. Over all The music is sweeping, powerful, very dynamic, full of promise, and is more hard-edged and heavy than what might be expected.'To go into detail about each track would not only take way too many pages but would result in the needless frustration of knowing that the written word will not translate the power, emotion, and technical artistry of the album. The album begins where the previous left off, with the throbbing opening and closing sounds that closed the first disk (The Breath of Angels) along with the final lines sung concluding with 'let the great adventure now begin' from Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise). This leads into 'The Dream Isn't Over' which properly introduces the main character of the story and his situation before leading directly into the first single released 'Welcome to the World.' The song is comparable to the track 'City of Destruction' from the first album, and the melody and variations of the lyrics are repeated a few times through out the album. 'A Momentary Change' features wonderful shared vocals. This is one of several stunning ballads and features beautiful, emotional guitar lines and some great, measured vocal moments from Bill Hubauer. This is followed by the intense 'Dark Melody,' a song with a very dramatic structure. Eric Gillette's guitar soars and plunges the depths of a stunning solo during the powerful organ-drenched build-up that leads to the song's climax. We are soon met with another song and piece that makes several appearances throughout, the heavier and considerably darker 'Dark Melody,' which references the lost and dark nature of the son's soul and life in general. Lyrical references to the dark melody appear several times afterwards on the first disk and also at crucial moments in the second, so the listener will do well to pay attention to its use and meanings in this first encounter.' Disc two starts with a grand, symphonic mini-overture that transitions into pure instrumental prog with some in- your-face-bass, fiery drumming and guitar-hero riffing. 'Long Ago' follows, setting us up for the resolution both musically and lyrically.The song features some very interesting rhythms from Mike Portnoy. The ominous 'Fighting With Destiny opens with some nasty, heavy bass lines and a barrage of drums ' a tour de force of prog soloing ensues'..and the battle of the soul rages through the rest of the disk. Such things are at times a bit more lighthearted as is evident in 'Vanity Fair' and its images of cardboard people and a fashion show. Things get dark in a hurry again with 'Welcome To The World 2' as Mike takes over the lead vocals for the first verse before the slightly modified chorus is brought it. This dark and heavy character continues and grows through the next few songs and highlighted especially in 'The Element of Fear' and 'The Great Despair.''The Great Despair' is also noteworthy for the vocal performance of Eric Gillette. I would say it is hands down his best on any NMB album. The album concludes with 'Freedom Calling' and 'A Love That Never Dies' and as they go together and form the final 'chapter' of the album they must be talked about together. 'Freedom Calling' is very much a transitional piece, bridging the darkness and pain of the world with the freedom and peace of embracing 'the love that never dies' and the hope and salvation that it entails. This album is destined to be on many people's best of lists at the end of next year and is setting 2019 up to be an exciting year in progressive music. Highly recommended.
thesimilitudeofprog | 4/5 |

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