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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 I didn't think it was possible: a Christian/Prog album and artist. But it is. Most others have said in some way that this is a bad thing (the Christian element), but I don't think so. Neal has found an inspiration, a reason to make music.

I expected this to be preachy, corny, pointless, and cliched. But it isn't. Some may dislike the story and base of the story, but coming from a left-wing Christian background, I don't mind. In fact, this album reached out to me in a way few others have. It tells a legitimate story, and the music is wonderful. Now, the "oneness" and possible creationism is questionable, but the idea and purpose of the album makes up for it.

It begins with the epic "Creation," which opens with an extravagant orchestral followed by a guitar solo and great drumming by DREAM THEATER's Mike PORTNEY. It flows throughout, with some hints at creationism and Christian rock tendencies (mainly in the lyrics, subtely in the music at times). It does not become preachy very much, but I'd say this track is the most preachy of the bunch (with the exception of "Reunion"). Anyway, as the old Genesis (not the band -- duh) story goes, Man is created and betrays God. God kicks Man out of Eden (but Man really rebels on his own -- MORSE portrays God as a Loving God, the type I really believe in -- none of that conservative "war God" bull). It's a sad story, touching even, the way MORSE does it.

Track two is the short "The Man's Gone," which features some excellent acoustic guitar and a rainy, stormy, wandering-on-the-road-in-the-countryside-in-the-rain-at-night feeling to it. Very nice. The lyrics are about the "favorite son" and his lone venture from home to make his way alone.

Now we come to the DREAM THEATER-esque "Author of Confusion," which begins with a heavy metal instrumental (not grungy or too high gain--the color "orange" for some reason comes to my mind--don't ask) followed by some GENTLE GIANT-esque voice dubs building up into a swaying tower of Neals singing in harmony. This dips into some varied metal/ballad sections, all of it good. Finally, the music begins to repeat rapidly, spinning out and literally exploding. The lyrics have to do with, I suppose, Satan or "the power which drove Man from God." It really seems to be about the confusion of belief, whether to be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, nothing, everthing, or just scream "I DON"T KNOW!!!" (which I have often done). It's actually the only allusion to Satan in the whole album...which could be good or bad, depending on who you are (I personally don't believe in a Hell where people would be damned forever -- if you are truly repentant, shouldn't you be able to be saved? Really. --but you don't want to hear my theology. Back to the album).

Next up is the even second epic, "The Separated Man." It begins with the very good and fairly catchy "I'm in a Cage," describing Man's position he has put himself in. Locked in reality, no way out...only pain. It also recalls GENESIS' "In the Cage," and they both have the same purpose. GENESIS has always been a quasi-religious band with Christian tendencies -- admit it! I mean, look at their name. But anyway, after this is the moody, pondering, and somewhat dark "I'm the Man." It shows Man's attempts to create his own heaven, a bit like putting up with much effort a tent in the woods and rebel when a big house is just around the corner but you refuse to go back. Following is the reprise of "The Man's Gone," this time in a much more prog rock fashion which is mostly a heavenly instrumental bookended by lyrical sections. Following is the short "Something within Me Remembers" in which Man realizes he may in fact need God.

"Cradle to the Grave" is a ballad sung between God and Man (something only a prog artist could do -- contemporary conservative Christian artists don't have the guts to do something so pretentious...but cool). Man seems resigned to his fate, having mainly forgotten God.

"Help Me / The Spirit and the Flesh" is another epic in two parts. The first half is extremely well-done, as the rest of the album is, and catchy to boot. Man has fallen to the lowest lows, living as the forgotten son with no purpose. He cries out to God, wanting to "come back home." God responds in the second section with the only reference to Jesus, who returns in the second coming to save man. The music is a reprise of "Creation" here, with a different spin on it this time.

Next is the counterpoint to "Author of Confusion," "Father of Forgiveness." Essentally a soft ballad with Christian lyrics. Non-Christians wouldn't like this one, but I don't mind.

Finally we have "The Reunion," which is obviously about Man's return to God and heaven. Excited music, but preachy at times. A fairly good ending, with a reprise of "One Mind" from "The Creation" closing. And it fades out much the same way it faded in. Predictable, but cool.

And that's what I think about this album. Christian proggers should definitely grab this one, and non-Christians could also love this album if they ignore the lyrics. Who knows, it may change your mind about Christianity -- but then again, probably not. But buy it anyway just for the music, okay?

penguindf12 | 4/5 |


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