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Neal Morse - Testimony 2 CD (album) cover

TESTIMONY 2

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

3.99 | 458 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

J-Man
Prog Reviewer
5 stars It's truly amazing how consistently Neal Morse delivers some of the best prog rock out there. Between his work with Spock's Beard, the supergroup Transatlantic, and his tremendous solo career, it's remarkable that he's still able to release such top-notch music. Testimony 2 is Neal's sixth prog rock solo effort, and (as implied by the title) is a continuation of 2003's Testimony. Testimony explored Neal Morse's spiritual journey into becoming a born-again Christian, and Testimony 2 is a lyrical continuation of that journey. Whether or not you're a believer, this is beautiful music that Morse clearly put his heart and soul into. The first Testimony album is one of my all-time favorites, and Testimony 2 is a more-than-worthy successor. In almost every way possible, this album is another masterpiece from Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, and a host of other guests. I have no doubt that this will be viewed as one of the best prog rock albums 2011 has to offer.

For anyone familiar with Neal Morse's music, his sound is instantly recognizable. Expect epic prog rock instrumental sections in the vein of Yes, vocal sections inspired by Gentle Giant, and four-man Genesis-sounding pop/rock sections. The Beatles are also a huge influence for Morse, which is clearly audible in tracks like "Chance of a Lifetime" or "Road Dog Blues". Testimony 2 is not as eclectic as Testimony nor as heavy as Sola Scriptura, but instead rests somewhere in-between. Conceptually, this may be his best album yet, with songs like "Jayda" and "Time Changer" featuring some of his best lyrical work to date. The former song (written about his daughter who was born with a hole in her heart) especially is evidence that Morse really put his sweat, blood, and tears into making this an incredibly emotional album. Testimony 2 isn't all about "spiritual" lyrics and softer songs, though. Expect plenty of instrumental prowess from Morse, George, and Portnoy on tracks like "Overture No. 4" and "Time Changer". "Time Changer" is a really unique track, seeing that it features a vocal section with Spock's Beard members and even features a borrowed organ riff from "The Water" (off of Spock's Beard's The Light). Between those accolades and the terrific bass playing from Randy George, it may be safe to consider this the best song on the album. Testimony 2 closes off in the epic sense that Neal Morse is known for. "Crossing Over / Mercy Street Reprise" features many of the themes from the album (as well as the first Testimony), making for a fantastic closing piece.

If you're going to get this album, it's worth mentioning that the double-disc version with three bonus tracks is absolutely essential. The bonus disc contains two pop-oriented songs, and one 26 minute prog epic that's among Morse's finest ever. "Absolute Beginner" is a decent pop/rock song, "Supernatural" is absolutely beautiful (I really love that one), and "Seeds of Gold" is possibly better than anything on disc one of the album. And after reading my endless praise for disc one, it's clear how much that means. "Seeds of Gold" contains extremely memorable themes, odd time signatures galore, and terrific vocals from Neal Morse. Did someone say "masterpiece"?

Testimony 2 is yet another fantastic effort from the master of modern prog, Neal Morse. This shows him at his most lyrically intense, musically demanding, and compositionally impressive. I wouldn't quite put this as his best effort ever (Snow will most likely always hold that position for me), but it's an essential purchase and one of the best this year by a long shot. 5 stars are well-deserved for this stellar album. I honestly can't think of many albums I would give the masterpiece stamp before this one. Whether you like him or not, Neal Morse can't be ignored and Testimony 2 is a serious contender for my top five list once the end of the year rolls around. Chalk up another essential modern prog masterpiece for Neal Morse.

J-Man | 5/5 |

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