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Neal Morse - Testimony CD (album) cover

TESTIMONY

Neal Morse

 

Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 340 ratings

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Zitro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 3.6 stars

Testimony is a pretty good and heartfelt album dealing with Morse´s personal life before and after he found God.

Why is Testimony good?

1_ First of all, Neal Morse poured his heart into it. This is a very important theme to him. This is not only his life, but also his life when accepting God. This helps the music: the melodies are memorable, and the music is very beautiful.

2_The album has variety. You can hear songs ranging from classical music to progressive rock to country to ballads. There are many different genres of music fused together to form this musical journey.

3_The band is filled with excellent musicians. Even Dream Theater's Portnoy is here!!

The Lyrics: I won't spoil them.

The Music :

Disc I begins with a ballad that will later be revisited at the end of the album. Then, the first Overture amazes the listener. It is a very tight progressive rock song that is made even more powerful with a small orchestra. This overture introduces many themes later heard in the album including the symphonic groove that will repeat itself in Colder In The Sun. California Nights is a more straight-forward rock/pop song, that introduces some other later themes. It is probably a bit too long maybe. The song ends with a majestic symphonic outro that leads to a very important song of the album called Colder In The Sun. Musically, this song recalls Spock's Beard, divided into many different sections. The melodies are strong, the synth lines are aggressive, the acapella vocal harmonies are among Neal´s finest vocal performances, and the Symphonic groove from the overture is played again with the same synth solo. Sleeping Jesus is another powerful track that relies on its melodies, which give plenty of space for background instrumentation. The acoustic guitar riff is very good, and the buildup is highly emotional. After such overwhelming emotion, the band plays a nice jam (Interlude) that leads into a good song "The Prince" with a distorted guitar riff. The Promise begins with a highly catchy vocal hook and leads into an acoustic guitar solo that is later followed by mellow melodies and the riff found in the Interlude. Very tight song! Wasted Life is a moderately long emotional ballad. Overture II is as amazing as the first one with symphonic arrangements and a brilliant electric guitar solo. In Break Of Day, Neal uses his talents in making vocal harmonies with his own voice. This song also contains an unusual prog moment at the end. Power In The Air is important to the plot but not musically. It just plays again the themes of the Overture I and Colder in the Sun. Somber Days is a mellow tune with good melodies as always, but it doesn't touch me as much as songs like 'Sleeping Jesus'. Again, this song ends in an unusual way. Long Story is a typical good song from Neal, and the last song from the first disc is a very powerful track emotionally and musically. This mellow tune contains the vocal hook "This is all I can do" and the musical explosion at the middle of the track. The song ends with a mighty chord.

Disc II is almost as strong as the first Disc. Neal proves that he can make an album consistent in quality even with over 2 hours of music. Transformation is like an overture, thanks to the energetic symphonic arrangements. Ready To Try is more positive than the musical mood of the first disc. Sing it High is even happier with its western flavor, acoustic arrangements, joyful lyrics, and Neal enjoying himself with an acoustic guitar solo that is very memorable. Moving In My Heart is like 'Power In The Air' .. it doesn't bring anything new, but the next song redeems it. I am Willing is one of the album's finest moments, featuring solid melodies, emotional singing and a perfect electric guitar solo in which every note seems to have a meaning. In The Middle is a piano solo followed by a very short prog/pop tune. The Storm Before The Calm may be the musical climax of the disc. Beginning with a latin piano solo, it leads into a track with a very loose structure which lets itself remind the listeners to the themes of the album. Unlike the two tracks I have criticized for bringing back themes, this song differs by the fact that it brings back the old themes in short moments instead of whole verses/choruses. The next tracks are like a bunch of worship songs. Oh To feel Him is an emotional ballad-like one. God's Theme is an excellent short instrumental and one of the best songs dedicated to God I have heard up to now. Its main melody is among the best Neal has written, and the electric guitar soloing during the song is fabulous. Rejoice is a happy track that unfortunately is the weakest of this section of the disc: quite irritating to me. However, Oh Lord My God is cool! I want to hear this song in a church. It is a number that begins with great chord progressions and leads to a great rock and roll song. The instrumental break in the middle is worthy to mention too. The God's Theme is played back again and I would criticize it for repeating itself, but it is too beautiful to ignore it and the arrangements are different. Finally, the song ends with the same melodies as the first song in the album.

So, there you have it : A very well done concept Album that is likeable at first listen and stays with you. It can't be ignored, especially in Christian music. This obscure album is outstanding. It is a shame it sold so little. It has one weakness tho: it's reliance on verse/chorus for most songs in such a long disc make it a bit tiring sometimes, especially for the first songs.

PS : I am agnostic, so I don't necessarily believe in God. However, Neal Morse is not trying to convert you. He is just telling his story. Give him credit for that. If Yes' lyrics do not bother you (they are strange, sometimes embarrassing, and yes : religious/spiritual), why would this album do so?

My Grade : B-

Zitro | 3/5 |

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