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Neal Morse - ? [Aka: Question Mark] CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.19 | 611 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.4 stars.

Take that, Six Degrees of inner Turbulence!

Take that, Garden of Dreams!

Here, Neal Morse has successfully created a huge 57-minute epic. This is a brilliant album with the same quality of his previous two works. He, as always, knows how to write conceptual albums. The melodies are themes usually reappear throughout the record like in Testimony and Pink Floyd's The Wall. Here, Neal Morse keeps writing religious music with a similar sound as Transatlantic and his previous works. As a result, it is not very original. This is the only reason I give it 4 stars. You are a good songwriter Neal, but please! While I don't mind all of your albums being religious, I am disappointed that you do not experiment more with your sound and try to reach new levels.

The album begins strongly with a melodic section that explodes with an instrumental part that blows you away. Unfortunately, it is interrupted by a somewhat irritating way of singing/screaming (the worst part of the album). Another World is a melodic piece with a nice guitar riff. The next 2 minutes (Outsider) is a ballad, while Sweet Elation is more energetic. I love the synth riffs at the end of the short movement. In The Fire is the next movement and the longest one in this album. It is probably the most accessible track with that catchy wha-wha riffing that sounds like "Your Move" - Yes. Also, the vocal line 'Burn it in the fiireee!!' followed by that distorted guitar chord is classic! The Ruddess synth fiesta is a bit overlong but enjoyable thanks to the great rhythm section. The main themes and riffs are played again and are very welcome along with new splendid riffs. Solid as the Sun is a solid track indeed! While the melodies are not superb, the guitar riffs, and especially the bass solo are something to talk about. NExt is Glory of the Lord. This is just out of this world!!! Compare it with the quality of God's Theme from Testimony... why did it end so quickly? Outside In interrupts it with Neal's voice and his guitar. I love that little guitar riff in it. The next movement is another important part of the album, at least instrumentally. The band quickly creates an interesting rhythm and after some repetitive guitar riffing, HAckett comes out and delivers one of the best solos I have ever heard from him! I can find similarities to his solo in Firth of Fifth because the solos plays all the melodies on the track (on this one, he plays the melodies from the album itself) Deliverance is an excellent up-tempo track that plays some melodies from earlier movements and inside his presence follows it with some very emotional music and a guitar solo that seems to be from Roine. The conclusion of the album is very well done.

This is mindblowing music. Althrough I think Neal should start changing his musical styles a little. It is starting to become tiring. Thanksfully, his songwriting here is really good.

Highlights : First half of Temple of the Living God, In The Fire, GLORY OF THE LORD, 12's Guitar solo, and the last three songs. Let Downs: 2nd half of Temple of the Living God, Outside In.

My Grade : A/B

Zitro | 4/5 |


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