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


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.19 | 593 ratings

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Mr. Mustard
5 stars After the strong, but overly preachy and inconsistent One, Neal Morse enlists the help of a few known prog superstars in his great effort, ?. All of the melodies and musicianship of One and Testimony are present, and then some. This album is probably Neal's closest sounding to Spock's Beard as well, especially Snow.

Some of ?'s main melodies are first introduced on the opening track 'Temple of the Living God.' (9/10) The song builds up slowly but eventually reaches a flurry of melodies and chaos near the middle.

'Another World' (8/10) is an upbeat and happy song led by a strong rhythm section in George and Portnoy.

This segues to the dramatic and gentle acoustically driven 'The Outsider.' (6/10)

The following three songs are the bulk of what make this album amazing. 'Sweet Elation' (10/10) works off the acoustic motif started in the previous track, but eventually leads to an amazing synth solo which lasts until the end.

'In the Fire' (10/10) is a classic Snow-era Spock's Beard sounding song. This song features a fairly long Jordan Rudess solo, which is instantly recognizable if you know his sound in Dream Theater. The song also has some of Neal's heaviest riffs as well. The song is left with a really fun sounding keyboard melody which drifts into the song.

'Solid As the Sound' (10/10) continues more of the Snow-sounding motif of the previous song. There is a cool bass and sax solo in the middle which mixes things up a bit. 'The Glory of the Lord' (6/10) is a cool orchestra driven song. The vocals are a bit overdramatic but fit in the context of the album.

'Outside Looking In' (6/10) is a slower paced song that is made great by Neal's heartfelt vocals.

This segues perfectly into '12,' (10/10) another fantastic track. The song starts with Neal's vocals and builds strongly from there. There is some fun jazzy piano work at around two minutes which leads to a notable solo from guest musician Steve Hackett. A flurry of cool synth passages and a reprise of earlier melodies serves to segue into the next song.

'Deliverance,' (6/10) 'Inside His Presence' (6/10) both feature some more of Neal's dramatic vocals.

'The Temple of the Living God' (6/10) has some more dramatic vocal delivery and solos as is indicative of most of Neal Morse's endings.

? is, along with Sola Scriptura, Neal Morse's most concentrated and consistent work. ? is basically what Snow would have been if it was shortened to one disc. Everything transitions beautifully to the point where it could be considered a single song. But song or suite, this remains one of Mr. Morse's greatest achievements.


Mr. Mustard | 5/5 |


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