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


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.20 | 645 ratings

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The Progmatist
5 stars For me, this is Morse's best solo release, and it ranks up there in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. At first, I wasn't sure how to take this album. In contrast with TESTIMONY and ONE, there are very few tracks that really stand out here. In fact, I was surprised at how different the style was. Sure, you're going to get all you would expect from a Neal Morse album, but there is definitely a different feel to the music on this record. In theory, this album is supposed to be one long song divided into several parts, and I think Morse was successful here. In fact, I think that this is exactly what makes the work so masterful: the tracks blend together seamlessly, and the climactic development virtually explodes at the end with one of the best album endings I've ever heard.

Several reviewers on this board and elsewhere have criticized this album because of its religous lyrics. It is interesting, though, that many of these same reviewers are the first to tout concept albums like GENESIS' SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND. To me, there is little difference between the two examples. Sure, SEBYP is not religiously-oriented, but religion is just another landscape on which to tell a story. In this sense, both albums tell a story and allow the listener to challenge and interpret. Are these not the very things that we as proggers cherish in good music? The truth is that Morse's ? is full of mysteries and ideas that are open to interpretation and debate, hence the title of the record. If some listeners feel that they need to throw this album aside because Morse uses the word "Christ" once, then they are not mature enough to be able to put aside preconceived notions and appreciate great concept-driven music. The same goes for those who equally ignore the works of bands like TOOL or DEVIN TOWNSEND because of the darker themes they often employ. Unfortunately, both sides limit themselves to a very narrow range of emotional expression, and, consequently, miss the opportunity to ask more questions.

The Progmatist | 5/5 |


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