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Neal Morse

Symphonic Prog

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Neal Morse The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure album cover
3.96 | 339 ratings | 11 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Act I (54:31)
- Chapter 1:
1. Overture (10:06)
2. The Dream Isn't Over (2:40)
- Chapter 2:
3. Welcome to the World (5:25)
4. A Momentary Change (3:42)
5. Dark Melody (3:29)
6. I Got to Run (6:05)
7. To the River (5:02)
- Chapter 3:
8. The Great Adventure (6:17)
9. Venture in Black (5:16)
10. Hey Ho Let's Go (3:22)
11. Beyond the Borders (3:07)

CD 2 - Act II (49:44)
- Chapter 4:
12. Overture 2 (3:46)
13. Long Ago (3:45)
14. The Dream Continues (1:20)
15. Fighting with Destiny (5:23)
16. Vanity Fair (4:00)
- Chapter 5:
17. Welcome to the World 2 (4:01)
18. The Element of Fear (2:34)
19. Child of Wonder (2:28)
20. The Great Despair (6:18)
21. Freedom Calling (7:31)
22. A Love That Never Dies (8:38)

Total Time 104:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Neal Morse / vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Eric Gillette / guitar, vocals
- Bill Hubauer / organ, piano, synth, vocals
- Randy George / bass, bass pedals, vocals
- Mike Portnoy / drums, vocals

- Chris Carmichael / strings
- Amy Pippin / backing vocals (22)
- April Zachary / backing vocals (22)
- Debbie Bressee / backing vocals (22)
- Julie Harrison / backing vocals (22)

Releases information

Artwork: Thomas Ewerhard

2CD Radiant Records ‎- 3984-15626-2 (2019, US)

3LP + 2CD Radiant Records ‎- 3984-15626-1 (2019, US) Full album on both media

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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NEAL MORSE The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure ratings distribution

(339 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

NEAL MORSE The Neal Morse Band: The Great Adventure reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Todd
5 stars I believe there are a few definitive moments in the course of a person's music listening. For me, the first one came in 1981 when at the age of 12 I discovered a copy of the recent Yes album, 'Drama', in my uncle's LP collection. Intrigued by the cover, I put it on and never looked back through the prog gates that had been blown open by 'Machine Messiah'.

Then almost 20 years ago I was looking for prog on the internet and found the Gnosis2000 website, and when I looked at the highest rated albums they were by Italian bands I'd never heard of. What?! Better than Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson? I bought 'Per un Amico' and 'Darwin' and realized there is a wonderful prog world outside of English- speaking countries--especially Italy.

A few years after that, I heard Neal Morse's 'One' album, and I was floored. I had really enjoyed his 'Testimony' album and the Transatlantic and Spock's Beard I had heard, but 'One' just took it to another level for me. Not only the musicianship and songwriting, but to write about the concept of separation from and return to divinity, with all of its symbolism--well that was Prog Heaven, and another defining moment for me in my music listening life.

So imagine my surprise when two years ago, the Neal Morse Band released 'The Similitude of a Dream', which I like even better than 'One'! It has since become my favorite album post 1970s, and is a contender for top spot overall. Again, the combination of musicianship (taken to a completely different level with the addition of Eric Gillette and Bill Hubauer to the solid core of Mike Portnoy and Randy George, and of course Neal) with songwriting and concept is just incredible. The album is based on the first several chapters of 'A Pilgrim's Progress' by John Runyan, which describes a man's journey from the City of Destruction to Heaven, having to overcome many obstacles along the way.

The tour for the album was unlike anything Neal had ever done, playing the album all around the world for most of 2017. So when the band got together again in the beginning of 2018 to record the next album, they all knew they didn't want to do a double concept album, and definitely not a follow up to 'Similitude'. How could you follow that? The initial writing and recording sessions resulted in a single demo album filled with good songs, but things were unsettled. Neal decided to follow his gut (again) and rewrote and expanded the music they had recorded, and with some trepidation shared this concept album consisting of two and a half hours of music to the rest of the band. They were on board!

The resulting album is entitled 'The Great Adventure'--another double concept album, a sequel to 'The Similitude of a Dream'! The concept centers on Joseph, the son of the protagonist of 'Similitude', who is angry that his father left him and his family in the City of Destruction. He decides to go after his father and faces many challenges of his own along the way. Musical and concept themes from the first album are woven seamlessly into this one, enriching it both musically and lyrically.

In fact, his treatment of music themes is one of the strongest skills of Neal's songwriting, and the Neal Morse Band continues and strengthens this compositional technique. These themes are often used as Wagnerian leitmotifs, bringing to mind a particular character or situation--but then they are turned on their heads, upside down, backwards, different speeds, every way possible. Trying to decipher the themes is one of the joys of discovering this music. For example, on this album the main theme is 'A Love that Never Dies.' The album begins with a short reprise of the final theme of 'Similitude', when this new theme immediately appears. Then it recurs in some form in at least seven more songs (I'm sure I've missed some), then closes the album, along with a companion theme 'To the River'. Another example: a lovely acoustic guitar melody in 'Long Ago' turns into a blistering Eric Gillette riff in 'Welcome to the World 2'--you have to listen hard to pick it out, but it's there.

Here are a couple examples of Neal taking a music theme and turning it using lyrics. Toward the beginning of the album, the 'To the River' theme has these lyrics:

To the river am going, with my sadness and despair. All my questions I bring with me-- I hope to find the answers there.

Then at the end of the album, when Joseph reaches the River and realizes that he must cross over to find his Father, he sings:

To the river I am going, coming 'cross that great divide. Mourn not for me, for I entering To a love that never dies.

One more--when Joseph introduces himself and shares his anger and bitterness, he says that when he complains the people around him say:

Welcome to the world! Where the struggle is real, and you know it feels to beg, plead or borrow. Welcome to the world! Where dreams come to die, and the innocent cry cuz there ain't no tomorrow.

Then when Joseph makes the decision to follow after his father in 'To the River', voices sing:

Welcome to the world! Where souls come to fly, and there is no goodbye cuz there ain't no tomorrow. Welcome to the world! Where the illusion is real, let life you can feel wash away all our sorrow.

But as talented as Neal is with themes, he also excels at writing memorable songs. In fact several of the albums in his discography are singer-songwriter albums, not prog--and they're very good! The most recent example is last year's "Life and Times". Memorable songs are the core of Neal's prog albums as well, of course expanded and embellished and treated with complexity and dexterity--but memorable songs nonetheless. You will never finish a Neal Morse album and not walk away with a few hooks floating around in your head, and that includes this one. A great example is the title track, one of the singles they released prior to the album, available to check out on YouTube. Listen to that and you will hear a great song with excellent hooks--and of course the instrumental break will more than satisfy any symphonic prog fan.

The bottom line is I really love this album! They have built upon the strengths of each band member, and this album sounds even more like a collaborative effort. And how does this stack up to 'Similitude'? It is at least as good, if not better! I didn't think that was possible going into it, knowing it was a sequel. But after living with this album for a while (thanks to Neal for providing an advance copy!), I can safely say that this is one of the great ones, that I will never tire of listening and discovering. There's so much here to enjoy! Five stars (Gnosis 15/15)

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars The written process of the album started during The Similitude tour when Neal was supposed to take a break, but his passion for music pushed him to produce another double concept album that follows the story of Similitude Dream by telling the story of the father and the son searching for a meaning in life. There are some recurrent themes from Similitude in the new album and with every Neal Morse's album. But this time, the same modern symphonic prog rock has enough new spices to gives something refreshing. We have the Prog extravaganza parts with classical arrangements and some long instrumental break spice up especially in the second cd with a good dose of Prog Metal. I am guessing that Mike and Eric had been the source of inspiration here. We still have the more standard rock song and some ballad to complete the circle of a good story. Neal leaves a lot of space to the others vocalists which sound like a band's effort. So, this album is heavier than anything Neal has ever touch and show another side of the creative sound of the band.
Review by Flucktrot
5 stars Prologue: Given personal, family, political and professional developments, I just don't seek out enough new prog as I should, but I'm always going to make time for these guys. I was, like most others (fans of, and members of, the band included) super surprised to see a new album so soon, and that it was another double album inspired by the Pilgrim's Progress story. I checked out the singles released on youtube and found them to be solid, but nothing spectacular. There just wasn't a lot of reason to expect this to be a great album--worth having, certainly, but you would think that creativity and inspiration is a limited resource, and both to likely have peaked during the previous album.

But damned if I don't find this to be a better album, defying the odds once again! I generally find this album to be more musical, to flow better, to more deftly integrate moments that remind of Yes, Dream Theater, Styx, Spock's Beard and Transatlantic, but don't scream "we directly wanted to show we were inspired by this song". Take the title track: it clearly is a weird combination of Momentum and The Grand Experiment title tracks from previous NMB albums, but it's just better than both of those tunes. The intro, which serves as a transition between both albums, it so artfully done that I would describe it as genius-level craftsmanship. The tempo kicks and contrasts in the overtures sound more energetic to me (and I greatly enjoyed those moments on the previous album!). The singles sound better in the context of the album as well: the wall of sound seems a little grating by itself, but in the context of the album, they fit quite nicely.

The highlights for me include the first 25 minutes, through Dark Melody--just great pacing, contrasts, performances, and songwriting. Then we have some up-and-down moments in the middle three chapters: nothing bad, but in an album that repeats themes multiple times, it's easy to feel some applications of a given theme work less well, and I find that to be the case in the middle half (i.e., Beyond the Borders and To The River, although the second overture and subsequent subdued sections, and Vanity Fair, are quite good). Then the final highlight passage from me is the last 20 minute or so. Perhaps the emotional release of the finale doesn't equal the previous album, but it's still excellent.

The album does leave with some final thoughts that genuinely surprised me, in terms of thinking about this album in the contexts of NMB specifically, and Neal's work in general. I remember at the last tour, the closer to the first album (Breath of Angels) was heavy on the chorus, and it distinctly lost some emotional punch live, and I do fear that this might happen live to the album closer to this record, but that's on the guys to figure out. More importantly, most of the highlights of the last 20 minutes are Eric's phenomenal signing and guitar parts, so much so that it almost feels weird to call this group The Neal Morse Band. I remember seeing them for their first tour, and the songs and shows were set up to feature Adson Sodre so much on guitar that I really wondered if they needed Eric. He was clearly very good, but he seemed to be a utility player who could sing, play keys, and guitar in a group that had multiple other members capable of doing those things as well, and seemed to have the songs written to feature their work more than Eric's (almost certainly unintentional, but that's what I perceived at the time).

Now that's all changed: Eric's the star here, and I think that I'll look back on this pair of albums and perhaps wish that this exceptional group had a name that better reflects what they really are doing, but I concede that this is certainly a minor point. Another surprise for me was the satisfaction of getting my copy in the mail, and simply placing it next to my Similitude of a Dream album. The artwork, the content, the emotional impact--these albums just belong together, in a similar manner to the Lord of the Rings DVD trilogy that I have on display on the shelf because it looks cool and is meaningful to me personally. I wouldn't have really recommended NMB to make The Great Adventure a year ago, but now that I have it and am really enjoying it, I'm doing a full reversal: come back to this specific creative well one more time and go all in for the Pilgrim's Progress trilogy. I truly believe they have the opportunity to secure a legacy in prog with this series--perhaps not for astonishing musical uniqueness or originality, but instead a sheer thematic triumph of ambition, inspiration and dedication.

Review by Warthur
5 stars The first Neal Morse Band album was a departure from Neal's usual writing process, because he and the band went into the studio with nothing prepared whatsoever, a situation which demanded that everyone step up to the plate and offer creative contributions - a real shift from Neal's previous approach in his solo career (and during his leadership of Spock's Beard), which entailed writing almost all the material himself.

The second album, The Similitude of a Dream, saw Neal working out a concept and broad structure for the album, and then the band as a whole worked out on fleshing out those bones. This was refreshing in its own right, because it was still a very band-oriented process, but at the same time ensured that there was more overarching structure than on The Grand Experiment.

For this sequel to The Similitude of a Dream, Neal seems to have gone back to his old way of working - presenting the band with some two and a half hours of demos for the concept. These would then be workshopped rigorously; the final album weighs in at about 100 minutes, meaning a fair amount had to be cut. Neal's acknowledged that these cuts were sometimes painful, with everyone involved needing to lose bits they loved, but the end result is a release which is broadly in line with the general approach of Neal's earlier solo career (at least in terms of the prog albums), but has been subjected to sufficiently ruthless editing to keep things tight.

I think the later stretches album are a bit stronger musically than the earliest, which are a little too "business as usual" for Neal, but on further reflection I actually think that sneakily a somewhat neat structure which suits the concept - the album starts out in Neal's comfort zone and then he and the band go out into the hinterlands as things progress.

As far as the concept goes, as mentioned it's a sequel to The Similitude of a Dream, which was based on The Pilgrim's Progress. It's not a spurious, tacked-on sequel, mind; Bunyan's original novel consists of two parts, the titular Pilgrim's journey, and then the journey of the family he left behind to join him in the wonderful realm he's discovered. For the first album, Neal and the Band just dealt with the first part - which meant the second part was ripe for exploration on this album, as a sort of companion piece to the first.

This was an instance where Neal had to persuade the band a little - initially he and the group had been satisfied with Similitude, and were happy to leave Bunyan there and move on to other things - but the end results are on a par with the preceding album, and just shows that having this tight band around him continues to do Neal Morse a world of good. Even though this was largely sprung on them as a fait accompli, you can still detect touches here and there which feel more reminiscent of Neal Morse Band work than Neal Morse solo work, as it were - fleeting moments which don't seem necessarily what Neal would have come up with by himself - but at the same time, the shift in approach means that when the three Neal Morse Band albums up to this point are considered, each has its unique and distinctive character and none of them seem superfluous or redundant.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Like many people I probably need to review Neal Morse's melody-constructing separately to his lyric-writing, given my love of good prog tunes but aversion to anything particularly overly "preachy". If you're offended by someone singing about how much they love God, don't listen. If that's not an iss ... (read more)

Report this review (#2490853) | Posted by bartymj | Wednesday, January 6, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This couldn't have been easy. The Great Adventure'is a sequel to the band's last project,The Similitude of a Dream was to me, a flawless masterpiece. A hard act to follow by'any'measure ' and yet, here we are with'The Great Adventure, an unplanned- for'part'two'of what many have called the band ... (read more)

Report this review (#2189275) | Posted by thesimilitudeofprog | Monday, April 29, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Morse's solo output has been marked by a tendency to sound samey. The records often have highlights, and more than a few moments that make them worth a listen, but they often kind of blend together in your memory. Testimony, Sola Scriptura, and Similitude were all solid efforts. Enter the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2136634) | Posted by kayd_mon | Friday, February 15, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What other people have said really. This is an excellent album which Neal Morse fans will love, but there's nothing really new here - except perhaps a bigger emphasis on a more heavy metal sound than previous albums. Morse has a good ear for melody though, so we're not talking thrash metal or an ... (read more)

Report this review (#2136180) | Posted by AlanB | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'm shocked to see this is rated significantly higher that TSOAD. I considered that album to be genius and to rank among Neal Morse's very best work, regardless of band. I can't think of another release by him that was clearly better. Having given it 10 listens (the minimum needed to render ... (read more)

Report this review (#2134923) | Posted by MrMan2000 | Friday, February 8, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I love Neal Morse, I love Mike Portnoy, I just think they're reusing the same formula over and over again. The same motif's. Back in the day I used to anticipate every single release from these guys; today, they have so many projects that it's hard to get excited as most of them sound the sam ... (read more)

Report this review (#2132033) | Posted by juanvalverde | Monday, January 28, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Great Adventure is a concept double album from Neal Morse Band, as a sequel to the 2016 album, The Similitude Of A Dream, which was very well received, both by the fans and by the critics. Similitude of a Dream was not my favourite NM album, neither when was released and neither today, but I ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#2119501) | Posted by emisan | Saturday, January 19, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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