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Neal Morse

Symphonic Prog

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Neal Morse NMB: Innocence & Danger album cover
3.96 | 166 ratings | 9 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Innocence (48:47)
1. Do It All Again (8:53)
2. Bird on a Wire (7:23)
3. Your Place in the Sun (4:12)
4. Another Story to Tell (4:50)
5. The Way It Had to Be (7:14)
6. Emergence (3:12)
7. Not Afraid, Pt. 1 (4:54)
8. Bridge over Troubled Water (8:08)

CD 2 - Danger (50:53)
1. Not Afraid, Pt. 2 (19:30)
2. Beyond the Years (31:23)

Total Time 99:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Neal Morse / vocals, keyboards, guitars
- Eric Gillette / guitars, vocals
- Bill Hubauer / keyboards, vocals
- Randy George / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums, vocals

Releases information

Cover: Thomas Ewerhard
Label: Radiant Records
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
August 27, 2021

Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary), 3LP+2CD Boxset, Standard 2CD Jewelcase

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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NEAL MORSE NMB: Innocence & Danger ratings distribution

(166 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

NEAL MORSE NMB: Innocence & Danger reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars They honestly got me again. I was hoping for potentially a third part to the Similitude/Adventure saga, and when I heard about the Innocence and Danger concept, I really didn't think they could possibly have enough material for a legit double album. Then I read that Neal was not the driving force for writing, and that Bill had brought the most material. No doubt that Bill is an essential part of NMB, but my lasting impression of his contributions was the 15 minutes of the (in my opinion) twee melody that was the majority of Alive Again. That's a personal preference, sure, but I can't deny that it didn't shape my expectations.

Well, there are surely some funky, Supertramp inspired melodies, which largely work, but there are also some powerful chord progressions that really represent some highlights for me, so congratulations to Bill for his contributions, and to the band for making them largely work in terms of building a theme without relying on repeated melodies to heavily. I wouldn't say that there is some great step forward for this band, but they are clearly still innovating, and the result is more compelling music that gets wormed into my head, in the best of ways, largely without the filler and repetition that can mar other similar efforts.

I normally do a highlights and lowlights section, but for this album, there are no real lowlights to my ears, and the highlights are memorable, but perhaps not as much as previous NMB albums, so I'll focus on the individual performances. (Also, seeing many of these pieces performed at Morsefest 2021 has had a positive influence on my impressions...I should probably know not to do this for any album, but in particular NMB has publicly released a lot of this material online, and you can't fully appreciate it until you can really feel it on something other than computer speakers, so please keep that in mind: it really makes a difference).

Neal really brings it on this album, both in terms of pushing himself on keys and guitar. My first impression on parts of Beyond the Years was that he was pushing a bit too much vocally and sounded flat, but I have been less bothered by that on repeated listens. Eric seems to be cautious when going beyond what he does best, and while his playing seems a bit (but not entirely) the same (lots of clean wails and shredding, back and forth), he does push himself a bit more vocally at cathartic moments, to entirely positive effect. Bill deserves much credit for many of the musical ideas on the album, although I think he's a bit limited vocally in terms of either harmony (which works very well) or solos, which few words and slow phrasing, which can slow momentum in places. Mike and Randy are top notch throughout, as always, and do get their spots to shine, which of course plays best live, although there's otherwise nothing terribly innovative to my ears.

Look, I'm an unabashed Neal fan, so take my thoughts for what they are worth, but this is a mix of mostly very good pop-prog and symphonic prog. It's not trying to pretend to be anything else, and who doesn't appreciate when some of the pretentiousness is taken out of the prog experience? Given all that Neal has been doing in the last couple of years, it's impressive that NMB has it's own sound, as does his solo output, as does Transatlantic...that is not easy to do!

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
2 stars The fourth album by The Neal Morse Band (now rebranded to NMB) is unfortunately one of these albums - one of the albums that perfectly display the reasons why people avoid progressive rock and dismiss it as unfashionable, overindulging, and overblown. After two very intense and masterful double concept albums, the band returns with a third two-disc set, split between the shorter and the two longer tracks, totaling at some 100 minutes of playtime (or in other words, quite a challenging endeavor).

Joined by Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer and Randy George, Neal Morse shows us what an unstoppable creative force he is, releasing album after album each year, whether it be solo material, NMB, Transatlantic, or virtually any of his numerous projects. In spite of the massive amounts of music he presents to the world every now and then, the quality of his projects seems to be declining with each new one, and 2021's 'Innocence & Danger' is no exception, in my humble opinion. There really is not that much to be said about the record, except for the fact that on it I hear three things I have already heard multiple times before ? re-hash of 70s Genesis, reminisces of early 2000s Spock's Beard, and Neal Morse's personal signature take on the symphonic prog genre; There is hardly any progression in the band's sound, as it is quite hard to distinguish between NMB and Neal Morse solo releases at this point, with the sound of both being pretty much the same (as is the band). We all know how good of a songwriter the main man behind the project is, we all know what a fantastic vocalist, guitar player, and a talented multi-instrumentalist he is, but he seems to be in a creative limbo - repeating himself way too often, mainly in the phrasing, often also lyrically, the end results are enjoyable, but in the music, there is nothing new, it is the stale proggy sound he has been presenting for a couple of years now.

As much as the album has its great moments, whether these be some short instrumental passages, or catchy, upbeat and memorable verses, the songs do not work overall; Most of the choruses are barely listenable and strangely corny; The energy of the previous two records by the band is gone, the adrenaline and the suspense, too, and all that is left seems to be the directionless self-meditation that sticking to the unusual prog formula would work once again. Unfortunately, it does not, as I do not find anything too challenging or exciting in 'Innocence & Danger'. The longer songs hardly save the record from these impressions I have, falling far behind some much greater epics Neal Morse has been involved in throughout the years - 'The Water', 'The Great Nothing', 'World Without End', 'The Conflict', or 'Into the Blue', just to name a few.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars NMB is the new name for the Neal Morse Band, but it still features the same people who were involved in 'The Great Adventure', namely Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards, guitars), Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals), Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals), Randy George (bass), and Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals). It is not a follow-on to either that album or the one which preceded it, but instead this time around we have a series of unconnected songs, many of which started with Bill and Randy as opposed to coming direct from Neal. I am not sure if that is the reason why, but it definitely took me longer to get inside this album compared to many of Neal's other works, and given I am such a huge fan that was something of a surprise to me. In fact, it was only when I started to get to the end of the first play with the two lengthy tracks which make up the second CD that it all started to gel, but when I then returned to the beginning I was right in from the off.

It is hard to know where to start with this band, as in Mike Portnoy they have one of the most accomplished drummers in the business, while Randy is a wonderful musician and along with Mike has been at the heart of all Neal's work since he left Spock's Beard. If that wasn't enough, they have Eric Gillette on guitar who is simply outstanding, then on top of that you have keyboard player Bill Hubauer and then of course Neal himself. They all sing, and whoever came up with the original ideas, they have all been given the touch of Morse so have elements of Beatles, Genesis, Steely Dan, Gentle Giant, Spock's Beard and so many more. It is the longer tracks at 20 and 31 minutes respectively which make this album, and I personally would have been happy with just those two being released as a single CD, as to my ears they are a step up from the rest of the album, as if the earlier songs are more of a taster for the main event. The overall result is a very good album indeed, but not up to the level of earlier releases such as 'Testimony', but in many ways this shows Morse in a very different place to where he was back then, and while there will always be elements which sound very Beardian, he has broadened his musical palette.

Fans of old-school Morse or Spock's Beard may find this something which needs more work than many of his albums, but it is still one which is well worth discovering.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Neal Morse Band ride again on this fourth studio album. Having spent a while in concept album land with their two releases (The Similitude of a Dream and The Great Adventure), this finds them enjoying the freedom to just cook up a brace of great songs and not worry too much about conceptual structure.

The two concept albums saw the songwriting pendulum creep somewhat more towards Neal Morse, and indeed between The Great Adventure and this the band put out Sola Gratia, a concept album under Neal's own name rather than under the Neal Morse Band flag, because that was entirely written by Neal and the band were just there to enact his vision. By contrast, there seems to have been an attempt here to correct that balance - Neal deliberately didn't turn up without any demos of his own, so as to give more space for the other band members' ideas after they'd indulged him with that piece and the two John Bunyan concept albums (the latter of which had been largely demoed by Neal before the band got involved). Indeed, a chunk in the middle of Not Afraid (Part 2) is improvised on the spot!

Between these two factors, then, one might expect the album to be a bit broader in stylistic range and something of a sonic depature, and you get exactly that here. The group have always shared vocal duties, but it feels like they go out of their way here to bring that diversity of voices to the fore, making this a real breath of fresh air. It's clearly a departure from the conceptually structured John Bunyan duology, where Neal ended up exerting a lot of influence over the "big picture" structure of the compositions even though the band all contributed ideas, but because other band members brought their demos to the table their material has the chance to get a bit more polish than the ideas on The Grand Experiment (where *nobody* brought demos and the whole point was to see if they could create an album working together right there in the studio).

There's only two real exceptions to this very democratic working approach. Emergence is a short piece composed by Neal alone, knocked out at a time when the band were contemplating taking the Fragile approach and including solo numbers from each member, whilst there's also a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, which is a nice fit for Neal and the group's obvious appreciation of the sunny 1960s sounds which fed into the early prog scene.

It's also, perhaps, the clue to where the band are coming from this time - for their approach to covering the material owes a fair amount to Yes's cover of America, and between that and toying with the idea of basing the album's structure on Fragile, this album feels a little like a Neal Morse Band take on Yes - not in terms of blandly imitating Yes's classic style (though there's obviously influence which can be detected here and there), but recapturing that sunny, optimistic, ethereal atmosphere which permeates the best Yes material. (Even the album title might hint to this - "Innocence" and "Danger" being two qualities which might go with the idea of being "Fragile"...)

I don't think it quite holds together as well as prior Neil Morse Band albums - in particular, I think the conclusion to Beyond the Years drags on too long - but it's still a very enjoyable prog album, and one which leaves me interested to see what they do next.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Fantastic double album from Prog veterans The Neal Morse Band (Neal Morse-vocals, keyboards, guitar), Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals), Mike Portnoy (drums. vocals), Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals), Randy George (bass). Unlike their past couple albums, this one is not a big concept album with an ove ... (read more)

Report this review (#2984021) | Posted by BBKron | Friday, January 19, 2024 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is my first ever review.....hope it helps you when considering this recording. Well, it all started years ago when a friend told me about Neal Morse's first "Testimony" CD. Well, that's not exactly true. Back in the late 60's and 70's I LOVED the classic prog of Genesis, ELP, Pink Floyd, Ye ... (read more)

Report this review (#2635870) | Posted by revrandy55 | Sunday, November 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Innocence and Danger is quite a varied selection of songs, some poppy, some with prog elements, and a couple of full- blown prog epics. Lots of great melodies, as you always get with Neal Morse, and really good vocal harmonies. Stylistically there is more than a hint of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Y ... (read more)

Report this review (#2596301) | Posted by AlanB | Thursday, September 23, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Back in February, Neal Morse (ex-Spock's Beard) and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) brought you the new Transatlantic record, 150 minutes of prog extravaganza divided across two, differently arranged versions of the same album. Since then, the prog wonder pair did not waste any time, and on August 2 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2592356) | Posted by lukretio | Sunday, September 5, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This band (NMB) continuously evolves with extraordinary musicianship and interesting themes. The current release : Innocence and Danger, is a mixture of accessible beatle-esque harmonies with prog/jazzy flavors. It is a very fine collaboration of the personal and sounds better with each hearin ... (read more)

Report this review (#2591395) | Posted by MaxnEmmy | Thursday, September 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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