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Neal Morse - Lifeline CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

3.13 | 284 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I do not want to give this album two stars. I love Neal's music. I want to promote it all I can. However, when it really comes down to it, it's a sub par album.

A lot of fans, in increasing numbers, have been complaining about Neal's music getting repetitive. I never agreed with them until this album. I do not think it is because he repeats his musical ideas too much. I think it is due to two elements: his voice and his transitions. He sings every song the same way these days, it seems, and no matter how cool the riff he introduces, it almost invariably will drop and slow into a mellower section. Too many predictable ups and downs. Like riding a little plastic horse outside WalMart rather than getting on the back of some real crazy equine monster.

The title track opens promisingly enough. Fun keyboards and some high quality Morsean noodling lead the song into a fairly traditional track. Leviathan is, I think, the only truly creative song on this album. Some neat funk horns and some goofy sound effects take this heavy beast (oh, good pun) to a nice level of high-end prog. Too Many Roads, which is almost half the album, is such a standard Neal epic that I could sing along with the last couple minutes on my first listen. Some of the middle sections, especially all the Way to the Grave, have some really neat bits. There is even a moment of bass solo with cowbell, a strong combination. The Way Home, God's Love, Children of the Chosen, and Fly High are all fairly basic tracks from the man, nothing we aren't expecting. Nothing particularly notable about any of them.

I have to say this album is an interesting one, as I enjoy the bonus disc more than the actual one. In fact, without this bonus disc, this album might have gotten a single star from me. The four covers feature more creativity and exciting ideas--just in the way the band toys with them--than the entire first hour and however much change before them. Two album b-sides come next, with Sometimes He Waits, a track that should go with The Way Home and the rest of those above that weakly try to bring some melodic interest to the work. The other spare song, Set the Kingdom, is just behind Leviathan in my book, with some of the more creative riffs to feature on the whole release. Finally, there is the bonus track on the bonus disc (doubly hidden, very clever), I'm a Heavy Metal Long Haired Blue Beard Tattooed Jew (take a guess which band member this is in reference to). I don't know what to say about it, except that it makes me smile, and that I think it is more interesting than most of the tracks on the first disc.

Truth be told, I think I would prefer this album if it were simply armed with the tracks Lifeline, Leviathan, All the Way to the Grave, and Set the Kingdom. Somehow, I think it would seem more worth my dollar, a quality forty minutes of prog rather than having them interspersed among what I hate to but have to call something of drivel.

All in all, this album is stock and standard Neal, a viewpoint I never wanted to adopt but have no choice. If you are interested in buying it, buy the special two disc edition.

LiquidEternity | 2/5 |


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