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Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura CD (album) cover


Neal Morse


Symphonic Prog

4.18 | 628 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Somehow, despite keeping close to the same sound, each album by Neal Morse is a new experience. And ever since his Transatlantic days, the man has been churning out masterpieces almost every time he enters the studio. With Sola Scriptura, Neal more than bounces back from the shaky ? and has yet again reached new heights. Not since those Transatlantic albums have I been so moved by an output of his.

Interestingly enough, the album's format harkens back to the glorious supergroup's Bridge Across Forever, containing two epics between 25 and 30 minutes, another around 16 and then a 5-minute ballad. The difference is that the shorter epic is at the end, and the two long ones are both at the top of the lineup.

The sound here, varied as it may be, leans toward a darker Morse atmosphere. I'm sure the art helps invoke that thought, but this is the first Morse album to bear a strong metal influence, and the lyrical subject is not a hopeful/happy story like his testimony, for instance, but rather about Martin Luther and the birth of the Protestant church. Of course, there are plenty of major keys, peppy riffs and vocals and positive messages, but in general, the feel seems to be a bit more reflective of the hard times and struggles of the era. And that only attests to Morse's artistic prowess.

Again, Mike Portnoy and Randy George lay down great performances on this disc, possibly their best yet (hard to say considering how great they've done already); it's a shame they don't tour with Neal, because they seem to be the perfect fits for his work. Neal's vocals are more impassioned than they were on the last disc (his only weak output this decade), and of course he puts down a solid performance on the keys and guitars. A real treat here is the appearance of Paul Gilbert, who gives us some fantastic solos in the powerful "Upon the Door" movement of "The Door", the metallic "Do You Know My Name?" and the awesome flamenco section "Two Down, One to Go," both from "The Conflict."

The aforementioned "Two Down, One to Go" is the greatest surprise of the disc, mixing flamenco guitars with what seems like music that belongs in a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie. It would be useless to list other sections as highlights, because each one is a gem in its own right, and they all manage to flow together thanks to the adroit craftsmanship of Mr. Morse. Even the ballad, "Heaven in My Heart" proves to be worthy of being mixed in with those wonderous epics.

Neal continues to work wonders, and Sola Scriptura currently stands as his finest solo output yet.

Moatilliatta | 5/5 |


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