Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Neal Morse

Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neal Morse The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream album cover
4.18 | 510 ratings | 18 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (52:00)
1. Long Day (1:42)
2. Overture (5:51)
3. The Dream (2:28)
4. City of Destruction (5:11)
5. We Have Got to Go (2:29)
6. Makes No Sense (4:10)
7. Draw the Line (4:06)
8. The Slough (3:03)
9. Back to the City (4:19)
10. The Ways of a Fool (6:48)
11. So Far Gone (5:21)
12. Breath of Angels (6:32)

CD 2 (54:36)
13. Slave to Your Mind (6:27)
14. Shortcut to Salvation (4:36)
15. The Man in the Iron Cage (5:16)
16. The Road Called Home (3:24)
17. Sloth (5:48)
18. Freedom Song (3:59)
19. I'm Running (3:44)
20. The Mask (4:28)
21. Confrontation (3:59)
22. The Battle (2:57)
23. Broken Sky / Long Day (reprise) (9:58)

Total Time 106:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Neal Morse / vocals, 6- & 12-string guitars, mandolin, percussion
- Eric Gillette / guitar, vocals
- Bill Hubauer / organ, piano, synth, vocals
- Randy George / bass, bass pedals
- Mike Portnoy / drums, vocals

- Rich Mouser / electric (15) & pedal steel (18) guitars
- Chris Carmichael / strings
- Sarah Hubauer / alto & baritone saxophones (1)
- Bruce Babad / saxophone (14)
- Jim Hoke / tenor & baritone saxophones (19)
- Steve Herrman / trumpet (19)
- Dave Buzard / sound effects (4)
- Spencer McKee / marimba (22)
- Eric Darken / percussion (12)
- Alfreda McCrary / backing vocals (12)
- Ann McCrary / backing vocals (12)
- Regina McCrary / backing vocals (12)

Releases information

Artwork: Carl Glover

2CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-15477-2 (2016, Europe)
2CD Radiant Records ‎- 3984-15477-2 (2016, US)
2CD + DVD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-15488-2 (2016, Europe) Bonus DVD with "The Making Of A Dream" documentary, edited by Randy George

3LP + 2CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-15477-1 (2016, Europe) Full album on both media

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy NEAL MORSE The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream Music

NEAL MORSE The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream ratings distribution

(510 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(45%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

NEAL MORSE The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
5 stars Here's another concept double album of Neil Morse band based on the story of a man who writes his own story in prison and how he has faced many obstacles. This time there's no epic song but many ideas throughout this long adventure. The music covers different styles of rock, from classic rock to hard rock and Progressive Rock. The album starts with some big instrumental sections that are played at the fast pace,reaching the symphonic Prog Rock and the heavy Prog Rock in a rather dark atmosphere. There's still that emotional Neal's singing his heart out that we all know from his past albums. But what really strikes me in this compared to his previous projects is how Bill Hubauer keyboards are showing more vintage sound and superb melodies. Overall the songs seem to go to the point with more concision. The song "Back to The City" is an example of a track that really works. "The Ways of A Fool" is a retro song taking the Queen and ELP influences. "The Man from the Iron Cage" is close to Led Zep with a powerful guitar solo. If you skipped the song "Freedom Song", you have a perfect album less demonstrative restraining the instrumental parts into shorter sections which result in a more exciting listening experience. There're other highlights songs like "City of Destruction", "The Battle","Confrontation"and also some ballads passages because you can't listen to an hour of music without moments of rest. It will be interesting to hear this whole thing live. This album is really the project of Neal Morse band and not your typical Neal Morse solo album, and this little detail make all the difference.
Review by Flucktrot
5 stars We've heard the hype: this is the one you've been waiting for! Sits right at the top with any of Neal and Mike's best work! The reality? The hype is legit, but not necessarily in the way I initially had hoped, which was finally for a Neal Morse double album that was a non-stop thrill ride overflowing with new material. Unfortunately, that album still doesn't exist. Yes, Neal writes his share of double (or more) albums, but a third to sometimes even half of the album is reprisals and variations of themes. This isn't always a huge problem, but something I think Neal in particular leans on too much if you want to listen to his full albums perhaps hundreds of time (which I do!). I'm afraid all that's happened again.

I also realize that by doing this I'm not getting the full "story", which is important for most concept albums; however, I would also counter that argument by noting that once you've heard "I gotta get out of the city of destruction" in one song, hearing it again, or a third time, doesn't cause the message to sink in any more. I do appreciate the message--and not just the music--in Neal's productions, and they do inspire me to be a better person, and be closer to God, so I don't want to give the impression that I just listen to the music and throw out the message. That said, the music is what draws me in, and it's the music that keeps me coming back.

So then why the high rating? Because Similitude has enough fresh, interesting, nicely produced and collaboratively performed music to make up a regular 5-star album, and so I feel justified in giving this one the full 5 (of which I've only given to one of Neal's dozens of works, Question Mark). In fact, my "album" is the first disc through Ways of a Fool, and then with the Broken Sky/Long Day finale tacked on. That, my friends, is a 50 minute emotional rollercoaster of consistently excellent and diverse prog, and one satisfying finale to wrap it all up. That's not to say that disc 2 doesn't have interesting material--it certainly does--but much of it is interspersed with the second, third, or even fourth reprises. In fact, that leaves me with a number of very good tracks that stand up nicely as singles and/or bonus tracks that I will also come back to plenty of times, so I certainly don't mind that I paid double-album money, even though when I consider the story and the music simultaneously, I think it works better as a regular- length album.

There are a number of reasons why Similitude represents a step up from Neal's recent material (which I find to generally be very good as well). First, I think Neal has a better songwriting edge when he's tackling historical material, and particularly multiple characters, which he hasn't done for a while. Second, while I find Neal's music to be quite well produced, I believe this sounds even better, particularly the acoustic guitars, the synth variety, and Randy's basswork. Third, it's clear that these guys have been getting better as a real band, and the coordination and collaboration shows throughout the album, particularly in the vocals. Finally, although you can certainly hear sections that sounds like Neal's Genesis, Yes and Styx (among many others) influences, and also similarities to his previous work (particularly Snow, Question Mark, and Sola Scriptura), it comes off as more than fresh enough to not sound "samey" to my ears. In fact, perhaps my favorite development is that unlike a lot of Neal's recent writing, in which it seems he is trying to rock as hard as possible, Similitude features more light, intricate, and perky sections, which I particularly appreciated in his Spock's Beard days.

Since I generally like all of Neal's albums, I try to offer some caveats for those who are wary, so as not to just be a fanboy. I don't have many cautions this time though, other than the fact that things can get tedious with the reprises in the second disc. So see that coming if you are on the fence, but I certainly wouldn't let that keep you away if you were wondering if Similitude was simply more Momentum or Grand Experiment. Thank you, Neal Morse Band, for your efforts!

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars One of the most prolific artists in the world of prog has release his next album under the name of The Neal Morse Band. Being able to maintain the level of musical productivity with all of his bands - The Neal Morse Band, Flying Colors, Transatlantic as well as his solo albums, without releasing poor work is an achievement itself. With this band he gives an opportunity for another wonderful musicians to reveal their full potential playing with himself and Mike. The album is typical modern intensive symphonic prog one with some Dream Theater hints, some softer elements, containing complex tempo shifts and some wonderful musicianship from the band members. However, no highly profound and exceptional songwriting methods and ideas are implemented in this work. Recommended to all symphonic prog and Dream Theater fans. Almost 3,5 stars.
Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Hallelujah! And praise the Lord! As brother NEAL MORSE races into the new phase of his career as THE NEAL MORSE BAND like a renegade choir boy eschewing all the gospel and Christian rock norms, he once again joins his brother in salvation Mike Portnoy (master of percussive fecundity from Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Transatlantic, Flying Colors, OSI and much more) along with regular band members Randy George (bassist from Ajalon), Bill Haubauer (organs, pianos, synth) and Eric Gillette (lead and rhythm guitars). This is the second album released by the band and they all contribute vocals to some degree with Brother MORSE picking up the lead spotlight. If that's not enough there are also a whopping ten extra helping hands offering a cornucopia of sounds including violin, viola, cello, saxes, marimba, trumpets, pedal steel guitar and various other forms of percussion. The result of this smorgasbord of musical maestrohood is THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM. A walloping double album that takes the worship of all things retro, cleverly crafts them with Brother MORSE's signature sound and unleashes one of his most ambitious musical experiences to date.

Lyrically speaking THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM is a concept album that is loosely based on the 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. The full title of the original book was "The Pilgrim's Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come; Delivered Under THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM." The actual 17th century publication contained an astounding 108,260 words and written in narrative form in two major parts. And like the basic plot, this massive double album focuses on MORSE's spiritual practices that recounts a story in a dream sequence that is presented by a narrator that tells the story of a man named Christian who after a life of spiritually unfulfilling anguish is told he must leave the evils of the City Of Destruction and make a pilgrimage to the Celestial City to find peace and ultimate salvation. The album much like the book contains two parts with each part creating a separate mood and culmination of the adventures that unfold. Granted, a loose concept based on a massive double volume tome proves to be a nebulous and grainy representation of the greater writings from the past, but manages to create a coherent albeit simplified account based on brother MORSE's personal interpretations.

Beginning with a melancholic violin and viola intro it first appears that this is a symphonic chamber rock album with Brother MORSE singing in his usual mode making the listener think they're in store for a long, mellow drawn out and boring album. But all of a sudden, Brother MORSE, as if summoning up a miracle transmogrifies the super sappy sonicity into an Area inspired jazz-fusion riff that gives way to an energetic symphonic Yes infused guitar solo sequence that then jumps into a never ending changing-it-up of Keith Emerson keyboard gymnastics, bombastic heavy rock riffing and melodic meanderings punctuated by quick slaps of proggy time sig surprises. Whew! And that's just the first short intro "Long Day" and the longer "Overature!" When we finally get to "The Dream" it begins as a Pink Floyd acoustic guitar ballad that brings another double album "The Wall" to mind in musical structure along with those familiar echoes heard in "Comfortably Numb" which pops in from time to time throughout the album. Luckily none of these influences overshadow the overall musical mission but still screams retro-prog in every fashion. "City Of Destruction" takes the harder edged road that brings the whacky 70s world of Joe Walsh to mind slightly as the guitar riff stomps along like an angry child having a tantrum after not getting its way. The chorus for this track finds a reprise at the end of the second disc.

The retro-rock and prog celebration continues with more Pink Floyd (all throughout), The Beatles ("The Ways Of A Fool"), Peter Gabriel ("Slave To Your Mind"), Led Zeppelin ("The Man In The Iron Cage") and The Who ("I'm Running") finding their way into that familiar MORSE packaging that is ubiquitous on his myriad band projects. Also interspersed throughout the 100 minute plus listening experience are ample jazz-fusion segments, American country ("Freedom Song"), Chopin-esque classical piano ("The Mask") as well as heavy doses of prog metal ("Confrontation.") As far as going crazy and really delivering the prog goods, greatness is displayed on tracks like "City Of Destruction" but it really doesn't get any better than the workouts on the closing instrumental "The Battle" which effectively takes on the most challenging aspects of the progressive rock universe and unapologetically nails them to the wall. Highly turbulent rhythms that spasmodically intermingle with sagacious melodies, choral climaxing, unrestrained and uncompromising musical ascensions that end and trade off with other similarly structured runs in a complex tug of war between tension building theatrical antics is the stuff prog dreams are made of! The visions of a higher prog heaven in full interplay and by far the most challenging and adrenaline inducing track of the entire album experience.

Brother MORSE has stated that THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM is the 18th album that he has recorded together with Mike Portney and that this is the one that represents an absolute pinnacle of their musical symbiosis and after just one listen it is hard to deny that the creative juices were flowing on this one with one strong track after another changing things up just enough to keep that old attention span peaked all the while delivering familiar hooks and influences that triumphantly scoured the vast vaults of the hard rock and prog universe. While i would tend to agree with many that this is indeed one of Brother MORSE's strongest offerings to date, i do find the usual flaws that are ubiquitous on the entirety of the NEIL MORSE canon. Firstly is his limited vocal style. Yes, i simply find his range insufficient to fit in with the intensity and dynamics in the sheer scope of styles that the music meander throughout. While i don't find this to be a hindrance in my listening pleasure, i do find it detracts enough from the overall experience and dethrones any possibilities of this ever becoming a true classic in my world.

And then there are those overly sentimental sappy pieces that seem to haunt every MORSE album whether it be Spock's Beard, Transatlantic or the solo releases. In this case it's the last songs on each disc "Breath Of Angels" and "Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)" which find Brother MORSE entering AOR territory strutting around on easy listening autopilot and IMHO completely derailing all the momentum that each side of the album so masterfully accrues although there are segments of these light passages that do effectively mix and meld with the other styles on many tracks dispersed throughout that work quite well. While this album could not rightfully be deemed significantly dissimilar from Brother MORSE's previous strong albums such as "?" or "Sola Scriptura," it does pack a healthy dose of plentiful punches that will guarantee to hook the retro-prog fanatic from the get go. After several spins of this one, i'm still enthralled minus the minor quips that prevent the five star crown. All in all an excellent release and even more so considering it's a double album release.

Lastly, this is an album that is meant to be experienced as a continuous listen. It doesn't seem to be nearly as effective just sampling a track here and there, therefore is very much the sum of the parts that makes this a compelling cognitive workout. While brother MORSE's vocal limitation may dissuade me from becoming the most hardcore of fans, i readily concede that he is the master of delivering some of the most compelling Christian themed prog rock (and rock in general) in the music biz. While certainly on the pop side of the prog universe, great care is laid out in every little aspect of this album with the crystal clear production bringing the musical concept to fully realized vivaciousness. Retro-prog yes ,but an exciting slice of it's immortal calling. Music so compelling and animistic that it just refuses to be put to rest. While this album could not possibly be qualified as the most original of the lot, it nonetheless delivers many aspects of the past in the most equanimous, fastidious and efficacious ways possible along with the sheer stridency of brother MORSE's didactic prose backed up by his most eager and devoted musical followers. Let us give thanks for the music bestowed upon us today. Amen.

Review by Warthur
5 stars The first Neal Morse Band album was a deliberate exercise in Neal Morse shifting gear from his usual approach to making albums. Don't have a plan, don't have anything pre-prepared, just go into the studio as a group and cook everything up collaboratively.

To my mind, it was a major success - and clearly enough people thought the same to make it worth giving the Neal Morse Band idea another shot. This time, however, things seem to have shifted a little, with Neal taking on a bit more of a "band leader" role - seeing how it's his name on the cover and all - whilst not totally abandoning the collaborative approach of the group.

In particular, The Similitude of a Dream is based on a concept decided by Neal (it's an adaptation of The Pilgrim's Progress), with lyrics all written by Neal, and in a format which was ultimately decided by Neal. (Reportedly, he and Mike Portnoy had a disagreement over whether it should be a 1CD or 2CD release - Mike favoured a shorter album to prevent the concept from wearing thin - and Neal eventually got his way.)

That isn't to say this is a reversion to the approach of Neal's solo albums, or the time he spent as leader of Spock's Beard - an era when he'd write more or less all the music and lyrics and everyone else was there to execute his vision and did only minimal songwriting of their own. Once again, the credit for the music goes to all the band members - and once again, you can hear that, with more nods to pastoral-era Genesis and Pink Floyd (for example) than is typical for Neal's usual writing approach, plus some even wilder stylistic curveballs (there's bits of Draw the Line which seem almost nu-metal influenced, in terms of having a hard, funky instrumental basis which you could imagine a nu-metal vocalist rapping over at points). All this is the the sort of thing which also felt novel and interesting on The Grand Experiment, and so seem likely to be the contribution of other band members.

The shift here, then, seems to be that Neal has taken on the responsibility for providing the broader structure and concept, whilst the band as a whole take that framework and put the meat on the bones. It's a change which makes a lot of sense; The Grand Experiment was successful, of course, but it's the sort of thing which can only really be truly novel once. Coming into the studio with at least an outlined concept to hand is the sort of thing which focuses the mind, and having that sort of focus saves the album from being a mere rehash of what came before.

Using The Pilgrim's Progress as a concept also makes a lot of sense in terms of Neal's wider career; although Neal seems to be more open than he was back in the 2000s to be involved in projects producing music which is secular, or at least not overtly and explicitly Christian, he does like to involve his religion in his art. One of the things which is genuinely good about the prog albums in his solo career is that he doesn't just restrict himself to the same very limited set of themes which more conventional Christian Rock artists tend to rag on about over and over again. He's aware that Christianity has a rich cultural history behind it, and he'll use that to do concept albums based on obscure parts of the Bible, or Church history, or - in this case - Christian allegorical fiction.

In addition, the whole "weird allegorical journey" thing which The Pilgrim's Progress is based on is, of course, exactly the sort of thing which has been the substance of a bunch of great prog concept albums of the past - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis is exactly that concept, in particular. (For that matter, so's Spock's Beard's Snow...) Basing the album on the structure of the original story means that John Bunyan is, in effect, an additional collaborator - because in his lyrics Neal is interpreting Bunyan's characters and plot, rather than coming up with his own story from whole cloth.

The end result is something which is both different from what Neal Morse would have come up with adapting The Pilgrim's Progress all by himself and then just handing down the finished compositions to the band, and different from what the Neal Morse Band would have come up with just wandering into the studio with no fixed plan for a second time. As such, despite all the retro-prog influences on it, the album still seems fresh in the context of Neal's prog discography, and helps to continue the revitalisation of that side of his output which the Neal Morse Band represents.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I've been a Neal Morse fan ever since High School when someone turned me on to Spock's Beard, and have been following him ever since, through Transatlantic and his solo career. As a long time student of his music and discography, I can tell you this: he has many, many ideas, all of them great, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#2235590) | Posted by The Ace Face | Thursday, July 4, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In the months leading up to the release of "The Similitude of a Dream" it was clear in all the promotional material that Neal was particularly excited about this one. In more than once instance his drummer, Mike Portnoy, was even quoted in saying it was the album of his career. Since its relea ... (read more)

Report this review (#1814216) | Posted by Amilisom | Wednesday, October 18, 2017 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Well, where do I start? Neal Morse - says - "I want to preach about my born-again xtian god-delusion, again". "H'm haven't you done that to death already?" says a.n. other - "I'll tell you what - I will base the concept on a well known xtian allegorical tale - Bunyan's The Pilgrims Progress!". "I ... (read more)

Report this review (#1742316) | Posted by M27Barney | Monday, July 10, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 stars no question about it. I hadn't heard much of Neal Morse's music before, aside from a song called "The Light" and a few live videos of Transatlantic performing with Daniel Gildenlow, but after reading some very complimentary reviews(the most complimentary of which was found on Mike Portno ... (read more)

Report this review (#1699184) | Posted by Corcoranw687 | Monday, March 6, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review # 42. Starting this piece, I should first of all mention that I'm not a fan of Neil Morse. I surely respect him as a composer and musician, I have many of his solo albums, and of his projects as well, but still... The Similitude of a Dream is the new work of The Neal Morse band, in ... (read more)

Report this review (#1676344) | Posted by The Jester | Thursday, January 5, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Neil Morse knows how to make music. This is IMO the best album he has made (and the best made on 2016). He writes strong melodies. He knows how to create a "conceptual album", by using intelligent transitions, combining themes and returning repeatedly to many of them. He choose great musicians ... (read more)

Report this review (#1676002) | Posted by chiang | Wednesday, January 4, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Being fan of Neal Morse i cannot hide my dissapointment, the album is very sophisticated and strong at the first glance, but after i listened to it again and again, only two or three pieces were catchy enough to stay in my memory. It might be a concept album as they called it, but it is too long and ... (read more)

Report this review (#1672518) | Posted by lizzard | Monday, December 26, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A lot of well known bands have in their composition a well known artist that overshadows the rest in the group. However, here is not the case. This is an example of good teamwork, putting each of these artists under the spotlight. The music: a wide collection of loved styles (from Beatles, Le ... (read more)

Report this review (#1670745) | Posted by mekaton | Thursday, December 22, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'll admit to being a diehard fan of Neal Morse - love nearly everything he's done from Spock's Beard to Transatlantic to Flying Colors to his solo work - and I can safely say that this is one of the best records he has ever done. The additions of Eric Gillette and Bill Huber to make it a full- ... (read more)

Report this review (#1668315) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Friday, December 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, well, well. Once in a while a band makes a statement, a definitive album that people will label ''the one'' you have to own from whatever particular band. For Neal Morse / The Neal Morse Band, this album is that ''one''. I must admit, that I am an obsessive Neal Morse fan, so some may find my ... (read more)

Report this review (#1647608) | Posted by tomprog | Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, an allegorical tale of a man who flees a doomed city to journey towards a better place, meeting various characters and situations along the way. Surely an obvious choice for a prog rock concept album. The British band After The Fire, before they changed int ... (read more)

Report this review (#1647549) | Posted by AlanB | Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just to be up front, I am reviewing as a big Neal Morse, Transatlantic, Spock's Beard, Flying Colors fan; I am not going to change the mind of those who don't like Symphonic Prog, neither will I convince NM haters that complain every time he comes out with something that you've heard it all befo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1643197) | Posted by ProgthankfulRich | Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Neal Morse is a genius. Not because he can write great songs, but because he has stitched together an eclectic and extraordinary collection of musicians as the vehicle for this latest album. It's the same bunch that he had for The Grand Experiment but they've grown more comfortable with one another ... (read more)

Report this review (#1641283) | Posted by James007 | Friday, November 11, 2016 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of NEAL MORSE "The Neal Morse Band: The Similitude of a Dream"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.