Neal Morse - ?

Published Saturday 12th November 2005
Neal Morse - ?
Neal Morse - ?

RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 14273-10331
LABEL: Inside Out Music SPV48622
RRP: £14.99

Reviewed by Anthony Longville

It seems an age since a review of 'Testimony' in Cross Rhythms set me off on a new musical journey into the wonders of modern progressive rock. A lot of high quality music has been bought in what has actually been a short period of time. The latest release by Neal Morse is also the one with the shortest title, moving on from the longer titled 'One' from 2004. This release has been highly anticipated by Morse fans and the cause of much speculation. Morse continues to record on a secular label and continues to aim his music at the same fanbase. Opinions are sharply divided over the lyrical content of Morse's solo releases, some rueing the day that Morse became a Christian and left his bands, Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. Here he continues with his "religious themes". The subject of the piece is the Tabernacle. This is not the subject matter of many releases I suspect. Whilst many seem to go in for simplistic worship lyrics, Morse continues to be happy to grapple with big and difficult subject matter. Lyrically the result is fascinating. Taking the Tabernacle and particularly looking at the subject from the viewpoint of the unclean ones who could not enter into temple worship Morse explores the implications for us, ultimately of course leading us to the great high priest. For those who are prepared to dig there is much treasure to be found. Musically, this is a masterpiece. The 57 minutes of the album are intended to be listened to as one solid piece of music, but is divided into 12 (even that I am sure is symbolically significant) tracks for convenience. In my review of 'One' I commented that that album was heavier in parts than its predecessor. This album contains even more which will appeal to those who like their guitars and keyboards at full tilt (try "In The Fire" for example). In one way Morse has come almost full circle as members of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic guest on the album - to great rocking effect. For someone like me - a fan of the classic '70's Genesis line up - the track "12" offers the musical piece de resistance, the unmistakeable tones of my all time favourite guitarist, Steve Hackett. Frankly, I cannot put into words what I feel about this album in the space allowed. '?' may well be Neal Morse's greatest work yet (band or solo). In CR, 'Testimony' and 'One' both received top rating and '?' has to receive 10 squares too!

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Andy Longville in Cwmbran South Wales @ 19:45 on May 20 2008

As a long time prog fan, I have over the years been on the lookout for new music and Spocks Beard was a great discovery (great live-Mean Fiddler last year and due at the point Cardiff July this year), but the best thing that happend to the band was Neal Morse leaving.

Posted by MarkW in Ireland @ 13:28 on Nov 28 2005

absolutely amazin' blown away. Great to get another stage from the main man. I must say his fellow compadres' from the Theater have contributed also.....
This was doesn't grow, it's just always been!

Posted by Josef Soethe in Bielefeld, Germany @ 22:04 on Nov 19 2005

Dear Mr. Longville,

I whole-heartedly agree with You: "?" is a true masterpiece, abounding with strong melodies and thrilling chord progressions. Once again, Neal Morse shows his remarkable talent of writing coherent epics.

Yours sincerely

Josef Soethe

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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