As Neal Morse continues to grow personally, his musical direction determinedly follows. Testimony was his first solo outing since leaving Spock’s Beard. It gave us a glimpse of a man eager to share his new life with everyone willing to listen. One is similar achievement with less stress on the religious points made so strongly on the previous release.
This CD is a prog-rock masterpiece and there is no question he has reached yet another level of attainment within the realm of Christian rock music. Ideally, the words are as strong as the music. Musically this is the strongest album he has done to date, and that comes as no surprise to me. Morse is in a creative evolution that seems to have no barriers or timeline. He is very smart with whom he chooses to help him deliver his music and message. He employs one of the best drummers in world Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and a terrific bass player, Randy George. This album rocks hard, and what I find interesting is that the latest Spock’s Beard effort Octane is one of their heaviest albums yet. So as Morse continues to move forward so does his former group, which is a good thing for us all. However, this is not about the past, this is the here and now, and it could not be any brighter than for Neal Morse.
With three songs that are in the magnum opus mold, this album fits a truly classic prog-rock effort. Nearly 80 minutes of music is very generous, it is equal to another two-album set. I enjoyed the delicate melodies engineered with the acoustic guitars and keyboards, and how it built to a zenith then would let loose and start to rock. This type of approach typifies great prog-rock music, and Morse most certainly is one of the very best at his craft. What I find amazing is that he can use primarily the same formula, produce variety, and keep the listener interested from start to finish, for me that is a monumental task.
Another great album, another year, I can only wonder in amazement what this man will come out with next.
March 2, 2005
Neal Morse: keyboards, guitars, vocals
Randy George: bass
Mike Portnoy: drums
1. The Creation: One Mind/In a Perfect Light/Where Are You?/Reaching from the Heart (18:22)
2. The Man’s Gone (2:50)
3. Author of Confusion (9:30)
4. The Separated Man: I’m in a Cage/I Am the Man/The Man’s Gone (reprise)/Something Within Me Remembers (17:58)
5. Cradle to the Grave (4:55)
6. Help Me/The Spirit and the Flesh (11:13)
7. Father of Forgiveness (5:46)
8. Reunion: No Separation/Grand Finale/Make Us One (9:11)