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Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I consider Neal Morse current progressive rock’s best composer, and this is yet another winner in a long line of great albums that he has taken part in. The sound quality is better on One than on Neal’s previous album Testimony, which is a plus. The electric guitar, bass (played by Randy George), and drums (played by Mike Portnoy) all sound better this time around.

    The opening track, “The Creation,” reminds me of Neal’s past work like “All of the Above,” “At the End of the Day,” and even “The Water.” It’s a good epic but isn’t one of my favorite tracks on the CD. The emotionally-charged part with the line, “Why? Why are you hiding?” is its highlight. The short “The Man’s Gone” is a pleasant atmospheric acoustic song. “Author of Confusion” is full of crazy rocking mayhem, with Gentle Giant-esque vocal arrangements and a section with Hammond organ that would have fit in on a classic Kansas album. Fans of Neal’s Spock’s Beard songs like “Thoughts Part II” or “Gibberish” should love this one.

    Next comes an astonishing extended track: “The Separated Man.” The first part, I’m in a Cage, is a great toe-tapper with a classic Beard feel. I Am the Man has an Egyptian mood in both understated and rocking ways. Next comes possibly the best part of the album, a reprise of “The Man’s Gone” that whips into an astonishing acoustic frenzy similar at times to “Sleeping Jesus” from Testimony but better. “The Separated Man” ends with the return of an Egyptian motif and the haunting and poignant Something Within Me Remembers.

    “Cradle to the Grave” is an extremely touching and beautiful ballad with shared vocals between Neal and Phil Keaggy. “Help Me” has a Latin feel like “The Promise” from Testimony and “Senor Valasco” from The Light. More nice acoustic guitar work is on display here. It transitions into “The Spirit and the Flesh,” bringing back themes from “The Creation.” “Father of Forgiveness” sounds like a refugee from disc two of Testimony, but it is still a very beautiful and meaningful ballad in its own right. One ends on a positive note with “Reunion” which goes from driving rock with brass to a reflective repeating vocal section.

    Neal’s knacks for writing compelling, catchy melodies and singing with real emotion are as apparent here as they’ve always been.

    Posted on December 31, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I am not one who writes reviews. But I was so moved by this effort that I just had to write to say that it seems to have all come together for Neal on this CD. I had an extended (16 hour) drive home from the Christmas holidays and was able to put on my headphones in the car and just listen uninterrupted to this masterpiece. As with most of Neals work, it just gets better and better every time I listen to it. The movement of the music from beginning to end keeps the listener engaged. The structure and timing of each song just works perfectly. I am a LONG TIME listener of Prog Rock and was just telling my wife this morning as we were heading to town for our morning coffee that this CD is I think the best one I have ever heard. I was also thrilled that Mike Portnoy was willing to add his most amazing talent to this effort. It is quite a tribute to their friendship that Mike would be willing to play his heart out on a project that is so overtly Christian oriented. As a believer myself, you can imagine how excited I am to FINALLY have something decent to listen to in this genre. Most of what comes out in the CCM area is practically unlistenable to me, although I respect and appreciate their efforts.
    Anyway, my congratulations to Neal,Mike and Randy. I can’t imagine how they can top this, but I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
    God Bless this effort. Hopefully many will be moved in a way they never have been by this tremendous effort.

    Posted on December 31, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is a great CD but as one reviewer noted the lyrical content can be redundant. That is one of the problems that faces Christian music today. I have no problem with this, but it will be very interesting to see where Neal takes it from here. When he was in Spock’s & Transatlantic he could make his veiled references to his Christianity, but in such a way that it would just blow you away and really make you think about what he was saying. That’s what I enjoyed the most about Neal and his music. And it’s too bad that most of the Christian market will miss out on this great cd because it’s not being marketed that way, but that’s okay. Their loss for that. Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Petra and others need to take notice and where you can go with their genre of music. Neal brings forth nothing less than a full 80 minutes of great music which by Christian music’s standards of 40-45 minutes this is exceptional. Add this cd to your collection, but please make an effort to get the special edition (I’m surprised no one has mentioned that) which adds another 40 minutes of bonus and cover tracks. Always a treat for fans of progressive music.

    Posted on December 31, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Neal Morse has created yet another gem. If you liked “Testimony” you will most certainly like “One.”

    Often times in the realm of prog rock it takes at least 2 or 3 listens, sometimes even more before a record can be fully absorbed and appreciated. I didn’t have to wait that long with this disk. I was hooked immediately. As I continued to listen to this CD again and again, I was merely being reminded of its sheer genius.

    Neal Morse seems to have found his niche. The music comes across with power, confidence and conviction – qualities that are certainly lacking in today’s world of pop music rubbish.

    Exceptional album from start to finish.

    Posted on December 31, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Neal Morse has returned to his musical roots. It’s time to celebrate!

    I really enjoy Mr. Morse’s work, from “The Light” to “Testimony”, no matter where his inspiration is coming from and with whom he is channeling it with. Yes, there are some that are better than others, but on the whole this man can really put it together. “One” has brought Mr. Morse back to where he was in his groove with Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic. Where “Snow” and “Testimony” are enjoyable, they lack cohesiveness and I personally find them challenging to listen to. “V”, “SMTP:e” and “Bridge Across Forever” have it all together, start to finish. “One” is in this league.

    What separates him from others, prog and non-prog, is his Beatles influence. He wears it proudly and is not afraid to let it show often. That’s what keeps his epics together. Each movement is just long enough to get the point across and leave the listener begging for more instead of waiting for the song to end already. Mike Portnoy is a big help in this area. He’s probably the only person around who can tell Neal Morse when it’s “enough”.

    Don’t let the Christian label turn you off to this work. Take it in for the whole package that it is. I don’t feel that he is out to preach to anyone, saying his life or way is better than yours or mine. He writes how he feels, which is what it’s all about. This isn’t you’re typical, candy-a**ed dude strumming a guitar and singing praise to God and Jesus and Heaven with people sitting around him staring up with blank stares on the faces looking like they took one too many hits of Xanax. This is progressive rock.

    Posted on December 31, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now