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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully pretentious prog-rock...
On hearing of Neil's decision to part company with the rest of Spock's Beard, I feard we may have lost one of our most talented musicians for good. He'd stated that God had a higher calling for him - worrying for a confirmed atheist such as myself. I was suprised and overjoyed when I heard of this latest offering.
Without a doubt this carries on his great work with...
Published on 20 Oct. 2003 by Fergy

versus
6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A counter to all the praise
Everybody seems to love this album here, so my review will be the minority. Neal Morse's Testimony is the worst kind of preachy religious music - full of self pity, full of salvation. Some good musical work in there, but not enough to offset the constant religious references. Snow is a much better album because at least the religious message is veiled and can be...
Published on 16 Feb. 2005 by Mark Harding


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully pretentious prog-rock..., 20 Oct. 2003
By 
Fergy (Chester, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
On hearing of Neil's decision to part company with the rest of Spock's Beard, I feard we may have lost one of our most talented musicians for good. He'd stated that God had a higher calling for him - worrying for a confirmed atheist such as myself. I was suprised and overjoyed when I heard of this latest offering.
Without a doubt this carries on his great work with SB. All the hallmarks are there - strings, brass sections as well as numerous examples of Neil's startling musicianship. Add to this the percussion talents of one Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater's incredible drummer) and you have all the ingredients in place.
The album is basically a concept album. It tells the true story of Neil's adult life - his struggle with his music ("If I play that Eagles song again!!), his lifestyle (parties and late nights) through to the success of Spocks, his marriage and eventual spiritualism.
Although I cannot really relate to a lot of the sentiments or feelings displayed in the lyrics, I can definitly relate to the music therein. He has managed to convey the gamut of emotion in a roller-coaster 2-hour epic. This man's a genius - but not everyone knows it yet.....
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EX-SPOCK'S LEADING LIGHT TESTIFIES, 21 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
Like most aficionados of the mighty Spock’s Beard, I was mortified by the thought of the band losing what was their strongest asset – one Mr Neal Morse: multi-talented songwriter, keyboard player, lead vocalist and charismatic front man. Neal’s statement to his fans was that he had received a higher calling to leave the band and to “await further instructions”. The four remaining beardsmen recovered after this shattering setback with their quite pleasing ‘Feel Euphoria’. Those of us slightly more intrigued to see what Neal would have to offer under his own steam had to wait a little longer. And, in time-honoured tradition, I have to say that the wait has been more than worth it.
I will lay my cards on the table straight away by saying that ‘Testimony’ is a staggering piece of work which could only have been created by a man who has gone through the personal trauma and transformation of the like of Mr Morse. His deeper faith in Christianity and the rocky road he has travelled to get there provides the backdrop and inspiration for this masterwork that runs to an all-involving 2 hours and spans two CDs plus a bonus disc (in the case of the special edition). It is a wonderful album that consists of five ‘parts’ comprising songs, themes, overtures and heavy-weight instrumental work-outs that are all interwoven and skilfully arranged and produced to form a piece of symphonic rock that Neil can be truly proud of.
Backed by a superb bunch of musicians (including the powerhouse drummer Mike Portnoy, on loan from his day job with Dream Theatre), this album offers some intriguing departures from the sound that we normally associate with NM. In addition to the standard keyboards, guitars & bass arrangements (most of which incidentally are handled by the man himself) Neil has also brought in brass, strings, fiddles, flutes and a great girl backing vocal section, all of which expands the breadth of sound and greatly benefits the musical journey we’re taking. Classical influences make themselves felt in the three overtures, we get some corking bluegrass guitar in ‘Sing It High’, even a nod to the 60s with some of the brass sections and vocal melodies. But, make no mistake, he has not abandoned his roots and when it’s needed, Mr Morse wrings out powerful prog-rock lines from his Moog synths and Hammond organs like no other. He also shows us what an amazing guitarist he is. The voice is as expressive as ever, singing with passion, power and intimacy with the taste and judgement to know when to use what. No single mortal should be allowed to have this much talent!
What amazes me is that this sounds such a accomplished and mature piece of work, the likes of which is normally only attainable from bands who have been together for ten or more years. And yet Neil has written this, assembled the right musicians and recorded it all in the year or so since he left SB. In summary I can only say that, rather than just reinvent what he has been known for in the past, or take a radical departure and change direction completely, Neil Morse has simply evolved, matured, and taken himself into another league with this debut. Anyone who has admired his work with Spock’s Beard will not be disappointed. The live shows should be awesome!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Born again after Spock's Beard., 20 Jan. 2004
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This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
What a thoroughly wonderful album from Neal Morse (late of Spock's Beard). A great deal of thought and soul has gone into this excellent album.
In many ways it actually sounds like Spock's Beard; but I suppose it should as Morse was vocals, keyboards, accoustic guitars and lyricist. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) plays drums for this album.
I'm not really going to make a big deal about the content, because for me it wasn't an issue. I knew about Morse's recent conversion to Christianity and he's not the only one from a major rock band: Have you listened to the lyrics from Creed or Evanescence - they sell, right? I think even Alice Cooper had a Road to Damascas experience himself - if he can...? Not wishing to judge, of course. Maybe Ozzy next? That would be very intersting. He'd need to buy a thesaurus.
Well, I'd certainly recommend this album. It's excellent and Spock's Beard fans will certainly dig it, unless they're seriously cynical.
I read the booklet with great interest that came with Testimony, in which Morse explains how the songs came about, even as far back as V and Snow. Guess it's been a long time coming. I certainly wish him well and hope he keeps 'em coming.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The prog benchmark, 27 April 2007
By 
Dr Nick "Dr Nick" (Sheffield, S Yorks United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
Neal Morse for those who don't know: former failed singer/songwriter who suddenly found a career in prog rock (Spock's Beard), then got religion, left after one more album (Snow), and now has a solo "Christian prog rock" career.

This is the (double) album that started it all. Neal wrote the thing, played guitar, keys and bass, managed to persuade Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) to play drums, got other pals to do strings, backing vocals etc - and ended up with a superb prog rock release. The title says it all, he's telling us the story of his life and conversion. But you don't need to worry about being preached to, he's talking about himself and his experiences.

Neal sings a bit like Bryan Adams: Not a superhuman voice (he's no John Anderson), normal vocal range, and so relies on the tune itself.

The music is excellent. Neal can play. There are some solid guitar solos, some flashy keyboard sections, and Kerry Livgren (Kansas) drops in for some lead guitar work too.

The thing about Neal is, he writes fairly straightforward vocal melodies, then surrounds them with complicated instrumental arrangements.

There are several styles here. A fair bit of hard rock, several ballads, some nifty acoustic work, some almost poppy moments, and what my wife calls "Jurassic Park music", if that makes sense. All expremely high quality.

I'd have liked a bit more of the heavy stuff (something Neal has provided on subsequent releases), but the overall standard is good enough to make this release the one against which every subsequent album should be judged.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Musical masterpiece. Lyrically slightly superficial., 17 Mar. 2004
By 
Ted Chaz (Florence, Italy) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
Having bought "Testimony" soon after "Snow", a comparison between the two was inevitable. They are both double-CD concept albums; the latter being Neal Morse's final offering at the helm of Spock's Beard and the former his first after jumping ship.
Musically this album is amazing. Neal plays all bass, keyboards and guitars (apart from one guitar solo which he gave to his prototype, Kerry Livgren). He also generously gave the drum parts to his good mate Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), even though he could have more than adequately done the drumming himself; just take a look at "Squonk" on the "Spock's Beard "Don't Try This At Home" DVD, and you'll see that this is true. The music includes all different styles; prog, gospel, country, pop, easy listening, acapella, classical, etc; but at the same time I find one negative musical influence moving in: mainstream US contemporary christian music (CCM). Neal says on the inlay card that he listens to CCM radio in America, and living in Nashville means that he is surrounded by it. Now, I don't like to over-generalize, but CCM is naff. This naffness showed through on the later Kerry Livgren albums, "When Things Get Electric" and "Collector's Sedition", and I just hope there isn't and escalation of naffness with Neal Morse. The influence on "Testimony" is still minimal, and there are not many cringeworthy moments.
Lyrically I find the album slightly superficial. By comparison "Snow" is a brilliant allegorical work about the grace of God, and in itself is an excellent testimony to Neal's faith. "Testimony", on the other hand, simply recounts Neal's conversion story, and to my mind it comes across as being more "I"-centered than God-centred. It would be interesting to count how many times he uses the woords 'I', 'me', and 'my' in the album.
However, Neal redeems himself (apologies for the contradiction in terms) with the last suite, from Overture 3 onwards. I play this section over and over again when I want to sing praises to God, as I do with the reprise of "Wind at My Back" from "Snow", or the the finale from Geoff Mann's "Casino".
Despite the 4 stars I thoroughly recommend this album. However, just a few words to disagree with some points of my fellow reviewers: I think that a) "Snow" is better, because of the lyrical ingenuity of the work, and b) that in the context of Neal's departure, "Euphoria" is a more impressive first offering from the Neal-less Spock's Beard, tahn "Testimony" is from the Beard-less Neal, because i) Neal knew that he would be leaving, and he already had a lot of "Testimony" in the pipeline while he was still a Beard; ii) the new Beard probably didn't expect Neal's departure, so they were suddenly left without their main songwriter, but nevertheless pulled some decent songs out of the hat in a short time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The benchmark, 27 April 2007
By 
Dr Nick "Dr Nick" (Sheffield, S Yorks United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
Neal Morse for those who don't know: former failed singer/songwriter who suddenly found a career in prog rock (Spock's Beard), then got religion, left after one more album (Snow), and now has a solo "Christian prog rock" career.

This is the (double) album that started it all. Neal wrote the thing, played guitar, keys and bass, managed to persuade Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) to play drums, got other pals to do strings, backing vocals etc - and ended up with a superb prog rock release. The title says it all, he's telling us the story of his life and conversion. But you don't need to worry about being preached to, he's talking about himself and his experiences.

Neal sings a bit like Bryan Adams: Not a superhuman voice (he's no John Anderson), normal vocal range, and so relies on the tune itself.

The music is excellent. Neal can play. There are some solid guitar solos, some flashy keyboard sections, and Kerry Livgren (Kansas) drops in for some lead guitar work too.

The thing about Neal is, he writes fairly straightforward vocal melodies, then surrounds them with complicated instrumental arrangements.

There are several styles here. A fair bit of hard rock, several ballads, some nifty acoustic work, some almost poppy moments, and what my wife calls "Jurassic Park music", if that makes sense. All expremely high quality.

I'd have liked a bit more of the heavy stuff (something Neal has provided on subsequent releases), but the overall standard is good enough to make this release the one against which every subsequent album should be judged.

The limited edition has an extra CD with some bits & pieces. Not essential, but fun.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PASSION PLAY, 28 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
NEAL MORSE LEFT THE ULTIMATE PROG ROCK BAND,SPOCK'S BEARD,AFTER A 'ROAD TO DAMASCUS' VOICE FROM ABOVE...TELLING HIM HE WOULD BE BEST PLACED MAKING MUSIC FOR GOD...IT ALL SOUNDS FAR-FETCHED,BUT TRUE...IF THE MAN WAS NOT A MUSICAL GENIUS IT WOULD BE HARD TO SWALLOW...BUT NEAL HAS MADE HIS FINEST ALBUM YET [YES...EVEN MORE AMAZING THAN 'SNOW']..SO WHAT'S WRONG WITH RELIGIOUS MUSIC...WE ALL BOUGHT HANDEL'S MESSIAH...DIDN'T WE?...SERIOUSLY...JOKING ASIDE...THIS IS A MASTERWORK OF PROGRESSIVE ROCK...BUY NOW AND MAKE THIS GUY THE STAR HE DESERVES TO BE.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible piece of work, 8 Oct. 2003
This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
This is an awesome piece of work by the prolific Neal Morse. The more I listen to it the better it gets. The musicianship is outstanding. There are a variety of styles but it's prog with a capital P! The double album charts Neals struggle with life and search for some kind of meaning to his life. I admire the honesty in his lyrics. Some will undoubtedly slag him off for the Christian angle but this is a very personal album where he bears all and that has to be respected. The music is just amazing as one would expect from Morse. If you thought Snow was good then get this it's better!
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good album by a committed artist, 20 July 2012
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This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
When I first heard about Neal Morse, a prog-rock christian artist, I didn't really know what to expect - the album was either going to be excellent or a complete fail.
It is excellent.
I particularly liked 'Wasted Life', a powerful rock ballad that really tries to convey the sense of desperation and helplessness that is so evident in the lyrics of the song.
If there is one small problem with the album, it is that the songs can sound fairly samey, but that is inevitable with the amount of recurring themes that crop up throughout the many songs.

A fantastic buy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars a very good piece of music, 27 April 2015
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This review is from: Testimony (Audio CD)
a very good piece of music.his journey from his life before his christian life and his journey into christianity.his troubled life then his chritian life.a very good cd his music is brilliant.get it you will not be dissapointed.
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