7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good modern prog.,
This review is from: One (Audio CD)
For those who don't know, Neal Morse used to front the US prog rock band "Spock's Beard", and in a poll in Classic Rock magazine was included in the top 100 frontmen in rock.
More recently he discovered God, left the band after one final release (Snow), then recorded his life story (Testimony) as a 2 hour prog rock epic, which is one of the finest examples of modern prog around.
"One" is his latest project, with Randy George on bass (excellent) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, one of the best drummers around today) on drums. And Neal on just about everything else, plus various guests.
Neal's voice is what you'd expect from someone who started out as a singer/songwriter: pleasant, with an edge, but within a normal human range (more Bryan Adams than Steve Perry). On the whole the vocal sections are quite straightforward, with catchy melodies, some layered choruses, and thoughtful lyrics.
It's difficult to describe this album. It has as varied a feel as Testimony had, with slow mellow sections, orchestral parts, slow rock, latin, Eastern, bluegrass, fast rock, metal (sometimes in one track!), all superbly performed and arranged. In places it is heavier than Testimony ever is, and the general structure is a little less complex - less strings, for example - but the individual parts are probably more intricate and harder to play. And more guitar solo's, including a couple of guest appearances by Phil Keaggy (who's the Christian answer to Alan Holdsworth, if that makes sense).
As an example, the opening track starts with an orchestral fanfare (what my wife calls "Jurassic Park" music!), before changing into an uptempo rocky number with a funky edge, alternating between guitar and key lines for the main theme, then becomes a more complex and proggy number with building strings, moves to a drum & bass funk section, guitar solo, back to the main theme - and all this before any vocals appear!
I like it a lot, and the only reason I've given it 4 stars is that Neal set the bar extremely high with Testimony, and I still prefer that release to this one (tunes just that bit more memorable, for me).
Otherwise it would have been 5 stars, and "One" is still a far superior album compared to just about anything else around today.
Prog fans: you'll regret not giving this a listen.