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4.8 out of 5 stars
12
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 28 July 2017
As a newcomer to Neil Morse's solo work (but already a huge fan), this cd is another outstanding experience. The music really works as a single piece of music, with the overwhelming intensity and passion that we are used to hear from Neil. Another five stars, no doubt.
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2005
This is Neal's third solo foray into prog rock, with a Christian message.
Ignoring the lyrics (based around the Tabernacle - look it up in the Old Testament), the structure is as before, some fairly straightforward vocal tunes separates by mind-blowingly complex instrumental passages. Start mellow, build, totally OTT middle, then epic finale.
The vocal parts could be used in isolation, and I think would work perfectly well with just an acoustic guitar, maybe a piano, but clearly that's not what makes Neal tick. His voice isn't anything special (sort of Bryan Adams-y but less gravel), but he writes decent melodies, plays great guitar and keys, and loves to show off.
Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) is still behind the kit, and the guest musicians reach a new high for Neal: Jordan Rudess (DT again), Steve Hackett (!!!), Ronni Stolt (Flower Kings) and his own brother Alan (Spock's Beard) among others, taking the instrumental passages to a new level of complexity.
Not sure all the tunes are quite as good as before (Testimony remains the benchmark), but the instrumental bits make up for this in my ears, so 4 stars it is.
And not quite as long as his other works. Good stuff.
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on 4 November 2005
This, Neal’s third solo progressive rock release, continues the prolific composer’s musical and spiritual journey into and through christianity in its musical form. Full of wonderful, imaginative compositions with lyrics more or less entirely, it seems, taken from passages from the bible, the album is also supported by an array of talent from the world of prog; Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt, Steve Hackett...
The subject of the album is the Tabernacle, the biblical dwelling place of God with a constant theme that runs lyrically and musically throughout the recording of (seeing) 'the temple of the living god'.
For those who have enjoyed Neal's previous work, especially his previous release, 'One', this work is every bit as good as anything he has done before, including his output with Spock's Beatd and Transatlantic, and is thoroughly recommended. Truly, if Songs of Praise was anything like as good as this it would have great audience figures!
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on 1 January 2011
? (2005) is my favorite not only Neal Morse album but it is my most favorite American progressive rock album. Concept-wise, lyric-wise and music-wise. When I first started listening to it I felt that its later part of songs 7-12 were of historic proportions and could have been composed by Pink Floyd or Genesis at the height of their careers. Really, to me structurally as well as in every musical or lyrical detail this work is spectacular. The guitar solo of song 9, would have looked great inside David Gilmour's portfolio and the emotional build up Neal is able to create within song 10 is again, world-class. My problem with a lot of recent progressive rock music is the progression for the sake of itself. I often hear albums with good songs and mediocre songs and minutes of music between songs, taking us from point a to b by a way of a guitar solo succeeded by a drum transition, whatever, but without the constant sense of flow and harmony which seemed to have been there on my favorite Genesis or Yes, Pink Floyd or King Crimson albums. It almost feels like seeing a cart in front of a horse. Our emotional stage should develop naturally upon the experience of creation rather then things should be constructed in a certain way to evoke an emotional feeling within listeners, as is often done. That is why every few years I pick some album revered by the progressive rock community and after few days of trying and hoping but not getting anywhere, I just put it away, and much rather play one of a hundred of my favorite progressive rock albums from 1970s. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that progressive rock is only about a quarter of what I listen to. However, the greatness of this album's entirety comes upon us rather quickly and unquestionably. Structurally everything flows here beautifully. Spiritually, Neal tells an amazing story details of which will be different for every single one of us and might be irrelevant, because the idea behind this creation is to approach us on the spiritual rather than intellectual level.

Unfortunately many of us will not allow the solo music of Neal Morse to influence their lives simply because they are feeling so disconnected from the constant message his songs deliver. Oh no, not another Jesus freak screaming hallelujah... Somehow it is hard for many of us to get influenced by the euphoria Neal seems to be under, because we feel so distant from it and we are suspicious of strong religious feelings, which seem to be bringing so much evil into our world as well. In the name of God and Jesus lots of blood has been spilled through the ages and it is hard to forget it. Neal Morse agrees with the above statement and covers the periphery of that territory in his Sola Scriptura (2007) album. We might not always approve of how our own child will feel and act, which at times could make us cringe, but we do keep on loving him or her just the same, don't we? It is that message of love which Neal Morse is trying to communicate to us on a universal level and the place he is coming from has more to do with knowing than believing. He opens his heart and soul to all of us over and over again, not letting his mind interfere. Testimony (2003) brought us the most exact records of Neal's contact with the Living God. Please read carefully through Oh, To Feel Him and please keep in mind that Neal reveals only the spiritual side of his material experience. There are plenty of records of others having gone through a very similar experience to the one Neal Morse has gone through. People of various religious beliefs (including the one in the big bang explosion of a souless and meaningless universe) who having encountered such momentous fact understand that God or the concept of God should unite us and not divide us because it stands for love and goodness within us all, which we are able to sense. Neal Morse is probably one of the most loyal people in that group and a very talented musician, so his message stands out. And again, the certainty of his conviction is based on his experience which to him is not a matter of faith but a matter of fact. Most of us describe themselves as spiritual not religious. So, here it is, a spiritual journey of a brilliant musician and song writer. It is one of his following collaborations with phenomenal drummer Mike Portnoy (formerly of Dream Theater) who obviously must be sharing the conviction of the message delivered in each one of the albums Neal Morse has given us lately. Besides the other usual suspect Randy George and Neal's brother Alan this album also features Jordan Rudess (of Dream Theatre), Roine Stolt (of The Flower Kings) and Steve Hackett, who hopefully does not need any introductions. Should it be a surprise that this album is musically truly amazing? Perhaps that is what ? stands for. As you interpret the message of this breathtaking revelation for the age of downloads do not skip over the artwork and pictures completing the puzzle.
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on 27 May 2007
This is only the second Neal Morse album that I've heard, having bough this after listening to Sola Scriptura. The theme is again a religious concept and I know that will put some people off but, if it doesn't, then you are free to enjoy some beautiful music. Whilst this might be termed progressive rock, it is broken up (more so than Sola Scriptura) into 12 songs and makes easy listening. there is plenty of "rock" but gorgeous melodies are never far away! I don't think it's as good as Sola Scriptura, but it's still excellent!
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on 1 June 2006
....Well ok a bit of a grand statement but this album is certainly a master of music at his best. From the moment the album starts to the moment it ends you will be taken on a journey that if you have any faith will leave you breathless.

Can't recommend it enough especially to those who enjoy the splendour of progressive rock music.
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on 7 January 2006
I am one of those that really love the Neal Morse albums, up to a point. They do get a bit samey but if you're into that sound and style then they're cool. From that perspective this is no different and probably much stronger than Testimony or One musically.
However, the religious lyrics - as a 'non-believer' - do come across as incredibly preachy and grating, and much as I try to ignore them ultimately they put me off even listening to the albums more than a couple of times, and this is no exception, let alone buying them and keeping them. He'd probably sell a lot more if he recorded the album twice with an alternate set of lyrics - i don't really care what they are about, I just wish he'd stop ramming god down my throat and let me enjoy the music without feeling like he's trying to convert me - it makes my skin crawl.
Musically this is very similar to the Transatlantic and Spock's Beard albums - if you haven't bought/heard those, get them in preference to this, unless you particularly want to 'share the message'.
If you can tune out the lyrics this album gets four stars
If the lyrics are going to annoy you then it drops to a two
If you've heard loads of the previous Neal Morse/Spock's Beard/Transatlantic and are bored with the similar kind of feel this is going to do nothing to change your mind, but it's a very good example of that style so probably a three in that instance.
Sorry to be so schizoid, but the whole religious aspect is very likely to play an important part in your like/dislike of this album and I wouldn't recommend buying this album 'cold', check it out if you can first.
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on 4 February 2015
Possibly Neal Morse's finest album. Which is saying a lot, given the very high quality of his work over the years. A genuinely great album.
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on 30 April 2014
All went as well as it could go with this order. No delay, item arrived in condition as described and I have no reason for complaint.
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on 13 October 2015
Terrific music, wonderful musicianship, a great modern prog rock album of old school prog rock musical attributes!
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