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4.18 | 9 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2012

Filed under Metal Related


1. Momentum (6:25)
2. Thoughts Part 5 (7:51)
3. Smoke and Mirrors (4:38)
4. Weathering Sky (4:15)
5. Freak (4:29)
6. World Without End (33:39)
i. Introduction
ii. Never Pass Away
iii. Losing Your Soul
iv. The Mystery
v. Some Kind of Yesterday
vi. World Without End

Total Time 61:17


- Neal Morse / keyboards, guitars, vocals
- Randy George / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums

About this release

Released by Radiant, September 11, 2012.

Thanks to adg211288 for the addition


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Of Neal Morse's prog-based solo albums (ie, not counting stuff like his Worship Sessions series and other stuff putting out conventional contemporary religious music, not stuff like his singer-songwriter albums he put out before leaving Spock's Beard, not cover albums), the vast majority have been concept releases. In fact, despite the fact that Momentum was his seventh prog-oriented solo release - marking the point he'd put out more prog albums as a solo artist than he'd made with Spock's Beard - it was only the second one which wasn't a concept release, but just a clutch of songs.

The other one, mind you, was Lifeline, which I thought was a bit of a misstep - musically he seemed a little uninspired, and lyrically he was getting into exactly the sort of rut Christian rock artists often get into and which his concept albums, by virtue of tackling more involved stories and themes than "praise Jesus!" and "accept Christ!" and "avoid sin!", managed to avoid.

However, after Lifeline an interesting thing happened: Neal not only returned to Transatlantic, but also joined a new band in the form of Flying Colors, as well as making a guest appearance with Spock's Beard at the High Voltage festival. Neal had originally stepped away from band work because he wanted to concentrate on overtly Christian material, and didn't want to force his band projects to go along the same route; evidently, he was now more open to appear on projects which were either more generically spiritual (Transatlantic's The Whirlwind refers to spirituality without being specifically and overtly Christian) or outright secular (Flying Colors), even as he continued to produce Christian material in his solo career.

Momentum is not a sudden thematic shift by Morse - he doesn't drop his Christian perspective suddenly at all - but it is certainly a lyrical evolution when it comes to his solo releases. At least one song - Thoughts Part V, a continuation of the sequence originally begun in the Spock's Beard days - has lyrics which don't overtly refer to God at all, and can be interpreted as a completely secular song. That's the low water mark - the other songs all have at least some spiritual content - but it is notable that Neal doesn't feel quite the same need to make his convictions on this point explicit that he does on so much of his solo material. It's not that the subject is no longer interesting to him - quite the opposite - so much as it seems like he trusts his audience to know where he's coming from, and perhaps feels a little less need to preach than before.

So much for the lyrical direction: what about the music? Well, once again Neal's with Randy George and Mike Portnoy, so we're dealing with the same core trio that have been at the heart of Neal's prog releases since One. There's still a few guest musicians here and there, but less than some of Neal's solo releases, so in some respects this is a back-to-basics release. In fact, it's structured much like Spock's Beard's Day For Night - a clutch of comparatively straightforward answers, and then an epic track to conclude which goes in for more compositional complexity and technical virtuosity. It was a good formula on that album, and it works fairly well here; I think I prefer World Without End, the epic, to much of the opening material, but the shorter songs aren't bad and World Without End accounts for more than half of the album's runtime.

On Lifeline, I thought Neal was getting exhausted and running out of ideas; Momentum, on the other hand, finds him sounding as comfortable and confident as he ever has. Lyrically, he's found a new balance between the spur to write about religious topics which has predominated for so much of his solo career and the different range of themes his pre-Snow work focused on - and he even seems to have realised that they don't have to counterbalance each other, but can in fact support each other, so the religious themes can provide a new slant on the worldly subject matter and the secular ideas can provide a different way of looking at the religious stuff. Musically, it's yet another further evolution of Neal Morse business as usual; if you can't stand his Spock's Beard stuff or his other solo prog albums, he's not going to win you over, but if you enjoy any of that then you'll likely appreciate this.

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