Oh my God!!!, said the words out of my mouth when my ears first descended upon the auidble pleasure that were to emit from my speakers when the first notes hit me in the face. The story of how I bought this was quite funny. There I was, in a very secluded small and worthless HMV, pondering for good albums, when out of the corner of my eye i spoted this amongst the waste of popular garbage that surrounds most cd shops. I remembered the name from a leaflet that you would see from Inside Out telling you about what cds they have. "Neal Morse, i've heard that name before, is he anygood," i asked my compadre, my brother. He replied "Yea, but he's Christian prog" "Does that even exist", i shuddered. Christian rock is just whiney abuse on the ears (Jonas Brothers are a plain example) But then my brother replied, "Mike Portnoy plays on it" "Oh, then it must be bought", even though Mike Portnoy is probabbly the most annoying man on the face of the planet, he is still one of the most talented man to hold sticks in his hand since Mr. Miyagi. Another point of pleasure for me is that it has only 4 songs on it, 2 of them over 25 minutes. I couldnt care if the Spice Girls had a 4 song album, i would still buy it, becuase with long songs you have 2 options 1. They will bore you to death or 2. It will be pure heaven, because the band knows how to keep the listener intrested through a long piece of music (some mistakes that some bands make now and then)
"The first song is 30 minutes, it will start off slow i bet", were the words I later regret. I was so wrong. I nearlly fell of my amp (yes, i sit on a guitar amp). Oh My God where the words I fettered.
So I will know tell you of what each song sounds like:
1. THE DOOR: As i said, this piece starts off with a bang, a crescendo of guitar, keyboards and drums, with an epic choir sound. I was drawn in by Neal's powers. The intro again takes off but with a different theme being played, again my heart stopped, then started again. Crescendo upon crescendo. After that the main riff is played, a riff that follows me everywhere i go, it possesses me so much that every time i'm near a keyboard, i have to play it, it's just, "phowa". And in the middle of that, Neal expresses some amazing piano arrpeggios, that would have Jordan Rudess cutting himself with ivory over the amazing talent displayed. After that an amazing Bach inspired piano part is played, very dark and quite disturbing. Before the first lyrical contributions are displayed, Neal expresses some lovely keyboard harmonies, and prepares you for what is to come, then a pause before the vocals, and Neals voice can be heard, with amazing dark melodies and quite cyncial lyrics about his own faith, Christianity (which i loved, anyone who can take a quite dark turn at their own faith must be an amazing person), e.g. "Calls himself the bishop prince, and blood's his favourtie wine." Just pure genius. Then after the verese the chorus comes in, "In the name of God you must die." Neal...what are you saying...but as all people should know, he is just giving us a taste of what medieval faith's were like at that time of Henry Vth's reign. Just amazing. Throughout the piece even more fantastic muscianship is being played, even though my ears are still listening to this audible anectdote, my brain is thinking, "How does a human write such epicness, is it because he's a Christian, should i convert," not really, but as a man with no faith, the only thing that makes me tolerant towards Christiantity, is Neal himself, an amazing human being, and an amazing composer. If he was here 500 years ago, music would have been very different...and maybe there would be no absolute tripe in todays popluar culture, maybe people would be listening to prog alot more. Maybe not, that would just ruin music, Prog is supposed to be for actual music fans only. The rest of the piece is just pure prog heaven, with no boring moments yet, even after 20 minutes of listening to the same track. Now if you listen to this, and get to minute 23 in The Door, prepare for some of the most beautifull moments in music history. The mellotron and violin add to the pure beauty of a beautiful ssection, before ending with a fading guitar note. It is time for the end. Upon the door is probabbly the only thing that could make me cry, even live, Neal can feel the emotion that the audience are giving him, that he even sheds a tear,and performs something so art like that would make Peter Gabriel look in the mirror and cry, leaving make up rivers around him. The mellotron lightly plays these absoultely beautiful chords around this beautiful melody. Then one of the most beautiful guitar solo's is played, by Paul Gilbert, one of the best axeman in the world, each note reflecting the soul of every listeners heart. Could this solo be bettered...yes it can where was the feeling i realised when i ordered my Sola Scriptura & Beyond dvd, this guitar player couldnt play this solo, he looks about 12 but could he play, his fingers portaying his own version of the solo, better than Paul Gilbert, imposible as it may seem , but true. Paul Bielatowicz, an absoulte gem, and probabbly one of the best axeman i have ever seen. He was so good, people started to aplaude so loud, it even matched that of the loud pa. The only time that the audience applauded in the middle of song the whole night, Neal knew this and smiled, he had been matched, and he was proud of what he had done. The song ends very successfully, but we still have 3 songs to go.
2.THE CONFLICT: "This sounds like Janes Addiction with Dave Navaro on speed", said I as i listened to the intro. After Do You Know My Name, it goes into a link which is probabbly one of the better moments of prog history, it's just so catchy and powerfull. Then the gospel inflienced Party To The Lie is heard, amazing vocal melodies and harmonies at the end, and an amazing chorus, very addictive. After this an amazing keyboard solo, which Neal should be very proud of, is very Spock's Beard like, a trate he will take to the grave, ever since he formed that incredible band over 15 years ago, and left about 7 years ago (a reunion is prayed for i expect, i mean he was able to go to Transatlantic again, but then again, Transatlantic don t jump on keyboards.) After Undeground, a slow intresting depressing Leonard Cohen inspired ballad, it goes into the flamenco styled 2 Down, 1 to Go. Amazing guitar work by both Neal & Paul Gilbert,and lovely latin beats by Mr. Portnoy. After this it goes into The Vineyard, with more alternative rock roots, but great enthusiam in the vocals, before going into the beautiful Already Home, an amazing ballad that ends the song perfectly, with precision and wise knowledge. Yes this piece defiently matches up to the Door, and is even more light hearted and enjoyable, The Door is more emotional and can actually make a man cry. But now a christian rock ballad is prepared.
3. HEAVEN IN MY HEART: Probabbly my least favourite song, but still very enjoyable. Beautiful harmonies and amazing epic choir and symphonic sounds add to the beauty of the song. Not as good as the other 2, but it is shorter, so we can give him credit, and very catchy. A bit preachy, but meh, who cares.
4. THE CONCLUSION: Very good jam at the start, it reflecs the darkness of the Door perfectly, and then leads to the cheesy Long Night's Journey, cheesey and cathcy, perfect, very Spocks Beard and even a little Genesis vibe. Another instrumental is heard, witch is basically a more watered down version of the intro, amazingly played and makes the reader aware of the varied themes throughout. Then the album ends with 2 more ballads before going to the ending, perfectlly written and exlpore minor and major keys, taking both the emotions portrayed in The Door & The Coflict. I think the ending for the album as beautiful, lovely and quiet, for the albums concept ends with a happy note, when Neal tells us "Mabye it is you he's looking for" His love for his fans emerges,and you are left very happy, and to be honest very audibly disheveled, you just heard probabbly the greatest sounds you will ever hear in your life in the space of an hour. I recommend sitting down, and breating very camly. It wasn't Neals fault he made such an amazing piece of music, well at least i don't think he meant to, and if he did, then he is as cunning as he is genius
MY CONCLUSION: Buy this album please. I couldnt imagine my life without it. I never get sick of it, it is just absoultely, and pardon my french, ORGASMIC!!!. Is this the best album ever made...well if it isn't then it definetly is one of them. I never new music could be this good. I have never heard such perfectly writte music before in my life. If you see this album, or consider it, please get it, you will never regret it, i did, and i've never looked so much like a fool in my life. Even though i payed £16 for it, it is still worth every last penny. I would give it an infinite rating if i could, but i can't, so 5 will have to do.