(9/10) 7 months ago Neal Morse released a solo album where he presented the more silent songs with a lot of acoustic numbers. Very soulful and a bit different from other releases he participated in. But still great.
Based on this album I was curious to see the rocking prog side of Neal Morse again. The new record "The grand experiemnt" delivers exactly this. Five songs that are pure prog rock, sometimes softer and sometimes harder.
Morse teamed up with Mike Portnoy which he knows from e.g. Transatlantic. Next to Portnoy it is Randy George handling the bass, Eric Gillette is on guitar while Bill Hubauer does the keyboards. All five guys together recorded an album that is one of the spearheads in prog rock.
It goes without saying that "The grand experiment" has pretty long songs. Nobody expects two minutes tracks from a Neal Morse release. But actually there is a shorter tune on the album. "Agenda" is not even four minutes and is the hardest track on the album. Funny enough I had to think about Kiss' "Love it loud" when I heard the track the first time. The verse got a similar drumbeat while the chorus is closer to Chumbawamba "Tubthumping". However, it's a great rock song with a hard guitar sound and a heavy punch.
The other extreme is the last track called "Alive again". This is a complex, almost 27 minutes long song that contains more ideas than some other bands use for an entire album. Soft parts lead to more rocking section with a melodic choir before the solos and instrumental moments show all the capabilities of the five musicians. Freshed up with some horn sections the songs offers so many details that it grows by each time you listen to it. An almost half an hour prog anthem that sounds like a structured jam session and is a treat for each fan of complex music.
The other three songs are somewhere in the middle of those extremes. The title track is a pounding rock song with great chorus. The hookline is amazing and makes the track to an real 'ear-catcher'.
"Waterfall" reminds more to the hypnotic sound of a river that flows down the valley in full harmony - and in moderate speed.
And last but not least the ten minutes long opener "The call". Again one of the rocking tracks on the album with great vocal lines that are very melodic. On the other hand there are the solo trips, which add the prog element to the tune. The grooving bassline in the middle is another remarkabale moment, together with the space the keyboards get.
Summary: The Neal Morse Band released an album that delivers exactly what you expect from the name giver. Awesome prog rock with some metal and classic rock crossreferences. Five musical highlights that contain a great sense for a good song. Go for it.
- Following the call
- The grand expriment
- Alive again
Genre: Prog Rock