(10/10) There are prog rock albums, there are concept records and there are milestones in music, combining both to an outstanding experience for musicians and fans. "The Similitude of a Dream" belongs to the latter, an album that led drummer Mike Portnoy to a statement of this album being the one of their lifetime so far.
Morse has worked in so many projects and bands over the last years: Transatlantic, Spock's Beard and Flying Colors, to mention just some of them. Now it's time again for The Neal Morse Band.
"The Similitude of a Dream" is based one a book called "The Pilgrim's Progress". It was written already in 1678 by John Bunyan and it tells the story of a spiritual journey, moving from a 'city of destruction' to a place of salvation. The story was brought to Neal Morse already earlier, but it disappeared from his radar. In December last year it came back to his mind again and this moment marked the beginning of working on an album that belongs to the most complete ones in 2016.
In total Neal Morse and friends recorded 23 songs, spread out over two CD's and providing in total more than 100 minutes of finest prog rock music. An interesting side note in this context is the fact that the album covers, storywise, only the first 80 pages of the book.
Something that benefited the high level of quality of this output is the fact that Neal Morse put together a constant line-up for The Neal Morse Band. Next to Morse himself, it's Mike Portnoy and Randy George that build the foundation since many years, with Bill Hubauer and Eric Gillette in the meantime being fix part of the band too. This level of continuity makes the longplayer to a very solid piece of music with a high level of density. "The Similitude of a Dream" just stands like a rock and is, after the highly appreciated "The Grand Experience" album, a next step towards the Olymp of prog rock.
The songs on this thrilling longplayer cover a wide range of sounds and ideas. It seems like the iconic musician having found an endless source of creativity which results in songs like the magic "Overture", the first tune on the album that is following a harmonic string-based introduction called "Long Day".
There are more heavy pounding masterpieces like "City of Destruction" next to complex ones ("The Slough"). "The Ways of Fool" is another hit on this release, reminding me of Queen meets Yes.
"Breath of Angels" is a real hymn, followed by the multi-layered "Slave to Your Mind". But the album has even more to offer. The naming of "Freedom Song" gives already the idea of being a more light-hearted song - which it is. The tune has an easy going folk touch which fits very well into the context, also showing the width of styles this release has to offer.
"The Similitude of a Dream" is a shining release that has the potential to stand in line with classics like Pink Floyd's "The Wall". It is a beautiful magnum opus featuring timeless music that belongs to the best things I've heard over the last years. Calling this album your own is a 'must' for fans of very well-done rock music, with a passion for outstanding soundscapes, build on a high level of quality by acting as a carrier for an interesting story. This album is big.
- Long Day
- The Dream
- City of Destruction
- We Have Got to Go
- Makes No Sense
- Draw the Line
- The Slough
- Back to the City
- The Ways of a Fool
- So Far Gone
- Breath of Angels
- Slave to Your Mind
- Shortcut Salvation
- The Man in the Iron Cage
- The Road Called Home
- Freedom Song
- I'm Running
- The Mask
- The Battle
- Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)
Label: Radiant Records
Genre: Prog Rock
Release Date EU: November 11th, 2016