Once a valued member of progressive rock band Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse decided to leave his former comrades in order to dedicate his life and music to God. Many Spock’s Beard fans lamented his leaving, but it did translate into some very personal and high quality albums, like Testimony (2003), One (2004) and Sola Scriptura (2007). After working on some other musical project Neal Morse is back with a new album, entitled Testimony II.
His latest creation is just as personal and convincing as his previous output. The themes on the album still revolve around Neal Morse’s spiritual journey and finding redemption. Although I’m not a religious person myself you can feel the emotional power through Neal’s lyrics and his music. It doesn’t happen very often to me but I’m actually moved by Testimony II. Aided by Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theater) and Randy George Neal takes the listener through an intense and adventurous journey through all four corners of the progressive rock realm.
The musical variety is another key element of this album. There are hints of seventies prog on “Part Six – Mercy Street” and “Part Six – Time Changer”, more technical jazzy stuff on “Part Six – Overture No 4″, straightfoward bluesy rock on “Part Seven – Nightime Collection” and some really moving ballad songs like “Part Six – Jayda” and “Part Seven – Jesus’ Blood”, gospel choir included. I’m only barely scratching the surface with these descriptions. Other highlights are “Part Seven – The Truth Will Set You Free”, “Part Eight – Jesus Bring Me Home” and “Part Eight – The Chance Of A Lifetime”. Some very tasteful guitar solos by Steve Morse (Deep Purple) and Neal Morse’ moving vocals do the rest.
Part Two starts where part One left off. It’s starts with “Absolute Beginner”, a straightfoward prog rock song with a very upbeat character. Same goes for “Supernatural”. The album’s ending behemoth comes in the form of a 25 minute epic, called “Seeds Of Gold”. Basically its a musical summary of what this album is to offer. Very impressive indeed.
What can I say? Testimony II offers everything I seek in music. It has very memorable songs, highly adventurous arrangements and the emotional depth is simply overwhelming. This is an essential progressive rock album. It doesn’t get better than this, amen!