Posted October 08, 2008
This has been, by far, the most difficult album to get into. I had listened to the following 2 albums after One before I gave it a try and I have to think that's the culprit. This album has much more of a Genesis style progressive rock feel to it than the heavier progressive metal leanings of Neal Morse's most recent work. There's a lot more synth being used to make me feel like I'm listening to a 70's album, that's for sure. It's not a bad thing at all. I guess I just wasn't prepared for it to where it took me awhile to get into One and keep it spinning. As always, my patience was rewarded.
With the first 30 seconds of the album I was enjoying the atmospheric tone being set. Then all of a sudden it went to cheesy 70's-style synths that called to memory visions of the Disney castle in the clouds with flying elephants... No, I'm not crazy. It was just this sort of cheese that made this so difficult. I suppose it could be endearing to some people, but it's an aquired taste. There's no doubt that each musician is at the top of their game though. Especially Mike Portnoy in the brilliantly titled 'Author of Confusion'. With all of the vocal effects (think Queen) and madhouse drumming I certainly felt confused. All the same, that's also the best track on the album that stands out from the rest because of it's uniqueness.
The usual Neal Morse staples are also present here. You have your epic tracks that clock in well over 10 minutes (18+ for the opener) as well as your shorter, poppy worship numbers peppered in between like the excellent 'Cradle to the Grave'. The long ones do tend to seem to overstay their welcome despite constantly evolving and progressing. That might be more because I'm not that big of a fan of the 70's style progressive rock loaded with synthesizers than anything. There is a common theme that runs through the album about the creation, falling away, and reunion of man with God. It's not a hard message to pick up with the lyrics unlike, say, Sola Scriptura. Everything is up front when it comes to Neal Morse and his faith-filled message. Considering a lot of bands like to blur the lines I always find his work very refreshing.
I have found I enjoy his later work because it's so much more focused musically. It's the sporadic nature of all the instruments and sounds that threw me off of enjoying this more but at the same time I can say that Neal Morse has no specific formula when constructing songs or albums. A lot of it feels improvised and that makes for a fun listen if you're ready for it.
Gems of this album are: 'Cradle to the Grave', 'Author of Confusion', 'Reunion'
Overall - 8.8/10
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