[Review] The Neal Morse Band – The Great Adventure

Born in 1960 in California, Neal Morse is one of the most talented artists on the music scene. Multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer, he has played in various historical groups of Neo Prog (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Flying Colors) and in parallel has published 25 solo albums, three of them with the Neal Morse Band. The third studio album by the US band “The Great Adventure” was released on January 25, 2019 via Radiant Records. A double available in 2xCD, 2xCD + DVD, 3xLP + 2CD and Digital Download. This is the continuation of the story told in the previous concept album, “The Similitude Of A Dream,” divided into two acts, containing five chapters, and in the DVD version, the making of Edited by Randy George. The album begins with “Overture” which is the opener of the first chapter, with a sweet melody of harp and sound effects, on which the wonderful voice of Morse is drawn. The instruments enter and during this opening, many of the themes that make up the concept are presented. The hammond and the synths, rapid bass lines and a rocky drum, then the entry of Eric Gillette with his unmistakable guitar style, begins this wonderful Progressive adventure in Neal Morse Band style. A narrative voice explains that the dream has passed from father to son, but the son is tired. This adventure will put him in relation with a personal nightmare of abandonment to a dream that he can claim for himself. Chapter 2 begins with “Welcome To The World,” a sharp guitar, all the members of the group on vocals and a solid rhythm session. A rocky rocking track, directed with the guitar to guide the sound that in the instrumental section offers an exceptional pulled solo. “A Momentary Change” begins with a warm passionate voice on a soft melody of keyboards and acoustic guitar. In the middle, a sudden change gives life to an instrumental piece called Prog with keyboards in evidence. The changes are continuous, and the technique expressed is large. “Dark Melody” reflects the expectations of the title, with an intense and agonized atmosphere. Written by Hubauer, masterfully interpreted by Morse, with Gillette offering a top-level guitar solo. Portnoy’s drum adds quality to at the track conversing perfectly with guitar and hammond. So we come to “I Got To Run,” with a full-bodied riff, the Morse vocal that shows superb power and that of Gillette gives an explosive refrain. Intense, powerful with a unique energetic charge, one of the album’s most energetic moments. In the end, it becomes all sweeter and calm with the entrance of the hammond and the last verse that guide us to the following track. “To The River” with a pompous intro with the keyboards protagonists and the varations on the melodies of the themes that intertwine. ReprisesReprise of the themes of the album is performed in a masterly and lavish manner and is always very inspired. Reprioses With a positive and hopeful atmosphere the second chapter closes, so far the level expressed is very high, and still good things await us. Chapter 3 opens with “The Great Adventure” with the protagonist of the narration who, as we heard in the last track, is in a situation of optimism and is ready for adventure. A very Rock song, sometimes danceable and charged with a contagious energy, not surprisingly was chosen as the second video of the album. There are all the ingredients that a song must have to make a grip on a wide audience, of any kind, without excluding more elaborate passages and an excellent organ solo first and synth then. “Venture Black” is darker both in the music and in the vocal of Portnoy, continuing the narration with the son who is threatened by a mysterious figure. The feeling of danger is fear of the child are expressed to perfection, with an atmosphere that is increasingly darkened. In the end, another character enters and the bass offers an excellent test, to bind to the following “Hey Ho Let’s Go”. The Pop style chorus is really one of those you stick in your head, sudden changes, the guitar solos and riffs who intertwine with the keyboards, and Gillette’s voice make the difference. The album 1 closes with “Beyond The Boarders,” where the voice of Hubau stands out, well-supported by the voices of other members. Pipe organ embellishes the sound and with the tolling of the bell, the third chapter closes. The fourth chapter opens with “Overture” with an orchestral symphonic power. Portnoy’s drum leads an incisive rhythm session. Enter Gillette’s massive guitar, a fast bass for almost 4 minutes between changes and Neal Morse Band mold passages. It then connects to “Long Ago,” a song more in the form of a song, emotional and an excellent showcase for Morse’s voice. Together with the following “The Dream Continues” are two good acoustic songs, which give a sort of softer, more pleasant detachment and are inserted at the right time. With “Fighting With Destiny” the power returns, with a dark touch, powerful riffs and an aggressive rhythm and voice session. Portnoy’s drum is of a unique power and the organ first and the synth then reproduces in two solos among the best of the entire album. “Vanity Fair” is a positive and amusing song, lighter than the previous one, but no less pleasant, it is not for everyone to create a change of mood with so much ease. This track closes in a cheerful atmosphere with a carousel on the guitar in the final, ending also the fourth part. “Welcome To The World 2” starts the last chapter of the album, where Portnoy sings as a soloist in this track that returns with a threatening power. Other voices are also added, and the riffs are aggressive up to the final that closes the sound and the calmer tones. “The Element Of Fear” is a very elaborate brief passage with Drum and keyboards that take the sound to another level, the bass lines come in and the track is dark. “Child Of Wonder” is another brief track, sung by Morse and Hubauer, whose voices are intertwined to perfection. It is a passionate and touching passage, short but very intense. In “The Great Dispair” the role of first voice is entrusted to Gillette, with slide guitar and Mellotron, powerful and threatening riff. The solo is of absolute level, even if they all offer a very convincing proof, giving us one of the most beautiful moments of the entire album. “Freedom Calling” takes up some themes of the album, increasing its intensity thanks to a test of character by Portnoy. A swift, majestic piece with riffs and keyboards that increase its thrust, another exceptional passage on the record. The concept “A Love That Never Dties” closes the concept with another touching vocal test again entrusted to Gillette, a specialist in this. A final of hope, pompous and resounding like an anthem, with the addition of majesty from orchestrations. The dream ends here with the love that returns to triumph, thus closing the fifth chapter and the entire album. Neal Morse is a master in storytelling and concept writing in the form of musical journeys, and he demonstrates it once again. The work proposed in these four sides is of extraordinary beauty, thanks also to a consolidated band of absolute technical level. There are all the features that a Progressive music listener hopes to find when buying a record, in addition performed by some of the best musicians the scene can offer. A lover of the genre can not miss the opportunity to listen to a work that for drafting and execution certainly occupies the first places among the releases of the Prog in recent years. Another thick production for these artists who have now accustomed us to quality works that are always excellent and full of ideas.


CD 1 – Act I:
Chapter 1 (12:50) :
1. Overture
2. The Dream Isn’t Over
Chapter 2 (23:48) :
3. Welcome To The World
4. A Momentary Change
5. Dark Melody
6. I Got To Run
7. To The River
Chapter 3 (17:59) :
8. The Great Adventure
9. Venture In Black
10. Hey Ho Let’s Go
11. Beyond The Borders

CD 2 – Act II:
Chapter 4 (18:13) :
12. Overture 2
13. Long Ago
14. The Dream Continues
15. Fighting With Destiny
16. Vanity Fair
Chapter 5 (30:57) :
17. Welcome To The World 2
18. The Element Of Fear
19. Child Of Wonder
20. The Great Despair
21. Freedom Calling
22. A Love That Never Dies


Neal Morse / Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
Eric Gillette / Guitar, Vocals
Bill Hubauer / Organ, Piano, Synth, Vocals
Randy George / Bass, Bass Pedals, Vocals
Mike Portnoy / Drums, Vocals

Chris Carmichael / Strings
Amy Pippin / Backing Vocals (22)
April Zachary / Backing Vocals (22)
Debbie Bressee / Backing Vocals (22)
Julie Harrison / Backing Vocals (22)

Neal Morse Band |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|YouTube Channel|

Radiant Records |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|YouTube Channel|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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