Mr. Morse is one of the most hyperproductive musicians progressive rock scene has ever seen and that’s a fact. As we know, quantity doesn’t necessarily means quality, but when it comes to this 52 year Nashville based bloke you can know that every new release he puts out has to offer a lot for everyone. With the new album under his belt (unlike the last year’s Testimony 2), Morse turns more towards virtuosic sympho-prog rock, that is structurally close to what was done on Sola Scriptura (2007). With the pretty consistent studio line-up comprised of Mike Portnoy on drums and Randy George on bass, Momentum kind of feels as a record that floats easy for its something more than 60 minutes.
It comes with pretty much fixed tempo, with an exception of the only ballad off the album Smoke and Mirrors, showing all its complexity and the technical abilities of the musicians on an astounding level. Being involved in so many projects over the years could make us think that his inspiration has already reached the ultimate frequency, but no matter if he is with Transatlantic or solo or most recently with Flying Colors, his deeds show that there is still so much to be told.
As I mentioned, Momentum relies heavily on the symphonic side of the genre, but unlikely the latest The Flower Kings album Banks of Eden, it builds up straight from the beginning to a fast, energetic opus that flirts with the heavy side. Indeed, Momentum has quite a few heavy parts that won’t certainly raise eyebrows of the die-hard fans.
First five songs could be seen just as an introduction to the album’s grand finale, the 34 minutes epic World Without End, which is interestingly the longest single-piece track Morse have written as a solo artist.
From the opening self-titled song it’s evident that the album exudes freshness and there’s evident enjoyment in what the Morse band delivers here. Mentioned Smoke and Mirrors is a classic Neal Morse ballad, coming with nice acoustic guitarwork. Weathering Sky, a track that was premiered with the video, contains a vocal effect in the vein of Richie Sambora (check below to see what I’m talking about). Overall, it’s an uplifting piece.
World Without End, the grand finale of the album in six parts, is the perfect example of the best of Neal Morse’s craftsmanship. Both guitar and keyboard work, accompanied with flawless drumming by Portnoy and guitar solos by young Brazilian Andre Sodre (who won the audition to be the part of Neal’s live line-up) classify this piece in one of the best works Morse have written. Impressive.
A thought comes to my mind: if the fans were not satisfied with how Testimony 2 turned out, Momentum sets back to the right lane. A strong pretender to become the best progressive album of 2012. Highly recommendable.
1. Momentum (6:25)
2. Thoughts Part 5 (7:51)
3. Smoke and Mirrors (4:38)
4. Weathering Sky (4:15)
5. Freak (4:29)
6. World Without End (33:39)
* Neal Morse – keyboards, guitars, vocals
* Randy George – bass
* Mike Portnoy – drums
* Andre Sodre – guitar