There's seems no stopping Neal Morse. Nope. Just try to keep up if you can. A new Transatlantic album last Spring, a new solo last Fall, and now this Winter, a new Neal Morse Band album, The Grand Experiment. The title is a double entendre of sorts. According to Morse himself, he had no prepared music or preconceived ideas for the songs. Yeah right. Like we're going to believe that. You're like Neal 'super musical genius' Morse. (Did you get the Wile E. Coyote reference?) Well, 'the grand experiment,' at least, for Neal, was the absolute collaboration with the other four members of his band: Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Bill Hubauer, and Eric Gillette.
Alternatively, Morse is more predictable than he knows. But that's not a bad thing. On most any recording you can expect at least two major prog rock epics, a rocker or two, and usually some lighter material. Yup. The bona fide progressive rock epics come with The Call, at a scant 10 minutes (oops), and the closing Alive Again, at nearly 27 minutes. Now we're talking Neal Morse and company prog rock wonkery. This mammoth song, like most Morse compositions, keeps you engaged and entertained. It's got everything. Heavy parts with bountiful riffs, symphonic elements, soaring guitar solos, vibrant melody, and those sweet vocal arrangements. In the front half, I'm sure I heard some horns, but they may just be synth interpretations. The song is bound to give every prog rock geek a massive woody.
And speaking of the vocal arrangements, they are by far one of my favorite aspects to any Neal Morse project. The opening harmony of The Call is spectacular, as is throughout. But within the lighter number Waterfall, over the acoustic guitar, the vocals are a combination beautiful and magical. As to the rockers, the title cut offers sharp and tight riffs, Portnoy's steady groove, those terrific vocals, and a sweet refrain, all wrapped up in catchy melody. Agenda, the shortest tune here, twists more smooth vocal arrangements with a deeper bottom end, the bass and drums giving it contrasting power. Hey, it's all good, but what else would you expect.
If you get the primo package, you get a bonus disc with three additional studio recordings and two live recordings from the recent MorseFest, and a bonus "Making Of" DVD. The former is more Morse and band melodic progressive rock pleasure. The DVD I can't speak to, since I only received a digital EPK. By conclusion, my suggestion is get your pre-ordering done quickly. You're going to want this album.
The Grand Experiment is another grand melodic progressive rock achievement for Neal Morse and his friends. Get it.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]