Reviewed by Marc on 19 Feb 2007
Neal Morse seems to be keeping himself quite busy, yet he manages to maintain the pace of putting out an annual Prog CD. In 2007 he offers us sola sciptura, an album that will give his fans what they have gotten use to expect from Morse, but also represents change.
sola sciptura is a four track (three of epic lenght) album that revisits many of the musical genres Neal Morse has explored in his previous projects. Also, his lyrics remain directly inspired by his faith. The main difference I have noticed with his recent projects, is the Metal tendencies of the music, mostly apparent in the first two tracks. To my knowledge Neal Morse has never written such heavy music, even in his Spock's Beard days. Mike Portnoy's drumming is one the reasons explaining this, his style being often much closer to what he does with Dream Theater.So I can say that this new Neal Morse will not disappoint. Those that want more of what he has offered in the past will find it, and those that want him to explore new fields will certainly be satisfied.
In conclusion... Is sola sciptura a good vintage Neal Morse album? "Yes it is". Has Neal Morse made a dramatic change in his style? "No he has not". Does sola sciptura represent a move forward? "Yes it does" Do I recommend sola sciptura? Indeed!!
Reviewed by MJBrady on 28 May 2007
Seems that since his departure from his days in Spock's Beard, Neal Morse certainly did not leave for any lack of love for either composing or progressive rock, as he has been very active at both since. And to my tastes, he seems even more inspired both musically and lyrically, which makes for a great combination. Sola Scriptura or ("by scripture alone" is the assertion that the Bible as God's written word is self-authenticating/thanks to Wikipedia) , is Neal's most recent venture into his personal testmony through music. His religious lyrics are now the basis for every solo release he does, and that is the case here as well. I personally have no problem with the subject matter for the obvious reasons, yet it seems others do, not exactly sure why, as the Bible certainly contains all of the interesting subject matter that makes for a great story, whether based on philosophy, myth, legend, war, love, prophecy, etc. Subject matters to seem to permeate most of the lure of what is the legend of progressive rock in general.
So with this new cd, Neal continues to collaborate with Dream Theater drummer - Mike Portnoy, and also has brought in the talents of guitar virtuoso - Paul Gilbert, one might think an odd combination, but these guys really blend well together. And to date, this cd seems to offer some of the best musical exploits Neal has composed to date. Yes the vocal presence is here, the message, the melodies, the memorable hooks are all in abundance, yet considering that this cd is broken into 4 songs, on nearly 30 minutes long, another 25, one 16 minutes, and they also squeeze what seems like a miniature 5 minute number in there for size. These are epic tracks, very well conceived and performed, it's all rooted in the kind of progressive rock that Neal Morse has been associated with as a solo artist and a member of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. Yet I would say that this cd has even more prog moves than most anything else he has done to date.
Again, what I hear with Neal Morse's music these days have far exceeded anything his former band has done without him, this music has substance and staying power, his interest in making his music an offering perhaps allows his inspiration to shine through even that much more, who knows? But the direction and focus of this music is certainly progressive, and even a little more aggressive, thanks in part to Gilbert's guitar involvement and Portnoy's chameleonic drumming talents. Morse recognizes that he has some great talent around him, and writes in such a way that they are able to blend well together as well as display why they are regarded as the great musicians that they are.
2007 has been a busy year for this reviewer, and it would have been easy for me to have overlooked this cd with all the other 'Big Hitters" coming out this year in the progressive and fusion scenes. I am glad that I was able to give this cd some time, as it is a deep and meaningful piece of progrock, and arguably some of Neal's most ambitious work to date. Those that have followed his music since his departure from the Beard and enjoy his work will love this cd, those that have a problem with his lyrical approach since his conversion will continue to have that same problem with this cd, which is too bad, it's apparent that he does have a sincere basis and source for inspiration, which has translated into some refreshing music.