After recording Testimony 2 (2011, see review) and Testimony 2, Live In Los Angeles (2011, review), Neal Morse joined the super group Flying Colors to record their debut album and now this workaholic prog musician recorded again a new solo album. Momentum is his seventh solo album since Testimony (2003) and he's once more assisted by drummer Mike Portnoy and bass player Randy George. Furthermore there are guest performances of the guitar picking legend Paul Gilbert and Morse's newest discovery, the Brazilian guitarist Adson Sodre.
The album opens with the title track, a typical Morse song. It contains all that a good prog rock song needs: melody, variety and a lot of stunning solos and vocal parts. Besides it has a nice chorus, it's rather exuberant and it's the lead single that reminds me of the song Lifeline. Follow-up Thoughts, part 5 is a genuine Spock's Beard track filled with great multi-vocal passages and lovely melodies. If I listen to this track I still don't understand why Neal Morse left Spock's Beard in the first place! Smoke And Mirrors is a typical Morse ballad; it's rather boring and therefore redundant on this great album. Weathering Sky is a nice pop-rock song, but not one of the best Morse ever recorded, but Freak is a wonderful piece in the vein of The Beatles as it is powerful and tantalizing with great lyrics!
Last but not least Morse comes up with another highlight in his successful career: World Without End. This epic piece lasts more than 33 (!) minutes and it's a mammoth, a pinnacle in the vein of Grendel (Marillion) or Suppers Ready (Genesis). What can you say about such a piece? Nothing actually, listening to this brilliant track is believing! Conclusion: Momentum is a great prog album, but it's not Neal's best one so far, mainly due to the rather disappointing songs Smoke And Mirrors and Weathering Sky. Still it's a must have for fans of melodic prog rock!
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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