NEAL MORSE – Sola Scriptura

Neal Morse - Sola Scriptura

4 songs
76:58 minutes
***** **


Neal Morse is a controversial figure in the prog rock movement, that's the least one can say. When he used to be in Spock's Beard, everything was still fine and dandy, but since he turned to Christianity, his releases become more and more preachy, and that combined with always recurring composing templates, it becomes rather hard to find the necessary enthusiasm that existed before.

On Sola Scriptura, a concept album about Martin Luther, Morse has again his core rhythm section consisting of Randy George on bass guitar and Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy on drums, but the addition of Mr. Big's Paul Gilbert on guitar makes for an overall heavier sound. The three main songs are all between sixteen and thirty minutes long, and although they are full of every imaginable, overblown prog cliché, they are played so perfectly that you can't but like them, although only if you like a combination of Beatles pop sensibilities (Morse, Portnoy and Gilbert also play in the Fab Four cover band Yellow Matter Custard) and mid-Western Bible Belt Cprog (that's Christian prog, something Morse must have invented) à la Kansas. There's also a five minute track which is so sugary sweet and so aimed at Christian radio stations that you might as well skip that truly bad song.

I am actually rather tolerant to faiths I don't share, and I proudly declare myself a fan a quirky God music from Sufjan Stevens, the Danielson Famile, etc., but the earnestness of a Neal Morse has this stench of fundamentalism, where even the album title says that you have to live by the laws of the scripture alone. This means that for instance Leviticus 20:13 allows for the execution of homosexuals. But then it is no use arguing with these kinds of people as they have the "truth" always on their side.

So let's just dismiss the lyrics, and be happy with three overblown long-tracks that again sound like an exercise in style, never bringing anything new to a genre that calls itself progressive, but pleasing in a guilty pleasure kind of way nonetheless. Sola Scriptura is another ok addition in Neal Morse's ever growing discography.

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