RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

The Neal Morse Band - The Similitude Of A Dream

Rating: A+

As a devoted fan of progressive music, I have thoroughly enjoyed the music of Neal Morse in all of its configurations, be it Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Flying Colors, or The Neal Morse Band. The music produced from these bands is consistently well written and compelling. The Neal Morse Band’s previous release, The Grand Experiment, was by far the best progressive album of 2015 in this reviewer’s humble opinion.

For a long while I heard the rumblings of a new album in the works. Naturally, I was intrigued. Then, prior to the release of The Similitude Of A Dream we heard the incredible Mike Portnoy announce, "I honestly think this is the album of my career”. Wow, the anticipation grew enormously. That’s a bold statement coming from someone with the bona fides of Portnoy, and it set the level of expectation very high!

I am happy to say The Similitude Of A Dream meets and exceeds those expectations. It is an amazing journey filled with passages of extreme high intensity, soft introspection, delicate acoustic transitions, and high exaltation. It is a concept album loosely based on the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. Don’t worry if you know nothing about the book or the story, I don’t either. It doesn't matter; the lyrics are powerful enough to give you a solid road map. The track list shows twenty-three pieces, but to the listener it is feels like a single one hundred minute plus epic composition filled with endless twists and changes of tempo and tenor. In places it will instantly take you from a powerful, relentless, Portnoy driven musical blitzkrieg to a soft and inspiring dreamy acoustic passage. It incorporates everything from the string quartet stylings of “Long Day” to the old-time caustic vamping in “The Ways Of A Fool” to the inspirational simplicities of “Freedom Song” to the hold on tight you’re about to be hit with everything all at once intensities of “Overture”, “Confrontation”, and “The Battle”. Talk about progressive heaven!

The Similitude Of A Dream lives in that magical sweet spot where the listener doesn’t know what is coming next, but when it happens recognizes it couldn't have gone any other way. It should go without saying that if you’re already a Morse fan you will absolutely love this album. It is well within the “typical” Morse style of complex music enhanced with spiritually inspirational lyrics. However, this album is amped up into something unique. It is clear evidence that The Neal Morse Band is continuing to grow and elevate the quality of its music. Then again, with an all-star lineup that includes Randy George, Eric Gillette, and Bill Hubauer accompanying Morse and Portnoy, it’s hard to imagine there is a ceiling to the quality of this band’s output. There simply are no weaknesses in this lineup and each member provides a powerful contribution that makes the whole even greater.

The Similitude Of A Dream is a statement album that deserves your attention. The album’s release date is November 11th. Don’t wait on this one.

Track List:
1. Long Day
2. Overture
3. The Dream
4. City of Destruction
5. We Have Got To Go
6. Makes No Sense
7. Draw the Line
8. The Slough
9. Back to the City
10. The Ways of a Fool
11. So Far Gone
12. Breath Of Angels
13. Slave To Your Mind
14. Shortcut To Salvation
15. The Man in the Iron Cage
16. The Road Called Home
17. Sloth
18. Freedom Song
19. I’m Running
20. The Mask
21. Confrontation
22. The Battle
23. Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise)

By Roy Rahl