The question that some people who follow these type of things closely will be asking, is Momentum possibly the best thing that Progressive Rock stalwart Neal Morse has ever given to the world? The follow up will no doubt be “why the long wait?”
The new album is arguably one of the finest albums that Neal has ever had a part in, the best though? Perhaps with the exception of The Whirlwind by Transatlantic and the 2002 album by Spock’s Beard Snow, then undoubtedly it is pretty darn close. It takes time to feel comfortable, to be in a space where you are not just going through the day to day motions or perceived monotony in which to produce an album which stands out, especially in the world of Progressive Rock.
Momentum may have been lurking in the background as a possible album for Transatlantic but with some of the other members of the band are in a particular busy moment in time, Pete Trewavas for example is currently touring with Marillion with their new release Sounds That Can’t be Made, so rather than wait, Neal really cannot be blamed for going ahead with this seminal piece of recording.
Trademark keyboards, the essence of cool of drumming by his long-time friend and band mate Mike Portnoy and some great bass guitar by Randy George make Momentum a Prog rock fan’s dream but it also appeals in more ways than inside the comfortable world of Prog. It may have the very generous keyboards that Neal has long been associated with but as ever he makes it sound ridiculously flamboyant and so interesting that it rivals anything a classical musician would dare attempt.
The opening track of the album, the lead single and title of the album, Momentum is this flamboyancy personified; it is exuberant to the extreme and just ever so slightly tasty as any track can dare to be. The further you crawl into the albums interior, the more there is to enjoy and revel in. It’s like finding a big box on your birthday, your imagination kicks in and is overblown by the hundreds of smaller boxes inside waiting for you to open them.
Freak is a powerful, tantalising and dirty, the lyrics open themselves up for closer scrutiny and the listener won’t be disappointed to feel Neal’s life pouring off the page at them.
However the absolute pinnacle of the album is Magnus opus of World Without End and at 33.39 minutes long its exceptional and is very much shoved into the realms of Marillion’s Grendel and Genesis’s Supper Ready. It is as good as either of those songs but with the added benefit of 21st century technology that enhances the piece rather than in some cases diminishing it.
Is Momentum the best album that Neal Morse has ever been involved in? No, however it’s by far the best solo work the man has ever recorded and a dream of an album to listen too over and over again.
Ian D. Hall