Neal Morse
Testimony 2: Live in Los Angeles

The Separated Man
Sola Scriptura (edited album performance)
Seeds of Gold
Testimony I (Part 5)
Testimony 2 (full album performance)

Main Concert, Part I
Spock’s Beard Reunion at High Voltage
Main Concert, Part II
Tour Documentary
Neal’s Macrobiotic Cooking Tips

Neal Morse: Lead Vocals, Keys, Guitars
Mike Portnoy: Drums
Randy George: Bass
Eric Brenton: Guitar, Violin and Flute
Nathan Brenton: Cello, Guitar & Vocals
Rick Altizer: Keyboards, Guitar & Vocals
Nathan Girard: Keyboards and Vocals
Mark Leniger: Sax, Percussion & Vocals

Testimony 2 (2011)
Mighty To Save (Worship Sessions 2010) Lifeline (2008)
Sing It High (collection of singles) (2007)
So Many Roads Live In Europe (2009)
Worship Sessions Volume IV: The River (2009)
Worship Sessions Volume III: Secret Place (2008)
Question: Live (2007)
Songs from the Highway (2007)
Sola Scriptura (2007)
One Demos (2007)
Cover to Cover (2006)
Neal Morse's Bavarian Polka Odyssey (2006)
Worship Sessions Volume II: Send the Fire (2006)
God Won't Give Up (2005)
Question (2005)
Worship Sessions Volume I: Lead Me Lord (2005)
One (2004)
Testimony (2003)
It's Not Too Late (2001)
Merry Christmas From The Morse Family (2000)
Neal Morse (1999)



Released 28/11-2011
Reviewed 9/11-2011



Neal Morse for a time the voice of Spock’s Beard, also a part of the Transatlantic thing whom just recently released a massive live album. Nowadays Neal has released many albums in his own name and this time it is a massive live release that is on the agenda, with 3 CDs and 2 DVDs if you buy that edition it has over three hours of concert music or three hours of preaching as some critics might point out. I myself has no bigger prior experience of Neal’s solo stuff, I know albums like The Light and V as well as Snow from his Spock’s Beard time but not much of his solo things other than the Testimony album from 2003 which was well received by my review receiving a seven out of ten which would about equate to a five in our current rating format. And there is some material I know from that album but the lion’s share of music is from the recent Testimony 2 album which is played in its entirety on the third and final disc of the set. I should also point out that we know nothing of the DVDs as the CD-edition is what we have received for review so I cannot say anything about DVD quality. I can tell you though that it is a quite impressively skilled band he has gathered for this release and he himself is quite skilled as well so that would bode well.

Musically it is progressive rock in case you had missed that by looking at Morse’s affiliations in the musical world, and drummer Portnoy’s as well who is the well-known former drummer of Dream Theater. It is not overly advanced, the song structures are simple enough for the not so well versed progressive fanatic. The song structures and the use of keys, violins, saxophones, flutes and so on makes it a tad progressive and of course the very long songs does that as well. It is often quite easy to forget that you are listening to a live album due to the high musical quality and the clean impressive sound of it but sometimes the crowd makes itself heard and Neal does some talking which makes it quite obvious that it is a live album with magnificent sound that seems to be very focused on the music. The lyrics are mainly about christian topics which is usually the case with Neal’s solo music so no surprises on that but if you are allergic to christianity or Jesus or that sort of thing you can bail now and the same goes if you are allergic to albums that are very long spanning over hours of playing time which this does on its three discs and over three hours of music.

So, is this album any good then? Well, the answer to that is yes but with a few reservations. Mainly the playing time, the album takes so long time to play that it is quite hard to find an appropriate time to play it in its entirety and with music that is what you want to do but it only works in the car if you are to travel very far or if you are a travelling salesperson who spends whole days in the car. It is also to long to find time to just sit down and play and the music is a bit too demanding to just have as background while at work or things like that. The music however is well performed, the band show off a lot of skill and their performance is more or less flawless. The music is often so good that you forget that you are listening to a live performance and because of that I am quite sure that it would have been quite an experience to visit this show.

Another thing that bothers me besides the playing time is the preaching, I just don’t want to be preached to when listening to music so this album despite being quite brilliant leaves me with a bitter aftertaste. Not that I am against christianity or any other religion for that matter, I just don’t think that it has a place in music and neither does advertising or any other blatant try to push opinions on the listener, I want music to be for the fans of the genre and not a certain political or religious preference. I say why the fuck does he preach so damn much on his albums, his music would be amazing without that, I think stories have a place in music but sometimes on this album it becomes too much Jesus and the “correct” way of life. Nothing against Neal’s choice of religion or anyone else’s for that matter but I don’t want to be force fed it while listening to music. I think that besides the fucking lyrics it is a brilliant album albeit it feels as though it is mainly geared towards the fans rather than anyone else so maybe this preaching is not such a big problem for those as it is for me.

I would say that this is a really well made and quite good live album and it would have been even better had it not been for the stupid and annoying lyrics and the ridiculously long playing time. My hat’s off to the band’s performance though, it is great and any fan of Neal will enjoy it thoroughly and for a very, very long time.




Label: InsideOut
Three similar bands: Transatlantic/Spock's Beard/Dream Theater
Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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