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I got this 11-track selection from Neal Morse's new double CD album "Testimony" (21 tracks in all) nearly a month after I asked to remove my name from the Metal Blade Records promo mailing list. You see the absolute majority of the label's production does not concern any kind of Progressive, while the albums by a few progressive artists based here are sending out in a form of samplers, and not in their entirety. And if in the case of selections from the double CD albums, such as Spock's Beard's "Snow" and this one, it is possible to get at least a more or less clear idea of what the entire album is (rather, might be) about and, thus, review it, I don't really know what to do with the three-song sampler of King Diamond's album. Such a promo strategy as is conducted by Metal Blade is just beyond my understanding. Well, about "Testimony". Neal played all instruments, except drums (by Mike Portnoy) and those of Nashville Symphonic Orchestra (on a few tracks). The name of Kerry Livgren isn't featured on a cover of the sampler, but as far as I know, he participated in the recording, too (most likely, on 'additional' guitars and keyboards). Judging by the eleven tracks presented on the sampler, the newborn Christian Neal Morse's compositional thinking didn't change. With its motley, yet, high-quality set of romantically dramatic and purely romantic songs and ballads done in the vein of Classic and Neo Symphonic Art-Rock with and without elements of light Classical Music and those of Prog-Metal, "Testimony" could have easily been the follow-up to >"Snow", which, though, is a better album in my view. A couple of songs contain instrumental parts done in the vein of Jazz-Fusion. The most distinct, intricate, and interesting tracks on the sampler are however instrumental pieces. There are two of them: Overture-1 and Interlude, each representing a different stylistics: a blend of Classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal with elements of Classical Music and a pure Classic Symphonic Art-Rock respectively. Giving five stars to "Testimony", I believe the tracks that weren't included in this promotional (huh?) sampler (huh!) are at least a bit better than those I've heard.
VM: September 29, 2003
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