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Neal Morse - Jesus Christ the Exorcist Award winner

Neal Morse
Jesus Christ and the Exorcist
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 02 August 2019, 3:14 AM

Rock operas are a very special kind of project in music. And to make such kind of work demands a creative power that isn’t so easy to find, because it’s not only music, but a matter of writing a main concept to be evolved, and it’s truly difficult if it’s done into Progressive Rock, because the grandiosity of the project is frightening. But the ones who are into Neal Morse’s work on TRANSATLANTIC and SPOCK’S BEARD knows he is up to such hard work. And on “Jesus Christ the Exorcist”, the final result is not only amazing, but tasty as well.

As everyone knows, Neal is a Christian since 2002, and for this double CD album, he brought the history of Jesus Christ to music (not a new thing, for “Jesus Christ Superstar” is the first Opera Rock using this theme). But this time, the concept is worked under a music that is the loveliest and inspired Progressive Rock music of the listeners can think of. The level of the musical arrangements, the Baroque musical contrast and grandiose ambiances, the excellent vocals, everything works in a perfect way, but its complexity is not in a high level to become hard to understand. No, anyone can hear “Jesus Christ the Exorcist” and be seduced by its melodies, and there’s a set of invited vocalists to create the high ambiances for each character of the history. And the final result is amazing! To deal with a work as “Jesus Christ the Exorcist”, a fine producer must work hard, because it’s hard to deal with such great set of contrasts, ambiances, vocalists and musical instruments. But everything is really on a great shape, with all musical arrangements being fully understood.

The tracks: it would be a sin left any of the 25 songs out of a list, and none of them is boring. The lovely “Introduction” (charming vocals and clean chords parts), passing the grandiose Progressive Rock instrumental parts of “Overture” (excellent keyboards and bass guitar parts), the tender melodies of “Getaway” (with excellent guitars), “Gather the People” and “Jesus’ Baptism” (these last ones with lovely voices), the ten minutes Progressive voyage called “Jesus’ Temptation” (a song filled with excellent ambiance changes, from Progressive Rock parts to introspective moments), the energy of the guitars mixed with easy melodies of “There’s a Highway” and “The Woman of Seven Devils” (this last one bears a Bluesy/Progressive ambiance), the touching melodies of “Free at Last”, the Prog aggressive insight on “The Madman of the Gadarenes” (bass guitar and drums are amazing on this song), the tender Country music touch on acoustic guitars on “Love Has Called My Name”, the accessible Prog Rock melodies of “Better Weather”, the choirs on “The Keys to the Kingdom”, and the mix of Prog Rock with some aggressiveness of Metal of “Get Behind Me Satan” are the songs presented on the first CD.

The second part opens with some choirs on the beginning of the silk aggressiveness of “He Must Go to the Cross” (a typical Hard/Glam song in many ways), followed by the charming melodies of “Jerusalem” (another good set of choirs), the introspective and accessible “Hearts Full of Holes” (great keyboards and vocals parts) and “The Last Supper”, the contrast of elements of Prog Rock with aggressive guitars on the seven minutes of “Gethsemane”, the deep desperate melodies inherit from Classic Music crescendos on “Jesus Before the Council and Peter’s Denial”, the Progressive Rock psychedelic voyage imposed by “Judas’ Death”, the crescendos of “Jesus Before Pilate and the Crucifixion” (filled with excellent guitar solos and amazing melodies), the short and climatic “Mary at the Tomb” (what a great female vocals’ work is presented on it), and the wonderful great closing act called “The Greatest Love of All”. And “Love Has Called My Name (Reprise)” is a shorter song compared with the first version, seeming to be a celebration to everything presented on the album. And all these songs were written on 2008 and 2009, but were being worked and arranged until the album’s recording sessions.

“Jesus Christ the Exorcist” is an excellent album for Prog Rock and Prog Metal fans, and to all those who have a good musical taste. Of course some will complain about its Christian message, but just with hearts set not in music, but in ideologies (and to enjoy good music, ideologies are not required). Just enjoy this excellent gift given by Neal Morse.

Originality: 9
Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
CD I

1. Introduction
2. Overture
3. Getaway
4. Gather the People
5. Jesus’ Baptism
6. Jesus’ Temptation
7. There’s a Highway
8. The Woman of Seven Devils
9. Free at Last
10. The Madman of the Gadarenes
11. Love Has Called My Name
12. Better Weather
13. The Keys to the Kingdom
14. Get Behind Me Satan

CD 2

1. He Must Go to the Cross
2. Jerusalem
3. Hearts Full of Holes
4. The Last Supper
5. Gethsemane
6. Jesus Before the Council and Peter’s Denial
7. Judas’ Death
8. Jesus Before Pilate and the Crucifixion
9. Mary At the Tomb
10. The Greatest Love of All
11. Love Has Called My Name (Reprise)
Lineup:
Neal Morse - Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals as Pilate, Demon 1, Disciple 1
Paul Bielatowicz - Lead Guitar
Bill Hubauer - Keyboards
Randy George - Bass
Eric Gillette - Drums
Ted Leonard - Vocals as Jesus
Talon David - Vocals as Mary Magdalene
Nick D’Virgilio - Vocals as Judas Iscariot
Rick Florian - Vocals as The Devil
Matt Smith - Vocals as John the Baptist
Jake Livgren - Vocals as Peter and Caiaphas
Mark Pogue - Vocals as Israelite 1, the Madman of the Gadarenes, Pharisee 2
Wil Morse - Vocals as Israelite 2, Demon 3, Pharisee 1
Gabe Klein - Vocals as Demon 2, Pharisee 4
Gideon Klein - Vocals as Demon 4
Julie Harrison - Vocals as Servant Girl
Record Label: Frontiers Music
     


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Edited 05 October 2022
 

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