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Neal Morse: Jesus Christ - The Exorcist
Neal Morse - Jesus Christ The Exorcist Music Review

Neal Morse: Jesus Christ - The Exorcist

Melodic Progressive Rock

Some 50 years ago a controversial concept album, Jesus Christ Superstar hit the record stores. The rock opera slash musical made Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice famous and would go on to a Broadway show, numerous tours, and a notorious avant garde film adaptation. Zoom forward to 2008 when prog rock musician Neal Morse was encouraged by fellow musician and friend to do a new musical about Jesus Christ. The former Spock's Beard player had become a Christ follower by faith some six years earlier, so it seemed like another natural expression of his Christian faith. Now leap another 10 years, when in 2018, Jesus Christ - The Exorcist made its live debut featuring a bevy of famous musicians such as Ted Leonard (Spock's Beard, Enchant), Nick D'Virgilio (Big, Big Train, Spock's Beard), and Matt Smith (Theocracy). Now the musical has been picked up for recording and distribution by Froniters Music.

Neal Morse - Click For Larger Image

Neal Morse

Conceptually speaking, the largest problem with Jesus Christ Superstar was its lack of Biblical and theological accuracy. Specifically, like its hippie cousin Godspell, it neglected to consider the resurrection of Jesus as Christ and Lord. This Biblical concept is the sin qua non, the lynch pin, of Christianity. Deny the resurrection and you deny the person and work of Jesus Christ and everything crumbles. Neal Morse fixes that error. The tomb is empty and, as Christians worldwide faithfully proclaim every Easter morning, "He is risen indeed."

With that matter put to bed, what is the conceptual content of Jesus Christ - The Exorcist? With the four Gospels on hand, a musical narrative of the life of Jesus Christ could be epic and expansive, possibly resulting in numerous albums. But Morse has chosen to hit some important highlights such as his baptism, temptation, his entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, his trail before the Jews and Pontious Pilate and, of course, his crucifixation. "The Exorcist" theme comes from Jesus casting out the demons within Mary Magdalene (The Woman Of Seven Devils) and Legion from The Madman Of The Gadarenes. As mentioned earlier, the essential event is the empty tomb and Jesus' resurrection (Mary At The Tomb, The Greatest Love Of All). With all these things, you'll want the lyric book at hand. This was not supplied in my digital promo copy.

Musically, much like its predecessor and cousin, Jesus Christ - The Exorcist is a musical tour-de-force, but in the grand style of Neal Morse's naturally and notable, epic melodic progressive rock. About this, for most readers and fans of prog music, Morse and his music needs little introduction or explanation. Musically, you will love everything about this two CD work. The compositions are expressive and exspansive, moving between heavier melodic rock to symphonic rock to larger canvases that instill both drama and transcendence. But to mention a few highlights. I was particularly moved by the trilogy of songs Better Weather, The Keys To The Kingdom, and Get Behind Me Satan, where the apostle Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ leads to Jesus revealing that he must die and rise again. Wherein Peter admonishes him not to follow this course, ergo Jesus firing back, "Get behind me Satan." For Jesus Before Pilate And The Crucifixion, Morse uses all his skills to create the musical drama for this somber and tragic event, leaning heavily on lush symphonics and stirring lead guitar work.

All in all, Neal Morse's Jesus Christ - The Exorcist is simply an epic musical presentation of the life of Jesus Christ and some of his finest melodic progressive rock to date. If you're a believer, you will be inspired and encouraged. If not a Christ follower, perhaps and hopefully, Morse has piqued your interest to explore the life, work, and claims of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, dig the tunes and the music. Quite recommended.

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Wheels Of Fire - Begin Again Music Review

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Melodic Hard Rock/AOR

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The Bottom Line

Neal Morse's Jesus Christ - The Exorcist is simply an epic musical presentation of the life of Jesus Christ and some of his finest melodic progressive rock to date. Quite recommended.

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