When I looked out at many roads
There must be a way that'll deliver
I looked for the one that was right
Stood frozen in my soul"
One Word Review: Rebirth
Lifeline is filled with deeply melodic, progressive rock of high technical caliber, and has Neal's passionate voice, as the emotional center.
Mike Portnoy inhabits the drum kit with flair and inventiveness, Randy George instinctively handles the bass, while Neal takes care of keyboard and guitar. Compared with "Sola Scriptura", which came before, Lifeline is a softer, less heavy affair. The softer musical approach fits the lyrical themes perfectly. Though Lifeline is not a concept album per se, the red line flowing through the lyrics give the album a complete feel.
Those lyrics take their outset in Neal finding God, and how it turned his life around. His experience and beliefs are openly shared, in a straight forward way. It took some time to get used to this direct way of expression, but looking beyond the religious element, the positive message running through the album, about finding peace and contentment, is a powerful and universal one. There is nothing on the album, I find contrived and this is a testament to the soulful delivery of Neal and the band. It simply feels honest and heartfelt.
7 songs, 5 of normal- and 2 of rather epic length, make up the album. The 13 minute Lifeline awakens the album with a sweet piano melody and from here, the song evolves through merging themes and several spotlights for each instrument. The superb opener sets the tone for the rest of the album. The three guys are a tight knit group, who play with focus on detail, rhythm and most of all, melody.
The massive 29 minute Many Roads takes the listener on a journey through questions and a genuinely fulfilling conclusion. Both "epics" come full circle through captivating passages and memorable themes that surface throughout the pieces.
Less complicated and more laid back, songs like The Way Home and Children of the Chosen impress by their melodic and uplifting nature. In conjunction with the darker, very symphonic Leviathan, complete with saxophone, they provide variety to the album.
Album closer Fly High doesn't take long to soar. About 30 seconds in, it reaches its first peak and it doesn't come back down for the next 6 minutes, ending the album on a completely satisfying note. Paul Bielatowicz also guests with an impressive guitar solo.
The exuberant music makes it easy to recommend Lifeline and though the lyrics can be a stumbling block for some, they shouldn't be. At its core, Lifeline is a positive and life affirming experience, the tale of a man who saved himself.
Life, like a razor, can shave you clean
Or it cuts in a moment and leaves you to bleed
And in fear, you have settled for what you have found
You're safe, you're comfortable, but you're stuck on the ground
Fly high, fly straight through the open sky
Give up everything you have, for what you could never buy
It's time, if you seek you can't help but find
What you give up you'll gain, you will be lifted high
What is holding you, is holding you down
You might have to take off that rock-and-roll crown
But what you think is your identity, is not really you
Let it go, keep breaking till we break on through
And fly high...
Written By Steen
Online: Sunday, August 7, 2016