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Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.35 | 369 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Spock's beard is moved on without their leader Neal Morse. Finally they sound confident among themselves, developing a more mature sound without many of the characteristics of early Spock's Beard. The music sounds much more serious than before, with the musicians being able to show better musicianship and style here, instead of some questionable sounds of guitars and synths that plagued the great songwriting in the Morse-era. Speaking of Morse, I think the drummer has a better singing voice. This album is not without its flaws though. There are quite several tracks that I find dull and uninteresting, and the "epic" is not really an epic, just four songs that don't have much in common.

The opening track On A Perfect Day is in my opinion better than any song before this album and after V . A flawlessly executed song that features a mighty opening riff (heard throughout the song), extremely memorable melodies, a great acoustic break, and most importantly, confidence and unity within the band.

Skeletons At The Feast is the prog of the album. A shapeshifting instrumental piece with odd-time signatures. It has the guitar technicality and heaviness of Dream theater, then unexpectedly, the song offers a synth melody that sounds like if Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) guest-starred as it sounds like the exact same instrument. The second half is slower and more chaotic. While technically superb, I think the ending is too long and overproduced.

All That's Left is an effective ballad with vocal harmonies that recall Dream Theater. Pretty nice.

With Your Kiss is probably the highlight of the disc. Virgillio's singing is at his best here, and the vocal melodies are wonderful throughout the whole song. The first half of the song is mostly laid-back and simple, putting Virgillio in the spotlight. After a few minutes, an upbeat guitar solo kicks in and the mood of the song completely turns upside down. "Just when I thought I knew everything, just when I thought I had it all going on", the music is driven by sound effects and a slow guitar riff until it turns into a hard rock section with electric guitars, pounding drums, and male choral screams. The next and last section is the best. Just D'Vigillio with an acoustic guitar singing softly at his best with magical melodies. The line "Don't change a THIIIIIING for meeee" is sung with such emotion and power that it sends shivers down my spine, and what makes it better is that the mellotron kicks in at that point and later a very inspired guitar solo.

As Far As The Mind Can See is an epic divided in four parts. The first being a rock tune with a wonderful theme played by bass at the end. The second being a fast-paced song with excellent bass playing and an organ solo at the end. the third being a n uninspired pop tune, and the fourth having some melodies from the first part and ending on a high note with the guitar playing the theme that was initially played on the bass, yet explored deeper. This ending is very climatic and well-done.

I have a problem with the rest of the tracks though. Is This Love is a terrible hard rock piece that makes "Surfing Down the Avalanche" from their previous album seem like a great song. Sometimes They Stay Sometimes They Go is really pedestrian, uninteresting, and irritating. The Slow Crashing Man has good arrangements and nice chorus melody, but is a bit dull. Wherever You Stand is a rocker that while it is superior to "Is This love", it's still mediocre. Hereafter has pretty piano playing and great vocal performance, but it is way longer than a simple piano tune should be, losing my attention. Rearranged is much better than these songs, but I think it is anti-climatic after the last part of the epic. I love the use of electric organs in the beginning though and the singing is excellent.

Overall, I find this album longer than it should be, with the Beards depleting their material, recording uninteresting songs throughout the album, making the great songs standout, especially when sandwitched by uninteresting tunes. Despite the "filler", I find this album to be the best effort up to date since their "V" album, with outstanding tunes like the opener and With Your Kiss.

Highlights: With Your Kiss, Skeletons At the Feast, On a Perfect Day

Let Downs: Is This Love, Sometimes they Stay Sometimes They Go, They Know We Know, Wherever You Stand

Zitro | 3/5 |


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