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

SPOCK'S BEARD

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.35 | 273 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album by Spock's Beard represents the band's ninth studio album and the third studio album after the departure of frontman and composer Neil Morse - approximately four years ago. Despite three studio albums, the band also released a phenomenal live double CD album "Gluttons For Punishment" which represented Octane Tour. The first studio album after Neal left the band, "Feel Euphoria", indicated how strong the existence of Neal in the band because this album was not as strong as albums where Neal was still around. But I was really happy when the band released the eighth album "Octane" in which the band repositioned their musical maturity in their own destiny leaving away the shadows of Neal's existence. In fact I'd rather like "Octane" than previous albums of Spock's Beard when Neal was around. With "Octane" the band pursued two poles of music styles: one with symphonic-textured music with song like "The Beauty of It All" (my best favorite track from any Spock's Beard album) and the other pole with hard rock music. But overall "Octane" has satisfied me even though there are some tracks that I do not favor - that's okay.

Having experienced with "Octane" and wonderful live album "Gluttons" my further expectation of their upcoming album revolves around music with symphonic nuance. So I did pre-order this album and hoping that my expectation would be fulfilled. And . this is the way I view this album .

On A Perfect Day (7:47) represents exactly what I have expected the kind of music Spock's Beard should create and play. It resembles old sound of the band in its early years but this time there is much symphonic texture that has been infused by the band to this track through the excellent keyboard work by Ryo. The intro part represents great music where the combination drums, bass guitar and organ bring forward the music in melodic way - inserted with guitar work. The keyboard solo right before the musical break is really melodic and memorable followed with guitar fills that remind me to the music of Genesis. Nick low register notes voice enters the music beautifully backed with excellent music that accompanies. This song has a strong melody and tight composition. No one would ever argue that this is a perfectly composed music. This song has many breaks with various instruments used: from guitar fills (acoustic and electric), keyboard, and drum work. I especially like the break that occurs at approx minute 5:25 where after excellent acoustic guitar solo, keyboard gives its solo wonderfully. It's a full five stars rating for this song!

Skeletons At The Feast (6:33) is the band's exploration on lyric-less composition with dynamic and uplifting styles. It kicks off with Ryo's great organ solo in ambient style followed with Nick's drumming which enters in crescendo the song moves into upbeat tempo energetically. The keyboard provides its solo followed with Alan's guitar solo and supported by Dave Meros tight basslines. Oh, what a great instrumental track this one is! I can see the combination of old-style organ work with modern sounds produced by other instruments. In away this song reminds me to Genesis' "Duke's Travel" even though it has totally different style. Oh my God . I love the part with pondering music riffs which starts at approx minute 3:30. I believe the riffs are mainly provided by Meros tight basslines, strengthened by Ryo's organ. Again, I choose to give this flawless track with a full five stars rating.

Is This Love (2:51)was the turning point for me for not continuing the CD spinning further because it's to me a straight rock'n'roll track with no prog elements at all in its composition. For me, this track is like the one played by 60's / 70s group called CCR and I have never expected this kind of song is created and performed by Spock's Beard. One star rating is appropriate for this one.

All That's Left (4:45) has a style that is very similar with the song by Toto, I believe. Many people would love this song because it's quite accessible. But it's not the case for me even though this song is actually a nice one. Two stars rating would be appropriate for this track.

With Your Kiss (11:46) - the opening part of this song almost falls into a category of Toto music. Luckily the band crafts this song with guitar fills at the back so that it sounds like old style Genesis music. It's a slow moving music which by minute 4 it takes off into more energetic form with stunning guitar solo. Otherwise it's so boring in its first four minutes. The music interlude using guitar and keyboard is really good. Entering the minute 6 the music almost changes significantly with the entrance of low register notes vocal. It turns into a style with percussion as main rhythm section and distance vocal style. Quite honest, this part is really excellent. It's not what I expect that Spock's Beard would play but it's really nice. The ending part of this track is melodic and memorable. The guitar solo is stunning - backed with symphonic keyboard work. Four stars rating for this track!

Sometimes They Stay, Sometimes They Go (4:31) is a blues-based music with nice guitar solo at opening. Musically, this is the kind of stuff that I like but it's not something that I expect Spock's Beard would have ever created and played. It's not bad track at all but it's quite strange and funny for me having the band performs this blues-rock tune. It should be a band lie Trapeze, or Glenn Hughes or any other classic rock bands who suit playing this stuff. Don't get me wrong, I like this track - especially the guitar solo that reminds me to classic rock tunes in the 70s. Three stars rating for this track.

The Slow Crash Landing Man (5:47) is completely a pop song in the vein of Toto with practically straight-forward structure, no prog element at all. It's an easy listening tune with soaring keyboard sound at the back which gives ambient nature. This is the kind of track that many can digest quickly. Those who love prog might be disappointed with this track. It's just a good track, nothing special about it, and three stars rating is appropriate.

Wherever You Stand (5:09) brings the music with more upbeat tempo. The style of music reminds me to Deep Purple's "Come Taste The Band" album. Yes, it's basically a straight-forward rock song with good vocal quality. Alan provides his excellent guitar work accompanied with Ryo's keyboards and dynamic singing style of Nick.

Hereafter (5:01) is a piano-based composition performed in mellow style demonstrating nick's excellent vocal job. Classical music influences the songwriting of this track as it can be identified easily on the piano work. Nick handles low register notes as well as the high ones perfectly. It's an excellent song that deserves four stars rating.

As Far As The Mind Can See is an epic which comprises four short tracks. The first part "Dreaming In The Age Of Answers" (4:49) is basically a pop song which serves as introduction to the epic. I can see here how Meros plays his bass guitar in a bit of jazzy mood. It is then becoming firmed that at the opening of Part 2: "Here's A Man" (3:28) he provides a completely jazz-rock bass guitar work, combined wonderfully with drums and inventive organ / keyboard work by Ryo. Well I do like part 2 very much - it's so dynamic and it reminds me to Canterbury music or the music that The Tangent has made so far. Ryo organ solo is truly stunning - backed with Meros tight bass lines. Oh yeah, the two gentlemen play their own instrument excellently during music interlude. Part 3: "They Know We Know" (3:18) is kicked with the drum work, followed with duo vocal lines, based on piano. The ending part, Part 4: "Stream Of Unconsciousness" (5:23) moves the music in faster tempo with pulsating keyboard solo. It then turns down slowly into a symphonic-based music with soaring keyboard sounds. It's quite dynamic in nature. Overall, this epic is excellent and it deserves four stars rating.

Rearranged (6:07) has a simple structured intro basing its composition on keyboard and drum beats and nice melody line through vocal. The music moves in crescendo with all instruments play together in relatively upbeat tempo. The ending part is very interesting where the combined work of keyboard, guitar, bass and drum accompany the vocal in relatively fast tempo.

Conclusion

I know that there are masterpiece tunes coming out from this album but the other tracks do not seem to measure up with the masterpiece standard. Some tracks are excellent and some are just good and one track has only one star. It's quite difficult to aggregate the rating but I'm sure that this album is in between three to four stars rating. For me personally, this album deserves 3.5 stars rating overall. Spock's Beard is willing to provide music with wider spectrum through this latest album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

"Never confuse movement with progress."

Gatot | 3/5 |

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