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Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness  CD (album) cover

BEWARE OF DARKNESS

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 365 ratings

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Teaflax
2 stars The first Spock's Beard album I heard, and I will gladly admit that the circumstances may have soured me on them. I give my review one extra star for that alone.

Being very poor at the time, and having read many, many rave reviews of SB online, I spent money I couldn't really afford on this album and popped it in my CD Walkman on my lunch break with great anticipation. And from the moment Neal Morse's voice came in, rasping out "Watch out now!", I was just shocked. What on EARTH was this forced and gravelly Richard Marx soundalike doing on a Prog album? Okay, the playing was good, the arrangements and the song alright (I had no idea that the opener was a cover).

Either way, this was far below what I had been lead to expect from the many favorable reviews. It was at its core incredibly mainstream, despite all the - admittedly very nice - instrumental details.

Track two opened well enough and then went to some Gentle Giantism, something I'm never going to complain about, even when it's only so-so. But once the layered vocals were over, it was right back to Melodic Rock Land with simple and repetitive melodies delivered like some bar band Rock vocalist. And then those two worlds kept alternating with no seeming logical link, like an experiement in tape slicing, using master tapes of a Prog band and a very average Rock band.

And so it went throughout most of the album and indeed so it goes in most of the Beard oeuvre. Now, for someone who values Journey and Toto as highly as Genesis and Yes, it's probably heaven, but there's no denying it's a bastardization of what Prog once meant to include such a heavy middle of the road aspect.

It's a bit like a cubist adding a naturalist portrait to his paintings; I guess it's an innovation of sorts to take a partial step backwards, but it is no longer actual cubism. My animosity towards Spocks Beard would probably be considerably less if more people spoke of them as a marriage of mainstream AOR with Prog forms, yet this rarely occurs.

So, a warning to any reader who has yet to hear SB; please be aware that despite the hype and hyperbole, this is only partially Prog. If that does not bother you and you also have a high tolerance for Magnum, Styx or Winger, you should be fine with this.

If you're looking for Prog that isn't shot through with great swathes of American Radio Rock, then you should probably look elsewhere for your fix.

Teaflax | 2/5 |

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