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


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 389 ratings

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The Progmatist
3 stars On one hand I'm willing to admit that my review might be a bit biased. I really want to give this album two stars, but the Beard in me holds me back. Ok, so me being a huge Beard fan might not be a good excuse for the extra star, but I believe considering an album in its context is. And the fact of the matter is that FEEL EUPHORIA is the band's first release after the departure of master composer/genius Neal Morse. Because of this, I'm willing to give this album the benefit of the doubt where other listeners may not. Fair game.

On the other hand, I feel vindicated when finding that there really are some great songs here. In my opinion, "Bottom Line" is the highlight of the album, establishing what I believe to be the new sound of Spock's Beard. "Ghosts of Autumn" is a nice little piano ballad, and the suite "A Guy Named Sid" proves that the current Spock's lineup is more than capable of composing hard- hitting and still passionate rock music.

I don't think it would be fair to discuss this album without touching on the performances of Nick D'Virgilio on the drums and Mr. Ryo Okumoto on the keys. Sure, these musicians always fit their roles with competence and flair in the Neal Morse days, but I think it may be fair to say that Neal's compositions can often confine the other members of the band to often rigid structures and somewhat predictable progressions. Here, however, Morse's absense allows the rest of the band to experiment with styles that would have never been available under Neal's direction, and I think Nick's drumming and Ryo's work on the keys (particularly his electronic sounds) really take advantage of the newly created space. In FEEL EUPHORIA, we hear a masterful rock drummer that has been awakened in the great D'Virgilio, and Ryo dabbles with almost techno-like sounds with the keys. Both sounds are certainly welcome in a band that had been so used to exploring epic motifs and funky ditties (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Nevertheless, this album just doesn't cut it. First album without Neal aside, there is no excuse for some of the stuff here. "Shining Star" is as cheesy as the title would suggest, "East of Eden, West of Memphis" is utterly forgettable, and the title track is pretty lame almost the whole way through. Listeners may also ask where the mellotron is. This may be because when Ryo does use it, he really doesn't do anything special with it, especially when considered alongside his absolutely masterful use of it in OCTANE. Perhaps if he had just made up his mind that he wanted to go electronic on this album, we wouldn't have missed it. But alas, we can find the mellotron thrown into some of the songs almost purely for the "mellotron factor," and having mellotron layered in the background simply so that Spock's fans won't feel that their world is crumbling is just not good enough for me.

All in all, FEEL EUPHORIA comes across as a confused effort that often draws straws in hopes of hitting on something good. The good news is that this risk does indeed yield some rewards, but they seem all but few and far between. Even so, we are given some very promising things here. Nick's voice, for one, is surprisingly well-matched for the new Spock's sound, and Ryo's experimentalism often shines. Bassist Dave Meros and guitarist Alan Morse are a bit more disappointing, but their work in the band's next two releases more than makes up for any lack of inspiration present here. 2.5 stars

The Progmatist | 3/5 |


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