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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover

SNOW

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 521 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

LiquidEternity
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This album is cheesy. The concept is kind of dorky. There is probably a good bit more musical material than necessary. There is a lot of instrumental noodling and so forth. Some of the songs are aimless, others unfortunately short.

All I can say is that Snow is full of some of the most upbeat, interesting, exciting, and creative sounds and songs that Spock's Beard have ever come up with. Not far into the Overture, the music is bouncing and exploding and causing all sorts of chaos, yet it works. It flows. The entirety of this two hour musical experience holds as one cohesive piece, despite being all over the place. A few highlights, to help clear up some of what works on this album:

The Made Alive / Overture opener, for one. Overtures are certainly quite overused, and are quite often pointless, but the Beard created in this song an overture that doesn't just rehash (prehash?) what is going to come with the rest of the album, but it's completely different in sound. Very cleverly composed, and with some fierce, fierce drumming.

Welcome to NYC is also great fun. Clearly something of an homage to Genesis and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, this song nevertheless borrows nothing from anything Genesis. Spectacular and disturbing vocals from Neal mark this sarcastic piece of condescension and disdain. The keyboards are quite nice, too.

Open Wide the Flood Gates and the second part are split up for who knows what reason, but either way, they both fit together, and they both rock. The first part is much softer, mellower, but culminates in probably the best solo I've ever heard from Alan. A bit of a rehash of the main theme in between segues into the second part's vocal rounds. It all sounds grand, and it all is exciting.

I'm the Guy might be more of a personal favorite, but it still has such a unique flavor to it. Not quite like anything else the band has done before, the vocals and the guitar just work here.

Looking for Answers features Nick on the vocals, and holy cow! can that man sing. Little did we know. It's something of another straightforward rock tune, but the feel and the flow of it are perfect. If there ever was a rock band that wrote songs like this, I'd buy that CD in an instant. As it is, this track is, as far as I can tell, completely one of a kind also. And this song is also especially notable, since right after it, the music turns to the climax suite, as I think of it.

This climax suite starts with Freak Boy and powers all the way through Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Ryo Okumoto on the Keyboards. Most of these songs are abbreviated, coming rapid fire and building in intensity. The organ soloing in All Is Vanity is a thing unbelievably raw and rather tasty, I think. I'm Dying slows things down a bit, with a rather dismal track, but it sure sounds nice. Freak Boy Part 2, Devil's Got My Throat Reprise, Snow's Night Out, and then Ladies and Gentlemen run about two or three minutes each. Each seems to get faster and more exciting, with the last two featuring no vocals. I find it a testament to the Beard's self-effacing humor and ability to not feel obligated to take themselves too seriously that they suddenly branch off of the emotional and adrenal climax of the album to insert a random keyboard solo, but to be honest, by that point, it doesn't matter what they're playing, just that they're playing something crazy and fast.

The conclusion with Wind at My Back is another emotional piece. Repetition building power creates a stunning outro to the album, and one that must be heard.

I don't care how some think this album sags in the middle. It does. But still, you should definitely check this one out. It's not perfect music, it's not incredibly proggy, it's not terribly deep--but it is so very much fun.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |

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