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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover

SNOW

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 518 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There are great bands that passed their peak a while back, and you keep listening with a sort of desperately loyal hope that they'll find that spark again. On the other hand, there are promising bands that show glimpses of greatness, so you keep listening with the hope that they'll finally put all the pieces together.

Spock's Beard is neither of these. They're always more or less as good as they're going to get; perfectly adequate for filling in the space between more exciting bands and more talented bands. The only time you'll be disappointed is when you foolishly expect them to be great.

There was very little that was surprising about Morse's Christian Rock career move. After all, most of the time Spock's Beard shares so many elements with "inspirational" music: over-produced, derivative, unoriginal, dated, bland....but thoroughly competent, and ideally suited for genre fans. Even the name sounds like an obvious joke from many years ago, and one that was only sort of funny the first time.

"Snow", the band's 'magnum opus' and 'culmination of their career', is actually a little less enjoyable in many ways than previous albums. There's very little hint of the somewhat cheeky wit that always failed to spice up the lyrics, and not enough of the tasty-but-unimpressive musicianship that always failed to spice up the arrangements. Morse is obviously starting to take himself a little too seriously (another solid recommendation for a Christian recording artist).

Still, like every other Spock's Beard album ever recorded, it's almost impossible to dislike it completely. There's nothing really objectionable about it, except for the time it takes to listen to the whole thing. Whereas Echolyn's "MEI" was a ragged, heartfelt gamble of a concept album, "Snow" seems to hedge every single bet. You can't fault the performances, or the concept...the parts are slightly above average, and they come together to make a slightly above average whole.

Metaphors abound. It's like eating at a decent chain restaurant; the food is as good as you expected but not one iota better. You leave relatively satisfied and forget about the meal almost immediately. As Olive Garden is to an Italian ristorante, so is "Snow" to "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (uh, scratch that..."Lamb" wasn't all that great, either. But it was distinctive and memorable, even if you didn't care for it).

Or how about this: if Neil Morse was a horror author, he wouldn't be H. P. Lovecraft, he wouldn't be Clive Barker, he wouldn't even be Stephen King. For that matter, he wouldn't even be Poppy Z. Brite. He'd be good old Dean Koontz. It's all been done before, several times and many years ago, but it's nicely polished and attractively presented. You just keep buying and reading because it's the kind of thing you like, and he just keeps cranking it out for you. A lovely symbiotic relationship that has absolutely nothing to do with originality or excitement.

But as prog fans, we're well used to giving up a little originality for the sake of a particular type of quality...and there's nothing really wrong with that. Just like there's nothing really wrong with "Snow": it's a completely agreeable culmination to a discography full of solid passing grades.

James Lee | 3/5 |

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