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Spock's Beard - Octane CD (album) cover

OCTANE

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.13 | 282 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Had this album been created and released prior to Neal Morse leaving Spock's Beard, I think many progressive rock fans would have been way more receptive to it. With the exception of "There Was a Time," the songs after the main event (the first seven tracks), are fairly uninteresting, at least to me, but the main segment blows me away. Each individual piece may not be "progressive rock" according to most purists, but once the big picture is taken into consideration, this proves to be a great little album, and one that has made me think about my life a few times. The opening track alone is a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

"The Ballet of the Impact" That first breath of dark Mellotron ushers in some menacing guitar and synthesizer over a heavy drum beat, and then comes in the main, screeching guitar theme. The intensity builds until things quiet, and only the Mellotron remains. Thoughtful piano enters, leading to another main theme of the album. The bass work and swelling Mellotron are excellent thereafter, as it prepares the listener for the very reflective vocals. The music appropriately degenerates into a hazy nothingness, carrying the narrator- a man in his prime- back to the beginning of his life.

"I Would Not Let it Go" This one describes the childhood memories of the protagonist, and is wonderful acoustic rock song. The simplicity works well in that vein, and is a pleasant contrast to the tapestry of the previous track.

"Surfing Down the Avalanche" Appropriately, this angst-ridden, I-hate-my-parents" song describes the teenage memories. It's at once grating and horrific, a frenzied, but moderate-tempo rocker.

"She is Everything" The angry teenager becomes softer and gentler, and the music reflects this. Tranquil but anticipatory atmospheres assume control, leading to one of the best romantic songs this band ever did, and it features a soulful guitar solo.

"Climbing Up That Hill" Now the young man is a father laden with the stress of a family, bills, and the troubles of life- it's a stark contrast to the beauty of the previous song, both lyrically and musically, and one can't help but realize how close to real life this is. The bass drives the music on throughout, and the acoustic guitar is a good touch.

"Letting Go" In less than two minutes, the end of the life of the narrator is guided by the heavenly sounds of a Mellotron.

"Of the Beauty of it All" The melody of the initial piece returns over a dirge-like keyboard. The synthesizer solo is the highlight of the music. All the major motifs of the first track come back to haunt us though, and beautifully so- this is a death after all. And yet, the music is given new life with amazing bass work and different inflections and instrumentation from each musician. This concludes the suite of the album, and I find it to be a heartfelt and graceful piece of progressive rock in its own way, but there's more?

"There Was a Time" An excellent acoustic-based hard rock song with a great hook, this has some lush Mellotron in the backdrop and unimpeachable harmonies.

"The Planet's Hum" Providing a change of pace for a bit, we get a great bass solo accompanied by other instruments (like the Mellotron in "flute mode"). Then it's back to the hard rock again. This is actually my least favorite track on the album; other than the interesting introduction, it's rather insipid, although still good to listen to in the course of hearing the album. It does end rather abruptly, however.

"As Long as We Ride" One final straightforward rock song concludes this record. There's an interesting vocal (almost scat) bit in the middle, but it's brief. Overall, this song is forgettable, but doesn't take from the greatness that came prior.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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