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

SPOCK'S BEARD

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.35 | 283 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Believe it or not, this was my introduction to Spock's Beard. I happened upon it in the mall, and knew the band name from a certain website I frequent. I had always been interested in hearing this band, and decided this would be a perfect opportunity. Of course, those who know the band would argue that this was not at all a perfect opportunity, since this album is three albums into a lineup missing the man most would consider the key member. Well, I guess that's too bad, because for what it's worth, this record whetted my appetite and made me all the more eager to hear what this excellent group sounded like with Neal Morse at the helm, and led to me acquire all their albums (although I still picked up Octane second- and I enjoy that one a little bit more than this). I feel like this is a mixed bag- it contains some of Spock's Beards best work after Morse's departure, but also contains some of the worst, as well as some okay, mediocre songs. The pieced-together "epic" is like Frankenstein's monster; it's certainly "alive," but is lumbering and none of the parts seem right together. All said, this is an excellent album, but only just.

"On a Perfect Day" By far the very best on the record, this first track opens with a powerful electric guitar riff and organ that lead into an amazing synthesizer melody over a bed of Mellotron. Dave Meros has a wonderfully gritty bass that cuts through the mix. The verse incorporates warbling, clean guitars and the capable voice of drummer Nick d'Virgilio. The instrumental interlude occurs in three parts. The first is an acoustic guitar duet. The second is piano, strings, and Mellotron, all culminating in a soothing guitar solo. The third is a more upbeat take on the introduction and verse using clean electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and organ. The song concludes with a commanding recitation of the chorus.

"Skeletons at the Feast" The instrumental on the album consists of Ryo Okumoto lighting it up with the organ, ushering the band into one of their heaviest performances ever. This is Spock's Beard doing progressive metal, pure and simple. And guess what? It works. The band does morph into symphonic rock bliss midway through, however, adding perfect variety to the piece, sounding quite a bit like The Flower Kings along the way.

"Is This Love" This hard rocker belongs in a dingy biker bar, not on a progressive rock album! It's not bad for what it is, but is completely disposable- I would probably find myself skipping it if it weren't so short.

"All That's Left" The first soft song on the album, this one shows Spock's Beard's ability to take the pop music they write and really make it shine. The chorus is very memorable, even if the lyrics are on the melodramatic side.

"With Your Kiss" The second soft song follows directly after the first, and is even mellower at first, and then becomes a heavy-handed beast of a song. It's unfortunate that the longest single track on the album is also the second weakest of all.

"Sometimes They Stay, Sometimes They Go" This track has Alan Morse on lead vocal. He has a voice that I would describe as what a love child between Eric Bloom and Donald Roeser of Blue Oyster Cult would sound like singing. Whatever the case, d'Virgilio certainly sounds miles better. Musically, this song is a pleasant rocker, but nothing more.

"The Slow Crash Landing Man" My second favorite track on the album has a steady rhythm and delightful melody. The build from the bridge to the synthesizer solo using a church organ and Mellotron is simple but effective, and the chorus is just magnificent.

"Wherever You Stand" Another filler, this track has great lead guitar work, but otherwise is chock full of goofy vocalizing, a boring rhythm section, and subpar singing- easily the worst of the bunch.

"Hereafter" Gentle piano introduces some abrupt singing. The beginning has a subtle vocal jazz feel. This is the softest song on the album, and may bore some.

"Dreaming in the Age of Answers" A gentle synthesizer lead begins the track, but soon the band enters, bringing with them great music with vocal sections reminiscent of 1980s pop rock. The instrumental section in the second half has a soft jazz flavor, with fretless bass, piano, and a brushed snare.

"Here's a Man" The second part maintains the jazz feel, but takes a fusion approach, kicking it up a notch with heavier drumming, organ, and a heavy bass groove. The organ solo is one of the most phenomenal performances on the album.

"They Know We Know" The third part of the "epic" begins starkly with heavy drumming and a decent vocal bit. The chorus is atrocious, though, and makes this the weakest segment of the four part piece.

"Stream of Unconsciousness" Morse whips things into the right direction, however, with a gritty guitar solo followed by a fabulous synthesizer lead. In the middle, a synthetic section takes over, incorporating a somewhat silly brass bit, as the band fades back in- a lackluster ending.

"Rearranged" The final track has a goofy introduction. Fortunately, the synthesizer lead makes up for it, as the music takes a heavier feel.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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