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Spock's Beard - X CD (album) cover

X

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.81 | 446 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

J-Man
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain!

Since the departure of Neal Morse from Spock's Beard, it seems like the famed prog band has consistently gotten better with each new release. Feel Euphoria was an enormous drop in quality from their previous albums, Octane was a little bit better, Spock's Beard was a great album, and now we have X, their best album since Snow. Although X isn't a masterpiece like Snow or V, it's a terrific prog album that should undoubtedly please fans of Spock's Beard and modern progressive rock in general. If you've been a Spock's Beard naysayer since the beginning, X won't change your mind, but for anyone else, this is a great entrance into what Spock's Beard has been up to the last 8 years.

The music here is unquestionably Spock's Beard - symphonic progressive rock with pop tendencies and jazz/heavy rock influences. There's plenty of variation throughout X, which is always a good thing when the playing time borders the 80 minute mark. On the album you'll hear prog rock epics like "From the Darkness" and "Jaws of Heaven", a heavy instrumental track "Kamikaze", or even a pop-sounding song with "The Emperor's Clothes". There aren't any throwaways, although I do wish the playing time were cut a bit. The post-Neal Morse era Spock's Beard still hasn't fully mastered making albums this long. It's safe to say that X would've been much more powerful and sharp if somewhere in the 50-60 minute range. Still, it's not a huge complaint when considering the quality of most of the music here. The upbeat opener "Edge of the In-Between", the beautiful "The Quiet House", the symphonic "Their Names Escape Me", and the epic finale "Jaws of Heaven" are all prog rock masterpieces, and surely standout tracks on the album. All of the other music is still great, but not quite up to the standards set by the aforementioned songs. Of course, as we're used to from Spock's Beard, the musicianship is excellent and professional. The prominent basslines from Dave Meros are, as always, a standout element in Spock's Beard's music. The keyboard playing from Ryo Okumoto is also great - just listen to a song like "Kamikaze". He definitely knows how to handle a Hammond organ. Nick D'Virgilio's drumming isn't particularly complex, but he has a distinct and impressive style that nobody can argue with. Not to mention his terrific singing pipes either. Alan Morse's guitar style is also very distinct - he's simply one of the best guitarists in modern prog!

The production is, as expected from Spock's Beard, extremely well done. There's a 70's vibe with the bass high in the mix and a raw drum sound. I have no complaints here.

Conclusion:

X is a great album by Spock's Beard, and probably their best since the masterpiece that was Snow. If you're one of the people who's reluctant to listen to post-Neal Morse Spock's Beard because of the heavy pop leanings, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by X. Although there's undoubtedly a commercial edge here, it's no more than we would have expected from Spock's Beard back in 2000. 4 stars are deserved for this highly recommendable release - all modern progressive rock fans should pick this up at some point!

J-Man | 4/5 |

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