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Spock's Beard - X CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 571 ratings

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4 stars An album you cannot afford to miss, really!

As a matter of taste, I'd rather love Spock's Beard with Nick taking care of vocal department even though I love his drumming style as well. It does not mean that the voice quality of Neal is worse than Nick but in my view (and of course my taste as well) Nick's voice is much more natural while Neal seems like making full effort to make his voice like the way it was in the early stages of Spock's Beard. Musically, I'd also like Nick's era as the sound of Spock's Board seems like original not forcing too much in the vein of Gentle Giant, Yes or other influences. I learned from "Octane" album that their music is much different than those the era with Neal as front man. But that's probably a matter of taste.... Let's have a look this tenth album by the band.

Overall, I can see the musical maturity demonstrated by the gentlemen in the band through this "X" album. I immediately loved the music the first time I spun it. Yes, there are roots of their style of previous albums but this time they bring it into a fresher circumstances by putting more symphonic touches. The opening track "Edge of the In-Between" (10:30) opens beautifully with a nice overture even though it then slows down to accommodate vocal line. The music then moves in a smooth and controlled way that most music lovers would be able to digest quite easily. There are changes in style and tempo throughout the span of 10 minutes duration where there are also musical break allowing guitar riffs to appear.

"The Emperor's Clothes" (5:52) opens nicely with good musical composition followed with keyboard solo that elevates the music into different stage and let Nick to take care vocal work. The chorus line "The emperor's clothes ...etc" sounds nice and melodic followed excellently with choirs that remind me to Gentle Giant but performed in melodic way. There is also very nice drum solo followed beautifully with piano solo. Oh man ... this short interlude is truly excellent and makes me proud with SB! The instrumental piece "Kamikaze" (3:50) enters excellently with great music dominated with inventive keyboard work coupled with acrobatic arrangements demonstrating great combined work of drums (so dynamic, indeed), keyboard, tight bass lines, guitar and vintage organ work. What surprises me is the insertion of heavy riffs that might remind you to the kind of Dream Theater stuff. The organ solo is really stunning - especially backed with dynamic drum-work. I believe that NDV is one of the best prog rock drummers. His playing style is so energetic.

"From the Darkness" (16:36) is basically an epic that comprises four parts: a. The Darkness, b. Chance Meeting, c. On My Own and d. Start Over Again. No need to explain in details how excellent this composition is. It starts with an energetic part demonstrating clean voice of NDV and stunning guitar combined with nice keyboard work. The epic has mellow segments as well but it then comes back to energetic segments with great vocal work and dynamic drumming, stunning guitar solo plus wonderful piano. The segment at approximately 11th minute is really great.

"The Quiet House" (9:03) starts off as a rocker with tight bass lines and heavy riffs followed with vocal line in relatively fast tempo, in an energetic style. Like previous tracks, this one also offers changes of tempo as well as style with some segments of heavy riffs that indicate this track as a rocker. "Their Names Escape Me" (8:57) is a nice and melodic song dedicated to their fans who pre-ordered the album. It's really a nice music with excellent lyrics that partly say: "In my mind are faces / In my hands I hold their destiny / I will pray forgiveness / If their names escape me". The names were then spelled out .... It's really nice.

"The Man"Behind the Curtain" (7:46) continues the album with another excellently composed music with dynamic intro part which suddenly changes into musical break to let NDV vocal. You might consider that this track has some flavors of symphonic music. The concluding track "Jaws of Heaven" (16:22) is another epic that comprises four parts: a. Homesick for the Ashes, b. Words of War, c. Deep in the Wondering, and d. Whole Again. Even though I love this album in its entirety but the last track is truly my favorite. It starts mellow with guitar fills accompanying NDV powerful voice. The piano solo performed in classical style backed with mellotron at background brings the music to another segment with stunning guitar solo. I love the guitar solo as well as the bass guitar solo right after the guitar part. what a wonderful opening part! The music then moves dynamically into energetic segment with tight bass lines performed in relatively fast tempo. Overall epic is really a masterpiece!

Well, you know my conclusion already. This is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. 4.5 stars rating. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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