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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover

SNOW

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 522 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mr. Mustard
4 stars By this point (and with their last album) Spock's Beard has finally found their sound. The Gentle Giant influences are nearly gone on this album, and only traces of Genesis can be heard as well. The obvious comparison to be made here is to A Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but in many ways Snow is better. Snow is probably their most complete and focused effort, with perfect contributions from all members.

The album starts with 'Made Alive/Overture' (10/10) which introduces the story as well as a killer riff in 26/16.

'Stranger in a Strange Land' is an acoustic guitar driven ballad with touches of Hammond and Mellotron. Not as great as some of the other songs, but it does provide some important back story for those interested in the lyrics.

'Long Time Suffering' (9/10) is an upbeat song based around a really cool riff played on guitar by Alan Morse who also adds a nice Steely Dan-ish solo midway through. Welcome to NYC (9/10) starts with another killer riff played on guitar along with Neal Morse's extravagant vocals.

'Love Beyond Words' (5/10) is another acoustic ballad with some backing vocals from Nick. It does have a nice piano section two minutes in.

'The 39th Street Blues (I'm Sick)' (9/10) has more of that crunchy guitar riffing. It's a pretty standard rock song, but I do love the change-up at about 3:13.

'Devil's Got My Throat' (10/10) is a Spock's Beard rock anthem filled with heavy guitar and a catchy chorus with Neal's bombastic vocals showing full well he's capable of rocking.

'Open Wide the Flood Gates' (6/10) is another ballad. It sounds like something that would come from one of Neal's earlier solo albums, which is perhaps hinting to where he is headed.

'Open the Gates Part II' (8/10) is more a full band effort with backing vocals from the band over a few cool melodies. Solitary Soul (6/10) is another slower song on acoustic guitar. It has some great Mellotron bits from Ryo and backing vocals from Nick.

'Wind on My Back' (6/10) concludes disc one in an almost folk-like fashion for the beginning half. It's doesn't have much variation instrumentally, but it does have nice vocals.

Disc two opens with a bang with Spock's Beard/Second Overture which is a reprise of some melodies heard in disc one. I especially like what begins at 1:51 which has some fat bass which is supported by Alan's guitar to give a moment of multi-layered madness.

'4th of July' has some cool melodies and riffs in an almost Beatles fashion. 'I'm the Guy' (7/10) is an interesting song with some odd and bombastic vocals from Morse. 'Reflection' (6/10) is another slower ballad led by piano and Mellotron. Like the rest of the ballads it's a nice touch but rather forgettable.

'Carie' (4/10) is Spock's Beard spewing out a love song. It's a little mushy, but I do like that Nick is singing lead vocals on it.

'Looking For Answers' (8/10) also has Nick singing lead vocals, but in a more upbeat and prog rock manner. I normally don't prefer Nick on vocals, but on here he sounds great.

Freak Boy (5/10) features some more of Neal's bombastic vocals. I don't really like the vocal melodies on this one.

'All of Vanity'(10/10) (is much stronger vocally though, with Neal wailing his lyrics passionately until 1:10 where a fantastic synth solo begins. The rest of the song works of a nice reprise of the melodies heard in the overture.

This segues perfectly into 'I'm Dying' (7/10) which has some hilariously inappropriate lyrics ("I had mustard today, I can't eat it no more.") Musically it is decent.

'Freak Boy Part 2' (6/10) is slightly better than the first due to the improved vocal melody.

The rest of the album doesn't really fit the preceding both instrumentally and lyrically. 'Devi's Got My Throat (reprise)' (8/10) is nice but adds nothing new. And 'Snow's Night Out' (8/10) and Ladies and Gentlemen, Ryo Okumoto on Keyboard' (7/10) seem completely out of place.

The ending ('I Will Go' (6/10) and 'Made Alive Again/Wind At My Back (7/10)) of the album is a bit overlong and dramatic, but that IS Neal's style.

This, in my opinion is the Beard's last hoorah, as much as it is Neal's farewell to the bad. Everything after this seems, well, not Spock's Beard. The sound is still there, but the melody writing and vocal style of their most crucial member is missing. Fortunately Neal will go on to churn out some excellent solo albums with a strong Spock's Beard. Despite this, Snow remains one Spock's Beard's best albums and is truly a full band effort.

8/10

Mr. Mustard | 4/5 |

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