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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

Lofcaudio
5 stars I love it when someone writes a review of an album you don't see mentioned all that much and then there are a bunch of follow-up reviews. Well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to chime in and give my two cents on what I believe is one of the very best prog albums of this century.

I am a sucker for two-disk concept albums. And even though the Snow concept is a bit weak, I enjoy it nonetheless. It lacks the eerieness of The Lamb, but it does have a certain haunting aspect to it. Ultimately, it comes down to the music, which Spock's Beard delivers in heaping quantities and which given time, will soak right into your brain.

The initial overture gently grabs your hand and pulls you in to witness the birth of Snow and the world which ostracizes him because of his unique appearance. While some may complain of the opening songs (Stranger in a Strange Land and Long Time Suffering) being more AOR than prog, there is no denying the emotionally charged lyrics and catchy hooks which are present in these songs. Neal Morse gives a passionate turn at lead vocals in this passage and presents the listener with the anguish that Snow lives with in his formative years.

New York is the setting (which does annoy me a bit as it seems too much like The Lamb) where Snow hopes to rise above the bigotry and bring hope to others who have been rejected by society. Love Beyond Words a short ballad sandwhiched in between the hardest music that exists on the album. When I say "hard", I mean metal. Welcome to NYC, The 39th Street Blues and Devil's Got My Throat are melodic, but hard and I'm not sure I've heard Neal Morse sing like this before. The effect is at first startling and then very gratifying, in my humble opinion.

The next portion is one of the best sections of the album with the songs Open Wide the Flood Gates and Open the Gates Part 2. Great melodies and musical shifts take place in this passage which flows into the haunting ballad, Solitary Soul. The first disc ends with the outstanding tune, Wind at my Back. While this song does have AOR tendencies, the catchy tune and beautiful lyrics make this a stand-out track regardless of what genre label you want to attach to it.

Disc 2 begins with the second overture which is a great progressive tune with lots of edge to it. Morse adds some crunchy vocals on the next two tunes, 4th of July and I'm the Guy. Morse then gives the mic to Nick D'Virgilio for the next two songs, Carie and Looking for Answers. D'Virgilio does a great job and shows that he has the vocal chops to get the job done (and will soon pull a Phil Collins in response to Morse pulling a Peter Gabriel). Freak Boy, All is Vanity and I'm Dying are outstanding tracks which don't seem to add much to the concept, but are great songs in their own right.

Just like The Lamb, the second half of Disc 2 meanders a little bit before it gets back on course with the final two songs being I Will Go and the second version of Wind at my Back. Since I liked Wind at my Back so much on Disc 1, I was delighted to hear this again, with even more emotion and build-up as the album reaches its climax at the end. I just love listening to this album.

By the way, the artwork and disc booklet gets a huge THUMBS UP as well. I apologize for all the Lamb/Genesis references, but in this case it was unavoidable. This is by far my favorite Spock's Beard album (just like The Lamb is my favorite Genesis recording), so I will not hesitate in giving this the highest recommendation possible.

Lofcaudio | 5/5 |

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