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Spock's Beard - V CD (album) cover

V

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 591 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Spock's Beard ended the last millennium with their most confident and accomplished album yet, and just in time, too. Afterward would come the double-disc beached whale of "Snow" (a transparent evangelical "Lamb Lies Down" saga), and the spiritual defection of singer- songwriter Neal Morse. Tough times indeed, but in retrospect their later struggles would only add luster to this already sterling effort.

As usual the album balanced catchy power-prog melodies with longer symphonic rock workouts. But this time around the band sounded rejuvenated, after injecting fresh blood into a formula grown stale in their previous release, "Day for Night". The difference was enough to make even the four new impeccably-played shorter songs resemble nothing more than place holders, marking time between the galvanized 16-plus minute opener "At the End of the Day" and the album's magnum opus "The Great Nothing", according to Morse the band's answer to "Supper's Ready".

Of course the same might be said for every multi-movement Neo-Prog Rock suite pushing the 30-minute mark. And there's a particular irony in the fact that the original Genesis epic dealt with biblical end times, while the version penned here by an embryonic born-again Christian was a more prosaic chronicle of disillusion and salvation set within an unforgiving music industry. Morse would later abandon his own quest for that one perfect, timeless note, and settle instead for a verbal onslaught of insecure proselytizing. But here his only savior was still the music itself, in careful accordance with one of Progressive Rock's first principles.

The six-part song, much like the entire album, is ambitious but often derivative: business as usual for The Beard. Fans who have somehow managed to keep pace with the tireless career of Neal Morse, beginning with Spock's Beard, through Transatlantic and into his own solo ministry, know from hard experience how to accept the good (pinpoint musicianship; dynamic arrangements; a fertile gift for melody) alongside the bad (shallow lyrics; emotional overkill; secondhand Prog vernacular). But "V" was one album that made the appreciation easier than usual: for better and/or worse, this was Spock's Beard at the apex of their game.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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