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Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness  CD (album) cover

BEWARE OF DARKNESS

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 352 ratings

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Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer
4 stars For the longest time, I enjoyed later Beard, but not so much the early stuff. Basically, due to the production and audacity of The Light, I was turned off to parts of that album, and I just assumed that those limitations would have carried over into their second album.

Boy, was I wrong, because Beware of Darkness features what I think is the best about the Beard: bombastic melodies, aggressive songwriting, plenty of features for each of the players, and, perhaps most importantly, none of the cringeworthy moments of the debut (and I think we all can agree that a certain part on the Water most definitely qualifies!). I love the production, and each instrument is quite clearly heard.

I am very darn close to giving Darkness a full five stars, but I just can't place this album in that select category. This is one of the rare albums that I honestly enjoy each part of the album, and there are never any "skippy" urges when the albums comes on.

Somewhat ironically, the song I like least (but still enjoy nonetheless) is the opener. However, Thoughts is an all-time prog classic. Clearly we have Gentle Giant influences, but there's no doubt that this has a definite Spock's feel (read: much louder and aggressive). Whoever says the Beard is simply copying Gentle Giant is doing this track a major disservice.

The Doorway and Walking on the Wind are both bursting with creativity regarding instrumentation and melody. With the former, I sometimes wish they would stick with the opening section's groove longer, but the refrain makes it worth the wait. Walking, in my opinion, features the first time that I really have appreciated NDV on drums...he just moves the tempo without ever going full-on Portnoy. Obviously, the more I listen to Big Big Train, I get plenty more instances of this, but this song featured my first realization of NDV's talent.

Time Has Come is a bit of a slow burn, and really the only example of the Beard attempting a song of this style. There's nothing that really grabbed me by the balls the first few listens, but upon further listens, I really love how different sections highlight each player: we have NDV doing some hardcore strutting rhythms, Meros absolutely belting some sections, Neal standing out at times on vocals, and of course Alan doing some gritty, distorted bends that characterize some of his best Beard moments.

All in all, this is one downright solid album, although i would not call it a masterpiece. I would, however, rate it as absolutely essential to fans of the Beard. Don't make my mistake and assume that the flaws of their debut (if you happened to see them as flaws, that is) carried over to their next release!

Flucktrot | 4/5 |

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