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Spock's Beard - Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep CD (album) cover

BRIEF NOCTURNES AND DREAMLESS SLEEP

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 452 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Internal complications and line-up shakeups, with possibly even more feelings of starting over and having to prove themselves yet again, but Spock's Beard mk3 is off to a flying start with their new album `Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep'. For their eleventh album, the band have adopted their heaviest rock sound so far, with Dave Meros' pummelling bass loud and proud, Alan Morse's guitar searing and Ryo's super-thick Hammond and Mellotron washes all front and center. This new release could probably also serve as a good crossover album for commercial/mainstream hard rock fans so far unexposed to progressive rock, such is the winning mix of accessible melodic hooks with traditional prog complexity seamlessly woven together.

I was initially very hesitant to get excited over the news of former Enchant vocalist being recruited for the newly vacated vocalist spot. Although I thought they were a very talented band back in the day, Leonard's vocals at the time were so overwrought and histrionic to me, throwing vocal acrobatics over every inch of their music. But I can happily say that he's learned a great deal of restraint and subtlety since then, while still displaying great range and power, and this is to be commended. Longtime associate of the band Jimmy Keegan takes over the drums, and he brings a snappy, attacking virtuosity that reassures all will be just fine with this new line-up.

A stomping beat, heavy grooving guitar riffs, punishing grumbling bass and dirty thick Hammond grind with a confidence of a band fully aware of how damn good they are on opener `Hiding Out'. The catchy chorus surprisingly drops into a more reflective and laid back mood, but it's back and forth to hard rock energy throughout the whole number. Pretty sure Ryo is doing some pretty abusive things to his keyboards in the final two minutes, listen out for it and see if the man needs to be arrested!

`I Know Your Secret' is a funky blistering balls-out rocker, `A Treasure Abandoned' moves through grand weeping Mellotron epic Genesis proggery to surprisingly Red Hot Chili Peppers-like balladry by way of a spiraling psychedelic middle. `Submerged' is a crashing and catchy commercial power ballad, `Afterthoughts' is like Gentle Giant on steroids and beautifully displays the complex vocal arrangements the band always does so well. `Something Very Strange' has bouncy time changes, grinding riffs and lengthy brooding energetic instrumental passages that showcases the strength of this new lineup to superb effect. Anyone who doubted what this new version could achieve will be suitably impressed.

The upbeat power-pop of `Waiting For Me' wraps up the album with trademark Spock's group harmonies over angry Mellotron blasts that attack the listener over and over, a touch of classic Genesis closers `Afterglow' and `Los Endos' to make the fans smile, a boppy and infectious chorus before a stadium-sized bluesy guitar solo from Alan that's up there with his finest solos during `Ghosts of Autumn' from `Feel Euphoria'. You can really near ex-member Neal Morse's hand in this one, and it makes for a terrific finish to the album that has the band reaching for the heavens.

It's too soon to tell just how important this album will be in the long scheme of the Spock's discography. It took a few of the D'Virgilio-led albums to emerge before working out which were the really impressive ones, and this will be no different. But for now the existing band members sound rejuvenated with the new additions, working together and complementing each-other perfectly. So `Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep' (killer overly dramatic proggy title and equally grand cover artwork that looks a knockout on vinyl too!) is all quality material, with really none of the filler that occasionally hampered their last few albums, and instrumental complexity balanced with an approachable melodic edge. It's much more difficult to perfect that balance than you may think, and it just shows how talented Spock's Beard still are. I really hope this run of the band sticks with it and produces even more great results!

A well-deserved four stars...and make sure to get one of the special editions for some nice bonus tracks.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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