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Spock's Beard - V CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars Well I guess you can say "they did it again". For those who are "Beard heads" will drool over "V" with their 27 minute opus extravagenza track "The Great Nothing"... a highlight for this prog lover. I continue to be amazed at Morse's ability to write such compelling and different music time after time. "V" delivers that pattented BEARD rapid time signature and mood altering music with great lustre and sophistication. They even revisit their song "Thoughts" with another wonderful GENTLE GIANT'ish allusion and have been clever in naming it Thoughts 2! Clearly one of my personal big loves has been their fine use of instrumentation which continues with "V" featuring loads of fine analog keyboard work and mellotron. Overall this is just a great album dripping with that musical prowness that can only be SPOCK'S BEARD. Go Get This Album!

Report this review (#6992)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Beard Classic! This is the band at their best, pushing their trademark sound to the limit, yet still retaining the tight musicianship and high regard for melodic composition that they are reknowned for. This album has something for everyone, from the made-for-radio hooks of "All On A Sunday" to the musical madness of "Thoughts (Part II)", the beautiful ballad "Goodbye to Yesterday", all culminating in the 27-minute magnum opus "The Great Nothing". This album has so many great "Beard moments" that you won't know which way to turn! It also contains what I consider to be "the perfect prog song" if such a thing exists - "At The End Of The Day" is an an absolute masterpiece, and by itself would make this album a compelling purchase. Get It Now!
Report this review (#6998)
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spock's Beard is as good as progressive rock gets these days, and "V" is no exception. It's another awesome prog album, as expected, flashing the tunefulness of Genesis, the dynamic flair of Yes and ELP, the ferocity of King Crimson, the sophistication of Alan Parsons project, and the creative instrumental proficiency to pull it all off.

The epics on this album, the 17-minute "At The End Of The Day" and the 27-minute "The Great Nothing," are as good as the best in the genre: melodic, diversely textured, and challengingly intelligent without being needlessly cerebral. From sparse folk to imposing orchestration and imaginative sonic imagery, these tracks have it all, and Spock's Beard plays them to jaw-dropping perfection. Not since Yes has a band been so dazzlingly proficient at this art.

If there's a disappointing aspect of the record, it's that the more compact songs don't quite live up to the breathtaking excellence of their last album, "Day For Night." None of the cuts are bad, though, far from it: "Thoughts (Part II)" is a wonderful, jagged, pomped-up prog single; the artsy "Revelation" pushes the boundaries from trancelike to bludgeoningly heavy while remaining tuneful enough for college radio; "Goodbye To Yesterday" is a beautiful, sparse, melancholy song that would probably make a lesser band's career. Still, "V" isn't quite is engagingly accessible to rock fans as its predecessor, and it isn't quite as good an introduction for newcomers to the band.

Indeed, fans may be spoiled by how easily these kings of prog seem to achieve their dazzling instrumental proficiency and songwriting brilliance. If you are one of those fans, repeat to yourself: I will not take this band for granted, I will not take this band for granted. "V" isn't their best album, but it's another spectacular one from a band that seems capable of nothing less, and prog fans should cheer it as the triumph that it is.

Report this review (#7000)
Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don'tknow all the albums of Spock's Beard, bus this one is great. Two great epics. The first one, "At the end of they day" with great singing of the group, a kind of singing I never heart before. The shorties between the 2 epics, I think are real pearls, I don't think their is one misser on this album. Mabye Goodbye to yesterday is more beautiful than All on a sunday but they are all great.
Report this review (#7005)
Posted Monday, November 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great album! Fantastic! Master melodies, comlex rhythms, great musicianship, great vocals with fantastic choruses (sound like Gentle Giant at his best). The best album Spock's Beard has ever recorded. Highly recommendation.
Report this review (#7009)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
3 stars Where the heaviest influences on "The Light" (the only other SB album I've heard) are GG, Floyd, Supertramp and Kansas (with bits of Yes and Genesis), the overwhelming influence on "V" is Yes, mostly circa "Drama" and "90125" - though I'm happy to note that the "Yes-influenced" stuff here is as good as (and sometimes better than) anything on those albums. / "V" begins with "At the End of the Day," an extended composition with enormous Yes influence in the writing, arrangement, harmonies and even recording. Indeed, except for Morse singing about an octave below where Anderson would be, it almost sounds like something Yes might have done, with A. Morse channeling Howe (sometimes to amazing effect), Meros channeling Squire (especially in the last three minutes - wow!), and D'Virgilio strongly channeling White. And although the composition is not as compelling as anything on "The Light," it is still excellent, with plenty of unique "Beard" touches. The second composition - "Revelation" - is a beautifully constructed piece, with verses that sound a little like XTC (in their "guise" as The Dukes of Stratosphear), and a chorus and break that have an interesting Lennon-esque quality (circa Walls and Bridges). The third composition, "Thoughts (Part II)," is the band's answer to GG's "Knots." After a brief, misleadingly "mellow" intro, the band jumps unabashedly feet first into GG territory, combining "rock"-y sections of interwoven contrapuntal lines, with complex acappela vocals, and even a couple of "classical" breaks using cello, violin, etc. And although it is not nearly as original or complex as "Knots," it is an exceptionally well-crafted piece of music. The fourth composition, "All on a Sunday," is a good, straightforward rock song. "Goodbye to Yesterday" is a nicely constructed ballad, with "Dear Prudence"-like guitar work. The final piece, "The Great Nothing," is an extened composition showing the band at its original best, with touches of (mostly) Yes, GG, and even a nice CSNY-like section. I particularly like the jam at 8:00-9:15, with a wonderfully tasteful organ solo by Okumoto. And, again, although the composition is not nearly as interesting or well-realized as "The Light" or "The Water," it is nevertheless a finely crafted piece of music, with lots of excellent musicianship. / As a minister, I like the fact that Morse's lyrics on this album seem to be nicely inflected with his faith: "At the End of the Day" is almost wholly about faith, as is "Goodbye to Yesterday" ("You're a believer who's found they lied...It's not too late to lay your burden down and walk through heaven's gate"), and "The Great Nothing," which seems to compare Creation with music ("One note timeless came out of sought no need to say something, no message to sell..."). / I continue to be impressed by Spock's Beard, who I only recently got into via "The Light." And I continue to look forward to hearing more of their music.
Report this review (#7010)
Posted Saturday, January 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew the band after they released their third album. Based on recommendation from my prog-mate in Bandung I then purchased all the first three albums. At that time I was not really "into" prog intensely cause I thought that the genre was bit stagnant. When all the three CDs arrived I was bit disappointed with the band music as it was too derivative with bits of "Yes", "Gentle Giant" and oh no . "Gypsy King". So I decided not to spin their music but I still continued buying their CDs. I don't know why. It's probably the band's reputation on the webs as so many people praising them or probably many of my prog mates talked about the band. I just did not want myself to be left behind. Pretentious? Might be. But actually I rarely spin the CDs of the band until I got my Transtlantic SMPTe CD which triggered me to spin some albums of the band.

Well, that's history. Sometime we can only appreciate prog music progressively through a passage of time. When my prog mate, Koni, who lives in Malang (approx 1000 miles away from Jakarta - to the east) urged me to have another try for this album, I accepted. On first couple of spins I still did feel "into" SB music especially on the part which sounds like The Gypsy King (the pop outfit that could flow nicely into my ears - sorry ). For me personally, the music of SB sounds like "being forced" to the way like the music sounds - so it does not seem natural for me. But OK OK . this time I want to see the band's music in totally different perspectives, using different spectacles. And I found the Gentle Giant's choir at "Thoughts (Part II)" is excellent. So I pushed myself to enjoy the music and this is my view .

At The End of The Days

This album opener is definitely an excellent track and I'm happy that this is positioned at the beginning of the album. It starts very nicely in an ambient mood with soft keyboard / mellotron sounds. This opening piece that ends approx 1 minute is really melodic and has successfully set an uplifting mood for the album. The drum sound enters gradually followed later with full music in funky style led by the beats from a combination of great bass guitar by Dave and drums by Nick. When Neal voice enters the music at first time the rhythm section is dominated by the combination of dynamic bass line, drums and organ at the background. The music turns complex with some great variations on drumming - really great, Nick! The music then flows with a variety of styles: keyboard solo in neo prog vein and slower tempo, jazz fusion style and some transitions with acoustic guitar and percussion (that luckily does not "exactly" sound like The Gypsy King .). The mellotron work by Ryo has enriched the textures of the track and reminds me to the 70s prog packaged in a much more modern sound. The organ solo is stunning! The guitar work by Alan is much indicated as filler but it has augmented the song really well. Oh by the way, I forget to mention - the harmony vocals is excellent! I am really satisfied with this track.


It starts spacey and flows in a mellow style exploring the keyboard sounds and effects. The voice line enters with slow beat drumming. The music then flows in crescendo with higher register singing style. It turns quieter again and returns to mellow style. The music turns a bit complex with organ providing a great rhythm sound and solo. There is a strong influence of jazz especially when I observe the organ / keyboard works. Alan contributes his short guitar solo nicely.

Thoughts(Part II)

It opens with a nice acoustic guitar rhythm followed with low register notes vocals. "I thought I'd come to you and say / All the things I had on my mind / I thought it might be really great / To show you how I feel inside / Then I think ... MAYBE NOT ..." - it's a great and atmospheric opening, I think. The music then turns into full sounds nicely with keyboard takes the lead melody. And .. oh man . when the part enters this passage: "You wouldn't speak to me / I would be left behind / We'd be through if you knew / All the things in my mind .." and the music that follows is really SUPERB! It does remind me to the music of Gentle Giant at its best! Quite honest, this track was the one that made me willing to have another spin of this CD. The drumming is marvelous! There is some exploration of orchestra in some transitions. Really wonderful!!! I think all Gentle Giant freaks would be amazed by this track. I think and I am sure! This is a wonderful composition!

All on a Sunday

I consider this is a ballad rock tune with nice organ / keyboard work that sometimes remind me to Procol Harum style of organ. The music flows straight forwardly with a very minimum variation in style and mood. It's a good track but not essential.

Goodbye To Yesterdays

It's another ballad and nice song opened with acoustic guitar. I think Neal is better singing in this low register note. It reminds me to "The Distance to The Sun" track of the bands "Day for Night" album.

The Great Nothing

Considering the long duration (27:18) of this epic, I expect a lot before enjoying it. It comprises 6 parts. It opens with an ambient sounds followed with an acoustic guitar fills. Nice opening. The music then enters in medium tempo with bass guitar take the lead for the beats and drum as keeper of the bars. When organ starts soaring, Dave performs his dynamic bass guitar work. The vocal enters in quieter passage with only piano (and bit of bass guitar) accompany it. The music turns slowly into faster tempo. I do enjoy when it reaches approx. min 8 when the keyboard / organ takes its solo (and effects!) combined with great bass line. Great work, Ryo and Neal! I really enjoy it. The smooth music then turns into an intermittent one during transition. It's a very good exploration. This epic offers a variety of styles and sounds / effects exploring all the talents the band has. A bit note here is that the guitar work of Alan has been fully explored with this track and in general. The whole album does not explore as much of Alan's fullest. It's probably the figure of Neal (who happens to be a keyboard player as well) is so central and selfish (?) that he does not allow much guitar sound in the middle of this epic. Indeed, Alan's solo concludes this epic nicely (augmented with piano).


I think it is embarrassing if you like prog but do not have this excellent album. Not all tracks are excellent, I think, especially those with ballad styles. But I have to admit that overall, the composition is tight and the musicianship is great. Most people said that the band's existence was highly due to the central role of Neal Morse. I don't think so. Even with the departure of Neal, they still have great sounds and composition in two albums (post Neal):"Feel Euphoria" and "Octane". Even, the band has pushed more in melodic spectrum of their composition under their latest album "Octane". Overall, I put the rating of this "V" album with 4 ˝ out of 5 rating. I would give full five star if there were no ballads and Alan's guitar work was given more. Keep on progging!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia.

Report this review (#7011)
Posted Sunday, February 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is simply a stunning album. This album was suggested to me as "heavy duty prog" when I first started visiting the forums on this site and I couldn't have been more pleased about purchasing it about four months ago. Heavy duty prog is right. Also,very accessible and essential. I introduced this album to my eleven year old son and to a co-worker. They both loved it on the first spin just as I did. My son is more into hard classic rock and some modern metal, but tolerates listening to my prog on car trips and he loved this one. It gets even better with familiarity as expected. So beautiful, intense, mellow, heavy, diverse, intricately interwoven and masterfully presented. This album has everything.

The opening epic track At The End Of The Day (about 17 minutes) is my favorite. Great instrumental input from all members of the band, vocal harmonies are quite good and the lyrics are thoughtful and emotional. The other epic track running about 27 minutes is also fantastic. I like the shorter tracks as well, particularly the alternating mellow to heavy Revelation and the beautiful, mellow and melancholy Goodbye To Yesterday. There are no throw aways on this album, Thoughts is very striking in its diverse presentation of musical components, including vocals, and All On A Sunday is an excellent ballad. Overall, heavy duty, essential prog worth every bit of a 5-star masterpiece rating!

Report this review (#7013)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album has a very vintage prog feel which makes it timeless, just like YES did with 'Close To The Edge'. The use of rather uncommon instruments, acoustical ones, such as the French horn, trumpet, violins and the like has enriched the sound and thereby our sonic experience (if you have ever watch the DVD 'The Making Of V', you will know how complex it is to make a part of a song while keeping in mind the whole structure of the song and the sound that may come out from the combination between that particular part and others, in this DVD the recording session of the acoustical instrument was very interesting). The sound itself has SPOCK'S BEARD signature all over it, yet, one will notice that there was a progression from their previous album (the more pop-oriented 'Day For Night'), just like GENESIS made a progression from 'Wind And Wuthering' to 'A Trick Of The Tail': different direction but similar sound. A few repetitions from their past albums were there, but new sound, tricks and treats (great guitar leads, big keyboard sound, flawless drumming, great vocal arrangement) were also significantly evidence. Therefore, this is a good SPOCK'S BEARD album.

'At The End Of The Day' makes a good solid album opening. It's a classic SPOCK'S BEARD song with a handful of elements from their previous albums, yet it is not a boring repetition. As indicated above, the use of a 'non-prog' instruments were very effective in emulating an enjoyable prog sound. The prog feast was served later at the end of the album by way of the epic 'The Great Nothing'. Elsewhere, Neal Morse proudly dubbed this song as the band's 'Supper's Ready', and indeed it did has the grand feel of that GENESIS classic, of course with more modern sound, and much more fierce attitude in attacking their musical instruments resulting in big bombastic tasteful sound. The utilization of a sound effect namely the pouring liquid sound that running from one channel to the other was brilliant (my eight years old son, loves it very much, and he instantly becomes an avid SPOCK"S BEARD fan!). For track by track review, one may check the review from a special collaborator of this website, Mr. Gatot Widayanto. Highly recommended! (Nirarta,Indonesia)

Report this review (#7014)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My overall feeling with the SB records I've heard is deception.So it goes with this one : the tracks start all in a nice way, good production, good musicians..., but after a few minutes I miss interesting melodic and harmonic material . They are to cautious, you hear the influence of Gentle Giant, Beatles, Yes and others but they don't create something different out of it, they don't overcome their influences.You have groups with a single strong songwriter like Ian Anderson or groups with good collective writing skills like Yes and Genesis.SB belongs neither to the first nor the second group. There is not one track on this record, that stuck to my ears.The openings are mostly very promissing, especially on "revelation" and "all on a sunday" but I miss the spark of crazyness, that creates outstanding tracks.The long epic track is often the most difficult Prog"exercise","The great Nothing" is for me the weekest track, the one where the lack of material and the lack of tention is too obvious, additioning different athmospheres doesn't make a good song."Supper's ready" was a collection of interesting songs that existed before and were presented like a suite. SB doesn't have that talent yet.
Report this review (#7017)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is in fact one of the greatest pieces of Spocks Beard history... I just can try to discribe what this Album is all english isn't good enough i think... but the songs on this album are just so perfectly arranged and so hopefull...when I play this CD, I can't fight it: I just smile over my whole face and I am happy to live....ok this is perhaps not very objective...but i said: my english isn't good enough to tell you deeper meanings... This Album just rocks, feels, and lives....every note and every song is kept deep inside my soul...great work!!!
Report this review (#35745)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Beard's Fifth Studio album is superb from start to finish. In my opinion the creative peak of the Neal Morse era of the band, of the six tracks presented there is no filler.

Highlights are the two epics, At the End of the Day and The Great Nothing. The lyrics on the latter especially are among Neal Morse's best and very thought provoking. The ending is also very uplifting and to my mind second only to Ritual and Supper's Ready for emotional impact. I get goose-bumps every time I listen to it.

The shorter tracks are very effective also, All On a Sunday is more poppy but also has the well observed lyrics. Thoughts Pt 2 is a song revolving around the age old man/woman relationships. If anyone thought that a good prog song needs to be long should listen to this. The song is so progressive, the lyrics are very insightful and the music superbly captures the emotions involved and all in less than 5 minutes.

A definite "desert island disc" for me and well worth 5 stars.

Report this review (#37080)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Goddam' Peak of their career. The musicianship in this album is impressive and there is no low point in the epics. IF you want only one album from this band, I recommend this one. It has all the elements explored in the first 4 albums mixed together.

1. At The end Of The Days 9.5/10 Starts the album with the band's best song. It is so hard to believe that they will mix pop with prog so well, but they pulled it off! This song is a very accessible long song that grows on you on the same time. Containing very memorable sections of music, great instrumental breaks, and overly beautiful melodies (when Morse sings the lyrics 'At the end of the day' is golden).

2. Revelation 6.5/10 : This is a strong song that combines the mellow and the hard rock sides of the band.

3. Thoughts(Part II) 8/10 : This song sounds like (but is much better) than 'knots' from Gentle Giant. It is ultra heavy and complex.

4. All on a Sunday 3.5/10 : This song is a normal pop song that seems like something Coldplay would write. Bad.

5. Goodbye To Yesterdays 6/10 : A very mellow track that sounds similar and inferior to many other songs of Neal.

6. The Great Nothing 8.5/10 : OHHH YEAHHHH! A 27 minute long epic that doesn't feel long, this reminds me of Transatlantic's Longest tracks which are full of good ideas. This is the hardest song to get into from the band I think.

Get this album, at least for the 2 epics, you will not be disappointed!.

My Grade : B

Report this review (#41609)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spock's Beard's V meets all expectations as another excellent release from one of modern symphonic prog's most revered bands.

V is one of Spock's Beard most spectacular releases. It was with this album that Morse's future of making epics in projects like Transatlanic and his solo project really shows. The thirty minute finale The Great Nothing is an amazing track. The track shows excellent musicality on part of all the musicians. Bassist Dave Meros and keyboardist Ryo Okumoto may not get all the credit they deserve next to the Morses , but they lack of popularity does not equate to their excellent musical skill. The opener At the End of the Day is another classic work from Spock's Beard with a magnificient cello intro giving way to jazzy overtones and catchy choruses coming later in the song.

The vocal work from Neal Morse and Nick d Virgillo is outstanding. The shorter track Thoughts (Part II) is proof of this. The vocals do lack range, but make up for it with great chordal tones and rythymic diversity not found in many bands. This album is another masterpiece of progressive music from Spock's Beard.

Report this review (#61706)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spock's Beard always have been quite interesting and this album proves it again. With all those interesting, diversified and fresh ideas they keep the listener's attention and that for many listens.

"Thoughts II" is the perfect example. It starts with an acoustic part, a blend of chords and arpeggios with Neil Morse's fantastic and typical vocals. After that it turns into a harder direction, with a guitar and bass only first but afterwards a piano and at last another synthesizer. It develops to a kind of confusing multi-theme- session, introducing a recovering a capella multi-voice part, broken up with a fragment of the instrumental session before. After the second part of that a capella section, the vocals fade out with a medium-fast piano. With the continuation of that piano melody a guitar joins with few tones and the instrumental part follows again. The next step to the end is the part from the beginning with some soft synthesizer in the background and the acoustic guitar, which was the usual accompaniment of this part, joins a bit later as well. With the line "What's the point?" the arrangement changes from this thoughtful, soft theme to a heavier one, reminding me a bit of the piece in Genesis' "Foxtrot", at about 9 or 10 minutes, where the music stops and Peter Gabriel sings/speaks this phrase, "A flower?" to introduce the heavier part. Now the drums come in and I don't really know what this is, either a bass or a strange sounding guitar. The melody of the first verse is repeated with some strings and the drum/bass (or guitar) part continues. The songs proceeds with the replayed instrumental part, the multi-voice-session with accompaniment, the part with the medium-fast piano recurs and at the end, the guitar part from the beginning closes the song. And keep in mind this is just a 4-minutes song!

A great musical performance by everyone, especially Nick D' Virgilio who's really brilliant in this album, e.g. in "At the End of the Day", the first track here on this album, the second longest and definitely on of Spock's Beard's greatest songs.

Right at the beginning the drums stick out, together with this bass or this percussion part with the acoustic guitar and all the other lines he plays. Simply great. But a song is not just an aggregation of different drum parts. While they can wonderfully support the song and strengthen its character, structure and rhythm the other instruments are necessary to endue the song with a melody and feelings. And they do it really well. Already the first part is so cheerful and has such an amazing melody. That part is quite surprising after the partly dark and sad section at the beginning. The bass plays a very interesting line here and Neil Morse's vocals are so impressive, as well as the drums! This is the first part of the song with a verse and a chorus. With some sustaining vocals the melody of the prelude is introduced, but this time expanded. The next part is that Latin-American sounding acoustic guitar part with this amazing percussion. A synthesizer melody launches and the next theme follows. Really heavy now (for Spock's Beard's circumstances). But it's over quite fast and a jazzy part, with an interesting synthesizer and stunning drums again, replaces it. The next part is a part with fanfares and the heavy part follows again. It changes again, really a great variety, to a softer more emotional part with some trumpet-synthesizer. Wow, another part, simply incredible, now with just a piano and a bass joining shortly afterwards and the drums/synthesizer at last. A guitar solo next and then another soft, soulful part. I ignore the next parts, because they are all similar and this would take to much time, due to they are all really short. So I skip them and come to the next significant change, where the whole arrangement turns to a heavy session with a shrill synthesizer solo that calms down a bit afterwards. And a call and response begins between the guitar, bass and drums and some weird synthesizer sounds. Another very soulful section begins and at the end the first verse and chorus is repeated!

As I said in my description this song is extremely varied. No part last longer than 30 seconds, and there are many different parts and also different moods. What a joy to listen to this song. Also very positive are the wonderful melodies. Really interesting is the jazz-part! There is another one in the second track "Revelation", using the same kind of accompaniment and the same synthesizer.

The songs starts with a moony part and the first verse. The chorus is then is really stunning and much heavier, but also wonderful melodic. Now the jazz-part follows, using the same accompaniment as the verse, but the vocals are replaced by this synthesizer. Afterwards the verse and the chorus are replayed. A short interlude connects the chorus and another verse. The jazz-part is repeated again and the second half of the first verse is used to introduce, after a short silence, the guitar solo and the chorus. The end is a blend of chorus and solo. Another great track!

Actually this album is partly pop-orientated. As I read in a brochure by "Inside Out", the label of Spock's Beard, this album went into the German Top 40. That supports my predication. Tracks like "All On A Sunday" could be even a single-chart hit. Wonderfully harmonic and again a nice melody and regarding its overall style, it fits into the concept of those charts, as well as the kind of dreamy and soft "Goodbye to Yesterdays". The Highlight of this album is the last track on that album, the longest on that album and as well the longest Spock's Beard ever created. I won't describe the whole song, because it would last too long. This track is amazing, never boring and traverses all the different kinds of musical arrangement used in the tracks before and it has a wonderful finish.

I tried to show you the brilliance of this album, but I think I couldn't reach my aim, so go get it, you won't regret it. I cannot understand how anyone couldn't like this album!

Cheers, 5/5

Report this review (#65871)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars At the end of the day, supper's not ready

The rather unimaginative title of "V" disguises what for me is one of the better Spock's Beard albums. With six tracks in all, the four shorter pieces are book-ended by two magnum opuses (or is that opi?).

The opening track, "At the end of the day" is 16˝ minutes of magnificent prog. The track is quite commercially orientated, with a rather catchy chorus. Structurally, it resembles "Close to the edge", especially in respect of the use of the title as the main hook throughout. The brief symphonic opening belies the upbeat nature of the song, which moves through various themes including Chicago like brass, and some Beach Boys multi part harmonies. The softer section followed later by an organ solo further extends the "CTTE" comparison.

The four shorter tracks are adequate, but hardly memorable. "Thoughts" is a rather naďve composition, with soft verses preceding the harsher contradictory punch line. The multi a-cappella vocal section is striking, although the limited vocal capabilities of the band are perhaps better concealed behind their instrumental prowess. This is emphasised further on the rather off-key pop-prog of "All on a Sunday". Likewise "Goodbye to Yesterdays", an older song of Neal Morse's, is not developed to its full potential.

The final track "The great nothing" is a sprawling, multi-sectioned piece, lasting for over 27 minutes. If "At the end of the day" is "Close to the edge", Neal Morse describes "The great nothing" as "Spock's Beard's very own Supper's Ready". That I'm afraid is wishful thinking, as this rambling monstrosity is nowhere near strong enough to justify its extraordinary length. Lyrically it is poor, with children's rhyming such as "Fatter" with "Matter", Musically, the track plods along, the sections being incoherent and disjointed. There is some good guitar and organ work, but it is lost in the sprawling enormity of the piece.

The digipak version comes with a fine booklet which includes an interview with the band, and detailed sleeve notes. Also included is a brief multi-media section with low quality home movie footage of the band rehearsing the album in various studios.

In all, something of a one track album, but that track, the lengthy "At the end of the day" is one of Spock's Beard's finest pieces.

Report this review (#66675)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's funny to me that long time Beard fans are not all that enthusiastic about this album. I consider it, along with Beware Of Darkness, to be their finest hour. Mainly this is due to the epic The Great Nothing, which I think is the best song they have ever done, certainly in the epic format if not any format (yes, I prefer this to the song The Light...sacralidge!). The rest of the album is pretty good as well. At The End Of The Day is the other highlight for me, being a much more "typcial" Spock's composition with beatlesque harmony vocals and poppish sections but maintaining an epic feel throughout. Some very nice melodies all through this piece. Thoughts Part II is exactly that, a continuation of the song Thoughts from Beware Of Darkness. I think it is a bit better than "part 1" from Beware, having a bit less of a Gentle Giant deriviativeness about it (though the conterpoint vocals will always bring that comparison). All On A Sunday is the one song that brings this album down for me, being a fairly dull pop song. Goodbye To Yesterday I have come to enjoy for what it is, a mellow ballad. And The Great Nothing, as I said already, is the crowning glory of this album. I can admit that it is not exactly the most original of prog epics, and it follows a more or less "prog by numbers" approach to the form. But I think it does it with such prefection and genuiness, that for me it just works beautifully. It also contains what I consider to be the finest Alan Morse guitar solo ever at the end of Part 5 (Miss Your Calling).

So all in all, a very good Spock's album and a very good prog album in general. Like all Spock's albums, however, it falls short of masterpiece status.

Report this review (#66823)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ahh, Spock's Beard. I can kind of see them as the "More than mediocre version of Dream Theater" although also have plenty of their own sounds and styles as well. Spock's Beard is kind of the institution that Neal Morse had to graduate from in order to become the brilliant solo artist he is today. Spock's Beard will always play second fiddle to Dream Theater in the neo-progressive world, and Neal Morse is making better music now that he is no longer with them. With all that being said however, Spock's Beard has always been a great band, and "V" is a great album. That's great, not unbelieveable, not amazing nor phenominal. If there were two more songs on there like "The Great Nothing" and "At The End Of The Day" instead of those four middle songs we'd be talking about an amazing album when we mention "V". "The Great Nothing" is an awesome epic with some interesting subject matter. I especiall love the heavy guitar riff which the Cello plays along with. That was such a cleverly increadible touch. "At The End Of The Day" is amazing because of the way it is structured and all the great melodies inside it. The way that beginning verse comes back with a vengance at the end of the song is very exciting in my opinion. Those falsetto harmonies in that one section... "It begins, it believes and it blows me away", so beautifully orchestrated. That section is a definite highlight of Spock's Beard's entire exsistance. So why is the album only great? Those four middle songs. "Revelation, Thoughts pt. 2, All On A Sunday, and Goodbye to Yesterday", they are all either catchy or alright at best. For the most part, those songs are boring through and through. "Revelation and All On a Sunday" would be the worst two and "Goodbye to Yesterday and Thoughts pt. 2" would be the better half. Those four songs sound like they were just thrown together in one session without much care and thrown on the album for the hell of it.

All together, "V" is an album that I've enjoyed listening to a few times already and can continue to listen to, but I will most likely be skipping the four middle tracks.

Report this review (#67507)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having heard 'The Kindness of Strangers', this was my second exposure to SB. While the music on 'Kindness...' harkened to older days of Gentle Giant a great deal, there was nothing about that CD that blew me over.

But this one was different. Right from the outset ('At the End of the Day'), this one hit me much more positively and impressed me a great deal. In fact, I will go so far as to say that '...End of the Day' os a modern progressive rock classic, standing (dare I say it?) among such giants as Yes' 'Close to the Edge', ELP's 'Karn Evil 9', and Camel's 'Lady Fantasy'. It's that great a song: immensely well-crafted, inspired/inspiring lyrics delivered passionately and convinginly by Neal Morse.

The remaining tracks leading up to the lengthy finale 'The Great Nothing' are passable or better. 'All on a Sunday' in particular is a gem. 'The Great Nothing is nothing short of brilliant, with manic, hard-played cello in the opening section. The many shifts and mood changes keep the listener enthralled until the final notes, making "V" a stand-up effort by a band that obviously has the chops, but doesn't always inspire.

One day they will come out with an absolute killer. Of this I'm confident based on "V".

Report this review (#70436)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Two words: Neal Morse. Why isn't this guy a household name? Spock's Beard was one of those bands that I wished I'd discovered earlier. Speaking with a fellow prog friend of mine, every time he mentioned SB I would think to myself, "Man, that's the dumbest name for a band that I've ever heard!" He was pretty persistent in introducing them to me because he was 100% confident that I'd latch on to Spock's, given my music tastes.

I bought this together with Snow about 2 1/2 years ago and both are probably my favorite Beard discs. V not only has prog influences, but you can also hear some of Neal's punk years with songs like "Thoughts (Part II)" and "Revelation". Both have less a prog feel to these ears, and more a harder edged sound; whereas, "All On A Sunday" is a bit more poppish like a Styx tune, with some fine organ and drumming by Nick D'Virgilio. As much as I like Spock's Beard, however, the more I wish there was a different guitarist. I've just never been a fan of Alan Morse's effects and little sounds. I think he relies more on them than just being a good, sound guitarist. He's quite capable, too. The solo on "She Is Everything" from Octane is amazing and the best solo I've ever heard him execute. Unfortunately, a drop-your-jaw solo by Morse is few and far between. Not like Marillion's Steve Rothery who relies less on trying to be flashy, and more on actually making an impact with a solo (refer to "The Great Escape", "Easter", or "This Strange Engine").

The songs that bookend V are nothing short of amazing, though. The album kicks off with "At The End Of The Day", which is jump started by Dave Meros and Nick D'Virgilio doing a nice little intro before the band just explodes and Neal comes in with his amazing vocals. "The Great Nothing" could be SB's masterpiece, though. So many different moods and time changes powered through with such aggression, and then pulled back in with a little tenderness. The ending never ceases to make the hairs stand on end. And if you've ever seen The Making Of V, you know that Morse had a tough time making it through the triumphant ending without breaking down. One of the best endings to a song I've ever heard.

I am still following Spock's Beard and have enjoyed the post-Neal Morse efforts of Feel Euphoria and Octane. That said, however, a piece of their heart and soul left when Neal left. The music is still very good, but there's a void. To me, Neal Morse was Spock's Beard.

Report this review (#70787)
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well after seeing the many reviews and the structures of this Album by the beard i could take it anymore i had to get this album so i had it special ordered and BAM the next day it was mine. and GAh i'm so glad i have this CD cause this baby is right up there with snow as it features a very neo-prog style of spock's beard with its melodic punch to them but it also features the heaviness that spock's beard manages to bring out in every album no matter how melodic they can get. One thing is for sure you can definitely feel some old prog influence with some YES, GENESIS and especially GENTLE GIANT for the vocals that is. Of course SPock's beard has always been the masters of great epics and both AT THE END OF THE DAY and THE GREAT NOTHING are probably in my opinion two of the best epics Spock's beard has ever done as not only do they feature great muscianship with the dueling keyboard and hammond solos but great rhythm by MEROS and D'VIRGILIO especially on these two tracks and plus Alan once again amazes us all with his great guitar abilities as he has some awesome memorable stuff going on in these tracks. But not only is the music good the lyrics are very well behaved and plus you gotta love the vocal harmonies OOOOH MAN they sound awesome. But hey you can't leave out the short tracks because even though SB does great with epics THEY DO COOL STUFF WITH SHORT tracks too. REVEALTION and THOUGHTS pt. 2 are both great rockers and of course i think that THOUGHTS PT. 2 is much better than the first thoughts. ALL ON A SUNDAY is a very happy song in fact if you want a song that will lift you spirits this is the song and its so freakin awesome. GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY is another great spock's beard ballad as it is up there with tracks like JUNE and the softer sections of SNOW. This is a definite FIVE STAR ALBUM as it portrays SB at their finest trust me if you looooooooove the beard this cd most be in your collection as you have to be completely stupid not to have it in your collection.....actually its kinda embarassing...
Report this review (#70890)
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars For me, this is the best Spock Beard's album from the Neal Morse era... But unfortunately, not a masterpiece!

After the very poppy and commercial "Day For Night", Spock's Beard offered us the best two songs of their career... The End of The Day, and the outstanding masterpiece The Great Nothing. Only The Doorway is comparable to this two great tracks, true lessons of progressive rock. The End of The Day opens in a great and strong way, to end in a typical Spock's chorus... The acoustic parts are great, like the jazzy interlude. But the best of the song are the choirs in the middle section, a lot in the 70's style.

The Time has Come: for me, the best Spock's Beard song. Comparable in style and quality to Supper's Rady from Genesis in my opinion. Incredible bass, magnificent vocal work (the choirs from D'Virginlio are really nice!), outstanding keyboards work... This song has all that a progfan could dream!

So... What's my problem with this album? Of course, the short tracks. Not as good as the long ones in general. Reflections make nothing to me. A soulness song, pretty forgettable... Thoughts (Part II) is not as good as the first one, but the choirs in the style of Gentle Giant are great too. All on a Sunday is the typical Spock's rocking short song, catchy and commercial, but not specially remarkable (nevertheless, the opening keyboard is very addictive). Goodbye to Yesterdays is a very good melancholic ballad, diffrent in style from other Spock's ballads like June, more gloomy and serious. Pretty nice song, my favourite short track from the album, but nothing if you compare with the two epics...

For all that, although this is maybe my favourite Spock's Beard offering, I have to recognize that this is not a perfect album because some short tracks lack interest for me. I would prefered the two long songs alone, because the low quality of these short tracks spoils a little the overall impression of this album... A lot of times, when I hear this album, I only choose the first and last tracks... And It doesn't says very much from the general quality of any album!

Conclusion: two first-class epics (The End of The Day and The Great Nothing), obligated listening for every prog lover... The rest of the album, nothing special in my opinion.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#73085)
Posted Saturday, March 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Spock's Bear is a highly acclaimed prog. band of the nineties and V is probably their most praised album.It contains first class musicianship for sure, each musician is a master of his instrument. The voice of Neal Morse is not that great IMHO, but it's OK and neither are his lyrics what are a bit silly sometimes(Especially on The Great Nothing and All on a Sunday ). The band surely has some talent for multi layered vocals , ThoughtsPt II is the best example for that. SB are skilled musicians and they have a good ear for melody, but they music lacks imagigation and deeper emotions based on my more than three years experience with this album. The first three tacks are my favourites on the album. At the End of the Day is the most enjoyable piece, despite its length it does not get boring, it features various styles quite well integrated and some truly good choruses. The second half is a letdown. All on a Sunday and Goodbye to Yesterday are good pop songs, but nothing really more. The Great Nothing is a very long track, but unfortunately it's not a good one. This is where the mentioned weak points of the band are the most obvious. Overall this is a pleasant album, but it hardly moves me(except the opening track and Thoughts Pt IIand some parts of Revelation). It is the only SB album I have.Sometimes it feels good listening to it, but it does not make me hungry for more SB albums and neither do the samples I've heard so far. Good but non essential, it's worth giving a spin to it.
Report this review (#73634)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spock's Beard's almost final album with Neal Morse finds them in the new century with an album stronger than anything they had done before. They were long gone from the days of The Light, and now they were delving into newer, heavier territory. The album, bookended by two extended pieces, is the culmination of all elements that they had created at the time and then tweaked to give it a newer and harder edge, harder than before. Morse is as always the chief songwriter and tunesmith for the album, and his flare and style come full circle with this one.The rest of the band is also top notch, them being at their strongest during their time with Neil. All the pieces on this album are strong, even the poppier middle tracks, but that's because they are strong pop songs with solid melodies and solid lyrics.

At the End of the Day opens the album, and what a way to open it. A whopping 16 minute epic that utilizes all the tricks in the Beard's book. Neal Morse has a strong vocal performance on this track, with the choruses being noteworthy throughout (as Bob put it, similar to Close to the Edge because of the repetition of the title of the song). The mellotron and organ work on this track are sublime, and Alan Morse is incredibly heavy in parts of the song, (especially towards the end during one of the final organ solos). Revelation follows, this mellow track is a refreshing breather from At the End of the Day, but the choruses are sneering and heavy, and the guitar solo in this song is among the best on the album. Thoughts Part II is a continuation of the same song off of Beware of Darkness. The Gentle Giant inspired vocals and the strong instrumental sections top off this song, which rounds out the first half of the album.

All on a Sunday is the poppiest track on the album, with rather simple lyrics and a catchy chorus that hooks the listener in. It is the only weak link in the album, but even this track isn't that bad. Goodbye to Yesterday features some strong harmonies and acoustic performances. It has this feeling of the Beatles from Abbey Road on it, and being that Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album, there is nothing to dislike about the track. The Great Nothing concludes the album, and it is an epic to end all epics. Throughout the 27 minutes of the track, the mood changes from dissonant acoustic guitars to triumphant synth fills and stabbing bass lines similar to those of Chris Squire. The acoustic theme to the song is among the best Morse has come up with today, and the lyrics are nothing short of amazing, thoughtful, thought provoking and arguably the best he's written.

Overall, V is in my mind the best album Spock's Beard has come out with today. A bit of a note, this album has almost exactly the same artwork as Symphony X's (who are signed to the same label as Spock's Beard) album V (which came out the same year). Coincidence? I do not know, but what I do know is that V is a strong album that no person should go without. Who said modern day prog was derivative and unoriginal? They obviously haven't listened to this album. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#76973)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is fairly safe to say that this album has a little bit of everything that has made Spock's Beard great in the past: soaring epics, fun pop-prog, great vocal harmony, and varied emotional content that takes listeners on a virtual roller coaster ride. The album starts and finishes with two of the finest epic pieces from any prog band. The other songs are shorter, more accessible prog-pop numbers that could have appeared on any of the band's last few albums. So why doesn't it get the 5-star rating that the last two albums got? Well, what we have here is a band starting to repeat itself. Sandwiched between the album's openning and closing epics are four songs that aren't bad by any means, but are relatively unremarkable. I feel that one of the biggest inharent risks with this frequently-used epic bookending method is that the other songs tend to feel a bit like after-thoughts. These four songs certainly don't feel like filler, but they also don't do anything to differentiate themselves from the band's previous work. Yes, I realize that I'm being pretty critical and perhaps a little bit unfair, but the band really did set the bar pretty high with their earlier releases. 'Day For Night' and 'The Kindness of Strangers' are such incredible albums that they tend to steal the thunder from this one. Were it not for those releases, 'V' would easily be one of the band's best. Anyway, on to the analysis: "At The End Of The Day" is definitely the fastest moving 16 minute-plus song I've ever heard. You don't get any of the plodding, monotonous passeges that songs of this length can frequently fall prey to. The song also sees the band experimenting with some harder metal riffs that really add a nice new flair to the Beard's sound. "Revelation" and "Goodbye To Yesterday" are both fairly sober pieces that tend to slow down the album's pace. Again, these aren't bad songs, just unremarkable. "Thought Part II" and "All On A Sunday" are up-beat rockers that harken back to tracks on the last two albums. "All On A Sunday" also represents the band's first and (to date) only minor European pop hit. This isn't too much of a surprise as it is indeed very catchy. The album comes to a thunderous conclusion with "The Great Nothing," a 27 minute jugernaut tracing the origins of creativity and its manipulation into (ironically) pop success. Like "At The End Of The Day," this song has few slow parts and stands out as one of the Beard's greatest pieces of work. This album represented my first experience with the band, and it left me instantly craving more. Even though it isn't their best, this album would serve as a good starting point for any new Beard listener.
Report this review (#79755)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Spock's own Close to the Edge. This album deserves the "masterpiece" tag. From the first orchestral part of the album to the last, amazing. The only song I don't actually enjoy so much, even though it's still good, is Revelation, I find it rather repetitive. The rest of the songs are very good especially At the end of the day. This 17 minute epic is delightful, going through the melodies that characterize Spock. The musicians are top notch, Neal soares, the keyboards are amazing, the guitar, EVERYTHING! I listen to this 3 times a week even though I've had it for about 2 years now, I really enjoy it.

It's the melodies that make V great, also, even though I might be offending someone by writting has some pop-like melodies that just stick to you all day long. That's not bad, some of us are looking for melodies, some are looking for feeling, if you're looking for amazing melodies don't look further than this! Best Spock's album by far!

Report this review (#79784)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is the absolute peak of SB's music, along with The Kindness Of Strangers. What you have here is greatly produced symphonic prog, with Yes-Pink Floyd-Kansas influence, great musicianship and some Beatle-esque pop melodies here and there. The band sound more energetic and powerfull than ever, specially Nick's drums, which remind me to Alan White. The two epics (At The End Of The Day and The Great Nothing) feature stunning instrumental intros, multiple sections with very inspired vocal melodies and great solo work, specially on guitar and Hammond Organ. Thoughts part 2 is probably their best Gentle Giant-like song ever, with a harder edge. and the harmonized vocal parts are simply amazing. As for the other short songs, all of them contain outstanding melodies and hooks, and no filler. This album is a must-have for any symphonic prog follower. A classic of modern prog.
Report this review (#84323)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another great album but not masterpiece from Spock's Beard. The main problem with this album is that "The Great Nothing", being good, is not the wonderfull suite that you could expect. In the other hand, "At The End Of The Day" and "Thoughts (part II)" are two of the bests songs ever created by the band.

I still prefering the early sound of their masterpiece debut album "The Light".

Report this review (#89186)
Posted Thursday, September 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was actually the first album I bought from this great band, and I have to say, it was a very good start. While not superb like The Light or Snow, it's an excellent effort and probably the best doorway for people who still haven't listened to anything by The Beard.

What I like a lot about Spock's Beard is that, like their american-prog ancestors Kansas, they manage to create complex, progressive music but without getting so extremely technical that the songs lose the "rock" part of the genre's name. But that being said, Spock's Beard's music is more complex and even more in the prog realm that the legendary american band I just talked about. But, as I said, they share with them the notion that rock's songs have to be always ROCK songs, so they never indulge themselves in the extreme technical and musical experimentation that other symphonic legends such as Yes used to. So, in a way, this is more of a "people's prog" than the usual symphonic works of the british 70's legends, off course, keeping in mind that those "people" in the definition I just gave are still usually musicians and progmusic's just that even among proggers, there are some that like only the really ultra-complex side of things....for those, The Beard may be too simple, too full of choruses and regular harmonies....

This album is such a great start to dwelfe into Beard's territory because it has a little bit of everything:

At the end of the day (10/10), the absolute highlight of the record, is an epic, fantastic multi-sectional song that is a real showcase of all The Beard's members abilities: it has great melodies, good singing by Neal Morse, it has a symphonic, cyclic structure where there's an intro, a development and a return; it has a jazzy-bluesy part (much like The Light had that spanishdance-flamenco section), which features excellent drumming by great musician (and future SB's frontman) Nick D'Virgilio, jazzy bass lines by master Dave Meros, outstanding piano, mellotron work by Morse himself and Okumoto, and well crafted guitars by Alan Morse. A great song, a long one that never gets boring...a great track

Revelation, (8/10), a good rock-pop song with some prog elements like the great guitars by A.morse and the jazzy influenced keyboards.

Thoughts (9/10), the second best track: a great, short song (too short, that's why I don't give it a 10) that has multi-layered harmonic vocals in a sort of fugue much influenced by the music by prog legends Gentle Giant (a band Morse recognizes as one of his fountains for inspiration). It's the second part of the first Thoughts that was released in the Beware of darkness Cd. But if that Thoughts was playful, even joyful (though with ambiguity), this one reeks of dissapointment, of a kind of apathic sadness... great, great song...I insist: too short.

All on a sunday (7/10), a funny, enjoyable track with allmost no progressive elements....a rock-pop song, sounds like a mix between The Beard, some of the poppy-era-Beatles, and even some of Stone temple pilots in their Tiny Music era. A song you can hear in order to be happy, not in order to be amazed.

Goodbye to yesterdays, (7/10), another rock-pop attempt, much in the vein of the classic Spock Beard song from Kindness of Strangers or Day at Night (not their best albums)...forgettable

The Great Nothing (6/10), this song should have been great as is the longer of the pack but sadly it kind of gets pummeled halfway down....After a terrific introduction, the first warning about the song's quality level is the lack of a good, memorable vocal melody and chorus...but the problem rally is....this song is too long...I love 20+ minute tracks, but those that flow with ease, that pass by like if they lasted only 5 minutes...this one gest boring at some point and from there never recovers.... mediocre track

So, I think V is a good album, but could have been better with some tweaks to the last track...after this record SB released their second best album ever (SNOW) and after that one, Neal Morse left the bnd for religious reasons and D'Virgilio assumed the role of singer and frontman....More on that later....for now....a very good album, if somewhat flawed...


Report this review (#95355)
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars V is Spock's Beard at it's peak.

At the end of the day - This is SB's masterpiece. Each section is incredible, it start's off strong with the first 5 minutes, it is enjoyable, fast paced, and the vocals are near SB's best (which often times are not the highlight of the band). Soon after it kicks into a latin style/hard rock section with a some cool time changes. Around minute 8 it slows down, but only gets better. All of the sudden it gets heavy and fast again all leading up to an outro than includes more stunning vocals, some of the best bass playing you'll ever hear from SB, Revelation - a heavier, darker song then the usual SB tune, which is a good change of pace. Over time it has become a favorite of mine. Continuing with the trend from At the end of the day, this song has some excellant guitar playing.

Thoughts part II - I was overwhelmed at first by this song, it is fast, heavy, and rythymically complex, but its excellent. It has a rare bass solo and some peculiarly intriguing vocals. All on a sunday - the weakest song on the CD, pop rock.

Goodbye to yesterday - A slow emotional piece. nothing special about it but it's still not a dissapointment. The Great Nothing - Very good suite overall, SB always delivers with great vocal harmonies. A little lengthy and drawn out at the end. Still the band's best album, deserving of a 5 amongst the other high quality efforts that don't quite reach this caliber.

Report this review (#96388)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the Morse era of Spock's Beard, as they progressed I think they improved their sound culminating in their best album in "Snow". This particular album is bookended with two of their best epics, the very catchy "At The End Of The Day" and what I think is their best epic ever, "The Great Nothing". At over 27 minutes, it's never boring or meandering. It has a melody theme that pops up throughout the song, played softly or loud. It's ultra catchy in that good ole' US prog style way. The one thing about the Beard's, they're never overtly complicated prog-wise. The play their instruments well, they have catchy choruses and melodies, and they are super professional. The only thing about them that gets under my skin is that they must always have one or two songs that are flat out boring, (other then their first album which has a 'trying to hard to be prog' sound to it). "All On A Sunday" is their attempt at a single, and "Goodbye To Yesterday" is the ballad. Each somewhat drags down the enthusiastic nature of the album whole. I mean come on, when you can pull Gentle Giant-like harmonies and beats in basic prog songs, (see "Thoughts Part II") why must you throw in clunkers. But hey, I'm not the artists. To each their own, right? If your a fan of the band, this one is probably way up there. For those who would like to start out, this is the place. And for those who like their prog more complex, stay away. In fact, stay away from any Spock's Beard album if you're looking for complexity. They have a simple style, kinda polished, kinda mainstraem at times, but always professionally played. And damned if that's not such a bad thing.
Report this review (#96697)
Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I cannot usually stand Spock's Beard's records for very long, mainly because of Neil Morse's over-insistent vocals (very few prog singers sound SO dreadfully pleased with themselves), but the last time I played this album, it still carried me away, especially the epic "The Great Nothing". Such music may be nothing new, but at least the band display some admirable energy!
Report this review (#100757)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars V is Spock's Beard's fifth release (duh), and it's also one of their finest. Lyrically, Neal Morse isn't at the peak he would reach on Snow, but he comes close. As a vocalist he is talented but not a standout. He, along the other members of SB, are talented players but do not let showboating interfere with the music. Thus, no musician stands out; rather they blend as a cohesive whole, relying on one another to move the songs forward.

The albums highlights are, of course, the opening and closing epics At the End of the Day and The Great Nothing. At the End of The Day features some of Neal's best vocals. It's pretty rocking for an epic, with bass lines that wouldn't sound out of place on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album, superb drumming, and Alan's unique take on Steve Howe. The Great Nothing also give Neal vocals a rare spotlight; his lyrics are also top form, dealing with the (d)evolution of music from creativity and experimentation into commercial success. The problem with the Great Nothing is that it meanders towards the end and the band could have forged a masterpiece if it had been only a few minutes shorter.

The epics bookend 4 shorter songs. Revelation is fairly heavy and it's a good segue from At the End of the Day. Thoughts Pt 2 gives Meros his time to shine with a bass solo. The song is also complex and approaching metal.

All On A Sunday is a bit too quick a transtion from the heavy rock of the first half. It's poppy and it wears on you. This is the filler track. Goodbye to Yesterday continues the mid tempo soft emotion of the previous track, though it's an improvement over AOaS. These two songs are woefully out of place on this album, but they are still good.

This was the first Spock's Beard album I heard, and I took them to be prog metal. This is SB's heaviest album at least of the Neal era (I haven't listened to post Neal yet). It's very strong, but the too long outro of the Great Nothing and the mediocre pop of All on a Sunday keep it from being a masterpiece.

Grade: B

Report this review (#105479)
Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I know now why it's got the most reviews.

With the first albums, I thought Spock's was like a blind man with a machine gun, firing a thousand rounds per minute in all directions, but still many bullseyes though.

This time, I hear a 'click' almost all the time. The songs are catchier and 'goes down smoothly' in the majority of the time. Woo-hoo indeed. The recipe is the same, but the cake is baked at perfect temperature: Morse's voice is melodic, the acoustic guitar is good, the bass is loud, the keyboards are tastier than ever!

Everything is the same...but better!

Start here for your Beard collection. It's a wise investment.

Gentle Giantesque.

Report this review (#106078)
Posted Friday, January 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Led once again by positive reviews on this site I decided to give Spock's Beard a go with this album. My only personal reference point was the fact that I really liked Neal Morse's "?" and figured that the work he did with his former band would definitely have his prints all over it. I wasn't disappointed. I find "V" to be an excellent example of 21st century symphonic progressive rock. A few things really separate this group from their modern-day European counterparts: The occasionally surfacing jazz influences and the liberal use of the good old B-3 Hammond organ. It's such a versatile and expressive instrument and I love the sound. Plus I must add that Morse is one of the most brutally honest lyricists I've heard in a long while and that, too, is refreshing.

Starting with a beautiful bagpipe-type organ sound on "At the end of the day" the group introduces the listeners to one of the musical themes that will recur throughout the album. We are then treated to a verse and chorus that reminds me of early Yes. Then we are surprised with a Spanish flamenco-influenced progression that is mixed with full, strong vocal harmonies. The Hammond takes a great lead and the drums (which are admirable from beginning to end) provide an energetic drive underneath. If there is a weak link here it is the inconsistency of the lead guitarist. Sometimes his tone is a little unnerving. But, for a song that's over 16 minutes long, the music never gets boring. The message of this song seems to be a calling out of hypocrites with "at the end of the day it's what you do, not what you say" and I suspect he may be talking about himself. "Revelation" is a song of contrasts that can be starkly jolting. There's a very nice lead from the Rhodes piano mid-way through that really stands out. It's about a man battling a spiritual beckoning that he can't get away from and, in the end, goes "underground" to escape it. "Thoughts" is one of the album's most unique songs. It starts peacefully with an acoustic guitar underneath the verse but then startles us again with a jarring chorus. We then slip into a jazzy vocal passage that is reminiscent of a Manhattan Transfer sound followed by a Chris Squire-like bass lead buffered by a string quartet. Yeah, strange but it works. These guys don't suffer from a lack of imagination, that's for sure. The lyrics suggest that perhaps total honesty with your significant other is not always the best of policies. "All on a Sunday" is a fine song with a Hammond-fueled melody about wanting to be someone else. "Goodbye to Yesterday" is a welcome change of pace and the only laid back song on the album. The acoustic guitar and piano are very effective as the words describe someone trying to make that first step in a new, more positive direction. "The Great Nothing" is divided into 6 sections and over 27 minutes long but it is the highlight of the album. It seems to be a tale of how the purity of musical inspiration and talent can be thoroughly corrupted by the cold and calculating music business. "From Nowhere" starts with electronic voices and an orchestral feel with an acoustic guitar coming in to introduce us to the main musical theme of the piece. Heavy Cellos reminiscent of ELO take over before the Hammond bursts in to finish it off. "One Note" gives us another musical theme and sets us up for "Come up Breathing" with its acoustic guitar and organ lead. "Submerged" features the piano and more very strong bass guitar work. "Missed your Calling" has a fantastic chorus hook and the best electric guitar lead on the album. "The Great Nothing" starts with the original theme played on acoustic guitar before the heavy Cellos return to lead us to another section of some inspired instrumental performances by the band members. A return to the "One Note" melody leads to a big, big ending befitting the total work and then features a fadeout of glistening notes that rise and fall around each other like spray at the base of a waterfall. I love those kinds of endings. (Kinda like the tail end of "Close to the Edge").

This is a great example of premium quality North American symphonic rock and I would rank it right up there alongside Kansas and Rush as far as style and content goes. I can only apply that opinion to this particular album (since it's the only one I've been exposed to from this band) but I don't say that lightly. This is a very well thought out and professionally produced project from a group of outstanding musicians.

P.S. Since first reviewing this album I have collected most of the rest of the Spock's Beard catalogue. "V" still shines slightly brighter than the others in my eyes, mostly because it is more consistent. While not a true masterpiece per se, at 4.7 stars it's close enough to warrant rounding up to a five star rating.

Report this review (#107613)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Except some good moments on the first song the beginning is not really impressive. "Thoughts" reminds me of Gentle Giant's "Knots" and maybe is the best song. I don't find anything special with release and maybe more, I would say that there are boring and uninspired moments all over here. When I'm listening music I'm looking for that spark which may trigger something inside me but with this release this wasn't happened at all. It is like waiting for something to happened but after this you get only a disappointment feeling. Overall I would rate this with 3 stars.No more, no less. I would recommended it only for Spock's Beard admirers and collectors.
Report this review (#114982)
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I had a good laugh when I read Prog Reviewer "inpraiseoffolly's" review of this album because he was feeling like a man in the wilderness for being the only Prog Reviewer (besides Sean Trane's review-less low rating) to challenge the quality of this album. Well I'm here to tell you IPOF that you are NOT alone! I'll back you up big time.

My second and last attempt to get into Mr. Morse has crashed and burned. Just can't do it. I'm actually giving the album one more star than IPOF did for two reasons. First, I think they have a hell of a drummer which always goes a long way with me. Second, I did feel there were some nice musical moments here and there, a few truly beautiful. But alas, they were stuck in with tons of stuff that never arrived anywhere exhilarating, just kind of buying time until they emerged in the safety of the vocal choruses.

But my biggest complaints are those raised by IPOF who laid them out in great length. I'll just give the short reprise here. First, Morse. Taste is personal I realize but I just can't stomach the guy. His overly gushy, sappy vocals are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. And his predictable lyrical clichés are so boring and tedious. Second, the lack of interesting (to me) musical development that Folly touched on. Last, the relentless torture of the syrupy sing-along chorus sections a la "the end of the day," "the rain of revelation just keeps comin down," "I wanna lay it down, all on a Sunday," and "say goodbye to yesterday." I'm really sorry, but this stuff makes me long to hear Dennis Deyoung sing "Babe" or "Best of Times." Those songs are gold compared to that "the end of the day" chorus. It's harsh I know but that's the way I feel listening to this album.

Recommended only to people who've heard Morse sing and can stomach it. Meanwhile, Folly and Sean can come to my place and we'll crank up some Paradise Theater instead.

Report this review (#135412)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of those love/hate albums that I choose to love...just not enough for a masterpiece. From the cool cover art to the twin epics, this album has enough solid prog for a four star rating.

At the End of the Day. When the synths are tastefully selected, the dual keyboard sound of Morse and Okumoto is though to beat, and just about everything about this song is tasteful to my ears. Fabulous intro: well-paced, interesting arrangements, and lively. The majestic mellotron-ish section is obviously influenced by Yes' And You and I (but not a total rip-off), and the spanish section works for me as well. The mellow mid-section can get a bit boring, but the jam that follows is great: cool synth and organ flourishes, with the drums and bass being very distinguished. It all concludes with a nicely done refrain and fade-out. I love the production, though be warned: this song is VERY catchy, and like all catchy tunes can get old with overplay.

Revelation. Slow and kind of grungy--not my style, but listenable nonetheless.

Thoughts, Part II. There is a lot of creativity in these short five minutes: voilin harmonies, Neal's trademark vocal rounds, and a cool jam in the middle. I especially enjoy the bass in this tune.

All on a Sunday. Bubble gum pop. One listen is more than enough. The pop influences in Neal's style here are not enjoyable.

Goodbye to Yesterday. A mellow tune that attempts to be dreamy and reminiscent. Not bad, though no highlight.

The Great Nothing. Right from the beginning, you know the Beard is not holding back. No doubt the blaring synth vocal choirs at the start are tacky and rediculous, though it's different enough that I love it. The song then goes into a groove that reminds me of Yes' Heart of the Sunrise, though a bit more restrained. I'm not a huge fan of Alan's guitar, but I really like his contributions to this song--there are many instances of entertaining and creative keyboard/guitar interplay. This epic closes with a few refrains from earlier (though with cool additions), a quick chorus, and then an inspired guitar/keyboard final groove. This is one of my top ten epics--no really annoying parts, lots of nicely woven (but not overly extended) jams and instrumentals, great tunes and variations on themes, and a remarkable build for the finale.

Basically, the bookend epics are the highlights and worth the purchase. They convinced me to dig into Neal's solo works (something I'm quite glad I did). This is somewhat derivative and poppy (from a prog perspective), but there's enough creativity, musical talent, and structure to make this a solid four-star. A must for fans of well-produced, keyboard-heavy, symphonic prog.

Report this review (#136200)
Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
5 stars This is, in my opinion, the second best spock album ever created. It features 4 of their greatest songs and 2 pretty average spock ballads. Now I am a massive spock's beard fan, but that will not stop me from making true critical notes on each piece. My criticism is as follows: -

1. At The End of the Day (9/10) - An excellent track with a great melodic keyboard intro, a good main theme, the traditional spock's beard adventurous middle section, some nice vocal interludes and a great finish. One thing that is desperately wrong with the song however would be the shear repetitiveness from 7:40 - 10:50. Sure, there are some great vocal lines and quite inventive harmonies, but would it really hurt the band to cut that bit down to 1 or 2 minutes? The whole idea of the song is to keep you on your toes (demonstrated by the massive twist from a melodic "Yes"esque theme to a latin american middle section), so why bore the audience with a huge ballad section? it doesn't work and without that part, the song has potential to be one of, if not one of, THE best prog song of decade.

2. Revelation (8/10) - Not exactly a prog song, more of a non-commercial hard rock tune, still I'm not going to because of genre. The tune is fine, the verse is fine, the bridge and guitar solo are both fine once again. Spock are now almost experts at the instrumental by this point, but an issue with the length need once again to be mentioned. The extended jamming at the end i have a massive problem with. I hate minute long choruses with any band, but this really takes the p***. About 30 seconds of a double chorus and 1 and a half minutes of solid "whoa-oh"s with repetitive drum fills just makes me want to switch over the song after the guitar solo to be honest. Otherwise, a top song once again.

3. Thoughts (Part 2) (10/10) - THE BEST SPOCK'S BEARD SONG EVER CREATED. Neal Morse has really brought some of his solo work home with him on this, and i absolutely think that this is their greatest song. No criticism whatsoever (apart from maybe a bit of sloppy keyboard playing), and i have listened to this song about a million time without getting bored. Nice little intro with good, cheesy lyrics, fantastic "Rush"esque riff for the main theme (including the traditional vocal rounds of Neal Morse), leading into a 7/8, 12/8 prog perfect jamming session that could even wipes the floor with some of the 70s prog rock classics, a good drum and bass jam with chamber fills complimenting Rio's keyboards, back to the main tune and finishing abruptly on the 7/8, 12/8, yes and even 5/8 jamming session this time and back to the acoustic ending.

4. All on a Sunday (5/10) - Average, mainstream, bubblegum pop tripe in my opinion, but it may appeal to some people. Simple verse, chorus, verse chorus, bridge, chorus arrangement, some catchy parts but nothing special, and completely disposable.

5. Goodbye to Yesterday (8/10) - Like "I Talk to the Wind" by KC and various classical pieces, this does take a few listens to for a prog rocker, and can be seen as empty, even boring. But if you appreciate melody like a true musician, you will find the joy in this song. It has some real heart-warming, melodic moments with a happy aura following it all the way through. Short and crisp, the way most songs should be, and is one of Spock's better ballads. Very nice.

6.The Great Nothing (10/10) - This song has almost everything a prog-rocker wants in a song: catchy classical guitar, heavy riffs, keyboard and guitar jazz solos, uplifting fanfare-like vocal parts, peculiar time signatures, drum fills, blah blah blah... I can't see anything wrong with this song. Other than the appalling length of the guitar solo at the end which doesn't seem to progress anywhere at all. Other than that, including the nice one-chorded piano finish at the end, this is a great musical adventure that can almost comete with the likes of Genesis' "Supper's Ready", Yes' "Gates of Delerium" and Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick". Masterpiece.

Altogether, this album just scrapes the surface of being a masterpiece. 8.1/10

Report this review (#138594)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Overlooking their career so far I think this has to be the best effort of Spock's Beard. Comparable to Marillion in the 80's (Fish) to me their career ended with Neal Morse leaving the band. It's like tearing out the heart of the band. Anyway this is their highlight as far as I'm concerned and that's mainly because of the two epics which are sensational. At the end of the day is my all time favourite of Spock's Beard, The Great Nothing is a good second. The last song is more of an epic in the vein of Transatlantic, so I wouldn't be surprised if Neal Morse wrote this. At the end of the day is more original, an energetic epic satisfying for the whole 16 minutes. The other 4 songs are much less, espacially the third song (Thoughts, pt.2) that sounds a bit like eclectic prog and that's not my cup of tea. The rest of the shorter songs are allright though not spectacular.

It's once again a tough choice between 4 or 5 stars so I will have to consult my rules which are: at least 3 outstanding songs or a great effort overall (entire album). Neither of these conditions is the case here. So 4 stars it is.

Report this review (#142206)
Posted Friday, October 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the Most Epic Albums Ever

Spock's Beard dude, one of my favorite bands ever. V is their best album, this where it all came together for them. For me, this is their best bcause it's their most epic, and that's what this band is all about. At the End of the Day is one of the most epic songs of all time. This song gets me euphoric like nothing else (except Transatlantic). Revelation, damn this song is good. It starts out with the most relaxing synth and electric piano sounds I've ever heard and then it goes into this amazing dream pop ballad part. But then it just explodes with this epic riffage and the chorus (I swear this band comes up with the catchiest stuff ever). Thoughts Pt. II is super corny but catchy too. All On a Sunday is one of the catchiest most pointless songs ever written and I love it. Goodbye to Yesterday is this really pretty ballad that has some really nice textures to it. The Great Nothing is a great epic, Neal morse just comes up with catchy part after catchy part, I'm telling you, the whole thing is super epic and over the top and the ending of it is amazing with the spacey piano and synth bringing it to a resolution. Anyway it's a great album, one of my favorite albums. But I'd like to address another issue.

Believe it or not, some people actually approach a band named Spock's Beard expecting something serious and intellectual. Those people actually think that a band called Spock's Beard expects people to take it super seriously. Those people are the ones who wrote 1 star reviews on this album. Those people are what we call art rockers, and are very uncool. These are the kind of people who think that Anekdoten is more progressive than The Flower Kings because they throw some post-rocking boringness into their derivative nonsense stew of King Crimson w/ VDGG vocals and extremely cliche lyrcis (the whole falling into darkness kind of crap). Spock's Beard's lyrics btw, are anything but cliche; how many bands have you ever heard with more epic, general (and purposefully corny, you have to realize, that's what they're going for) lyrics... ever? Transatlantic, that's it. So, make your own opinion on the band, but don't base it on how progressive they are, that's not what they're trying to do. Base it on the music, how well done it is, and I think you'll see it's VERY well done.

The fact of the matter is, Spock's Beard are not an art rock band, and their not progressive either. You could call them prog if you want to define their sound, and so might I for expediency's sake (just like I'd call a more minimalist contemporary band indie, because that term has come to define a sound like prog has), but if I was to truly define them I would call them an epic symphonic band. Truly, SB are one of the more creative bands of their time to be quite honest. SB really has carved it's own sound out, just the right mix of jazzy piano parts and epic classical parts to make a great sound that is really more well done than most classic prog.

Anyway, just wanted to state my opinion on how you should approach Spock's Beard; if you come in expecting Red or Selling England By the Pound then, well, you're probably an idiot, but my point is that you won't find what you're looking for, as in an ambitious album with serious music (former) and an intricate concept (latter). You will instead find one of the most euphoric albums ever produced, an album that breaks free from all the poser music with pretensions of being progressive (Mars Volta etc. oh btw, the MV is described as having everything from "screaming metal guitar solos to free jazz horns" (and that's why they're considered progressive) when Neal Morse did that kind of s**t way before those hipsters). Let's face it, there's pretty much nothing new under the sun, so just sit back, relax, and watch from an isolated desert hill under the red night sky as the great nothing spreads itself across the modern world. Even though this world might be heading in that direction with nothing progressive ever happening again, we can still enjoy memorable, expertly crafted music while we're here. We don't always have to move forward, sometimes we can just be carried away and enjoy the moment. Oh, and always remember, at the end of the day, you'll be fine. At the end of the dayeyeahey... it's gonna be alright.

Report this review (#149792)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Spock's Beard entered the millennium with their fifth studio release, appropriately called "V." On this release, the band placed two remarkable long pieces at the beginning and end of the album, one timing in at over 16 minutes, the other at over 27 minutes. In between are four shorter tracks of varying moods. Sixteen-minute long songs are one thing, but 27-minute songs are often hard to pull off while maintaining the attention of the listener. Often songs of this length tend to have long jamming instrumentals that sometimes wander around in circles. Since this track was labeled "The Great Nothing," I had to wonder if this was going to have long moments of sparse minimalist noises. Fortunately, it was just a passing thought and when the music hit my ears, I was again admiring how amazing this band is. The two lengthy tracks on this album alone are worth the cost of buying. They may very well be the best extended pieces of the music Neal Morse has ever composed.

The four shorter tracks are nothing to skip over either. Revelation is a beautiful song with a powerful chorus section, Thoughts Part II is another obligatory nod to their Gentle Giant influences, Goodbye to Yesterdays is a beautiful ballad (which the band had been getting much better at making), and All On a Sunday, the band's answer to "what if the radio ever played our music." Indeed, I do recall seeing a single of All On a Sunday in a record store some years ago.

Five studio albums from 1995 to 2000, each one in their own right a well deserved masterpiece. That's a better run than most prog bands from the 1970s suggesting to me that Spock's Beard clearly deserves to take their place among the greats. For me, V is their second best album, behind The Kindness of Strangers. Easily five stars and a highly recommended must-have.

Report this review (#150995)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Prog's still kickin' into the new millennium!

Truly a marvel of modern music, V stands at the top of it's genre looking down and laughing at it's competitors. Often noted as Dream Theater's [DT] biggest rival by the press (why? I haven't the slightest, maybe because they're both prog bands?.), Spock's Beard [SB] definately delivers. Often bashed for being too pop, SB actually does a great job of mixing short form pop-rock songs and full out progressive-pomp-epics. With the powerful Morse brothers behind the guitar and keyboards this band is a force to be reckoned with.

On the topic of Morse, he's not be the best singer in the world, or lyric writer for that matter. He's also a little too over insistent on both fronts, choosing to put lyrics in everywhere where their contemporaries, such as the notorious DT, choose to over insist on the wanking solos. This is completely okay, though. What Morse sings he sings well, and his voice is actually quite soothing once you accept it's limits. As far as his lyrics go; yes, sometimes they're fairly simple, but that's okay, they're a lot easier to relate to personally. People may prefer to listen to AT THE END OF THE DAY to relax rather than try to dissect every section of Neil Peart's Hemispheres and wind up going into a coma over it. Exaggerated, yes, but the point remains.

Moving onto the music, shall we?

The music itself sports a nice bookend of epics containing a number of shorter numbers in the middle. This structure in itself should be familiar to prog-heads, as most Masterpieces are structured this way. Maybe they were simply copying the masters, but hey, it works.

The opening track AT THE END OF THE DAY is quite a work. Opening with some interesting keyboards we're eventually brought into a lush soundscape that is truly soothing on the ears. Shortly in the drum cymbals start and the keys start to pick up. A couple pounding bass chords later and the song explodes into motion. Moving all the way along this song is more or less carried by the drums, keys and bass as it pound along, Morse's voice in tow. Definitely a strong start to the album.

That one aside here comes the short tracks!

Definitely some variety here, the short tracks range from 'great!' to 'meh...'. REVELATIONS is the first short track to be heard and is fairly good. A slowish song with some good Morse screaming moments. Not the best song on the album, but definitely worth listening to. THOUGHTS (part II) sounds like something Gentle Giant could have recorded any day of the week, but it's a very fresh thought on such a 'modern' album. Great song, the harmonizing vocals are used superbly well.

High points? Low points?

In the short tracks there's one of each, actually. ALL ON A SUNDAY is the definitive high point of the shorter tracks ('Gasp! Blasphemy!' cries the crowd). Is it poppy? Certainly! Is it an incredibly uplifting, catchy song? Yes! So poppy as it may be, it's still a great song, and maybe even the best of the short tracks. GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY is the obligatory slow song on the album, clearly put there by some higher power who pointed down from the clouds and said, 'This album is too perfect, it needs a flaw!'. Not a bad track but not a great track by any means, GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY just drags along and fills some time until the next masterwork.

And then the ever controversial...

THE GREAT NOTHING, SB's big epic journey. Compared to previous 20+ minute prog masterworks does this one compare? Well, it's certainly in a different style yet clearly influenced by the old works. The song opens wonderfully with some guitar and soon the song begins. Defined by some great guitar and keyboard solos that go on long enough for one to get the point without bashing it into your skull (looking at you DT), this track just works. There's some recurring riffs and motifs int here, and they're so wonderfully used that any prog fan might just bob their head along to it. It also features a nice breakdown near the middle not dissimilar to some kind of modern 'Willow Farm' with it's fitting quirkiness. Yeah, sure it can get poppy at times, but this is a truly refreshing epic that fits nicely between DT's instrumental-show-off-look-at-me-I'm-excellent epics and The Flower King's [TFK] look-at-us-we're-Swedish-and-can-play-long-long-long-songs epics. Then, at the end of it all it simply fades out with the piano still ringing.

Erm, ending this now.

4.5 stars. Just short of a masterpiece. Being a bit too poppy in parts and one weak track are all that's keeping this one down. Recommended for DT fans, DT haters, TFK fans, TFK haters and prog fans in general. Like the two band SB is always compared too they're somewhat of an acquired taste, but what prog isn't? Excellent prog album, one of the best from this side of the millennium. Recommended!

Report this review (#161133)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars While many consider V to be the one when it comes to the Beard's early works, I have to disagree.

At the End of the Day starts things out great; well composed and exciting with a good mix of sounds and tones; however, successive songs simply don't do it for me. Revelation is a noisy mess that comes from, and goes no where, its only effect leaving the listener bored of Morse's bland shouts. Thoughts 2 is better, since it actually demonstrates the band's creative playing unfortunately juxtaposed with horrible lyrics from Morse. All On a Sunday isn't even worth discussing, but Goodbye to Yesterday has a nice, mellow vibe and textures.

The big track, Into the Great Nothing is often lauded as one of the band's finest works which did very little for me. After re-listening, I found it to be somewhat repetitive and bland; there are few melodies and vocal moments worth salvaging, and Morse's guitar only occasionally impresses, but what few lush moments there are (provided by the keyboard players mostly) are welcome as is D'Virgilio's always proficient drumming. All in all, a big, heavy-handed exercise in bombast which wears its inspiration on its sleeve and doesn't give the listener credit enough to enjoy anything other than shout chorus after shout chorus.

In the end, V is only an occasional listen for me-- and not just because Neal Morse bothers me... it simply isn't as creative or dynamic as most of the band's other albums, it's simply loud and operatic for the sake of it.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#161704)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This is probably the hardest Spock's Beard album to get into because of the two longer tracks but if you're up to the challenge then these two great pieces of Neo-Prog are well worth your time!

Neal Morse has a way of making long compositions work pretty much every time and this time it's unfortunately the shorter songs that feel very out of place between the two epic tracks. I would have preferred to have an album consisting only of the two long tracks, that add up to a whooping running time of 43+ minutes, than this current version of the release. In most case I end up skipping through these four middle tracks since they really don't add much to this album.

In fact when I copied over the CD to my portable player I skipped those tracks entirely and instead added the title-track off the band's debut album - The Light. Although it can't match the sound quality of this release this bonus track creates a much better flow for me and it would have easily made and essential Neo-Prog album.

This is of course not the case with the album as it stands today and it doesn't constitute for anything more than a very good, but non-essential release.

***** star songs: At The End Of The Day (16:30)

**** star songs: The Great Nothing (27:18)

*** star songs: Revelation (6:04) Thoughts (Part II) (4:41) All On A Sunday (4:12) Goodbye To Yesterday (4:40)

Total Rating: 3,95

Report this review (#162576)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Fun to listen to, but barely more progressive than any fun to listen to pop rock band. To me, prog has to be artistic (something which has merit greater than its face value), and like the last few Dream Theater album, this feels like it's not actually trying to create anything special. Also, prog has to creative and unique. Their sound sure isn't, and despite the long songs, I fell like this just isn't anything new for Spock's Beard or the prog community.

Lastly, all the great prog albums have had some incredible emotional impact on me. Close to the Edge and all the others are albums where the lyrics and music collide in some amazing ways, spiraling out of control and allowing me a euphoria like opening up a new circuit of your brain. However, the lyrics of Spock's Beard's peak moment come off as trite, unemotional, unremarkable. This is without having listened in great depth to the final and reportedly greatest track. It's possible that by only analyzing the first five tracks, I've missed some great unifying factor, but even if this does exist in The Great Nothing, I just can't be convinced that the album will come out as something that feels, to me, carefully composed with great artistic and emotional depth. However, to all who have read this, the most I could ever give this was 3, and that's only if the last track is a truly progressive piece of work, and not just epic in length.

So maybe I've been a bit harsh, but it's just not prog, no matter how nice it is to listen to.

Report this review (#165159)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars This was my first contact with this band. I bought this album imported and it cost me quite some money. Well, after many repeated spins, it still sounds like something is missing. Please, don´t get me wrong: the musicians are all very skilled, the band is tight, the arrangements are well done and the influences are all of bands I like (specially Yes and Gentle Giant). But clearly Steve Morse, as talented as he is, has some kind of style th is not everyone´s cup.

I can´t find any real flaw on this album, other than I do not appreciate much of the songwriting. Production is also top notch and the artwork is beauful. A good album indeed, but nothing that really moves me. I like to listen once in a while. Not a bad song, nor a highlight either. Savory, but for special tastes.

Report this review (#165171)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars And the band comes back into the appropriate focus. This album sits up quite high on my list, probably my second favorite release from the Beard, next to Beware of Darkness. By this point, most of the prog ideals of complicated time signatures and odd keys are mostly thrown out the door, leaving a sort of symphonic art rock sound. If you're looking for that kind of prog, you probably will be a good bit disappointed. However, if you are looking for quality music that can hold your attention for an hour, this is a wise place to look.

The opener, At the End of the Day, has a driving and fast drum rhythm and a unique sound to it. In fact, this sound will stick around for a lot of the album, and is in my mind the true sound of Spock's Beard. I don't know what it is, but it's a certain combination of a keyboard sound and the bass and the guitar and then Neal singing over the top of all of it. Either way, the song slows down in the middle, but then reappears with such ferocity that I have trouble calling it straight rock. Amazing drum fills and a very crunchy guitar mark the latter half of this piece. The chorus happens to be very catchy as well.

Revelation is a stunning vocal piece. Mellotron (I'm almost positive it's mellotron, but I'm not a keyboardist, so what do I know) tinkles throughout this song, shining in the quiet portions. The choruses, however, showcase such a power and strength in Neal's voice that every time I hear it, I get chills. Anyone who says Neal is not a great vocalist, or even is just an average vocalist, needs to listen to this song. I can't remember for sure, but years ago, this was the song that convinced me Spock's Beard was really worth listening to. Pretty sure it's this one. That or At the End of the Day. Either way, it didn't take long into the record for me decide this band might work for me.

Thoughts (Part II) is quite the worthy successor to the first. Though less interested in the vocal interplay that dominated the first, the instruments this time take the front stage (and the nod to Gentle Giant). The bass is grotesquely fat here, but in a beautiful way. Hard to explain, but it sounds amazing. The drums on the outro bit always inspire me as well. Another nice fun one.

All on a Sunday is rather straightforward, driven by some form of keyboard, but is still really nice. Cheerful, kind of goofy, and with a nice Neal Morse chorus, it's no prog classic, but it's an enjoyable little ditty. And an album with two massive bookends like V, a cheerful and uncomplicated ditty is always nice.

Of course, then comes Goodbye to Yesterday, a pretty but not terrifically amazing ballad. It's one of my favorite Neal ballads, but that still does not mean that it's that high up on the list. The low point of the album, but that also might be on account of the looming shadow of

The Great Nothing. This song is huge. The instruments are amazing. It flows so nicely and almost seamlessly. This is my favorite epic by Spock's Beard, and quite possibly my favorite epic from all of Neal's projects. From the opening ahhs to the concluding tinkle of a piano chord, this song blows my mind. It must be heard.

An essential album. Not all proggy in the 70s sense of the word, but certainly beautiful and amazing. These boys have so much talent and yet keep it restrained for the right moment. Not an album to miss.

Report this review (#169219)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars In my opinion this is the perfect SPOCK'S BEARD album. It sounds to me like it's more mature than past records, maybe not as dynamic as "The Light" or "Beware Of Darkness" but overall better. I would even go as far to say that this is the best album I have heard that involves Neal Morse. Hey they even kept the time down to 63 1/2 minutes. They thank Greg Walker and Mike Portnoy in the liner notes.

"At The End Of The Day" is the 16 1/2 minute opening track. It's kind of mournful to start with but it kicks into an uptempo, upbeat melody 1 1/2 minutes in. Check out the thunderous bass ! Vocals 2 minutes in. Love Neal's voice. A change 5 minutes in as percussion comes in. Chunky bass after 6 minutes followed by a jazzy section. It settles down before 8 minutes with reserved vocals and piano. Mellotron 9 1/2 minutes in as guitar cries. It gets heavy 11 minutes in with some killer organ and incredible drumming. Mellow again 12 1/2 minutes with reserved vocals and piano leading the way. Kicks back in around 14 minutes with some deep bass lines and scorching guitar. Great opening track. "Revelation" is spacey to start with as a pleasant melody comes in with reserved vocals. A powerful sound after a minute.This contrast of light and heavy continues. Nice. I like the liquid keys during the mellow sections. Some ripping guitar after 4 minutes with mellotron that continues almost to the end of the song. "Thoughts (Part II)" is a sequel to "Thoughts" from "Beware Of Darkness". Strummed guitar and vocals before some heavy bass and a fuller sound comes in. Those GENTLE GIANT vocal arrangments follow. Themes are repeated. Killer bass before and after 3 minutes and later on. What a song ! Some cello in this one too.

"All On A Sunday" has been described by Neal as Prog- Pop. This is such an uplifting song. Like sunshine and a warm breeze. "Goodbye To Yesterday" is an older Neal Morse song that the band had been after him to record for sometime. This one is melancholic with fragile vocals and acoustic guitar. Mellotron comes in on the chorus. Drums before 2 minutes. Some french horn and piano make an appearance too as it comes to life 2 1/2 minutes in. I wished they had kept it restrained all the way through without these fuller sections.

"The Great Nothing" is the 27 minute closer. It's divided into six sections. It opens with what sounds like mellotron. Acoustic guitar after a minute and a full sound before 2 minutes as drums and bass lead the way. Mellotron and guitar joins in. I like the upbeat section that follows. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in as reserved vocals and piano take over. Nice. Meaningful lyrics. It picks up 7 1/2 minutes in. I like the guitar and bass. Nice organ play with drums follow. A calm 11 1/2 minutes in with piano and mellotron. Chunky bass 12 minutes in as it kicks back in. Catchy section before 15 minutes. A cool guitar / organ passage after 17 minutes. A calm 19 minutes in with a huge mellotron wave, acoustic guitar follows. Heavy again after 20 minutes with guitar and bass. An uplifting section 22 minutes in. The album ends in a spacey, mellow way.

In my opinion this is SPOCK'S BEARD's pinnacle.

Report this review (#180840)
Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The set up of this album looks oddly familiar..

V, the fifth album by Spock's Beard is a fairly easy album to get into. It sounds much more 'radio friendly' then I'm use to. At times I'm even left with the thought that some of the music is 'pop', but this is mostly due to the harmonies of the vocals. Luckily, most of the more 'poppy' moments are found on the shorter songs on the album; which I skip after I listened to them quite a number of times and just could not get into them. This is just not my taste in music, but I'm very glad the band opened and closed the album with exceptional songs.

'At the end of the day' is a very 'nice' song. I say nice, not overly as a complement, nor is it an insult. It's just 'nice', like a school boy who offers his apple to a girl who dropped her own, but at too young an age to be looking for anything more then a smile from her. That, in essence is this song for me. It's nice. It lifts you up on a bad day and reminds you of all those small things that make you smile. One of those 'feel good' songs music needs more of with the ever rising depressing songs. I'll give 'Spock's Beard' codos for that. No matter how bad a day has been for me, I can't help but feel uplifted by this song.

I do like the sound the song starts off with, very nice harmonies with the synth. This band sure does like their harmonies. The transitions and different moods this song presents is a treat. They seem to be stretching they're legs to get ready for the rest of the album. At first, I thought coming back to the beginning of the song to finish it was a little much, and they should have let it drift off. I felt as though the music had led me to a really great place, only to really realize I've gone in a cercal. But, after I let the song really sink in I realized it wasn't such a bad thing, and started to enjoy it. At the end of the day, it's a solid song.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the next four songs, but I'll get back to that later. Let's just do what I do when I pop this into the stereo and click 'next' a few times until we hear the hum of 'The Great Nothing.'

Now we have a redeeming progressive song. My old theory of music is, no matter what you put the listener through, it has to work out in the end. This song does that, with neat little sound bites along the way. I love the sounds these guys produce throughout the song. This is a memorable 20+ minuet song with a very good structure, great deliverance, and a concept behind it that I can sit down and think about. Basically, in what I can device from the song, it's about someone trying to make a name for themselves in society with an idea of his .in an overly simplified nut shell. I like the song in that each time I listen to it something new comes out.

So, here's my rating: Two great longer songs sandwiched between four less then enjoyable sorter songs. I think the band spent not enough time really developing those middle songs. Now where have I seen a layout like this before? It looks oddly fermiler like .well any other album produced in this millennium with a strong longer song starting it off and a very powerful 20+ minuet song. Now, true, with most albums with an epic ending song, there's not a whole lot you can do with the album structurally. You'd be crazy to put the epic in the middle of the album; the beginning is questionable, but I'd rather see a song like 'The Great Nothing" at the end of an album then in front. And most of the time, this lay out works very well, like in "Dark Matter" by IQ; but some times, it falls short such as "Milliontown" by Frost*. The difference between these two: time spent on the songs between the first and last.

My final rating is three stars. At the end of the day, it's better to have two great songs and four skippable songs, then a great nothing.

Report this review (#181007)
Posted Thursday, August 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first review for this wonderful website, that allowed me to get back in touch with the music that I love more: rock played with instrumental skill, long, varied and inspired compositions, with symphonic attitude and strong melodic textures. Always a fan of Pink Floyd, Yes, Supertramp between the others, I thought this music was dead until I discovered, thur Internet surfing, Progarchives. And the first CD I bought because of the reviews on it was Spock Beard's V. This has all, two long pieces with great sounds, gifted melodies to drive your mind away; shorter songs with warm and enjoyable development (Goodbye to Yesterday guitar picking at the beginning is a great sensation like...thermal water droplets?). For me, nothing short that a real masterpiece (I will use this definition properly, from now on). From this CD onward, I started making exploration of suggested bands and works (from other SB works, to Echolyn (!!!), Transatlantic (!!!), Porcupine Tree (!!!), Little Atlas,...and many more!!) that made my music collection now giving so much more plesure! So, dear fellows at Progarchives, a warm salute from Italy!
Report this review (#181020)
Posted Friday, August 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars Good but not outstanding

Don't know why, but I always been reluctant to listen SPOCK'S BEARD, maybe because I'm tired of the identification of Progheads with Sci Fi (What more related with Sci Fi than a band named for a parallel version of Mr. Spock?) and later for the dislike towards NEAL MORSE and his Evangelistic crusade. I know that this reasons have absolutely no relation with the music, but sometimes external factors affect the perception of the music, and I'm the first one to admit the loss was mine, because I was ignoring some good material.

Well now lets get a bit into the band, Spock's Beard is maligned as Retro Prog by many bit beloved by more loyal fans, others say it's light Prog, some believe they are some kind of Pop Prog (A natural contradiction IMO), but I believe it's a solid Symphonic band with some mainstream reminiscences that I learned to like and respect but not to love as I love bands like GENESIS or ANGLAGARD.

"V" begins with "At the End of the Day" and it's pompous organ intro that sounds ideal for an epic movie, but after a few seconds it morphs into more traditional Symphonic with excellent guitar and drums, the problem begins when Neal Morse adds the vocals, I simply don't like his range too much, makes the songs sound simpler than they are, what isn't bad necessarily, but I believe cuts the atmosphere that the band was creating.

This first epic (16:30 minutes) is very good, but there's something that doesn't convince me totally, as if they lacked of that "je ne sais quoi" that makes the difference between a good and an excellent band. Nice acoustic guitar solo, but the vocals are something that I can't resist.

The contrast between the clearly Symphonic opener and the eclectic "Revelation" is obvious, the second track starts soft and simple, morphs into a ballad that gains strength and turns into Hard Rock and then some sort of light fusion and back again into Hard Rock. Yes, it has radical changes, better vocals and blend of genres, but still there's something missing in the band, in this case some cheesy keyboard passages simply cut all my inspiration.

"Thoughts Part II" starts promising with an excellent acoustic guitar intro that turns into an acoustic power ballad, a very good instrumental break where the band offers their best criminally cut repeatedly by an horrendous choral section that ruins the song despite the outstanding instrumental sections..If they only had kept their mouth shut, other would had been the result.

"All on a Sunday" is a nice power ballad with no changes and/or surprises, too predictable, flows gently from start to end with few (if any) variations. The weakest song of the album.

The acoustic guitar intro of "Goodbye to Yesterday" made me believe this song could be the best of the album, but it was a mirage, sadly turns into anther ballad with little interest, which bores me from the moment the singing begun.

"The Great Nothing" is "la piece de resistance", the 27 minutes epic that is supposed to make worth what you paid the album, and really makes the difference, after a mysterious but sober organ intro, Neal delights us with an acoustic guitar passage of great beauty, and then they hit us with unexpected strength.

After a very hard section the band returns to Symphonic territory with an outstanding interplay of all the instruments during a long instrumental break, which ends as abrupt as it started when Neal begins to sing, I can't hide he fact that I hate the vocals, but not so bad to ruin the song.

Along this very good song, the band makes several changes and shows us how they have been influenced by bands like YES and GENESIS, but always managing to stay original. Excellent closer, the best song of the album.

Being that I don't believe "V" is a masterpiece or remotely essential, the rating is easy, 3 stars for an album that I believe is above the average but nothing more. Still The Light" is far beyond in quality.

Report this review (#182616)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This fifth album from "Spock's Beard" is not really different from its predecessors. Still, I far much prefer the harmonies featured throughout "V" that the poor stuff available on their previous recording.

This album is kind of back on the roots; which means more YesOriented, more bombastic, more symphonic. I guess that fans can only be enthusiast with such a return to the core of their sound. This being said, the same lack of originality is almost felt at every corner of this CD.

The opening epic offers some fine instrumental parts as well as tender vocal sections. Steve Howe's typical guitar play is often copied (but never matched) and there are truly gorgeous keys moments as well. In all, this epic is quite enjoyable and well performed. It could have been excellent if "Yes" wouldn't be responsible for half of it. Still, this is a highlight of the album.

This album sounds definitely better than 'Day For Night" (which is rather easy). Even if most songs feature strong links with wonderful bands of the greatest prog era, the album is quite OK to listen to. I particularly like the heavy organ available on "Thoughts". But I understand that these Gentle Giant and later Kansas oriented vocals might irritate more than one prog fan.

The closing number and second epic is also a quiet enjoyable track. Another "Yes" revisited long piece of music. You'll get the instrumental intro, the acoustic Howe oriented savours, the melodic vocal lines etc. Still, it is quite a journey (twenty-seven minutes!). One goes through many musical experiences: jazzy, bombastic, melodic, and symphonic. Did I say Flower Kings?

It is obvious that if you like TFK, you will love the Beards (and vice-versa of course). But "The Great Nothing" is more of a combination of several distinctive parts with little interaction with each other than a true epic (I guess that it is needless to tell the ones I am referring to). The whole sounds pleasant, diversified enough to avoid boredom, for sure.

"V" is a good album. Much more interesting than "The Kindness Of Strangers". It should please new prog fans. But in terms of pure inventiveness, I have to say that this album just falls short. Some good musical parts which brings us back into the early seventies. But the ones who were there (like myself) might not be fully satisfied with these "déjŕ entendu" type of music.

Three stars.

Report this review (#182816)
Posted Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a truly great release. The songs are all dynamic, well produced, different, and most importantly written excellently. I particularly love Thought Part II. I'd go so far as to call it a one of the finest examples of symphonic prog in short format. It's rare you become angry with a prog band for not developing a theme, but I almost feel that way with Thoughts Part II. Nonethless the opening and closing tracks (long format) are the best parts of the album. Especially the Great Nothing which closes. Aside from a personal favorite on an earlier album I think it's Spock's Beard best song. It captures the sort of elevated grandness in the finale that only the finest prog songs can achieve. I strongly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys lead keyboard prog.
Report this review (#188274)
Posted Saturday, November 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Easily Spock's Beards' best single album. It it arguably the best overall album for me, but SNOW also is in the same position. V is probably the easiest album to jump into for people just getting into SB, however, for many reasons. The main influences here are probably YES, GENESIS, THE BEATLES, and RUSH.

The first song, AT THE END OF THE DAY, is a great epic with emotional and rocking themes. This is followed by many great shorter songs, the best being THOUGHTS PART II. The highlight of the album is easily THE GREAT NOTHING, which tells the emotional story of NEAL MORSE's life. It is easily the best on the album and maybe the best of SB.

So basically, this album is really amazing. The musicians are skilled, the music is written beautifully, and is easily a desert island album for me. For newbies and fans, this is a must-own.

Report this review (#192058)
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Upon my first listen about 6 months ago, V has risen steadily (and somewhat rapidly) up my favorite albums list to be very close to the top. From the very beginning of the album, the band lets you know you're in for something special. The first forty seconds or so of the first track At the End of the Day sound more at home in a live show introducing the band (Firebird Suite for Yes comes to mind), building up to the rumbling of Nick D'Virgilio's drums straight into the distinct sound that Spock's Beard has really come to define itself with. Neal Morse is in excellent form, and the mixture of superb harmonies and solid writing leaves me with a great first impression. I'd get into more detail, but that would ruin the experience.

Then we have the middle tracks. Nothing extraordinary, but good. The only disappointment stands as All on a Sunday. It seemed like they tried a little too hard to get radio-worthy material while maintaining the sound. It doesn't work very well. Some cliched lyrics and missed vocal harmonies put on a damper on this portion of the album, despite the uplifting vibes from the music. Goodbye to Yesterday rectifies any bitter taste that may be left over from the last song. A very subdued and soft song stands in stark contrast to what has been a very powerful album. It works well, especially as a set-up to the next song.

The Great Nothing, the last, long 27+ minute piece of music is the single biggest reason to not miss this album. If you can only by the whole album, get it for this song. A magnificent piece of symphonic prog that rivals many of the other great pieces put forth in this genre. It grabs you from the very beginning, leads softly into a pretty piece of work by Alan Morse, before kicking it into high gear. A solid offering on piano and vocals by Neal Morse follows suit, and the list goes on and on. Perhaps the best thing about this song is that it doesn't trip over itself or get boring, it just keeps plowing ahead.

Overall, this album is a must-have for symphonic prog fans IMHO. I'd give it 4.5 stars, but since that's not an option I will round up. It's worth it. The high points greatly outnumber the few low points. Perhaps Spock's Beard's best offering yet, I would highly recommend this album to anyone on the fence.

Report this review (#195035)
Posted Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Spock's Beard hit a home run with this powerful album. The short middle songs are tracks I would tend to pass over, but the lengthy pieces that bookend this record are not to be missed, and more than qualify this as a five star album. It is truly an amazing and inspiring work.

"At the End of the Day" If I only got one Spock's Beard song to enjoy for the rest of my life, this would be it. "At the End of the Day" features an inspiring introduction, amazing lyrics, and a funky little Latin section. The organ and guitar solos leave nothing to be desired, and the arrangement is nearly perfect, as each section is almost seamlessly woven together. The lyrics and accompanying vocal melodies are impeccably uplifting, and something stirs in my heart each time I hear them.

"Revelation" The second song is a soft pleasant one (the chorus is hard-rocking however), one that could've been fronted by the late Marvin Gaye (for the most part anyway). It's a song that drags on a bit, but overall it's enjoyable.

"Thoughts, Pt. 2" As the name hints at, this is a Gentle Giant-like romp through many vocals and strange music, but the lovely acoustic "first verse" betrays this.

"All On a Sunday" The best of the short songs, this has an upbeat rhythm with a pleasant organ and acoustic guitar leading the way. It's nothing more than a pop song, but it's well done and highly enjoyable. It could be the theme song for a hip new teen drama!

"Goodbye to Yesterday" A pleasant acoustic number with some good bass work, it reminds me of Lindsay Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac, particularly in recent times. The vocals are a little grainy, but the Mellotron is a nice touch in the background. It's a good dance song, if anything.

"The Great Nothing" The epic track took a few listens to grow on me. The lack of flow between the sections was an initial obstacle, but now it runs together perfectly in my ears. The unsettling opening is a strange wall of noise, but it leads into the main theme, which is performed on acoustic guitar. After the three minute introduction, there's a beautiful piano and vocal theme. A brief acoustic interlude with two singers comes in just before the whole band explodes into action, led by lead guitar and synthesizer. What follows is one of the coolest moments on the album- strange sound effects immerse great and funky bass riffs, which continue under some amazing and soulful organ playing. Rapid-fire singing carries on over another musical theme, this one somewhat heavier. The fifth section is the catchiest part of all even though it has some quirky sound effects and words. As per the lyrics, eventually things "quiet down," and the introductory acoustic guitar theme is revisited, which builds back up into further powerful music. A guitar solo and then gentle piano conclude matters.

Report this review (#220029)
Posted Saturday, June 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Often brilliant, but wildly inconsistent. 3.5 stars.

I am quite torn regarding my star rating for this album. I knew it had to sit at 3.5, but should I round it up or round it down? In the end, I felt it had to be rounded down.

I'm very much an "album-orinentated" kind of listener. What I mean is that for me, an album can't just have some good songs here and there, it has to be consistent and it has to flow and I'm just one of those people who can't ignore the presence of a bad song, no matter how hard he tries. Unfortunately, this album throws two complete stinkers in my direction.

There are three tracks which are completely excellent. These are the first and last tracks (the two epics) and Thoughts (Part II) which is easily my favourite track. The songwriting on display throughout these tracks warrants praise and adoration.

Track 2, Revelation, is passable but somewhat bland. It sounds like it could have been written by any 90s hard rock band. I don't skip it, but it's appeal is certainly limited. If this had been the worst track on the album, we'd be looking at 5 star rating for sure. Unfortunately...

The remaining 2 tracks, as I'm sure you've figured out, do absolutely nothing for me. No, it's somewhat worse than that. They both actually annoy me a little bit. Which is horrifically frustrating as they completely destroy the flow of the album. I hate, hate, hate having to skip tracks and yet with these two I can't resist.

It's not that the song writing is particularly awful, it's just that the songs are in a style I don't normally appreciate (pop) and don't have interesting elements that jump out at me. Genesis received similar complaints over songs like 'I Know What I Like' but at least that song had Mike Rutherford's captiviating bass line pulsating under it, and Phil Collins' excellent percussion to keep me interested. I can't say the same for these two tracks.

'All on a Sunday' has an infuriatingly saccharine chorus which annoys to no end. I honestly believe it sounds like a song written for a boy band. Worse still, I can't detect any single trace of prog in the song. 'Goodbye to Yesterday' is probably slightly less offensive, but still hopelessly boring, and definitely not prog. I don't mind the poppy melodies, as long as they are incorporated into proggy songs. Track 1, 'At the end of the day" is a perfect example of pop-prog done right. If only they could maintain that energy and creativity throughout the album.

3 stars awarded for 3 honestly excellent tracks which are totally worth hearing. If you're an album-orientated person, perhaps you should be slightly cautious, as 1 mediocre track and 2 terrible tracks ruin the flow completely.

Report this review (#260407)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
5 stars When I first got Transatlantic's Whirlwind, I wanted to hear all of Spock's Beard's stuff, because I loved Neal Morse. I got V , and damn was did I like it. If there was ever a possibility of progressive rock being pop-like catchy, but still has that awesome progression, this is the album. With the awesome starter, At the End of the Day, you get a first whiff of it. Even the weaker song on the album, Thoughts part 2, has good parts. And then the grand finale of The Great Nothing blows you out the water at 100 miles per hour. It is a spectacular track.
Report this review (#294378)
Posted Friday, August 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very Good Modern Prog - Don't Forget the Bass!!!

Spock's Beard fifth album is often considered their best, and in fact the two epics that open and close this album were the only SB songs I knew for many years. (Courtesy of some Prog Mix CDs a friend of mine made for me long ago) I finally got the whole album, and while the meat is the epics, there are still some nice morsels among the rest of the work. I happen to find it interesting that while Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio get the most mentions in prog circles, I think was gives Spock's Beard their most distincitve aspect to their sound is the bass work of Dave Meros. It is up front, and a mix of a classic pop and modern thunder. Frankly, no other instrument makes my ears perk up and pay attention like the bass. Neal Morse's vocals are adequate with the interplay between vocal parts much better than the actual performance. The guitars move from tasty to textural and are occasional powerful, but never really stand out. (I must admit that Alan Morse's effects and tone are about as good as any guitarist doing this kind of modern prog, perfectly fitting the song.) The drumming is solid but again doesn't do anything to truly impress this non-drummer. But even though I don't play much bass, when Meros starts letting those strings thunder, I immediately pay attention.

As others have said, the highlight of the album is the opener "End of the Day." Despite its 16 minutes, I never lose interest. What's more, there are some instrumental moments that are simply prog heaven. Intense interwoven vocals, keys, guitar, a little bit of spacy fantasy, it's what I (and most of us) love about classic prog. The piece moves, yet has recurring themes that hold it together. Excellent. "Revelation" follows which is a nice swimmy mellow piece that is less ambitious but still remembers that it is prog. The Gentle Giant homage "Thoughts, Pt. 2" is a highlight for me, a GG fanboy. It's intricate, aggressive, right up my alley. "All on a Sunday" is pretty darn bad, with Morse actually missing pitch and the whole song reeking of cheese. "Goodbye to Yesterday" is a straightforward pop ballad, nothing wrong or remarkable about it. The final monster epic, "The Great Nothing," is a return to grand prog but probably would have been better at the 15 minutes instead of half an hour. Unlike the opener, it doesn't have the power to hold itself together or maintain my attention for its entirety. (Though it would take a monster of a composition to keep me going for 30 minutes without a break. Most classical pieces of that length don't pull it off either.) Don't take me the wrong way, there are still many tasty prog treats scattered in there. I much prefer it to Morse's straight up pop. I'd give it a "B" where the first three pieces were all in the A range.

Definitely a good pickup for fans of modern prog. Easy 4 star rating for me.

Report this review (#355203)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "V"is considered by many the best album from Spock's Beard.Although I have not heard much of their work, I can say is better than "The Light"and "X " (which are great albums).

You can find the basic neo-progressive rock here. "At the end of day" was more surprised than the band, and is one of my favorite them.No is no weak moment here, and I'm rapt in the section with trumpets (that reminds me of Mexican mariachis and other stuff, even for a short time) or section metal,Incredible!

"Revelation" is more aggressive, and it was my first experience with this wonderful album.

"Thoughts" is exceptional, one of the best vocals of all time, clearly inspired by Gentle Giant.

The next two tracks, "All on a sunday"and "Goodbye to Yesterday" are trade and represent the very moment fraco.Mas "The Great Nothing" is a monstrous epic 27 minutes and certainly the best track on the album and career the Spock's Beard.

4.5 stars

Report this review (#357680)
Posted Sunday, December 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a prog fan of old (i.e. Yes, Genesis, Rush, Elp...ect.) it was a surprising breath of fresh air to discover Transatlantic and their amazing work. As a result of that, i'm finally checking out the bands that came before that supergroup. Besides Dream Theater, Spock's Beard is my next venture. "V" is one hell of a spin. Makes me realize the influence Neil Morse has in Transatlantic, and I love it. My first Spock's album (thank you itunes) is a swirling mix of beautiful sounds, strong melodies, virtuoso playing and songcraft, excellent production, and mostly non filler material. Complex but not contrived. This is the highest rated Spock's album on here, so this is what i got. And i cant wait for my next.......suggestions for #2?
Report this review (#376102)
Posted Friday, January 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This 63-minute long "EP" is held in high regard by many in the prog world. I find it derivative. "Revelation" (8/10) starts beautifully but then goes over the top. The two epics "At the End of the Day" (7/10) and "The Great Nothing" (7/10), 16:27 and 27:03, respectively, are just showy and pointlessly long. "All on a Sunday" sounds as if it wants to be a pop song in the vein of BEACH BOYS (and foreshadowing the later arrival of MOON SAFARI). But it just doesn't have the hooks. "Thoughts, Pt. 2" (7/10) is a GENTLE GIANT ripoff--as if to say "Look: We can do Gentle Giant!" Even the best song on the album, "Goodbye to Yesterday" (8/10) is a bit too cliched and nothing to really write home about. Spock's Beard is technically talented, lyrically banal, and, unfortunately, playing music that is so familiar, so similar to "classic" groups and songs of the 70s as to be almost embarrassing. Spock's Beard, even with Neal Morse, has never produced an album that gets rotated into my play cycle. Not even one single song. And this, their most highly rated album, is nothing more than a 3 star album to me.
Report this review (#377615)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars If Neal Morse wanted to leave Spock's Beard on a high note, it should have been after this album, not the derivative and poorly written "Snow". The album is easily the Beard's best, and contain's Morse's finest compositions, as well.

The album begins and end with excellent prog epics. Both At The End Of The Day and The Great Nothing hold the prog listener's interest from start to finish, flowing effortlessly through their multiple musical themes, and showcasing the talents of each band member.

Revelation is a strong ballad, where Morse manages to push a some religious lyrics without getting preachy or trite, the two easiest traps for Christian songwriters. Not only that, it's a strong composition as well.

Thoughts (Part 2) like it's first part, uses Gentle Giant-like counterpoint with perfect effectiveness. And All On A Sunday and Goodbye To Yesterday provide a bit of breathing room before the final outstanding epic.

While this album isn't quite perfect, it's close enough to rate five stars.

Report this review (#453061)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars INTRO: I am Very Happy to give this album 5 stars, This is my favorite Spock's Beard album, and could very well be their best in my opinion

1. At The End Of The Day, 10/10.

a. This is my favorite Spock's Beard track, I will absolutely rate this song 10 stars, the musical complexity of this song is outstanding, This song is so wonderful to listen to, and probably one of Neal's Best vocals.

2. Revelation, 7.5/10

a. This song is a Very catchy and emotionally brilliant song, it is able to mix mellow prog, and hard rock very well.

3. Thoughts Part ll, 9/10,

a. both Thoughts Part 1, and 2 are both terrific songs to me, this one is more accessible in my opinion, (not in a bad way though.) The vocal complexity similar to gentle giant is great, I think the vocals may even be better than gentle giant, great song ^^

4. All On A Sunday, 5/10

a. now unlike a lot of other reviewers on this website, I don't just hate pop songs just because their pop, I rate them based on how well written and entertaining to listen to, the problem with this song is that, it's not written very well (compared to their other songs.) This song just doesn't really do much for me, and the organ seems out of place, (if that's even possible 0_0) Not their best, but I wouldn't say it's their worst.

5. Goodbye To Yesterday, 7.5/10,

a. I personally love this song, and Neal's Voice in the beginning is so beautiful, it nearly brings me to tears, this song in my opinion is sort of an opening to The Great Nothing.

6. The Great Nothing, 10/10

a. Oh Yes... The Great Nothing, everybody, this track is one of my all time favorites, I love every second of it, and for a 27 minute song, that's saying a lot, Trust me, this song will leave you speechless.... In A Good Way, no... In an absolutely Amazing way! ^^

CONCLUSION: This is One Of Spock's Beards Best, This album has everything, a pop song, 2 epics, an awesome hard rock song, and spock's beards usual strangeness, highly recommended.

Report this review (#458918)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Goodbye to yesterday...

Following the recent news of Nick D'Virgilio's departure, an omen perhaps that the end is nigh for Spock's Beard, I thought it appropriate to reflect on the bands finest hour. As the penultimate album to feature the band's original (and strongest) lineup, "V" reflects the pinnacle of their music achievement.

"V" has four shorter tracks bookended by two epics. It is almost inevitable that the longer tracks will outshine the shorter ones, but that said, the shorter trackso on "V" still hold strong and remain engaging, even after many listens. I enjoy all of them but my particular favourites are Revelation and All on a Sunday.

Then there is the album's opening track, At the End of the Day, an excellent track that would be the main event of most other albums. But those other albums don't close with The Great Nothing. This song is Spock's Beard. It is Neal Morse. It is Nick D'Virgilio. It is Alan Morse. It is Ryo Okumoto. It is Dave Meros. None of these guys are strangers to elongated multi-part compositions, but throughout Spock's Beard history, and all their associated projects, no other song has matched The Great Nothing. Whilst the majority of prog epics have highs and lows, parts you love and parts you are just there for the ride, The Great Nothing is pure refined class from start to finish. In this respect it is comparable to the likes of 2112 and Supper's Ready, and this is no mean feat.

The Verdict: The best of the Beard.

Report this review (#571026)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars really!

This is another updated review, from the time before I was a member here, but in this case I'm mostly leaving it unchanged, as everything I wrote before is still true today. This is easily my favorite Spock's Beard album of them all, as it was when I wrote the original review.

It's funny to me that long time Beard fans are not all that enthusiastic about this album. I consider it, along with Beware Of Darkness, to be their finest hour. Mainly this is due to the epic The Great Nothing, which I think is the best song they have ever done, certainly in the epic format if not any format (yes, I prefer this to the song The Light...sacrilege!). The rest of the album is pretty good as well.

At The End Of The Day is the other highlight for me, being a much more "typical" Spock's composition with Beatlesque harmony vocals and poppy sections but maintaining an epic feel throughout. Some very nice melodies all through this piece. Thoughts Part II is exactly that, a continuation of the song Thoughts from Beware Of Darkness. I think it is a bit better than "part 1" from Beware, having a bit less of a Gentle Giant derivativeness about it (though the counterpoint vocals will always bring that comparison).

All On A Sunday is the one song that brings this album down for me, being a fairly dull pop song. Goodbye To Yesterday I have come to enjoy for what it is, a mellow ballad. And The Great Nothing, as I said already, is the crowning glory of this album. I can admit that it is not exactly the most original of prog epics, and it follows a more or less "prog by numbers" approach to the form (the Neal Morse patented prog formula presented in one of it's finest achievements). But I think it does it with such perfection and genuineness, that for me it just works beautifully. It also contains what I consider to be the finest Alan Morse guitar solo ever at the end of Part 5 (Miss Your Calling).

So all in all, a very good Spock's album and a very good prog album in general. Like all Spock's albums, however, it falls short of masterpiece status. It does, however, come very close, and if I could give it 4.5 stars I would. Since I can't, 4 seems most appropriate.

Report this review (#609151)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Spock's Beard's V has all the ingredients of Symphonic Prog used intelligently, and it's enjoyable. It looks back to the past a lot and utilizes 70s music styles, but at the same time sounds new and modern. It sounds like they've had a lot of influence from Yes and Genesis. And is that Chris Squire playing bass for them?

V begins and ends with an epic; At The End of the Day starting the album and being the best song here, mainly because of its balanced structure. The other epic, The Great Nothing, took some time to appreciate because I heard it got compared to Supper's Ready. This gave me the wrong idea and thought, 'how could it live up to that 70s classic?'. But if heard just as another song by Spock's Beard with no comparisons, it's really good. Both the epics have the standard symphonic prog structure with reoccurring themes, dynamics, and the standard instruments (organ, synth, mellotron.) The songs are written very well, using perfect moderation to incorporate all the elements that make epics great.

Then we have the more commercial stuff in the middle. Revelation is a good, simple song with soft verses and heavy choruses, although my least favourite of the bunch. Thoughts Pt. 2 is a very complicatedly arranged song for less than 5 minutes and reminds me of Gentle Giant. All of a Sunday is a pure pop rock song, but with prog instruments (organ, mellotron, etc). I shouldn't like it but I do. It's incredibly catchy. Then there's the soft and sweet Goodbye To Yesterday. There are no bad songs or moments between the epics, but no amazing ones either.

There are a few issues I must address though. First, it's Symphonic Prog outside the 70s, so it's hardly very new or innovative. Secondly, and more importantly, there's Neil Morse's singing, which sounds too overconfident and indulgent, and the incredibly noticeable American accent is kind off putting as well.

While V isn't a masterpiece, there are enough redeeming qualities for repeated listens. The variety of prog epics, complex moments, and prog pop make it a worthwhile listen. 4 stars.

Report this review (#614043)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Prog was still alive throughout the 90s and in the 2000s, Spock's Beard put out one of the best Prog albums in existence.

At the End of the Day: My favorite of this one. Has a huge Yes and kinda Genesis feel to it. They're celebrating the classics while still be new and fresh. It always puts a smile on my face every time.

Revelation: A shorter song but still has a heavy Symphonic feel that I just love. The chorus is really heavy and light on the verses and has good lyrical content. Overall, good song

Thoughts, Pt. 2: A sequel from a previous song and I love this song. The lyrics speak very heavy to me and the music is so heavy and groovy and Prog it's great. They even show Gentle Giant influence with the multiple vocal tracks. Great song

All on a Sunday: Strong Yes influence on this one. Kind of a break from the heaviness of the last songs but still has a nice feel to it

Goodbye to Yesterday: The single. Very acoustic and keyboardy to start. It's not a bad song but I understand why the song didn't do all that well on the charts.

The Great Nothing: A Prog Masterpiece. 27+ minutes of very intricate music and was very impressed with what I heard. The band sounded top notch and better than ever before. The title is almost a reference to Pink Floyd who originally called their epic Echoes, The Return of the Son of Nothing

Overall, Spock's best album without question. It has alot of classic songs and moments that recall the classics and invent some new ones. It has earned it's place with 70's Prog. 5 Stars. Highlights: At The End of the Day, Revelation, Thoughts Part 2, and The Great Nothing

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Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Most of you can probably think of one or two bands where you can happily concede that technically speaking they're good performers and you can sort of understand why their fans enjoy their work - but at the same time you absolutely can't stand their stuff and don't want to hear it one bit. For me, Kansas is one of those bands - and perhaps the inevitable result of that is that Spock's Beard is also one of those bands.

I don't know what it is - the cheesiness of the vocal harmonies, the prog-by-numbers songwriting approach, or just the atmosphere of glowing self-satisfaction evoked by the music, but I just can't bear it. I'll give it three stars because I can understand why some people might like it, but I won't give it more than three stars as a clear sign that tastes vary and individual listeners may love it or hate it.

Report this review (#641228)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is another one of those which tends to divide prog fans the world over. You love it or you hate it. Actually, specifically, you either love Neal Morse or hate him, because I think it is universally accepted that the standard of musicianship here and on other albums by this band is nothing short of exceptional.

For myself, I believe that this work represents a highpoint of Morse's career, probably only eclipsed by the debut Transatlantic effort. It is also, in my opinion, the clear highpoint of this band's output, although I might stress that the two are not necessarily linked.

The album is bookended by two incredible, daring, and massive opus tracks, At The End Of The Day, and the twenty seven minute long Great Nothing.

The opener starts proceedings in magnificent, symphonic, fashion, and is, indeed, the type of track that many Yes fans were hoping the old boys would come out with in 2000. I love the chorus in this, amongst the grand mellotron and symphonic soundscapes. It is, in reality, about the perfect neo-prog track, because it is created with such a knowing and loving nod to the symphonic masters of yore.

In between, we have a series of shorter tracks. Revelation is an interesting, and enjoyable, mix of light and heavy moods, with a distinctive commercial edge to proceedings, particularly in the chorus. Thoughts Part II is more of a throwaway track to me, too frenetic in parts for its own good, but still with some delicate and enjoyable vocals.

All On A Sunday is basically an enjoyable pop/prog romp, with a lovely upbeat rhythm, swirling keyboards, and relentlessly upbeat guitar backing Morse clearly enjoying every second. As with albums such as 90125, to which this album has understandably been compared, there is nothing wrong with a deliberately commercial song, as long as it is as well performed and well meaning as this.

The final short track is Goodbye To Yesterday, and is the type of lush acoustic number which lifts my spirits every time I hear it, all of this underscored by a delicate and mournful mellotron. Morse, I feel, has very rarely sounded better as he sings his heart out on a piece of lost love.

And so to the magnum opus, Great Nothing. You really are asking for trouble when you name a track in such a fashion, but, thankfully such worries are quickly dissipated. The opening section is extremely dark and foreboding with a taste of Wagnerian opera to these ears, with a brief, and lovely, acoustic guitar interlude before a tremendous riff brings the track to life, when Okumoto shows his pure class on organ. The following piano and vocal introduction to the main track is wonderfully lovely, and oozes sheer class. As we move on into the "main section", there is, at first listen, a confusing mix of moods and signatures, and it really isn't until many listens that you learn to appreciate the fact that it does gel together very well. Many passages are extremely reminiscent of The Flower Kings more experimental instances, whilst others are deliberately designed to give the impression that this is Spock's Beard's very own Close To The Edge, or Tales From Topographic Oceans, i.e. a collection of movements creating one whole suite.

Throughout, the band are performing at the top of their game. Such a suite demands tight playing and strong production to bring us the contrasts between bombastic and delicate, and it wins here on every level. I think a special mention should go to Dave Meros, whose ferocious bass playing at the more bombastic phases is simply incredible, but, in reality, all players shine on what is a very ambitious track, which could so easily have fallen apart, but, instead, ranks as one of the finest symphonic pieces of modern times. It also passes that very difficult trick of keeping the listener's attention throughout, right up to the fantastically uplifting conclusion.

This is an extremely good album, and by far my favourite that the band released. For any readers of this review who might have come across Transatlantic late in that project's career, and are curious about exploring the bands that make up the supergroup in more detail, this is the perfect place to start with Spock's Beard, because, in truth, they really didn't come anywhere near the heights of this symphonic delight on other releases.

Four stars for this. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection, and a must for all lovers of symphonic rock. It only just falls short of the masterpiece rating to me.

Report this review (#732352)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the rather weak and overly poppy Day for Night, Spock's Beard strikes back with perhaps there most prog and certainly their best effort in V. By this point, most of the Gentle Giant influence is gone and they finally discover their own unique sound.

The album starts with the first epic 'At the End of the Day.' The song opens with a beautiful introduction which eventually builds up to one of my favorite Spock's Beard melodies. The rest of the song is filled with so many great ideas and all of them are connected appropriately. The ending is a reprise of the beginning melody and features some of the most amazing bass work I've ever heard courtesy of the underrated Dave Meros.

'Revelation' (9/10) has a very spacey and almost nostalgic sound throughout. It is rather simple in terms of structure, confining to the verse-chorus format. But this is easily the Beard's most atmospheric song, and has a great contrast between the gentle verses and loud and heavy chorus.

'Thoughts Part II' (9/10) is a continuation of the Thoughts series started in Beware of Darkness and is really their only heavy Gentle Giant moment. If you've heard the first part and 'Gibberish' then you know exactly the style of this song. I still like it and it's my favorite of the two (or three so far) Thoughts.

'All On a Sunday' (8/10) is their commercial oriented song on the album, and probably their best one at that. The Mellotron and keyboards really help this song along, and the chorus is catchy as anything.

'Goodbye to Yesterday' (7/10) is a slightly Beatles sounding ballad with amazing Mellotron and acoustic guitar. It's also one of their more melancholic songs .

'The Great Nothing' is to Spock's Beard as Supper's Ready and Echoes are to Genesis and Pink Floyd. The song is 27-minutes of constant symphonic prog heaven. It opens with a Mellotron intro influenced by 'Watcher of the Skies' no doubt. Following is some acoustic guitar which segues into some heavier riffs before reaching the first vocal part, for which Neal Morse is consistently amazing throughout. You're hit with amazing melodies and top-notch instrumentation from all the members through the rest of the song before a dramatic and emotional outro led by Neal Morse.

I cannot think of any superlatives that can adequately describe how amazing of an album this is. It's everything I like in symphonic prog. V is easily the highlight of Spock's Beard and is one of my top ten favorite albums.


Report this review (#771402)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#887268)
Posted Friday, January 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Half of the cuts on this LP are absolutely superb - At the End of the Day, Revelation and the Great Nothing. The rest is just excellent. By far this is the most consistant album ever released by Spock's Beard, in my opinion.

Any of these songs could be used to define symphonic prog. The interplay between the guitars and keyboards is excellent. Morse's lyrics are extremely well written and delivered in great voice. The time changes are well done.

All in all, this is the release that best personifies Spock's Beard, moreso than Snow, in my opinion. This LP is excellent for any person wanting to fill out their prog collection. Five stars, recommended.

Report this review (#906041)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a record that is worth buying because it contains monstrous progressive rock, perhaps among the best prog done til this day. But why can't I give it five stars? I'll come back to that later on. This is the American modern band Spock's Beard's fifth record and was released the first year of the new millenium, 2000. The cover give's an idea how good this is. It features the two Morse brothers Alan on guitar and cello and Neal on keayboards, guitar and vocals plus Ryo Okumoto on organ and mellotron, Nick D'Virgilio on drums and Dave Meros on both electric and acoustic bass and french horn. After a frist listening I wasn't totally pleased because it sounds very American and modern but after my prejudicies had fell in sleep I enjoyed this music totally. I have listened to the full album perhaps four times now so I am beginning to know what I am talking about.

V contains sex track of which three are masterpieces, the long ones and "Thoughts". I will begin with "Thought(Part II)" which begins with a smooth and nice song from Morse and then totally surprises us with harmonies that only Gentle Giant had done before. A great track for relistening. The starter "At the end of the day" begins with Medieval feeling and thereafter the symphonic rock starts. It mixes a spanish guitar and rhytm with little metal and a lot of jazz. Also great guitar solo. The best song and the fatest monster of this lp: "The Great Nothing" could have been the only track and made it well. This is a progressive world to drown in with different melodical themes that follow each other and return. Also very professional vocal work. What lowers this record is the remaining short songs. They are not bad but not especially good either. There is som Beatles in "Revelation" but the track is rather boring. "All on a Sunday" is a pop song, not much to praise there and "Goodbye to Yesterday" is nice but not special. As often this disc would have impressed more with a shorter length. A three-track record with: "At the end of the day", "Thoughts(Part II)" and "The Great Nothing" would have taken five stars immediately but as a unit with the other fillers that's impossible. Nevertheless it is an essential rock album with great music on it. It also opens the doors to new music.

Report this review (#959599)
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
5 stars I may have mentioned before, once or twice, that in my humble opinion Spock's Beard are the best band to ever come from over the pond. Their latest release does nothing at all to make me change that opinion. It took me a little while to get into this album, but once I did then I found that I had real problems trying to listen to anything else. There are a few long numbers, but also some shorter ones. I think that if I had to play one song to try to entice a new fan that it would be one of these, "Thoughts (Part II)". It starts life as a gentle acoustic guitar ballad, but at the end of the introduction Neal puts an edge on his voice as he sings "I thought it might be really great, to show you how I feel inside, but I think, maybe not". This heralds the introduction of the rest of the band, who repeats and then plays around the musical motif. Gradually the pace picks up, and gets more complex then stops dead as the band produce harmony vocals a la Barber Shop form out of nowhere. The song moves from one extreme to another, with the initial phrase returned to twice. It may not be very long, but it is superb.

I am also a big fan of "All On A Sunday" which starts life as a Kansas soundalike, but yet again initial musical perceptions can be misleading and in the case of Spock's Beard downright wrong. Spock's Beard may be the huge fish in a pond that seems to be getting smaller every day, but if the rest of the musical world cannot see what they are missing then that is their loss. Yet another great album from the band that have managed to be prolific without losing quality.

Originally appeared in Feedback #60

Report this review (#966166)
Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars That I really enjoy this album has come as somewhat of a surprise to me. Two years ago, when I first understood that I liked what is known as progressive rock and that there were so many bands I had never heard of out there producing exciting quality prog, I began listening to samples on Amazon, iTunes, and YouTube. I tried to get into Spock's Beard but no matter how interesting the music sounded I couldn't accept the vocals. After three attempts to find something that would grab me I gave up on Spock's Beard. Then I read a book by Stephen Lambe where he recommended 'V' and I thought, 'What the heck; I'll buy it,' because Mr. Lambe recommended many other albums which I already owned.

There are three things that I really appreciate about this album:

1. Song length variety. Although there is an epic long song and another over 16 minutes, there are four other songs between 4 and 6 minutes. Long epics can be fantastic but they require patience to get through and appreciate and at times they sound like little more than a medley of disparate songs thrown together for no other purpose than to say, 'We are prog. Check out our long songs.' After the second listen I liked "The Great Nothing" and after the first listen I liked "At the End of the Day".

2. Musical creativity without being overly diverse. The songs are basically rock music in its various modes including quiet acoustic guitar, hard electric guitar, organ, piano, jazzy frills, funky grooves, pop punkish tinges, pretty melodies, and so on. But there are surprises with orchestra and woodwinds, brass, a cappella, and even a Spanish section with some nice percussion. 'Thoughts (Part II)' actually reminds me of a more recent 'Can-Utility and the Coastliners' by Genesis because I once read that Genesis managed to record a classic example of prog rock in a normal length song and this song here by Spock's Beard includes many twists and modern prog turns but barely exceeds four minutes.

3. I like almost the whole album. There's no song that I would call a dud although one or two songs are almost regular radio fodder rock. For the most part this is a very enjoyable album and after the first two listens I was already adding 'At the End of the Day,' 'Thoughts (Part II)', and 'The Great Nothing' to my commute-time playlists. As for the vocals, I wonder what samples I had listened to that turned me off the band in the first place because I have no qualms with the vocals on this album. Though I got the CD only at the beginning of December last year (2013), two of the songs entered the list of 25 most played songs of the year according to my iTunes library (I bought a gross number of CDs last year so there was a lot of competition for listening time).

It's no surprise to know that Neal Morse of Spock's Beard went on to work with Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings in Transatlantic because I can see both bands share a similar musical styling. If you haven't heard Spock's Beard yet, I agree with Stephen Lambe that this album is worth checking out.

Report this review (#1110148)
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am sorry - but I'm going have to give this a FIVE star rating (I have also rated Snow and Brief Nocturnes as five stars also!). Why? do you ask. Well - this has been in my collection for a long time and remained one of those CD's which got lost and was maybe played once! Then in a conversation on face-book - I friend mentioned the first track (At the end of the day) and said it was his favourite SB recording! - So I listened and immediately was VERY impressed! So last night - I donned the Sennheiser's and closed my eyes - WOW! - This is a BRILLIANT CD. The first track is marvellous (and shows the direction Neil Morse was going to go with Transatlantic) - immaculate musicianship - really nice vocal harmonies...then the shorter tracks, all of which have a lot to add to the CD - setting the stage for the EPIC......And Yes on the listening last night - I reckon that "The Great Nothing" has catapulted from obscurity (in my collection) to be in my top 20 tracks of all time!!! - This track has everything - length, (breath taking virtuosity) - really nice vocals and maybe Morse was already starting to air his preachy lyrics but I think I can forgive that because the music and form of the track is so good. If you haven't bought this CD and you like symphonic prog - then get your wallet out and do so - it's a MUST have!
Report this review (#1358306)
Posted Saturday, January 31, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars The best Morse-era SB, despite some failures.

V is the best of the Morse-era SB albums. Really this should not be the case. It suffers from the same problem as Day for Night: too many less-than-musical pieces - and even worse, is saturated with preaching by Neil Morse who had by this time really found religion and wanted to sing about it. But despite all this (or perhaps partly because of the latter) some of the music here is really excellent. But again, this is a polarized album. The song that many think is the best on the album, and the one that represents this album in their greatest hits collection "The First Twenty Years" - the opening track "At the End of the Day" - is for me the worst track on the album. Again, like Day for Night, it ticks all the boxes for what a good progressive rock song should be. But it is (at least for me) just not at all musical. I have tried and tried. It doesn't flow. It contains really un-musical melodies and chord changes, and just seems forced and concocted, obtuse for the sake of obtuse at the sacrifice of real music (and please remember, I am a huge Crimson, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, and Zappa fan, so I usually like obtuse). But thankfully there are some really great tracks on this album which raise it up high. I actually think that this album contains the two best-ever Morse-era SB songs: "Thoughts, part II" and "Revelation", despite the fact that both were written by Morse and related to his religious conversion. "Thoughts part II" is not only musical, the lyrics speak about someone who is contemplating discussing important (to them) issues with a loved one who they know will just not understand. While for Morse such issues were (likely) religious in nature, the way the song is written it could refer to anything, and I think we all have had those same experiences/thoughts/feelings when trying to discus personal matters with others. It really hits home as authentic, and the music is perfect for the song. "Revelation" is of course even more directly related to Morse's religiosity, which would normally turn me off, but this song is just SO musical. It works amazingly well, and thankfully on this album Morse is talking about himself and not seemingly telling others what to think (so the lyrics are, for me, tolerable). The third, and final, track that I really like on this album is the extended 27-min epic "The Great Nothing". Here Morse seems more subdued and ambiguous with his lyrics and singing, which is nice, given so many of the other tracks on this album are just too preachy for me. This epic is great music. Together, "Thoughts II", "Revelation" and "Great Nothing" make up 60 percent of this album, and are such strong tracks they help raise this album up into the 4-star realm, even though the other tracks are weaker. I give this album 8.0 out of 10, which translates in my 10-point scale to 4 PA stars.

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Posted Sunday, July 16, 2017 | Review Permalink

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