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Spock's Beard - Feel Euphoria CD (album) cover

FEEL EUPHORIA

Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog


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paginadeoscar
4 stars It is a pity Neal´s departure, but I had not think that Spock´s without him were able to make such an interesting album, it is very well played, interesting compositions and Nick D´Virgilio sings really well, beautiful voice. Beautiful album

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#19231)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A grower....like all the best albums should be. I'm in a minority but I believe the vocals are better than previous Spock's Beard releases. Great tunes with some rumbling bass behind them. One of my favourite purchases of 2003, it just took me 'til now to realise it!

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Send comments to bobm (BETA) | Report this review (#19233)
Posted Friday, February 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
cbaez@charter
5 stars Fantastic. Many people gave them up for dead after Neal left, and here they came back with a roaring, out-of-left-field shift of gears. They took a huge chance by radically altering everything and hit a home run in the process. This is a totally different band in many ways, but boy can they still do their stuff! Listen to the "here goes nothing" part in The Bottom Line for some of the most amazing, soaring vocal harmonies ever recorded on a prog song.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#19224)
Posted Sunday, March 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ok..OK..STOP all the whinening allready...Neal´s gone to heaven (pun intended) and so what....now we have 2 great "groups" to attend instead of one!! First of all i think Neals soulsearching is his own business!! Next i think his "Testimony" are one of the greatest albums of that year!!Now...the new Spocks beard....as many of you out there..i thought how´s that gonna go??! But here they are the Spocks boys with renewed spark....and they can indeed "kick ass". First track, blew me away...with the hard and heavy approach. Track 2. a nice ballad, written by the ever fantastic Nick D´Virgilio (Hear his solo album) and he also is credited ad lead vocalist!! Good job Nick !!! Next up is...title track:"Feel euphoria" with its strange rhythm and tampered voices... actually works quite well!! The time changes are great..as is the keyboard playing. Track 4 . Seem to be a ballad with a sting. A soft sung song. beautifully delivered!! And wonderfull vocal arrangements to boot! Track 5. Another tune with wonderfull vocal arrangements.....actually i reminds me of a Beatles tune (they never made) LOTS OF MELLOTRON....wonderfull!! track 6.Now there´s a song...full speed ahead...Spocks as we know (and love) them!! Lovely guitar across keyboard fills!! track. 7. entering a suite called: " A Guy named Sid". this piece containes 6 sections. Allready from the start you can hear the "New" Spocks beard sound...as they seem to be harder in their approach. Actually they remind me of the fabulous Aussie outfit MAX WEBSTER...at least in this part of the suite!! Ok..ok....some of this stuff..you´ll have to hear for youself!! As its very very beautiful......ballad singing..beautiful music....delivered fabulous!! And there are some powerfull moments ..power chords...strong arrangements!! Epic indeed!! The more i hear the more i love this album!! OOoohhh part 11.Iis pure magic in the vocal sequence..its like Gentle giant in pop!! 12. Ooohhh...the heavy part again...executed very well!! 13. Last "normal" track (The special edition carries extra tracks). a lovely ballad (again) written by Alan Morse...and its winning by the number of listenings!! Bonus tracks (as this is the limited ed. box):14. acoustic guitars an vocals leads the way ...track 15. Strange sounds (courtesy of vocal & keyboard weirdness)...a strange ending...but indeed a nice experience. Bottom line: Neal Morse WAS Spocks beard as we knew them!! But ,hey there are here and back with a vengeance and this album is far better than ive imagined it to be!! So fellow Beard friends...go get this..listen to it carefully..then pass judgement!!! Me...i rather like it!! That is...i think..after several more listenings... ill LOVE it!! Go figure!!

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Send comments to Tonny Larz (BETA) | Report this review (#19225)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well I have got a "Promotional copy" of this new album by SPOCK'S BEARD, scheduled to be released on July 2003. Such new issue is the first release after the controversial album "Snow", (this latter quite disappointing in some circumstances), too much emulating the ideas of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by the early GENESIS. Instead this new work is without the writing, keyboard, and vocal performances of the original member Neil MORSE, who left the band for some personal reasons or a sort of personal crisis. However already as from their previous work, he was not so brilliant like in the early albums by S.B.. Besides the remaining members are a bit forced to become leading vocalists, despite of being able to carry out some good music both vocally as well as instrumentally within their solo albums.

Well as they are not like GENTLE GIANT, their task without Neal Morse is obviously more difficult!! But proceeding by order, I like to point out first of all that they are obliged to steer more in the direction of such "poppy" stuff, rather than facing the progressive aspects concerning their music. That was a typical mood inside the first half of their recordings; while here the heavier prog elements of bands such as KING CRIMSON are disappearing, except on a few early GENESIS-like breaks through, similar to those ones by the early "romantic" K.C." . The arrangements without the creative mind of MORSE are more difficult, despite of the majority of these pop songs being natural and well performed here. For this reason, I should give this CD an higher score. Finally this is good stuff and Nick Di Virgilio is not only a remarkable drummer, because he can also sing in a good manner. This album could represent the new direction of the band, which was not able to innovate their ideas in the recent times, becoming tiring along with the last uninspiring stuff by Neal MORSE.

Interesting album, even though it is not essential!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#19226)
Posted Saturday, April 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
rangerm13@yah
4 stars I have to hand it to the guys in SB for surviving Neal Morse's departure. There have been plenty of disastrous attempts by bands to forge ahead when a pivotal member has departed (Genesis minus Phil Collins AND Peter Gabriel comes to mind). Fortunately, the four remaining Beard members are talented enough that they can make this work. Having now heard NDV's singing, I find myself wondering why he didn't get more of an opportunity to do so before. This may seem like blasphemy, but I think Nick's voice is just as strong as Neal's, only different. Musically, this is a bit more streamlined progressive with a healthy dose of straight forward rock ('Day For Night' comes to mind). There's more musical diversity on this album than any previous SB release. Case in point: the hard-rocking opener "Onomatopoeia." I love Alan's crunchy guitar riffs with Ryo's keyboards adding a unique texture. Without a doubt, the best song on this album is "The Bottom Line" which runs the gamut from hard rock to traditional prog and ends with a great acoustic bit. There are a few more pop-oriented tracks, such as "Shining Star" and "Carry On" but these songs still maintain the amazing SB sound. That album's multi-part epic, "A Guy Named Sid," is not one of the band's best, but it has some great parts and is similar in scope to "The Healing Colors of Sound" from 'Day For Night.' To people who have been having trouble deciding whether or not they want to buy this album due to the fact that Neal Morse is no longer with the band, I really suggest that you give this a try. If you are looking for another 'Kindness of Strangers' or 'V' you may not like what you hear. On the other hand, if you keep an open mind and just go in expecting great music you won't be disappointed.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#19235)
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
relayer66@yah
2 stars I have to give the band credit for forging ahead and even changing their sound after Neal left. The music on this disc is exciting and shows a heavier side of the band, while remaining progressive. The singing is quite good although Nick is a bit over-emotive at times. He sounds like Steve Walsh at many moments, especially at the beginning of "A Guy Names Sid" which is very Kansas-like. My problem with this disc is with the lyrics. I think they are just awful. Classic progressive rock lyrics are usually thoughtful, cerebral, dada-esqe, whatever, but they are always intelligent. The lyrics on this album are totally throw-away, just one pop cliche after another. Trying too hard to be clever but not really saying anything. And this was always a bit of a problem with SB, though I really like their first 3 albums, the lyrics got more rubbish as time went on. Like Snow, the lyrics are forced, pop-cliches which aren't going to occupy your mind thinking about them, sung in an good but over-emotive voice which adds to the cheesiness of the whole affair. Also like Snow, the music is brilliant when the singer shuts up and lets the instrumentalists spread their wings. I don't think it's a terrible album, but would only recommend it to completists. I'm hoping for better next time but I have my doubts as Nick seems to be even cheesier than Neal in a Californian Phil Collins sort of way, wanting to sound like a pop star instead of a Prog icon. Come on guys, you're not going to get it on the radio.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#19236)
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars How could you possibly not Feel Euphoria knowing that a new Spock's Beard album was set to be released? If you are a real head case when it comes to prog-rock like me, you know exactly where I am coming from. Okay, I know you are wondering what they sound like without their main man Neal Morse. Their circumstances were the same as Genesis many years ago when they had to replace their lead man Peter Gabriel, and a drummer by the name of Phil Collins took over the lead vocal spot. Let me ease your minds, Nick D' Virgilio does an excellent job stepping out from in back of the drum kit (he still plays drums) to take over the lead role with the band. He actually sounds like Morse on a few cuts. It does not surprise me one bit that it was such an easy transition, his solo album Karma absolutely floored me and I wondered why he was not singing more for the band anyway.

Morse was the heartbeat of this band for so long, I too had to wonder how their overall sound would hold up throughout this album. I have to admit I was not exactly sure after two listens, I guess the third time is the charm because by the time I had listened completely on the third spin I was convinced that they were different, they had a new kind of energy, and they definitely were still the Spock's Beard that I loved listening to. Everyone in the band kicks it up a few notches to support D' Virgilio on his new job and the outcome is spectacular. This band has been at the top of their game for so long now how could anyone expect anything less.

The music ranges from the hard rocking title track "Feel Euphoria" to the gorgeous harmonies and lead vocals of "East Of Eden, West Of Memphis," featuring sparkling guitar lines, keyboards, bass and drums all produced to perfection. "A Guy Named Sid" is their mini-series/opus in six parts that will have prog-heads salivating. The progression and changes that each individual part goes through is like the cover of the CD, a rainbow of colors dumped into a vast pool of sound and textures, it is all breathtaking rock music.

Some long time fans may think that the beard is just stubble right now and it needs to grow in, personally, I think the old growth just had a trim and it grew back in differently to fit the new face. The beard is still there and it has plenty of time to grow. Just like the title of the last two tracks, it is all about "Change" and the will to "Carry On."

Rating: 4.5/5

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#19241)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
freqmaster@ho
4 stars Now I heard this album after hearing Spocks Beards latest album Octane. As said in my Octane review, I was scared to get this one after Neals departure because I was scared of being dissapointed. But I was mistaken, whether you are new to Spocks Beard or not, this album shouldnt dissapoint. Although not as proggy as previous Spocks stuff, this is still a worthy addition to anyones CD collection. My personnel favourites are Onomatopoeia, and the 'A Guy Named Sid' collection.Matty :)

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#19243)
Posted Monday, April 04, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not going to knock these guys in any way, because they're great musicians and its to their credit that they bat a lash when Neal left the group (I'm sure he encouraged them to carry on as well). The sound of the group has definitely changed, though. I think they're a bit heavier and a bit less prog-ish this first go out as a quartet. I don't love every song, but overall, I think it's a pretty good album. Nick is a good singer and does a fine job as the new lead vocalist. It'll be interesting to where they go from here.

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Send comments to liquidtenor (BETA) | Report this review (#19244)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The group's first release after the departure of founder member Neal Morse.

The album is totally different to any of their previous recordings. I always felt that with Neal Morse penning most of the material in the earlier albums there was sameness to the proceedings. This is refreshingly different, heavier with and more guitar orientated sound.

Onomatopoeia is a driving rockier number and a superb start. Ghosts of Autumn a superb ballad with Alan Morse excelling in the guitar department. Shining star is poppier but still pretty good. A Guy Named Sid is the epic song. Instrumentally this is excellent but they sorely miss Neal Morse in the lyric department. This doesn't detract too much from the enjoyment of the song and a good point from which to develop.

Some of the rubber burning style changes and frenetic soloing on the title track and East of Eden.West of Memphis are very jarring. The title track especially should have been better. The first few minutes has a different feel and a great vocal performance by Nick D'Virgilio.

For Beard fans its still worth checking out.

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Send comments to jimpetrie2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#37083)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
horza
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I feel sorry for all you Spock's Beard fans out there. So much great music in this bands back catalogue and its all MINE to discover!! Envy me you sad people whilst I have such treasures to discover for myself. Now, I actually possess a fair amount of SB material but I had'nt got around to listening to it. So much music and so little time - does that sound familiar? After chatting to a friend I felt compelled to listen to them and this was the album I decided to start with. After checking the reviews I thought maybe I had made a mistake - it does'nt have the high score that others have.Anyway - I don't think I made a mistake - if there are better SB albums than this then I am in for one hell of a treat.

The album opens with 'Onomatopoeia' - an uptempo, uplifting track which sets the tone very nicely. Tight drumming and a sense that you have a band enjoying themselves. It has a quieter mid-section but soon regains momentum. A very catchy song. Next up we have 'The Bottom Line' which features that which I treasure most, delicious soaring synth before settling down to become pretty anthemic and acoustic along the way. Track three is the title track - it opens with synth and drum before vocals and choppy organ take up the beat. Its a fantastic track - the chorus has a unusual though very compelling phrase leading into it. The track gets more frantic two thirds of the way through. Organ mayhem ensues and you wonder who unleashed Mr Emerson into the proceedings. Next we have 'Shining Star' which is a nice ballad, reminiscent of America/The Eagles - listen and tell me I'm wrong. Lovely guitar, nice and chilled. 'East of Eden, West of Memphis' follows - and it is such a fantastic song. Very upbeat and foot-tappy (know what I mean?). I commented on this feature of the album to a friend and he said that maybe that was why some people did'nt like it. Strange - nothing wrong with foot-tappyness. Anyway - the second half of the song is a different matter. it cranks up the bpm and features fabulous synth, guitar, drums and all round excellent musicianship. 'Ghosts of Autumn' opens with sombre piano - vocals tell us to 'Listen to the whispers of the rain....' - its a rocky ballad and an excellent track to boot.

The next 6 tracks are 'A guy named Sid part one' up to part six. The first part is an instrumental and one of my new favourites. Its pretty funky, driven and very tight. It could be the new theme for one of my fav sci-fi series Space 1999 (in-joke). Great keyboards throughout. Part two continues the tale and is a strong, rocky, prog beast. Part three is more sensitive - featuring the line 'Every story has 2 sides, but no one ever wants to hear mine'. It reminds me a little of Kevin Gilbert, who was a friend of SB's drummer. Part four continues the tale of 'A guy named Sid' and it is followed by a choral piece which seems familiar to me - cant place it though. The final part of the epic ties up things well - great playing as usual. The albums last track is 'Carry On' - again, up uplifting, positive song. Sounds like the Carry On Wayward Son brigade. Superb album. What one next I wonder?

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Send comments to horza (BETA) | Report this review (#68595)
Posted Monday, February 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.2 Stars

Since Neal Morse was the leader of the band and made the painfully dull "Snow", I wanted to see how the band would deal without the man behind the band. Surprisingly, Feel Euphoria is stronger than Beware of Darkness and Day for Night. There are obvious changes in the sound from the band though you can still hear the sound of Spock's Beard. The changes include the drummer taking vocal duties, the harder-edged approach, the keyboards, and the songwriting. The quality of the songs is a bit inconsistent as most of the best moments are in the first half

Onomatopoeia begins the album strongly and makes you realize that Spock's Beard changed after Morse's departure. You can hear heavy electric guitars taking lead, more rock-oriented singing, no more Morse's synths/pianos, etc. The most interesting part of this song (and maybe the album) is the genius usage of harmony vocals, brilliant acoustic chord progressions and haunting mellotron in the middle section. The hard rock comes back and ends the piece.

The Bottom Line is a bit more remnicent of earlier Spock's Beard, though the intro still has the elements of Feel Euphoria: old school analogue synths and heavy guitars. Suddently, a nice vocal melody turns this song into a ballad with time changes and prog elements. I love the synth line used in the choruses. This is overall a very successful attempt at a progressive rock song in the vein of early Spock's Beard.

The title track has very good musicianship and an amazing chorus hook, yet is marred by having a disjointed structure. The second half of the song sounds like a good jam session.

Shining Star is a pop song with very good vocal melodies and straightforward instrumentation to complement it. It is a harmless little tune.

East of Eden is a quite unusual song. It begins with some heavily distorted guitar riff and catchy melodies and good melodies. Suddently the song makes an abrupt turn and voila! you got Ryo going in overdrive playing a mad synth solo under beds of mellotrons! The song ends with backward tapes and a reprise of the initial melodies, which is something that feels a bit out of place.

Ghost of Autumn is an emotional musical journey with Ryo playing gorgeous piano leads. The song focuses on melodies and is pretty laid back. Check out the guitar solo in this piece. Overall, a great song and the last highlight of the album.

Unfortunately, Neal Morse is the guy that knows how to write epics. A Guy Named Syd has its moments, and the musicianship is great, but the piece doesn't really work as a whole. However, it is much better than "Healing Colors of Sound". Anyways, the song begins with a groovy overture that ends with a pretty good synth solo. Pt2 begins as an uptempo rocker that has quite cool vocal harmonies that remind me of Dream Theater. It has a soft interlude and then comes back with the initial punch. Pt3 is focused on melody and is an ok part. When pt4 began, the first thought I had was "Ryo robbed Wakeman's synths!" because the synthesizer used is heard in Tales of Topographic Oceans. Anyways, great synth line and a pretty good rocker. pt5 is a short piece focused on a complex arrangement of vocals that sounds poppier than ever. pt6 is a decent conclution to the epic.

Carry on is an uplifting finale and sounds like something coming from Neal Morse in terms of style.

Overall, a surprisingly strong Spock's Beard album with good melodies and musicianship. I recommend it to fans of neo-prog and/or Spock's Beard.

Highlights: Onomatopoeia, The Bottom Line, East of Eden, Ghost of Autumn

Let Downs: None

My Grade: C+

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#87630)
Posted Friday, August 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars SPOCK'S BEARD are very interesting band producing a high quality progressive music. Music on "Feel Euphoria" is full of energy from the beginning with many rythm changes. Though the music is variable and somethimes very technical is without unecessary complicated parts and passages. It´s a solid complex based on great rythm section and the guitar riffs sometimes remind me the best of B. Sabbath music. Ryo Okumoto´s work is a special here and surprise me in every song. Finally I must say that SPOCK'S BEARD are for me one of the leading progressive rock band on the scene and this album deserves only 5 stars.

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Send comments to archivep (BETA) | Report this review (#107524)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars On one hand I'm willing to admit that my review might be a bit biased. I really want to give this album two stars, but the Beard in me holds me back. Ok, so me being a huge Beard fan might not be a good excuse for the extra star, but I believe considering an album in its context is. And the fact of the matter is that FEEL EUPHORIA is the band's first release after the departure of master composer/genius Neal Morse. Because of this, I'm willing to give this album the benefit of the doubt where other listeners may not. Fair game.

On the other hand, I feel vindicated when finding that there really are some great songs here. In my opinion, "Bottom Line" is the highlight of the album, establishing what I believe to be the new sound of Spock's Beard. "Ghosts of Autumn" is a nice little piano ballad, and the suite "A Guy Named Sid" proves that the current Spock's lineup is more than capable of composing hard- hitting and still passionate rock music.

I don't think it would be fair to discuss this album without touching on the performances of Nick D'Virgilio on the drums and Mr. Ryo Okumoto on the keys. Sure, these musicians always fit their roles with competence and flair in the Neal Morse days, but I think it may be fair to say that Neal's compositions can often confine the other members of the band to often rigid structures and somewhat predictable progressions. Here, however, Morse's absense allows the rest of the band to experiment with styles that would have never been available under Neal's direction, and I think Nick's drumming and Ryo's work on the keys (particularly his electronic sounds) really take advantage of the newly created space. In FEEL EUPHORIA, we hear a masterful rock drummer that has been awakened in the great D'Virgilio, and Ryo dabbles with almost techno-like sounds with the keys. Both sounds are certainly welcome in a band that had been so used to exploring epic motifs and funky ditties (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Nevertheless, this album just doesn't cut it. First album without Neal aside, there is no excuse for some of the stuff here. "Shining Star" is as cheesy as the title would suggest, "East of Eden, West of Memphis" is utterly forgettable, and the title track is pretty lame almost the whole way through. Listeners may also ask where the mellotron is. This may be because when Ryo does use it, he really doesn't do anything special with it, especially when considered alongside his absolutely masterful use of it in OCTANE. Perhaps if he had just made up his mind that he wanted to go electronic on this album, we wouldn't have missed it. But alas, we can find the mellotron thrown into some of the songs almost purely for the "mellotron factor," and having mellotron layered in the background simply so that Spock's fans won't feel that their world is crumbling is just not good enough for me.

All in all, FEEL EUPHORIA comes across as a confused effort that often draws straws in hopes of hitting on something good. The good news is that this risk does indeed yield some rewards, but they seem all but few and far between. Even so, we are given some very promising things here. Nick's voice, for one, is surprisingly well-matched for the new Spock's sound, and Ryo's experimentalism often shines. Bassist Dave Meros and guitarist Alan Morse are a bit more disappointing, but their work in the band's next two releases more than makes up for any lack of inspiration present here. 2.5 stars

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Send comments to The Progmatist (BETA) | Report this review (#131952)
Posted Sunday, August 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars How could Spock's Beard continue without Neal Morse? How could Genesis continue without Peter Gabriel? Well, they both did by making their drummers their respective lead vocalists. The parallels don't end there. Both Morse and Gabriel left their bands after making complicated 2-CD concept albums, what some consider their "magnum opuses." When both bands continued without their leaders, the individual members began writing their own material for the next album and neither group was the same ever again. Both Morse and Gabriel went on to successful solo careers. Odd coincidences, don't you think?

What I find that differs from these parallels is the music the two bands made after their respective upheavals. Genesis continued making some really great music until they sold out to commercial interests in the 1980s. Spock's Beard became a bleak former shadow of itself, losing it's catchy melodies and hooks, replaced by an AOR-tinged, heavier sound and uninspired songwriting. In my opinion, Neal Morse was Spock's Beard. Nick D'Virgilio is a great performer. I have no doubt about that. But he just can't fill Neal's shoes. Feel Euphoria makes that plainly clear.

Even the six-part A Guy Named Sid, a half-hearted attempt to make a progressive rock epic, is just sad to listen to. The music is uninspired, the singing is uninspired, the lyrics are uninspired. Nearly all of the tracks of this album leave something to be desired. Quite a number of them are on the level of filler. Even the group's earlier inspirations from the greats of the 1970s appears to be missing. After Neal left, it was quite evident after listening to this that the band wanted to move in a new direction. I just don't think they took the right fork in the road. Future albums will continue to show a mislead wandering about. Spock's Beard fans will enjoy some of the numbers on here, but should also notice the lack of direction and the lack of quality material. Others probably should avoid. I would instead recommend getting anything from the Morse era. Two stars, for fans and collectors only.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#151128)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's impossible not to compare the new Beard to the old, Neil Morse's leadership often being cited as the cornerstone of the band; however, after many listens of Feel Euphoria I heartily agree with those who say that Neil's contributions were repetitive, heavy-handed, and growing very old. Now that he's off writing not-so-thinly-veiled-Christian Rock-- we can finally get some fresh ideas to the old Beard, and what a change!

For starters, let's talk about the song writing. Not quite as proggy, as in the rapidly becoming dated sound of the band's inspiration, possessing a much sharper, technical edge. The band playing is very tight and energetic, lending a more modern sound to the group's otherwise proggy skeleton (which is still there, just hidden). Okumoto actually gets to become a viable (and welcomed!) addition to the band's sound, while the two axe-players continue cranking out there usual excellent fret-work. Some may complain that these tunes are a return to the approachable pop sound found on Day for Night, but I say they haven't given Feel Euphoria much of a chance. There are textures and nuance hidden behind the straight-ahead vaneer of many of these songs, showing as much gusto for creativity as ever before in the band's past.

D'Virgilo's voice should also be mentioned-- because it is more sensitive, smoother in timbre, and quite honestly, more fun to listen to than Neil's often bellowy caterwauling; big props to him for filling in big shoes.

Jaded fans should give this one another chance, and newcomers might actually find this a better place to start discovering the Beard than their old classics.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#161708)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not quite there, not yet here

After (Neal) Morse's departure from the band people likely wondered if they'd be able to stand on their won two feet. Indeed, losing a respected musician as well as their lead singer and composer is not something that many bands are capable of dealing with. Well, with Feel Euphoria the Beard managed to prove that they would live on after Morse, but they'd just need a bit of time to recover from the blow first. As many others have commented, the band tried to stay pretty close to their Morse era sound with their first couple of releases without him, and while it can be argued how well that worked there's no denying the music is similar yet very much different from when Morse was still around.

The album is still very Morse, but different parts of the music are brought out and highlighted. What's strange about the album is that while many complained that Morse had a very AOR sound in the band, they actually seem to have gone more towards that end of the spectrum without him! While there are moments that are strait heavy rock blended with prog a lot of the songs on the album see a softer vocal style, and this is not only because they have a new vocalist. In fact, Nick D'Virgilio is quite a capable replacement for Morse as he steps out from behind the drum kit a la Genesis to fill the vocal hole. His voice is actually more gruff and has a harder edge to it than their previous vocalist and this proves to be quite a nice change. Not to say that Morse was a bad singer, but he was also not a singer that could not be easily replaced. His voice was pretty mid-ground and a lot of people could have replaced him - not so would be the case if someone like Geddy Lee left Rush. But if it doesn't matter who's at the vocal helm then what does the music sound like?

Well, it's very much the same and different. Likely due to the lack of Morse the band seems to have lost a bit of direction when it comes to writing. A lot of the songs on the album vary wildly in style within minutes of the song. Take for example East Of Eden, West Of Memphis which starts off softly as the band starts a full out soft rock track but soon explodes into full blown pomp prog going into the instrumental section in the middle, lush with keyboards and guitar to make for a satisfying ride. Or The Bottom Line which starts as a full blown prog epic would but soon slows to a stop to allow AM radio vocals to come through until the middle where there's a pseudo-Dream Theater instrumental section. The crazy shifts in song are not a bad thing, it seems like the band is really experimenting here to find out what works best for them. It's a bit of a strange album to listen to with that in mind, seeing as the first couple times you'll likely be thinking, ''oh, I don't like this song - it's too soft rockish... oh! Now I like this song... wait, it's the same song!''. I suppose schizophrenic could be the word. However, after a number of listens this does eventually catch on, but if you never have a heart for a couple minutes of softer music then this album may not appeal to you.

There are points where the album really rocks out though. Take for example the opener, Onomatopoeia which blasts open a hole in the wall with Alan Morse's guitar before introducing their new vocalist to the world. This is definitely one of the standouts on the album for those of us who like our music heavy. It seems that with big brother out of the way, Alan Morse actually has room to breathe. This is evident in a lot of the songs and though the keyboards do still take the lead often it's clear that the guitars have been brought up front.

As for the largest song on the album, the long divided suite A Guy Named Sid we can see that the band still knows what they're doing. It may not be another The Great Nothing but it shows the band in top form with the excellent segments Judge and Same Old Story. The intro and outro are also both quite good while bordering at parts on electronica - but in general this song is where all the manic moods of the album work - probably because the song is long enough to house enough different styles and speed changes to let it work the way they wanted it to.

Only a couple of songs really don't work at all but they're far and few. Coming off of a very odd and creepy title track (which is quite good by the way) we get a sappy ballad by the name of Shining Star where those AOR feelings come right up the the front and block out the band for a bit. Likely a song not overly appreciable by many prog heads. As well the last track Carry On feels like one they could have cut out. Really, if the album had ended after the Sid Suite I think most of us would have been satisfied, but they wanted to tack another one on I guess. It's not a bad song, but the chorus is so wildly out of place that it just doesn't work. It's clear with this track that D'Virigilo should stick to the harder edged track (that theory will be proven wrong in the future though).

This is a good album. People who don't fancy themselves fans of the band ca probably steer clear of the album, 'cause it won't make a believer of you. However, people who do really like the Beard should definitely look into this one - because for it's few flaws it still makes for a very interesting listen. Really, this is just a new beginning for the band, one that really would not be realized for a couple of albums yet. 3 crazy-rainbow-paint-cans out of 5, recommended to fans and people who like heavy music but don't mind a couple of AOR twinges at times.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#172422)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Not really a bad effort here. I was one of the legions of Spock's Beards fans who found themselves a little bit leery of the post-Neal band. Thankfully my fears were proven wrong--but not by this album. As far as Feel Euphoria goes, it's only average at best. If this was the first CD of theirs I'd listened to after Neal left, I don't think I would have kept going with the band. I'm glad it's not. I found myself much more able to cut my teeth on their self-titled, and having absorbed that, Feel Euphoria is much more agreeable.

But I only gave it three stars, and the main reason for that is energy. Older SB (and s/t SB) seem to carry that sort of excitement and energy through most of their songs. That energy is somewhat spotty or at least very difficult to find through this music. There are some beautiful compositions, some great musicianship and all that whatnot, but the long and short of it is: Feel Euphoria will not excite you very much. I'm a fan of mellow music, don't get me wrong, but Spock's Beard's talents are far more suited to getting my adrenaline moving than tuning my emotions to theirs.

So, three stars. It's worth it, but they are better before and after.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#173760)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is perhaps the album that divides SPOCK'S BEARD's fans the most, and for good reason, Neal is gone. I actually went into this one with a positive outlook having enjoyed Nick's vocals on that one song on the "Snow" recording. Man, this one is sure different from the past ones though.This is more of a band effort and it shows as we get a bit of a mixed bag here. I took King By-Tor's advise and listened to this one longer than I usually would and it did make a difference. The problem for me is that although I have grown to really like a lot of the music here, there are still songs that for me are from very average, to not even liking them. So I can't give it 4 stars, but I do enjoy it quite a lot.

"Onomatopocia" is liked by everyone but me it seems. It's an uptempo rocker that I like, but then those faster paced, commercial sounding vocal parts come in and i'm turned off. I like it when it calms down with strummed guitar, reserved vocals and mellotron 2 minutes in. It kicks back in 3 1/2 minutes in. Love the mellotron after 4 minutes, and the ending is killer. "The Bottom Line" sounds great to begin with as the guitar, mellotron then synths shine as the drums pound. It settles and it sounds even better. It calms down even more when the vocals come in. Mellotron flows in as the chorus with higher pitched vocals arrive. The almost dead calm before 3 minutes is touching. Check out the section before 4 1/2 minutes. The vocals sound so much like on that ALICE IN CHAINS song called "Stay Away". What a great EP "Jar Of Flies" is by the way. More mellotron before 6 minutes as strummed guitar comes in and then fragile vocals to the end. Great tune.

"Feel Euphoria" takes a while to get going as it features electronics, drums, organ and deep vocals. The best part is when it kicks into gear before 4 minutes and later 5 1/2 minutes in. "Shining Star" is a mellow and lazy track that does nothing for me. "East Of Eden, West Of Memphis" is my favourite song. It's fairly straight forward and pleasant with some fantastic mellotron until a change after 3 minutes. I'm so into the rest of this song. Amazing stuff as the tempo picks up and the mellotron storm comes in. Check out the guitar 4 1/2 minutes in ! Nick is putting on a clinic on the drums as well. It then sort of winds down slowly to the end. "Ghost Of Autumn" is piano and reserved vocals and drums for the most part. Then it changes 3 1/2 minutes in, and like the previous song i'm totally hooked the rest of the way.

"A Guy Named Sid" is the over 20 minute epic that is divided into 6 parts.This was the first song Nick wrote after Neal left the band. Nick by the way is all over this with his drumkit. Nice heavy intro that ends with some great synth work. The second part is even better when the vocals come in. A calm after 2 minutes as Sid speaks. Organ after 3 minutes. I like the contrasting styles in part three. In part four we get some heaviness with nice bass lines. The vocals are excellent. The vocal arrangements in part five are impressive. Part six brings back the heaviness with mellotron and vocals. The tempo picks up. After 2 1/2 minutes it sounds like the old SPOCK'S BEARD. Good song. "Carry On" is ok I guess, but why not end it with the epic ?

I like "The Bottom Line" , "East Of Eden", "West Of Memphis", "Ghost of Autumn" and "A Guy Named Sid" a lot, the rest not so much. 3.5 stars and a good start to the post-Neal BEARD.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#182426)
Posted Sunday, September 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After being orphan of his leader, the Beard could either die or survive. They could have released another cloning affair, or go into another musical direction. They opted for the latter.

However, they almost went (prog) metal. This is not the genre I prefer. Both "Onomatopoeia" and to a lesser extent "The Bottom Line" are in this vein. I admit that to call an album "feel euphoria" is rather daring. You'd better be sure that you release a great work or you would suffer many critiques.

The heavy impression is just confirmed. If "The Bottom Line" was a fine mix between prog and a harder approach, "Feel Euphoria" is just a dull electro-heavy song with little inspiration. Vocals are not brilliant either and the finale could have been featured on a "Dream Theater" album. Quite.surprising.

Floyd is also revisited during "Shining . Star" (especially during the chorus) but the heavy parts are bouncing again (they were not absent for long) in "East Of Eden.". Some fine mellotron lines (but too few) are highlighting this dull first part, while the beat catches up and the synthesizers are going wild for a superb instrumental section. The guitar play is on par as well: just great. This is the best moment of the album so far (but too short).

It seems as things are going a little better while the album advances. Ghosts Of Autumn is a very good song. More on the mellow side for a while, it lifts off thanks to a brilliant guitar solo: somewhat like .Mostly Autumn does frequently.

Now, let's listen at the epic track. Some twenty minutes divided into six sections. Same mix of heavy sounds and brilliant keys are the ingredients. You'll get them in almost each part, almost alternatively which breaks the heavy impression. At times, the music sounds as Atomic Rooster (Same Old Story) which is fine with me but again, it is quite unexpected.

If you fancy some Gentle Giant mood like the one the band was used to play, it is available as well during the very short Sid's Boy Choir.

The whole of this piece is finally pleasant and confirms the second good part of this album.

I strongly suggest that you just forget that this is a Spock's Beard album. It has little to do with their previous releases. I prefer this one far much better than their previous and dull Snow.

Three strars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#183335)
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars really!

This album reminds me a lot of 'A Trick of the Tail' by Genesis. The music is good and all, but without the former front man, something's missing. Neal Morse was the Peter Gabriel of Spock's Beard, and once he left, the quality of the music seemed to drop a little bit.

The two previous albums were definitely Spock's Beard's best work. They both deserve 5 star ratings, so it was a huge disappointment to see the music become like this. You kind of have to cut these guys some slack though, because their songwriter left, and these guys managed to write their own decent prog music. Now keep in mind, all of the music for the most part is still good. There's obviously some filler throughout the album, but nothing's awful.

Another noticeable trait of this album is that it's not as progressive as some of their previous efforts. Sure the epic 'A Guy Named Sid' is 20 minutes, but for the most part, it's similar to pop/rock.

The first song 'Onomatopoeia' is a nice hard rock song. It's not very progressive, but is a solid track. That's basically the speed that the entire album travels at. Good, but not a masterpiece. It's a decent overall album. I feel that I should also mention that the epic 'A Guy Named Sid' is too long. I wouldn't mind if it was only 10 minutes, because it drags on for the most part. The song kind of feels like they were thinking 'let's see what we could add to make this 20 minutes' instead of 'we have all these great ideas, so let's turn them into an epic'.

It's obvious that these guys were struggling after Neal Morse's departure, but they pulled off a decent album with a few memorable moments. If you were to start with post-Neal Morse SB music, I would suggest going their S/T album, but this isn't an awful choice either.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#196749)
Posted Thursday, January 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Feel Euphoria is the seventh album by Spock's Beard and is an important one in their history. Following their concept album, Snow, Neal Morse decided to leave the band for religious reasons. This was a huge deal since Neal Morse was the main songwriter/singer/multi-instrumentalist for Spock's Beard, so what would they do without him? They decided to pull a Genesis and let drummer Nick D'Virgilio become the new front man. He had already shared his wonderful voice on a couple of tracks from Snow (Carie and Looking For Answers) so it seemed like a promising proposition.

I discovered Spock's Beard around the time that this major change occurred in their line- up. I was devastated when I heard about it because I had just discovered one of my favorite bands, and now its key member was leaving to forge his own solo path. But, I decided to look at it positively?now I was getting not just one, but two albums at a time from my favorite group of musicians. So, I awaited Testimony by Neal Morse and this album with a lot of excitement.

Feel Euphoria came first and it was an exciting moment since this was my first brand new Spock's Beard album to explore. I recognized that it wasn't as good as the Spock's Beard material with Neal, but I was pleased to find that it had a charm all of its own. Spock's Beard was far from lost without Neal at the head. Nick has a wonderful voice and this album showcases it brilliantly. There are a few weaker tracks, but that is forgivable since this is practically a debut album for Spock's Beard version 2.0. I love the opener Onomatopoeia, it really rocks hard and brings the excitement right up front. The Bottom Line is a classic Spock's Beard track to me that has some great synth from Ryo and some rocking guitars and bass. If there is any problem with this song it is that it is too short and they could have developed some of the ideas in it more.

Other tracks I really love are the hauntingly beautiful Ghosts of Autumn that really showcases Ryo's chops on keyboards and Nick's wonderful vocals. This song was written by Dave Meros, and shows that he is a strong songwriter. I love the epic, A Guy Named Sid. It may not be as strong as Neal's epics, but it has its moment including a Gentle Giant vocal round section all done by Nick. I think Nick D'Virgilio and Dave Meros are one of the greatest rhythm section in all of progressive rock. They are very solid here and Alan Morse shows his signature guitar sound throughout the whole album. Carry On is a great closer and ends on a very positive note.

I have a special spot in my heart for this album because it proved to me that Spock's Beard was not dead?they were alive and kicking and capable of producing great music without Neal's influence. I can't help but smile and feel nostalgic as I listen to the album. I am very impressed with how Spock's Beard moved on so quickly from Neal's departure and were able to craft such a great album. This is truly a remarkable feat and I will continually appreciate the album as I keep that in mind.

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Send comments to natewait (BETA) | Report this review (#225393)
Posted Thursday, July 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Feel Euphoria' - Spock's Beard (5/10)

To begin, may I say that I've never really been a follower of Spock's Beard's music, and I listen to this album as a relative outsider of the band's fanbase. Being that this is my first full experience with the band, I don't have too much background with the band save for a few songs. However, what I can say for a fact, is that with the departure of the main man Neil Morse, the band certainly took a bit of a blow to their creative output. While they didn't necessarily die out and become 'worthless,' the reformed Spock's Beard doesn't seem to be as capable of releasing truly memorable, innovative material as they once did. The band's first album after this change of personnel, 'Feel Euphoria' is a good example of my point. Decent, but certainly nothing to blow my mind.

Without Neil Morse to guide the band's direction, Spock's Beard were far from hopeless. They managed to pull a few potent songs out on the line here, as well as a 20 minute epic which regardless, is a feat to write a song of that length on it's own.

Songs like 'Onomatopeia' and the title track really epitomize the album and how it stands to me. Nothing special, but pallatable and fun. There are a few sections on the album that seem to go beyond the call of duty into the realm of excellence however; among these are the fifth part of the epic, 'Sid's Boy's Choir,' the instrumental sections of 'The Bottom Line' and 'East Of Eden, West Of Memphis' and the emotional 'Ghosts Of Autumn.' The rest seems a bit subdued.

The epic on the album, 'A Guy Named Sid,' really brought my expectations up, even before listening. Despite it's rather trivial name, for the most part, musicians put alot of effort into writing epics, and it is on those tracks where prog band's true strength is shown. 'A Guy Named Sid' however, is not excellent. Like many of it's neighbouring tracks, it is good, but not excellent. The song tries to tell some story of redemption, but it really doesn't end up working in the end. To be honest, as far as the lyrics go, I was a bit too concerned as to figure out who the hell Sid was!

Although I am not a big Spock's Beard fan, I am certain the band has seen greener pastures than this release, and even then, 'Feel Euphoria' is far from being a poor record. A good album with a few excellent parts, and recommended to existing fans of the band.

The Beard satisfies, but does not impress on this one.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#233768)
Posted Saturday, August 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is someting special to me...

I was I recent Spock's Beard listener when Neal Morse said goodbye to his motherband, and I was afraid of what the group could make without him... And although the result is absolutely not bad, I felt tat some of the Spock's magic was gone. Some part of this magic could be heard in Neal Morse's "Testimony", but it was also unsatisfaying to me... So my feelings about the band and his former leader were a bit mixed back in 2003.

Nevertheless, through the years I've appreciated this album like it is... A very good work of fine prog rock music. I sitll a bit hard to hear Nick D´Virgilio triying to imitate the Nearl's voice in Carry On, and some of the songs are not really catchy and well composed, like the failed title track, and the disperse The Botton Line.

But the good facts win here... It's a pleasure to hear the Ryo Okumoto's work through the album. His keyboards are imaginative, variated, and I love his using of mellotron and electronic sounds. The same can be said about Alan Morse, who sounds really liberated in this album. D'Virgilio's voice is also very competent (except a pair of tracks when he tries to imitate Neal Morse...), and Dave Meros is still great, although his bass sounds a bit diminished.

The band's new style is more hard rock oriented than the works with Neal... The jazz and latin elements that were habitual in older albums, here are almost gone. "Feel Euphoria" has more electronic elements, and the guitars riffs have a lot of protagonism too. Is still the same band, but they sound really different... That's a good thing, because the Neal's style is difficult to imitate, and they focused their efffort in trying to make good and refreshing album... And they achieved it, although the result could have been better.

Best tracks: Onomatopeia (good opener... Great guitars!), Ghost of Autumn (I like the Savatage-like piano intro... Fine ballad) and A Guy Named Sid (brave guys! They even made an epic... And it's the best part of the album!)

Conclusion: if you are searching some of the old Spock's Beard's style, you'll not find in here... Without Neal Morse, they are just a different band. I'll not make a comparision between this new era and the older one for that reason... But "Feel Euphoria" is still a worthy modern prog rock album, with some fine tracks and interesting ideas. They are great musicians, they have played music together for a long time, and they know how to make good music... And although I miss some true magic here, It's a pleasure to hear this band going on after Neal Morse's departure!

My rating: ***

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#238862)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Neal Morse departed from Spock's Beard following the band's sixth studio album. Of course the parallels between Spock's Beard and Genesis have not gone unnoticed: The creative helms and lead vocalists leave their respective bands following a complex and enigmatic double album to have successful solo careers, only to have their drummers assume front man responsibilities and their former bands begin to create more commercial and accessible music. This album uncomfortably wavers between simplistic pop and intricate progressive rock, often within the same track, yielding some awkward transitions (or no transitions at all) as well as some rather questionable overall compositions. Nick D'Virgilio is a fantastic drummer, but it would not be until the next album that he would shine as a lead vocalist. Although not a bad album, Feel Euphoria is considerably weaker than anything else in the band's discography.

"Onomatopoeia" The band crashes through the gates with this hard-hitting opener. Right from the start I can sense the band's uneasiness in coming together as a quartet, because this song seems like it's overcompensating. The sudden stop and subsequent acoustic section is certainly out of place. As with the album, "Onomatopoeia" is not a bad work, but nothing wonderful either.

"The Bottom Line" Crunchy guitar riffs and a whining synthesizer start this song, which has, over acoustic guitar, a vocal hook that sounds very much like John Mayer's "City Love." As with the previous song, there is a serious disconnect between the sections; each passage just tapers off and the next one begins. The acoustic guitar and Mellotron at the end is beautiful, but bears no semblance to anything that came before.

"Feel Euphoria" Insipid electronic percussion and sputtering tones, lazy vocals, and ridiculous lyrics make for a terrible title track. Not even the organ loitering in the background salvages this unbelievably dragging song.

"Shining Star" Bearing a sound comparable to The Eagles of the 1990s, with fretless bass, acoustic guitar, light lead, and easygoing vocals with occasional harmonies, this song has a very simple but pleasing chord progression. The heavier chorus has a melody that is almost identical to "Drive" by Incubus.

"East Of Eden, West Of Memphis" I quite enjoy this number. The bridge is situated on a bed of Mellotron, but it's the catchy chorus that I appreciate most. Speaking of the Mellotron, the fast-paced synthesizer solo is introduced by a Mellotron duet. The drumming is a highlight of the instrumental segment.

"Ghosts of Autumn" Cold piano and hushed singing create the softest song on the album. It has a delicate but memorable melody and touching lyrics.

"A Guy Named Sid: pt. I - Intro" Spock's Beard attempted some semblance of the progressive rock of their former years, but this suite is a mixed bag- the electronic-dominated opening is a bit of a sign. Alan Morse's guitar solo and Ryo Okumoto's synthesizer work are praiseworthy, but the strange vocalizations sound kind of embarrassing.

"A Guy Named Sid: pt. II - Same Old Story" The narrative begins, alternating between first-person and third-person lyrics, but the music is too weak to support any kind of believable story.

"A Guy Named Sid: pt. III - You Don't Know" The lyrics don't leave me with much sympathy for old Sid, who seems to be whining in a rather vague manner. Again, the music is too bland to really take notice of.

"A Guy Named Sid: pt. IV - Judge" Dave Meros has some excellent bass playing on this part, and while I think the catchy little refrain is okay, the arrangements toward the end are excellent.

"A Guy Named Sid: pt. V - Sid's Boys Choir" Hearkening back to their Gentle Giant imitations (think of "Thoughts"), this is a multifaceted vocal bit.

"A Guy Named Sid: pt. VI - Change" The suite returns to the beginning, but the remainder of it all is far more convincing (especially musically) than anything that preceded it. The dual guitar lead is especially remarkable.

"Carry On" The album probably could have done without this schmaltzy song tacked on after the lengthy suite. Perhaps it is the band's rallying cry after their leader stepped down- I don't know.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#258381)
Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars You want to feel euphoria ? Not with this album.

I wonder if the album title was a friendly greeting to a certain N. Morse after he went away...

Well, to say it at the beginning I was never really sorry Neal Morse left. He's written some outstanding pieces and stuff that was not so...er...great. But this album would never have passed his quality control. I find only 2 maybe 3 songs worthwhile. That's not the problem, that happened to me with other SB albums too. The problem is the other songs have really nothing interesting to give. Cheesy ballads (Shining Star; Carry on), strange depressing stuff (Feel Euphoria; East of Eden, West of Memphis), a half-hearted rocker (Onomatopoeia). But at least you can find on this album the worst crap SB have ever released: The 'A Guy Named Sid'-Suite. Holy Moses! Since I heard that I wonder what is more irrelevant, the music or the lyrics? Either the band's standards are so low or they haven't had any.

What the album gives us are the other two songs: The Bottom Line (maybe they should have named the album after this song) and Ghosts of Autumn (but check the live version on Gluttons for Punishment, it provides the better singing). There is not so much prog in these two songs but they have nice melodies.

After all, I'll rate this album 2 stars. Most songs you can throw away, but there was still a little hope. Then came Octane...

Favourite Tracks: The Bottom Line, Ghosts of Autumn, (with reserve: Onomatopoeia).

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Send comments to strayfromatlantis (BETA) | Report this review (#295972)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars It didn't surprise me that Neal Morse announced that he was one of those Christians. There were always undercurrents of Christian imagery in his songs (The Light was one of the most obvious). However, it did surprise me when he announced that he was leaving Spock's Beard because of these beliefs. I suppose that's the risk one takes when believing in a savior who sometimes demands that his followers only create art in honor of him*.

This was Spock's Beard's first album without Neal Morse, and the band did a fair job of creating good music without him. Nick D'Virgilio takes over the lead vocals, and the entire band, with some outside help, takes over the songwriting. Naturally, there is a change in style. There is a more mainstream approach for the most part, but the majority of the mainstream moments are broken up by some very good prog breaks.

Gone are the Gentle Giant comparisons, although in the Sid's Boy's Choir section of A Guy Named Sid, they do some nice vocal work. And while there are no songs that are great all the way through, there is only two tracks (excluding the bonus tracks) that I just don't like. Shining Star and Ghosts Of Autumn are just too mundane for my tastes.

The bonus tracks on the special edition are nothing special. Moth Of Many Flames is plain and boring, and From The Messenger is more a sound collage than a song.

While this is very different from the previous Beard albums, there is more than enough good material to make it worth purchasing.

*Except when the artist needs more money to create such art. Then it's okay to reform a past supergroup, tour and make an album.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#445912)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though its not euphoria, what I feel, when I listen to this album, it still feels kinda refreshing listening to music that doesn t sound like a typical Neal Morse Album. Dont get me wrong - I love the songwriting of Neal Morse but many of his songs sound familiar and thats what I mean with "refreshing". I think this album is underrated because of the fact that its not a Neal Morse album. There is only one track on this one, that I skip, and thats the title track. And there is at least one weak song on every Neal Morse SB Album isnt it? I dont even skip the pop ballad "Shining star", though I actually not listen to pop songs anymore, except while doing the dishes... And the epic... if you compare it to epics that are on "The light" then its hard to enjoy it. Just pretend that this is the first SB album you have ever heard and maybe you appreciate pearls like "ghosts of autumn"

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Send comments to cartwing (BETA) | Report this review (#781397)
Posted Tuesday, July 03, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Still Feeling The Euphoria!!!

Being a huge Spock's Beard fan, i listened to every relase from the band and i have to say that this one was a great surprise for me.

It was a shock when Neal Morse announced short after the relase of Snow that he was going to leave, and all people thought that the band would ended calling it quits. Nothing more further than the truth and just a year after, they relase another album maybe as a confirmation for themselves that they are more than just a one big boss band. Nick's voice is very good and way different from Neal Morse's voice, and that makes the album even more interesting, the band needed a change and the change came very quick and strong.

They free their minds and relased a very different and varied album and that's a very good thing. The beard rocks here!!, maybe it´s not V, but i had the feeling that the "Morse way" made the band be a little predictable, and this album is not what we expected from the band at all!!.

The sound is fresh and modern here and the make a big step into the ard rock territory more than progressive rock, but the prog is still here.

Onomatopeia is a big rock opener, it is a full energy song and they rock more than never, "Bottom Line" is my fauvorite track of the album, from the proggy intro to the mellow mid part to the big end is one of the best songs of Spock's beard. Then is a mixture of styles from the sensibility of the pop in Shining Star to the more progressive A Guy Name Sid Opus, and even some AOR moments.

The other remarkable thing is the presence of the Alan Morse guitar, he truly rocks here proving that he is an essential part of the band, the production is very good and i really love Nick's voice, thumbs up for him!!.

A more modern sound here and a pretty variation of styles make this album an interesting document of the most obscure era from the Beards.

Recommended!!!

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Send comments to davidgil1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#931205)
Posted Saturday, March 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars Okay, let's get the Genesis comparisons out of the way at the beginning shall we? A well- known band releases what is seen by many as a concept album masterpiece of great complexity, only for the singer to leave (in this case, even before a full tour is undertaken ? at least Gabriel was Rael), who was then replaced in turn by the drummer as lead singer. The band continued in a different musical area than before, and released 'A Trick Of The Tail', um, sorry, 'Feel Euphoria'. Right. SB are not Genesis, and Nick D'Virgilio is not Phil Collins, and by the way, I really enjoyed 'Snow' and return to it often, playing all of it, which isn't something that can be said about 'Lamb'.

Like many SB fans I was extremely concerned when Neal left the band. This is because he was the main songwriter, the band leader, and a multi-instrumentalist to boot. Just how were they going to replace him? I don't think that there was ever any doubt that Nick was going to take over as singer ? he always sang the encore with Neal on drums, and he has a great voice. For the new album the decision was eventually taken not to bring in a new musician, with Ryo taking over the entire keyboard playing, although the band did collaborate with some outside songwriters. Without Neal they have moved away from much of the overtly proggy material and more into a hard rock area, although in many ways they could argue that they are more progressive than before as they have now moved away from much of the Spock's Beard 'sound'.

The album starts with "Onomatopoeia", which my dictionary defines as 'using words that imitate the sound they denote' and with hissing fires and ticking clocks they probably have it right. When I first played this I couldn't believe what I was hearing, as this is a rock song first and foremost ? blasting along, certainly for the first section. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, where was the SB I loved? The more I played this the more I fell in love with it. I believe that the guys have placed this as the opener just to wake everybody up and demand to be met on their own ground. They are not the band that they were when Neal was involved, they have evolved. Evolution means change, and this is something I now welcome, although it was hard the first time. Actually, there is a lot going on in this track, with gentle harmony vocals as well as crunching guitars.

From here on the band show that they have plenty of musical tricks, with Ryo showing what a fine keyboard player he is. Simple ideas such as stopping the music so that Nick can sing unaccompanied works extremely well on "The Bottom Line", with harmony vocals abounding. They are trying new ideas, the feeling that here is a band that has bonded together over time, and then been thrust together and have grown even more because of it. The title track is particularly dark and menacing, with a bleak verse contrasting against the more vibrant chorus.

The highlight of the album is the lengthy "A Guy Named Sid" which shows just how Nick has changed as a songwriter. The second section, "Same Old Story" rocks and bounces, and even if in the future they drop the whole song from the set, this is going to be in there for years. In my mind's eye I can see Nick strutting the stage as this is blasted out. The 'choir' is a bit contrived, as I cynically felt that it had been put there to show that Nick and Alan can sing fine on their own, thanks, but overall this is a masterpiece, moving through loads of different styles and rhythms.

Originally written for Feedback #76, 2003

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#942187)
Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
Roland113
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Neo-Prog Team
2 stars . . . In my not so humble opinion . . .

Nick D'Virgillio is no Phil Collins.

So the similarities between Genesis and Spock's Beard have been well documented. Both bands were stalwarts of prog for their time and started off with a series of strong albums. Both bands presented their magnum opus with an epic release of a 2 part concept album. Both bands lost their lead singer after the epic release and found a replacement in their drummer, coming out from behind the skins to take over the front man duties.

There is one epic difference between the two though. In Genesis, prior to Peter Gabriel's departure, the band wrote most of the music while Gabriel wrote the majority of the music. In Spock's Beard, Neal Morse was the primary songwriter, almost the only, songwriter for the band until the day that he left. Neal Morse's departure left a huge gaping hole in the songwriting, the band attempted to compensate by committee and by bringing in some friends to help write for them. Unfortunately, 'Feel Euphoria' shows the lack of cohesion painfully.

Nick D'Virgillio's vocals are . . . underwhelming, as much as I'd love to sing praises about his voice, it lacks the power of a proper lead singer. Combine the lack of energy in D'Virgillio's voice and the drop in songwriting, I find myself hard pressed to find a lot of positives about this album. "You Don't Know" is an exception, Alan Morse is at his bluesy best throughout the song with a melodic, soulful solo in the middle of the song.

The, total product however is lacking. It had been a few years since I've listened to this album, my perception going into yesterday's listen was that it was a three star CD, maybe Sid could bring it up to a four. Unfortunately, I had grossly over-estimated the CD. At times the CD was painful to listen to, it took real effort not to skip tracks. I had to force myself to listen to the entire CD. This is not a three star CD. The attempts at an epic on the Sid saga are mostly uninspired, but that along with the somewhat rocking 'Onomatopoeia' save the cd from the dreaded 'one star rating'. Two stars with the happy thought that it does get better.

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Send comments to Roland113 (BETA) | Report this review (#1256359)
Posted Friday, August 22, 2014 | Review Permalink

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