Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Spock's Beard - Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Well, here it is. The long awaited 2013 release from Spock's Beard. We have't seen any real new music since the 2010 outing "X", which for my ears is the best Beard album post Neal Morse. This is a Bancamp release, allowing us progheads to purchase an advance copy by paying our hard earned prog bucks to the band to help them with studio costs. For your faith we now have this album in FLAC until they ship their cd's. I gave this album a good couple of listens before writing this review. What we find in "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" is a very tight, well produced album of hard driving prog. What struck me is that the album seems a tad forced. As in, the band felt compelled to put out the album since we (the fans) prepaid for it. Don't misunderstand, I quite enjoy it, but it doesn't take any interesting leaps beyond "X"Special note should point out the outstanding keyboards by Ryo. He has now become the musical backbone of the band. Also, "Submerged" may be the single from the album, as it's catchy melody is quite infections, if not overly gymnastic

4.1 stars out of 5

Report this review (#922888)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The arrival of former Enchant singer Ted Leonard seems to have rejuvenated Spock's Beard for their 11th studio album, "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep". Leonard has a joyful energy to his voice, not unlike Neal Morse on the early albums (although not as melodramatic), compared to Nick D'Virgilio who was maybe more melancholic. The band still plays a very dynamic brand of prog and the interplay between the musicians is still a joy to hear. Long-time fans will be glad to hear that Neal Morse collaborated with his brother Alan on two songs, Afterthoughts (part of the "Thoughts" series), and Waiting for Me, a 12-minute track that wouldn't be out of place on the early albums. Apart from those two tracks, highlights include "A Treasure Abandoned" and "Something Very Strange", both composed by longtime collaborator John Boegehold (the former with Alan Morse), with "I Know Your Secret" as the only weak link.
Report this review (#924433)
Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Beard is back! Yep, that's right, just when you thought it was safe to head off to an alternate universe full of Vulcans with goatees, we have the third incarnation of the boys. Gone is Nick D'Virgilio and his mad drumming and his umm . . . mad singing? I don't know, it was the best that I had at the time. Joining the band on a permanent basis is their previous touring drummer Jimmy Keegan and new to the band is former lead singer of Enchant, Ted Leonard. Rounding out the band is the core of Dave Meros on bass, Alan Morse on guitar and Ryo Okumoto on keyboards.

After Neal Morse left the band in 2002, the writing duties were split among the band with Nick D'Virgilio getting at least partial credit on five songs on each of the next three albums, 'Feel Euphoria', 'Octane' and 'Spock's Beard'. These three albums were somewhat somber albums dominated by the moody voice of D'Virgilio. In 2010, the band was ready to start working on their next album while Di'Virgillio was on tour with Cirque du Soleil. The resulting 'X' was a noticeably lighter and proggier album with D'Virgilio only having a hand in one of the songs. 'Brief Nocturnes and Endless Sleep' is the continuation of that trend, the movement away from the angsty and back towards the type of music and energy that made the band so great in the first place.

'Hiding Out' leads off the album with one of the softest yet most engaging opening lines to date, a gentle rolling piano line that gives you just enough time to appreciate its subtle beauty before the rest of the band slams into the album with a series of hits. Ted Leonard has sole writing credit for this song which strikes me as a bold move for a twenty year old band, 'let's let the newbie start off the new album'. Shoot, Genesis didn't let Ray Wilson in the same studio let alone touch a pen. Jimmy Keegan's drums are mixed a little brighter than D'Virgilio's had been resulting in a tight sound that adds to the new found energy prevalent throughout the album. Dave Meros and Keegan have already had years of experience playing live shows together, as such, there was no loss of cohesion in the rhythm section, they clicked immediately. Another change is the prevalence of the acoustic guitar throughout the album, 'Hiding Out' features a nice strummed guitar on the chorus, giving it a Dream Theater feel at times. Ted Leonard had a tough job here, he had to follow not one, but two of the arguably more known lead singers of the modern prog scene. Not only does he hold his own, but he carves out his own niche adding a warm, vibrant tone that neither of his predecessors had. The band chose a lead singer that can clearly take them to the next level. This is perhaps no more apparent than on 'Submerged'. Mr. Leonard manages to sound at times like Seal, a soulful, breathy voice that commands your attention. Alan Morse gets credit for adding to the soulful feel of the song with a wonderfully timed solo. Congrats guys, this is the best ballad you've ever done.

'Afterthoughts' is the first of two songs that Neal Morse had a hand in, the next chapter in the 'Thoughts' series certainly holds its own in comparison to its predecessors. It's easily the hardest of the trilogy, Leonard delivers a raspy angry voice in the verses as he delivers some of the best lines of the album. 'They all say I'm crazy but I say 'Ha', just like a fox, but with dementia.' We also get a typical Beard call and answer vocal chaos, beautiful.

On the special edition of the album there are two very different versions of 'Something Very Strange'. The album version is all the prog that you could want, tight rhythms, obscure lines, rolling bass lines, Mellotron (yes, Mellotron, I don't want to hear it), Keyboards all over the place and a catchy chorus. The solo section features a great set of tradeoffs between Ryo Okumoto and Alan Morse, absolutely fantastic. The second version is obviously toned down for a single, but remains a catchy rock song. I particularly enjoy the vocorder at the beginning of both versions; it gives the band a modern feel that makes the excessive Mellotron and Organ a little more bearable.

As much as I love the rest of the album, 'Waiting for Me' is the song that Beard fans have been waiting for since Neal Morse left the band. This is a song on par with 'The Light' and 'The End of the Day'. Neal Morse's contribution on this song is pretty easy to see, though it melds beautifully with Leonard's writing style making this one an instant classic. I'm not going to detail this one, just give it a minute to get past the Floydian intro for twelve minutes of bliss. It's an album of bests; this song features the best Alan Morse solo that I've heard followed shortly by another wonderful solo by Ryo.

The other songs are each great in their own right and show a variety of styles and influences. If you listen closely, you can hear snippets reminiscent of Yes, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. Ted Leonard and Jimmy Keegan really add a lot of energy to the group, Alan Morse and Dave Meros are their wonderful selves and Ryo is all over the place. If you're a fan of Spock's Beard, if you were disenfranchised by the NDV era, don't miss this one. Truly, the Beard is back, and better than ever. I'm happy to give this album a five star rating.

Report this review (#925307)
Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love this album just like the last one. But to be honest, I don't know which I like more. "X" and "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" are truly different albums. Not only because the vocalist changed but albums are different in concept and musical style. I think this album is even easier (for me it means that after one listening you remember and hum melodies) than "X". "Brief nocturnes..." feels even like a pop album with it's simplicity but it still keeps the faith of good progressive music with long keyboard and guitar passages (like in "The Man You're Afraid You Are"). Album starts with great opener "Hiding Out" and finish with "Waiting For Me" and it's marvellous guitar solo. Meanwhile there is "A Treasure Abandoned" and I must say that Ted Leonard is great vocalist. I thought it will be difficult after what Nick D'Virgilio had done on the last album, but Ted actually did it! Then again we have " Something Very Strange" with great chorus. I must say that if I had to chose album from Spock's Beard that fits mostly to bands name (I mean in a way like some pulp, scientific spirit) I would pick up "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep". This is great album and yes it is essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music. I really appreciate the unique path Spock's Beard chose to follow starting from "X" album because I like this band more this way than lit was on "V" album. If you are looking for good and easy handling album to start progressive journey - pick up Spock's Beard, you won't regret it!
Report this review (#926111)
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars What everybody has been preaching, is true. Spock's Beard has been one of my all-time favorite modern progressive rock bands, and this year they have struck 2013, with an album that reaches back to the Neal Morse era, while sounding modern. (Neal co-wrote 2 songs on this album.) Ted Leonard from the band, "Enchant," really brings himself into the music, and adds a very nice symphonic, and almost spiritual/romantic sound to the band. And the new drummer, sounds very good, and has no trouble filling Nick's shoes, on this album.

01. Hiding Out - A very good opening to the album, with some great guitar playing, and great keyboards by Ryo, very tight playing. I particularly love the chorus in this song. 7.5/10

02. I Know Your Secret - This is probably being the weakest song on the album, but still not bad. The guitar line is very catchy, and memorable. Alan plays an eccentric guitar solo on this one. 6/10

03. A Treasure Abandoned - This song is Spock's Beard v.03! I like the sound on this song. And I really like the chorus on this song. And there is a small vocal break on this song, that is just so catchy, and emotional, (even though it's very brief,) And very cool keyboard melodies, that reminded me of Yes or Kansas a little. My only issue with this song, is that I think it's alittle dragged out. 7/10

04. Submerged - Spock's Beard's first song to hit the charts! ... Or atleast that's what I want to say! this song is so catchy, with great verses, and a really good chorus. I love the keyboard melody on this song, it's very original. And check out the groove going at 3:25. I 8/10

05. Afterthoughts (thoughts part 3) - Ohhhhh yeah man! This is the song that all us Beard fans have been waiting for, (haha, another song i'll get too. ) With Neal Morse releasing Thoughts part 5 last year, I couldn't wait to hear this one. This is the first song Neal Morse has wrote with the band in over 10 years! This song is just prog gold, much like the other songs in the Thought's series. This song has a great riff, with great vocal melodies, and solo's that'll make you drool. I love some of the lyrics, and had a small chuckle when he said, "on third thought, you shouldn't open that box I sent you." Great! 8/10

06. Something Very Strange - This song is just absolutely amazing. Great Intro with an organ line that reminds me of Classic ELP or something. And a vocoder voice in the beginning. This song is just so good, I don't even know what to write. It builds itself on a melody much like, "Jaws Of Heaven" On the previous album. I know I am sounding like a broken record here, but I really like the chorus on this song too. There is an instrumental build up in the middle that builds up to another chorus that is just outstanding! You'll hear it, Ted screams, "SOMETHING VERY STRANGE!!!" It's just sounds so great. 9/10

07. Waiting For Me - This is the second song that Neal co wrote, and it's the last on the album, and man... This brought me back to their "V" album. I swear, they are the modern Yes! This is the Spock's Beard that I have been craving since 2001. Pounding drums, energetic Bass lines, great organs blazing through the song, fantastic synth lines and strings everywhere, crazy guitars. A review here said that this song ranks up there with, "At The End Of The Day." And I definitely agree. This is such an uplifting song. Check out the guitar solo in this song! WOW! And when the synth solo's fly in it is just.. Incredible. My only problem with the song similar to, "Crack The Big Sky" Is that I think they could have done a little more with the ending, I loved the Bells that were ringing, and I was just like, "NO! DON'T FADE OUT, KEEP GOING!" hahaha. 9.5/10

Well, this has been a fantastic entry in the bands discography! Much like the last Flower Kings Album, "Banks Of Eden" I think this is just brilliant.

7.5+6+7+8+8+9+9.5 divided by 7: = 7.8 rounded: 8 which is about 4.2 stars. 4 star album.

Report this review (#930463)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars So Nick has left the band. I don't want to sound mean or anything...but...good riddance.

Ok...that's a bit harsh. Nick D'Virgillio was an amazing vocalist and drummer and I was very sad to see him go. But...IT'S TED LEONARD.

When I heard Ted was joining the band I was like "really, that amazing singer from Enchant." Now, he only joined as a "helping hand", but after hearing him perform with them live, I was like "get this dude in the band." And luckily enough, they where able to get this dude into the band." Also, Jimmy Keegan is now a full time member, which I'm happy about too, cause he's an amazing drummer, a good singer too and from what I gather a lovely guy.

Now, a perfect band formula is all fine and dandy...but...the band still needs to prove that they can continue this by perfecting the art of songwriting and also crafting an album that would prove everything that I would expect them to do and be. And...they did this...and more.

When it comes to early Spock's Beard, everything they did was flawless. Every song, every note...everything was perfect. This album is the closest they have been to this since V. I have never been so excited about this band since I first discovered and fell in love with them.

The band have never been stronger. Instrumentally, these guys have always been amazing, but the songwriting is better now, which makes it stand out more. Alan is one of the most underrated guitar players on the planet, same with Ryo on the keys. Dave's bass sound is one of the best and he rocks it like a motha ucker. The song styles have gone back to earlier sounds and are even flirting with more recent and experimental styles as well. Basically...these guys rule and this album rules.

Some of the bonus tracks on the Special edition are pretty killer as well, and in all fariness, I would have liked to have heard on the album. But...for those who want a good album the original. The bonus tracks should be for anyone who feels the album was too short (I felt it was a bit, you can never have enough of The Mighty Beard)

1. Hiding Out - Probably one of my favourite Spock's Beard songs...of all time. I mean it, this is one joyous and magical song. Written by Ted, this really shows off a new side to the band, with his absolutely amazing voice and an amazing songwriting style. I will be humming, singing, listening and enjoying this song for years to come. 10/10

2. I Know Your Secret - One of the albums more rockier songs, with some really kick ass riffs. I have a strange feeling that the rather vitriolic lyrics may be about former band mate Neal Morse...and if it is...this is a rather dangerous and brave move. 9/10

3. A Treasure Abandoned - Some nice instrumental sections throughout, but this is definitely the weakest song on the album. Has some interesting Genesis type moments, but its a bit extravagant and way too long in my opinion. 7/10

4. Submerged - The album's most popiest song. Another Ted song, with an amazing soaring chorus and a powerful vocal performance from Ted. A little bit less prog and more awesome I think. 10/10

5. Afterthoughts - For those who don't know, this song originally was supposed to be Thoughts Part 3, but after some "thought" (ha, you get it). Now, this song still has some harkenings back to the original 2 parts, but...its still its own song. In fact, I like to think of this as a prequel song. A brilliantly arranged song, and it even was co written by former member Neal. Also, Jimmy Keegan's added vocals in the song are pretty kick ass as well. 10/10

6. Something Very Strange - A song written by John, one of the band's friends/songwriters. This song is a very interesting and enjoyable piece, with an amazing vocal performance from Ted (as usual), some of the bands best instrumental work since Neal was in the band and some nice experiments with vocoders, synths and even some noisy feedback. 10/10

7. Waiting For Me - A nice long and happy ending to the album. This song is so full of joy, it sounds like the band are having a massive wave of euphoria. An obvious writing credit from Neal and mistakenly could have even been on one of his albums. 10/10

CONCLUSION: After writing a massive and well received album (X), and having to deal with a new line up, this band has really emerged from the fire with a new and better sound and a new perspective. This really is the classic line up mark II. With an amazing new vocalist and help from Neal, I await nothing but good tidings from this band now.


Report this review (#938083)
Posted Monday, April 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, the year has only just begun and here we have already one of the best albums. Spock's Beard are back and this is probably their best album ! The sound quality is amazing and the quality and accessibility of the songs is perfectly balanced. "Something Very Strange" is almost something of a true hit. The eloquence and natural flow of the songs is better than ever. Ted Leonard is the right choice as a lead singer. The guitar soloing of Alan Morse is better than ever, Jimmy Keegan is a fantastic drummer and I have always been a great fan of the solid but clear bass sound by Dave Meros. Liked a lot the mellotron passages by Tyo Okumoto ! After "Waiting For Me" I was very dissappointed that the album was already finished. Had to play it over and over again !! Yes, 2013 has only just begun !! Guy.
Report this review (#938290)
Posted Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
5 stars Many years ago I was at a Marillion concert, and after the gig had finished the usual suspects had got together and there was only one subject that we all wanted to talk about ? had everyone heard 'The Light'? For me here was a band taking prog to a brand new level, and I then took every opportunity to see them in concert, rave about their latest releases and was lucky to meet the guys and interview them a few times. Then came the bombshell, Neal had left, even though the band had just recorded what was easily their finest ever album and an absolute prog classic, 'Snow'. But it was okay, they were going to do a Genesis and let the drummer have a go and NDV had a great voice didn't he? Well, 'Octane' wasn't too bad although I did think that they were trying too hard, and then they came to the UK again on tour. First up was CGT who were great, and then it was Enchant who I was really looking forward to as I had been a fan of their music right since the very beginning, and to top it all there was Spock's Beard. I left halfway through SB's set, totally demoralised and to be honest quite upset as well. I had witnessed what to me was a Spock's Beard cover band who just weren't as good as the original. I kept saying to myself that this must have been what it was like when Peter Gabriel left Genesis, but as I didn't start listening to them until 1978 or thereabouts I hadn't been through it myself. I kept trying to like the 'new' SB, but instead found myself much preferring Neal's solo material. Maybe they'll get back together one day I thought?

Then another shock, NDV was leaving SB so tour drummer Jimmy Keegan would get his shot, but what about the singer? Step forward Ted Leonard from Enchant, and I immediately started to take notice. Enchant were a very different band to both Neal-era SB and NDV-era, so what would the new album be like? I actually found myself excited to hear an SB release for the first time since I had played 'Octane'. Now, the album arrived at the same time as the new Neal Morse live album and I couldn't help myself and played that one first, which was a mistake as once it got on the player it was hard to get it off. Then came the time to put on 'Brief Nocturnes..' and I sat back and waited to be impressed.

And boy, was I?! Forget everything you have ever heard by Spock's Beard, here is a brand new band and while I understand why they kept the name after so much history I don't think that there would be much surprise if they had started afresh. This is simply stunning, it is as if bringing in Ted has given everyone a new lease of life and they have just relaxed and let the music flow. Ryo is playing with an incredible sense of freedom and I have never heard him link with Alan the way he does here. Jimmy and Dave just lock in and get down to business with far less in the way of frills than previously, with provides a far firmer foundation for everyone. There has never been any doubt that Ted is a great singer, but here he is also demonstrating more styles and passion than previously.

I never thought that I would be able to say this again, but Spock's Beard have released a five star album: just don't expect it to be the sequel to anything they have done before as they move into a more melodic rock/prog area, with "Submerged" surely destined to be an AOR radio classic! Ted gets a solo credit on one song, while Alan's brother also makes a return on "Waiting For Me". Welcome back guys.

Report this review (#938327)
Posted Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
5 stars Honestly, I had never heard a Spock's Beard album. I never knew where to start, or even if I'd like them. So, with that perspective, I decided to give the new album a whirl, even though Spock's Beard has had a major line-up change.

Wow, I am glad I did. Maybe, some long time fans will think I have no idea what I'm saying, if only because this new album pales in comparison with the past. I literally don't know if it does or not. However, my upfront and objective assessment of this album is that it is an immediate classic. Every track is incredible from the musicianship to the production. From the very first track, I could feel the inspiration in the composition; whether we talk about lyrics, instrumental portions, or anything else. And, the new vocalist is grand.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I hear a whole lot of Gentle Giant going on in this album. I hear a little Genesis and King Crimson, but I definitely hear Gentle Giant, especially in "Afterthoughts". I think that right now the stand-out tracks for me are "A Treasure Abandoned" and "Something Very Strange" (and its reprise). These tracks epitomize the tight production, the inspiration, and the camaraderie that can be detected in the entirety of the album. If this instant classic is what Spock's Beard sounds like, then I need to hear more.

Report this review (#938965)
Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I purchased this album on the day of it's release, and was so taken by it that I wanted to give it extra time to see if my appreciation faded over time. If anything, after twenty or so listens, I like it even more.

Some years back, after losing their leader and main songwriter, Spocks Beard went through a painful rebirth, crafting two well recorded, but ultimately unmemorable albums before regaining their prog footing and adding a heavier sound in 2006.

Now they have lost Nick D'Virgilio, and havent missed a step. If anything, they have gotten better. Adding touring drummer Jimmy Keegan and singer Ted Leonard, already known for his work with Enchant, the Beard has released an album as good as any from the Morse years (Neal Morse did lend a hand in this, assisting with the writing of two tracks, and playing guitar on one of these).

I like Leonard's vocals much more that D'Virgilio (who has a good singing voice, but sounds too much like an arena rock vocalist for my taste), and even a bit more than Morse. Leonard's voice is similar in tone to Morse, but has more power when it is needed.

The band itself has come up with a blend of Morse's complex style (including those Gentle Giant inspired vocals on Afterthought, an extension of the earlier Thoughts tracks, and often adds a metal edge similar to Dream Theater. Keyboardist Ryo Okumoto and bassist Dave Meros shine on this album like never before. On previous releases, they had their moments, but now they seem to shine on almost every track.

I'm very sorry, NDV, as I admire your talents, but the Beard have really moved up to a new level since you left.

Report this review (#944162)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Admittedly, I had given up on the post-Morse Spock's Beard after hearing Feel Euphoria. My interest was slightly rekindled with their previous album, X. But after hearing about the departure of yet another integral member in Nick D'Virgilio, I was interested to see if they could continue. Needless to say, every member is capable of songwriting, and Ted Leonard does a fine job on vocals. But to say this album is anywhere near the greatness of the Neal Morse led albums is blasphemous, in my opinion. Regardless, I would venture to say this is the best album since Snow, which should at least mean something.

Of the songs on the album, 'Afterthoughts' and 'Waiting For Me,' are the songs with a classic Beard sound, which is no surprised considering Neal Morse himself had a hand in writing them. Consequently, both of these songs are amazing.

'Afterthoughts' is cleverly disguised as Thoughts Part III (chronologically 4th). Like the other songs in the series, this one is built around the counterpoint and multi-part vocal harmonies inspired by Gentle Giant.

People who are not fans of Neal Morse, especially with his tendencies to be derivative of himself may not like 'Waiting For Me', as it is laughably predictable. But for Morse fans like myself, we eat it up. It opens with the classic Morse melody, before seguing to some upbeat verses with piano and a solid bass and drum rhythm section. Guitar and keyboard trade some tasteful solos before ending in another classic Morse fashion, with soaring guitars and a dramatic atmosphere. This is easily the best track on the album, and is a nice revisit to classic Spock's Beard, even if it is a bit derivative.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not quite meet the standard of the two mentioned songs. The songs have a large pop sound, but do mostly hang on to their prog identity, like the opening 7/4 time signature and sudden tempo change of 'I Know Your Secret.' Of these songs, 'A Treasure Abandoned' is probably the highlight for its diverse structure and sound similar to earlier Beard in parts. 'Submerged' is also worthy to note, if only for the fact that it could legitimately receive radio play.

While I still think there is plenty to like about this album, it is far removed from the melodic prog prowess that graced their earlier work. Still, I would recommend this to fans of the post-Neal Spock's Beard, and also to fans of a more poppy and heavier edge to symphonic prog.


Report this review (#947049)
Posted Saturday, April 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Time to turn?

It seems so.

Until X we had the traditional modern us symphonic prog rock ...still with Neal Morse impromptu

But now important change in vocals participation...

Ex Enchant voice is good ...and Enchant was quite a good heavy prog band...but...

It seem Enchant ...and in a little less matter ...Darwin s Radio ..was imported..

So then this band is not yet one of the most important symphonic prog rock bands of the us..

This is no more symphonic prog ...this is a heavy prog rock band in the line of Enchant and Darwin s Radio...

I really didn, t like so much this changes...

3 stars

Report this review (#963820)
Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Internal complications and line-up shakeups, with possibly even more feelings of starting over and having to prove themselves yet again, but Spock's Beard mk3 is off to a flying start with their new album `Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep'. For their eleventh album, the band have adopted their heaviest rock sound so far, with Dave Meros' pummelling bass loud and proud, Alan Morse's guitar searing and Ryo's super-thick Hammond and Mellotron washes all front and center. This new release could probably also serve as a good crossover album for commercial/mainstream hard rock fans so far unexposed to progressive rock, such is the winning mix of accessible melodic hooks with traditional prog complexity seamlessly woven together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#968082)
Posted Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Before this album, I hadn't really listened to much Spock's Beard. I knew a few songs (All on a Sunday, Emperor's Clothes), but this album was the first real encounter I've had with the band and their music. The style of the album is heavy yet melodic and symphonic, blending the best aspects of bands like ELP, Genesis and Yes.

Hiding Out:

My favourite from the album. A fantastic opener that sets the tone for the album. The chorus is one of the most beautiful melodies that I've heard this year so far. The music and instrumentation is attention grabbing, with heavy rock riffs appearing throughout the track. Overall, a great, standout track. 8.5/10

I Know Your Secret:

Opens with an intriguing but catchy riff, which appears later in the song. A slightly more aggressive track than the opener, it features punchy bass guitar and a memorable groove in 9/8 in the chorus. It's not a bad song at all, but it doesn't leave the impression that 'Hiding Out' does. 7.5/10

A Treasure Abandoned:

The start of this song is reminiscent of Genesis' Trespass album, with gentle guitar and flute. The odd time signatures in this song make for a more interesting ride. This is another quite melodic track which keeps interest throughout by utilising changes of tone: there are some parts which are very gentle and beautiful, while other sections are heavier. The only negative point is the length: at nearly nine minutes it feels a little stretched out and unnecessarily long. 8/10


The most pop-ish song on the album. Has a catchy chorus, but unfortunately that is its only redeeming factor. It's not a bad track, but it isn't the best from this album. 6.5/10


A crunchy guitar opens this song with a hard rocking riff. The music feels deliberately 'silly' at some points, but it's pulled off well. Multi-layered vocals feature about halfway through, and are executed well. The main riff that holds this song together is great, and the solos are a fantastic addition. 8/10

Something Very Strange:

Processed, robotic, Daft Punk-sounding vocals open this track before a complex melody is played on the keys, which is added to by guitar and drums. The real star instrument in this song is the keyboard, but the bass is also quite prominent in the verses and choruses, which are fantastic. The instrumental section is a little boring at times, though. 7.5/10

Waiting For Me:

The longest song on the album (at nearly 13 minutes). After a 2 minute instrumental opening, the first verse starts at a quick tempo, and the chorus that follows almost sounds like it could be found on an album like Santana's 'Marathon'. It's quite pop-ish and funky, in a good way. There's a slower section about halfway through the song which is good also. The instrumental section is great, and main theme of the song ends both the song and the album on a good note. 8.5/10

Average: 78/100 = 4/5

Report this review (#1001409)
Posted Friday, July 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep," recorded with touring drummer, Jimmy Keegan, and new singer, ex-Enchant vocalist ,Ted Leonard revitalize Spock's Beard and set a new bar for the band.

What should be first perceived about "Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep" is that the music is true to the SB philosophy: complex song structures and challenging solos, yet, the music is easy to digest. Listening requires no work and even odd time signatures flow without sounding like forced intents that distract you from the listening experience. There are memorable vocal and instrumental phrases, and really strong vocal melodies (the bane of many prog recordings). It's music even your girlfriend could accept!

Above all that, there is one noteable added value ? the sound production and quality is outstanding! This is one of the best mixed, engineered and mastered audio recordings I've heard from the genre. Kudos to Rich Mouser who produces and engineers the mix. The instruments are all isolated and easily recognizable. Strong, creative bass lines propel the songs. The drums are beefy, with a face slapping snare and gut punching kick, and Jimmy Keegan drives the songs like a gun-powered actuator. The guitars explore many tones and solo with ease (and I just learned that Alan Morse doesn't even play with a pick!)The keys are exemplary ? a tour-de-force of tones, textures and wicked soloing! Every member sounds like they are giving 110%.

But what leapfrogs this band to new heights is the addition of Ted Leonard. The vocals have never been stronger. The harmonies have never been tighter and more challenging in their career. "Afterthoughts" and "Something Very Strange" are highlight songs. The chorus on "Something Very Strange" is infectious, especially when Ted sings in the higher octave in the second chorus, a great contrast in dynamics when compared to the first. The solo section contains an epic keyboard turn-a-round phrasing similar to what can be found in Steven Wilson's latest release"Luminol" ... that now makes me question who came out with the idea first?

"I Know Your Secret" has a great twist on the intro and takes the rest of the song in a whole new direction with an aggressive bass line and a guitar tone that channels Alex Lifeson via the late 1980's. The song "Submerged" sets it's sight straight on radio play and the standout vocals on "Afterthoughts" are incredible and may only be bested by Swedish proggers, Moon Safari.

This is a fully realized Spock's Beard and one of the strongest titles (if not, the strongest) in their illustrious career. The songs are coherent, concise and the album length is perfect. The special edition contains a few more songs and a remix of "Something Very Strange" with more focus on acoustic guitar and radio friendly editing. "Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep" is easily a recording that can remain in rotation longer than most prog albums. Spock's Beard is a great place to start if you're new to the Prog Rock and Metal genre, but the band still generates welcomed surprises for those already familiar with their catalog.

Report this review (#1004337)
Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Spock's Beards's eleventh studio record "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" was released earlier this year and features these guys on the instruments: Alan Morse on guitar, Dave Meros on bass, bass pedals and keyboards, Ryo Okumoto on keyboards, Ted Leonard on vocals and guitar and Jimmy Keegan on drums and some other musicians. It feels like the band with this album had great ambitions and on some of the tracks the reach rather far towards that goal. The cover picture has some beauty with a blue sea over which a little boat is hovering. The album without its bonus tracks is 55 minutes which is a good time for a pleasent listening.

First to the good things about this music. The arrangements are well done and intelligent. They have caught the symphonic gloss of keyboard sounds and adequate guitar and bass virtuosity. The music is also varieted so you'll don't get tired of it. I like four of the records seven tracks. "Waiting for me" is perhaps the most symphonic and best one with an irresistible ground theme musically. "Something very strange" is also a very good track which begins slow and spheric and evolves to a great symphonic track with good instrumentation. "A treasure abandoned" is varieted and it is the albums very best track with a beautiful melody and grand symphony. "Afterthought" takes, as Spock's Beard" has done before inspiration from Gentle Giant's vocals plays. This is a well done and funny piece of music.

The bad things with this music is the vocals and lyrics with I have problem with. I think they should have been sung in another way to please me. The melodies in the vocal parts of this album isn't as good as the instrumental ones. They don't feel as genuine as the could have. The beginner "Hiding out" is quite lame and poppy and the second one is worse: "I know your secret" is boring and especially the vocals do a very none progressive work. The worst track is "Submerged" which in no way can be considered progressive rock and it's not good rock either.

As a conclusion these three lame tracks together with vocal parts I don't appreciate very much this could be a four star record. Though, the other four songs have a lot of symphonic splender and great instrumentation som I will give it three solid stars for that. If I most recommend one track I'll suggest "A treasure abandoned". But avoid "Submerged" for your own best.

Report this review (#1020542)
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I've been passively observing the band's career for the last couple of years. The last decade hasn't exactly been easy on Spock's Beard with the departure of Neal Morse and the three albums that followed (Feel Euphoria, Octane and Spock's Beard) weren't exactly high quality releases by any standard. I remember having really high hopes for the band's self-titled 2006 but was ultimately handed a flawed album experience. The band's 2010 release X was met with some praise in the prog community and even if I did enjoy many of its tracks, the overall feel of the complete Spock's Beard experience was not yet there.

2011 turned out to be another tough year for the band with the departure of their front man Nick D'Virgilio in November, 2011. The remaining trio quickly recruited Ted Leonard as the new lead vocalist and their touring drummer Jimmy Keegan as their two new official members. The new lineup got some help from their former bandmate Neal Morse with writing of their new album and thus Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep finally saw the light of day in April 2013.

I remember enjoying my first run through the album and thinking to myself that this is a much more progressively inclined release than what Spock's Beard have ever released. Even some of their previous highlights like The Light and V had a couple of commercially viable moments while Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep almost entirely invests itself into the progressive rock domain. Ted Leonard penned Submerged is the only composition that might work as a commercial single but even this track has a few nice instrumental/effect moments that make it quite enjoyable for me.

The album truly gets going with Afterthoughts, a track composed by the Morse brothers and Ted Leonard. Most prog fans will recognize the fact that this composition does give quite a few nods to Gentle Giant with classic tracks like Knots and especially On Reflection. Still it's not a blatant ripoff and *upon an afterthought* Afterthoughts does in fact manage to hold its own candle in the memorable songwriting department. The haunting keyboard intro to Something Very Strange reminds me a bit of the Terminator Theme and it really has a very loose connection to the rest of the composition. Luckily, the 7-minutes that follow the intro are a complete bliss and this is really where the new Spock's Beard began to truly win me over with this album!

The intro to Waiting For Me sounds a lot like the intro to Genesis classic Afterglow while the rest of the track is quite energetic and upbeat. I would recommend getting the special edition bonus disc since it features the 7-minute masterpiece Down A Burning Road; a majestic ballad that should not be missed by fans of grand and extravagant music making. Overall I'm quite impressed with the material that Spock's Beard managed to assemble for their eleventh studio album Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep. There are really no compromises here, only ambitious music making by one of the veterans of the new prog scene!

***** star songs: A Treasure Abandoned (8:53) Afterthoughts (6:08) Something Very Strange (8:23) Down A Burning Road (6:51)

**** star songs: Hiding Out (7:13) I Know Your Secret (7:40) Submerged (4:57) Waiting For Me (12:36) The Man You're Afraid You Are (7:11) Wish I Were Here (6:33) Something Very Strange (Sanctified Remix) (5:13)

Report this review (#1034808)
Posted Saturday, September 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Hiding Out" is everything I want from progressive music!

Let's be honest my friends ...

This is I think the best studio album Spock's Beard has ever made in their entire musical journey so far. Yes, it's their eleventh album so what? Is it too late? Nope! Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chickend did try to sell his recipee for more than thousan times before he made mega deal. Thomas Alva Edison made thousands of experiments before he finally invented the light bulbs. So, eleventh is not bad at all. As a matter of fact I never paid attention on the progress of this band as I was not that quite impressed with their early releases. When I look at the reviews I wrote for this band, I rarely gave good stars , say four, only some albums. Even though people highly respected Neal Morse as the prime mover of the band I was not quite like his style with SB, to be honest. During his tenure with the band I felt that the music of SB was somewhat being forced to be like it and not coming as a natural musical flow of its own. That's why I did not quite like the albums under Neal Morse era. But when he was out and the band made their eghth effort, Octane, I really loved it and I put four stars rating on this album, especially there was a very wonderful song I really love: Of the Beauty of It All.

NOW ...let's have a look this latest album in greater detail ...

As I put the heading of this review, "Hiding Out" is everything I want from progressive music. Why? It has fulfilled two things wonderfully: great composition and great individual performance of every single player in the band. Oh man ... This is it man! Let's go deeper into this wonderfully crafted track... It starts nice with a melodic piano fills by Ryo Okumoto followed nicely with musical riffs that bring the music into a very enjoyable introduction part where the keyboard work is somewhat like vintage prog music in the vein of ELP or the like. All instruments work really well especially Dave Meros damn great and tight basslines! Hmmm... I like his bass playing style which is quite dominant right here in this track. Alan Morse guitar work is also stunning throughout the intro part. And then the vocal line enters the scene wonderfully. Oh this ex Enchant guy, Ted Leonard, has a vocal quality that really fits Spock's Beard's sound. The music flows dynamically from one segment to another with some shots of keyboard solo as well as guitar solo. Oh yeah .. I almost forgot to mention Jimmy Keegan who plays his drum stool dynamically and it's jaw dropping drumwork. Composition-wise this opening track has everything at its peak: great complexities that do not seem quite obvious as the melody line is really catchy especially when the lyrical verse says something like "I need you now ...". Oh man ....the melody really makes me "ngguweblak" (the local language's musical term that I used to put to express the feeling of temporarily parallyzed emotionally as an impact of wonderfully crafted musical composition). Man ...this opening travk "Hiding out" is really worth it to own a copy of this album even if you find other track are lousy.

But's not the case! The following track "I Know Your Secret" even brings the music into much more dynamic and energetic style naturally.It starts off with ambient keyboard solo followed with a music that flows in relatively medium tempo to welcome the next faster tempo and upbeat rhythm section backed by tigh basslines by Meros. The vocal enters in rocking style and his voice truly fits with the music. I really love the pace the music flows with rocking vocal style combined with rocking guitar solo and inventive keyboard work. Oh man .. the first two tracks really have made the album! Composition and style wise, this second track reminds me to the great song "Of The Beauty of It All" from Octane. At approximately minute 4:50 the music comes to a break with mellow vocal line backed with mellotron drenched keyboard work. And the end of mellow vocal line, Meros brings the music back into fast tempo style with tight basslines and excellent rhythm guitar. It's another wonderfully crafted song really!

" A Treasure Abandoned" provides musical break as the style is now drastically changes to a mellow one. At first time spinning this album actually I was not prepared at all to have this too mellow song positioned right after the first two energetic songs as opener. But it grew on me as I got to know the album better. And now ... I really enjoy this melodic song. So is the case with "Submerged" that I first did not enjoy but now I love it as part of this wonderful album. "Afterthoughts" (6:08) brings the music back into more upbeat style even though it's not as rocking as the first two tracks. This one represents the kind of music the band played at their early career especeially on the way the choirs arranged. The choirs are really great and it is quite similar with what Gentle Giant style. Oh .. I really enjoy this track especially during choirs and the following guitar solo and keyboard solo. It's truly a rockin' composition!!! You must try your own experience enjoying this album in its entirety and I bet you would love it to the bone, really!

"Something Very Strange" starts ambient with a windy nuances followed with eastern style sounds. Oh man ...the keyboard work that follows the ambient opening and serves as the entry point for the overall music to work together with a back up of mellotron sound are really great overall. The introduction part of this song that consumes approximately three minutes plus of duration before the catchy vocal line enters the scene. Yes, it's a simple melody kind of music and it's catchy afterall but it's quite enjoyable as the song moves dynamically with some musical breaks. I like the way when Ted screams "Something very strange" and then followed with stunning guitar as well as keyboard solo. This song is really excellent!! Oh .. I almost forgot to mention that Dave Meros provides great basslines and melody throughout this excellent composition.

"Waiting For Me" starts mellow with some nuances of of Pink Floyd's "Us and Them" for quite sometimes before it's finally changed to dynamic arrangement demonstrating mellotron, solid basslines follwed then with energetic vocal line. Ted's voice is actually reminding me to Nick d'Virgilio's even though his is thinner. As concluding track this one tries to express the origins of Spock's Beard's music. In the middle of the track the music turns slow with some bluesy style and Floydian guitar work. Oh .. I really enjoy the guitar solo that is really stunning and very Floydian! I think this guitar solo is played by Neal Morse. the most important thing is the composition that is so wonderful! The ending part contains the keyboard work as well as great guitar rhythm section.

The best prog album of the year

Aaargh ...what a novel long review! Sorry about that. I can't help it! This album is too damn great that requires me to keep on writing good things about it all the time as long as I wish to do it. I keep playing it the main disc and also the bonus one. I do not write the bonus disc even though it contains good and excellent stuffs like Something Very Strange the shorter version and other tracks.Well ..actually I want to keep writing about this album but I am sure that you got bored already with this. Bottom line: It's a masterpiece prog album of this year and it's the best Spock's Beard has ever produced so far. I know the band has undergone various turbulent times with changes of personnel. But they keep going and I really salute to them. They proved that withouth Neal Morse they could make excellent work like Octane - even better than Neal's era. When Nick departed to join Cirque du Soleil , many music critics doubted the continuation of Spock's Beard. But hey .. Look at this wonderfully crafted album! It's a full five star rating for this one. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1094051)
Posted Saturday, December 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars The pinnacle of Spock's Beard's career!

I just put this latest Spock's Beard album on one late lazy Friday night after listening to a bunch of other bands. To be honest I just wanted a relaxing music experience to settle me down for sleep, but what I got instead was more than enough to wake up my senses. This is an absolutely stunning album from start to finish. I had to reawaken my brain to really take in the immense intricacies in each track and by the end of this I was completely in awe of the brilliance of a band that has been around for so long and still manages to create such incredible music, as good as they have ever achieved even after 11 studio albums in the catalogue. The previous album 'X' was X-cellent but they have surpassed themselves with this latest release 'Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep', an instant masterpiece.

What stood out from the outset is the bright production and mixing of the album where every instrument simply shines with strength. Spock's Beard have reinvented themselves after losing their lead singer and who would have thought they would return with such a ferocity releasing such a brilliant album. The heavy riff on 'Hiding Out' is glorious and kicks the message home without dominating too much. The keyboards are a force to be reckoned with played with incredible virtuoso strength by Ryo Okumoto. Alan Morse is a fantastic guitarist but it is the voice of Ted Leonard that enhances the songs and his guitar work is very well executed too. Nick D'Virgilio was a fine vocalist but Leonard injects an unreserved enthusiasm and much needed passion into this new sound. Jimmy Keegan's Drums maintain a strong rhythm and have a great timbre amongst the layers of musical excellence. Leonard's voice is crystal clean and easy on the ears, reaching many octaves it seems effortlessly such as on the melodic uplifting 'I Know Your Secret'.

There are some beautiful passages of flute on this album too such as on 'A Treasure Abandoned' accompanied by gorgeous lead guitar licks and synth flourishes. The bassline by Dave Meros is certainly a feature on this track too. There are many twists and turns on this song with extended keyboard and guitar trade offs and an organic soundscape culminating in a stirring finale of grand proportions; simply amazing and emotional music to caress the ears.

The next track is 'Submerged', with a strong melody and sing a long chorus 'throw me a line, I'm sinking down, submerging further, further from you, not doing so fine, further and further, further from you'. The rhythm guitar riff is terrific too the way it breaks all the keyboard layers; a great song that could easily be a hit single.

Following this is a synth and guitar feast on 'Afterthoughts' embellished by vocoder by John Boegehold. The vocal style is akin to vintage Neal Morse SB style. The riff is heavy and endearing throughout, but the main showcase is the jittering organ notes that are played with staccato rhythms. There is even a monosyllabic lead break and then a Gentle Giant harmonised a Capella section. In fact this is reminiscent of some of the vocal harmonies on Neal Morse's masterful 'Momentum Live' album. The synth solo is wonderful and echoed by fret melting lead guitar work as good as I have heard from SB.

It is nice that Neal Morse guest stars on guitar along with Craig Eastman on violin, viola, hurdy gurdy, both featuring on 'Something Very Strange'. This showpiece opens with ethereal howling wind and psychedelic phased vocals. A happy Hammond sound follows a fractured time sig and some glorious keyboard string pads. The guitar riff is heavy following the broken rhythm of the organ. Then it locks into a glorious prog time sig repeating a motif until it breaks again into lush Mellotron soundscape and warm synth washes. The vocals sing of a journey and something coming fast our way, 'a race to revelation with the ringing of the bells'. The song is infectious melodically but the musicianship is outstanding in itself, a lead and synth break by Okomuto and Morse that even surpasses other work on the album, making this a spellbinding experience. It is stunning innovative music at its highest calibre, and I was not really expecting this on the latest Spock's Beard album as many of their earlier albums do not measure up to such virtuoso musicianship. What a pleasant surprise and there are still 5 songs left. The question is will it remain consistently so masterful? I hoped so when I first heard this.

Next is 'Waiting For Me', with a slow measured cadence at first building with backwards violin and pulsating bassline that dominates wonderfully. Leonard really sounds a bit like Neal Morse as it has his influence and similar melody that he pens. The bassline during the lead break is absolutely killer and I like the way it settles down and some quiet vocals are heard over gently piano, a release after all the tension in the music previous. Alan Morse violins out a solo of exquisite beauty, so emotional and captivating it made tears fill my eyes. I love those tremolo passages and speed picking after all the high string bends. Ryo launches into a mind bending solo and enhances this song into one of the masterpieces of the album in a long line of masterpieces. I am just stunned at the brilliance of this album; it is virtually flawless in every department.

Next on the menu is 'The Man You're Afraid You Are' that opens with some loud bombastic music and merges into a funky instrumental break with guitar vocoder and some amazing bass work from Meros, as good as Geddy Lee gets. The keyboard and guitar lines over this bass are incredible interplaying so well and so whimsically answering each other in a musical conversation. An acoustic vibration comes in with sweet guitar tones and harmonised vocals. It really is a beautiful composition of immeasurable virtuosity.

'Down A Burning Road' has a warm lead break to intro it before it builds to a stirring Mellotron layer and some gorgeous guitar picking in the background; did I mention virtuoso? The vocals are reflective and melancholy 'all alone, carry us back to a better way, carry us back with the setting sun, carry us back on a wave of love and grace, carry us back as the day is done.' The meaning becomes clear of a man searching for the past when things were better, obviously suffering some trauma. The twin guitars cry over a layer of keyboards and more Mellotron washes; a sensuous soundscape. The band can do no wrong with this latest lineup or incarnation, that much is sure.

'Wish I Were Here' follows and it is a synth driven track with some very heavy lead guitar distortion and a formidable riff as harmonised vocals take over. That riff is very catchy and always a moment on the album on every listen. The other version of 'Something very Strange' the Sanctified Version is one of the bonus tracks and is shorter but still as powerful with that cool voice vocoder reminding me of 'The Raven' by Alan Parson's Project. The melody is so endearing it is impossible for me not to enjoy this compelling track. There are other bonus tracks too but the main album is worth the price of admission on its own.

I honestly did not expect a masterpiece with this album as it has not really stirred up too much conversation in the prog community outside of a bunch of reviews, but it hit me with full force on a late night listen. I did notice the reviews overall are arc welded to the 5 star rating and I have to throw my iron in the fire and add to those 5 stars too. Every listen adds so much more depth and it really grows on the ear after a while too. It is too great to award it anything less as it captivates on every listen and exudes such a dynamic energy it is quite extraordinary. This is the type of music I was mesmirised with on Neal Morse's 'Momentum Live' that is absolutely outstanding. 'Brief Nocturnes and Endless Sleep' is equally as exceptional; a masterpiece undoubtedly as it encompasses everything that makes prog great. When prog reaches such a brilliant standard it is because it does not rely on just clever complex musicianship and a myriad of excellent breaks but it also has to have some meaning in the lyrics and reach the listener on an emotional level. This album does that instantly and also has some of the most infectious and melodic songs I have heard from the Beard and they are confident on every song injecting so much passion and dynamism, seemingly reborn after some turmoil in the ranks. I was entertained by 'Spock's Beard Live', enjoyed 'Octane' immensely, loved 'The Light', adored 'Snow' and "V" and also was knocked out by 'X', but 'Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep' is on another level in terms of musicianship and innovative song structures. It is simply the pinnacle of Spock's Beard I am delighted to report to the prog faithful!

Report this review (#1105837)
Posted Friday, January 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aha, well my last review set the cat amongst the pigeons so to speak, however this CD is a different kettle of weasels I can tell you! I have given this CD some serious "earage" in the past few weeks and although I think I was enough impressed to persevere (from spin 1), I wasn't expecting this CD to rate more than perhaps a high of 3.9? . How wrong was I...! Quite simply, I think that tracks 3 (A Treasure Abandoned) and 7 (Waiting for Me) are the best tracks that SB have written and performed! Back that up with the nearly as brilliant 6 - "Something very strange" and the (merely!) very good tracks 4, "Submerged" and 5 "Afterthoughts", plus the very listenable 1 "Hiding Out" and 2 "I know Your Secret" makes this a MUST HAVE SYMPHONIC PROG CD! Anyway the first two tracks are closer to progressive metal than the other tracks so it sort of makes you think that it isn't going to be a symphonic prog CD at all then WHAMMO - A Treasure Abandoned , some of the keyboard (sumptuous synth arpeggios a-plenty) work is sublime and the lyrical content is far less mawkish than the ex-members output! I think that some of this reminds me of Camel (one part especially) but on the whole I think it's far more good at refreshingly attempting to hit the correct symphonic spots in my brain. Could perhaps do with track 3 or 7 being extended out to the epic length that such a CD deserves, but I can't give this anything but a FIVE because two tracks are as good as anything I have heard for four or five years! Go buy it!
Report this review (#1160647)
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I am hardly a SPOCK'S BEARD fan at all. I have heard V and although I find it a decent listen it hardly blows me away. I've also heard a few tracks on internet radio leaving me with a mixed impression and never with the urge to go seek out their music. In fact I find this whole flower prog (a term I endearingly call this type of pompous symphonic prog that has the tendency to make every little idea blossom into sprawling epic proportions) a little hit and miss as well. I always find myself admiring the effort that goes into the ideas and creation of the epic music, but rarely finding myself actually loving every minute of it for it more often than not seems random and not fine tuned into a sequentially satisfying array.

Well this one caught me off guard and I have been gleefully spinning this epic behemoth and growing fonder of it after each spin. I think I have fallen for their release BRIEF NOCTURNES AND DREAMLESS SLEEP because (a) I think i'm leaning more towards liking this kind of mixture of long sprawling epics that revisits yesteryear in both a progressive way as well as with classic rock sounds and (b) it is done so very well with every passage thought out and the i's dotted and the t's crossed. It simply rocks in a way that makes you instantly like its pleasant melodies, harmonies and instrumental interplay and yet weaves in the progressive tangents without making it feel like it is there solely for the sake of checking off the prog list. There are multiple influences and all is tastefully presented.

I highly recommend the version with the bonus disc that includes 4 extra tracks that adds up to just under 30 minutes. They are just as good if not better than the main disc. They are more hard hitting and rocking than the main tracks but are just as satisfying in their delivery. I was unaware that there was a special edition version but I unknowingly bought it at one of our used music stores and am extremely happy that I did. I can't believe I love this album as much as I do but now that I am hopelessly hooked I hope that this isn't a one album deal and that the creative juices spring forth a few more like this one.

Report this review (#1180273)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Being heavy is not synonymous with being better.

I hear "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" quite some time, and the reality is that I enjoy some good tracks, while others are closer to Alternative Hard Rock. Not that I think that everything that has made Spock's Beard under the tutelage of Neal Morse is excellent, but I can ´t understand that this work is considered here as the second best of the great American band.

The sound is powerful and the band seems solid and assembly, I suspect some lyrical are related to Neal Morse and his conversion, ironically; eg 'Hiding Out', 'I Know Your Secret' and ´A Treasure Abandoned´. Apart from that, the most progressive and better from my perspective are: 'A Treasure Abandoned', 'Something Very Strange' and 'Waiting For Me'. While "Burning a Burning Road" is a very good track of bonus disc.

My rating is 3, while I consider 'X' as a more compact and inspired work. And I think 'Day For Night' is the only slightly less than this, with regard to the times of Neal Morse. And "V", "Snow" and "The Light", are far superior....

Report this review (#1196318)
Posted Friday, June 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the top albums of 2013 is without any doubt "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" by Spock's Beard, but apparently not according to the proggophobic wild bunch of Waeguk, Pangrangja, Purplefloydfish, Marfish, Daemacho and so on. This time two stars were not little enough, so they all (?) decided on a one star rating!! But enough time spent on twirp ratings, the new line up of Spock's Beard is definitely a winner. Drummer Jimmy Keegan is a fantastic musician, whose very dynamic drumming fits in the music perfectly. With Ted Leonard the Beard have enlisted one of the best of today's progvocalists.

The music on Brief Nocturnes is easier to comprehend and the song structures are more fluently conceived than those on X. "Something Very Strange" is almost a hit with a great chorus and a magnificent continuous bass-line, that once more proves that Dave Meros is one hell of a bassplayer. I love his bass-sound! "Waiting For Me" has everything a good progressive rock composition needs, huge keyboard sounds, beautiful guitar lines, a great rhythm section and again the winning vocal parts. I won't hesitate to call this album a masterpiece of progressive rock!


Report this review (#1261577)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having only heard "V" before, I had little knowledge of Spock's Beard's sound but I gathered that it was some very talented prog rock combined with some standard pop rock songs. Deciding that this album might be a good follow-up purchase, I gave a brief listen to "A Treasure Abandoned" and loved the chorus enough to order the album soon after.

I was not disappointed at all. The instrumental introduction to the opening track "Hiding Out" is a wonderful example of modern progressive ROCK, at least in so far as some very nice heavy guitar accompanies piano, organ, and synthesizer. Each song thereafter has some great moments such as the 80's Rush sound in parts of "I Know Your Secret" and the wild guitar effects solo, the beautiful melody of the chorus of "A Treasure Abandoned", and the weirdness and humour of "Afterthoughts" (incidentally, this song includes an a cappella part similar to that of "Thoughts Part 2" from "V"). "Submerged" is more of a standard pop rock song that could be played on rock radio.

The real joy comes in with "Something Very Strange" which is where we get a taste of a classically flavoured prog rock song. This song hints at modern Yes when they are at their very best. The momentum continues with "Waiting for Me", which also includes some Yes-inspired music, though there is more of a pop-rock meets prog feel to this one. I also found myself thinking of Deep Purple's "Now What?!" as that album too includes a lot of rockers with parts that allow the musicians to stretch out and be creative.

The second disc includes two more songs in the semi-prog rock mould and one in the order of standard rock. Finally, there's a remix of "Something Very Strange" which I feel is not as good as the disc one version. The track listing here on PA shows a fifth song but my copy of the bonus disc does not come with it.

I have a lot of prog albums that I can't really play in the car stereo when my wife is with me because she'd likely wonder what the heck I was listening to (Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson). But I've had Spock's Beard in twice ("V" and "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep") and both times she's inquired about the music, particularly curious about the keyboard playing. She has little knowledge of the history of popular music and doesn't yet know the term "progressive rock", though she knows that a lot of the music I listen to is not your standard pop music. It seems that Spock's Beard is a good band for getting an uninitiated female interested in prog and this album would appear to have the right balance of modern rock with progressive tendencies. Not a prog masterpiece but terrific if you like something more orthodox where great musicianship and songs are the cake and crafty compositions and skillful solos are the icing of a delicious rock album.

Report this review (#1274188)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Once again I listen to another Spock's Beard album and cannot get over the incredible number of musical and lyrical cliches present in their music--in every song, in every sound choice, every solo choice, every bass line, every rhythmic pulse, every dynamic shift, every chord progression, every vocal styling, every production/engineering choice. They are masters of everything borrowed, nothing original. Whenever I hear their music all I can feel is disbelief and gnawing anxiousness. "Is this a joke?" I ask myself (over and over). "Are they prog rock's SPINAL TAP?" Talented musicians all, but their melodrama is so embarrassingly close to classic rock as to cry out "parody!" As hopeful as I am whenever I see high ratings for one of their albums, I have yet to be impressed with anything from their norm--which is . . . rubber stamp, over-the-top classic rock by numbers, prog by association and wishful thinking, repetitive to excess. I feel bad writing these words for I have no doubts that the boys from SB are well-intentioned and probably quite sincere in their efforts. I can only express my utter frustration with my listening to pretty much all of their output--not the least of which has been this most recent release. Nothing new. "Second tier" prog. No more than a modern day LOVERBOY (though with better staying power).
Report this review (#1275356)
Posted Friday, September 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good album. In line of the respective gender: symphonic prog. Extended melodies precise technique and a perfect coupling. That's why I like it, but, surprisingly, in some tracks you can notice the incorporation of other forms in the different progressive genders. Variations, changes of tempo, asymmetric tunes buth that all together sounds amazing. However, the risk of exploration don't go very far. I feel like if the band impose their limitits and establish that they cant' cross it. That's godd but from my point of view, that reduce what I call: feeling. In conclusion, a very good symphonic album with the enjoyable sorprises that you can find in some ponts of the composition.
Report this review (#1394846)
Posted Monday, April 6, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars There are a lot of nice things I can say about this release by Spock's Beard, but you can read about those in nearly every other reviewer's take on this album. For me, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep is a modern prog diversion that doesn't fully live up to the hype, or the band's legacy.

In becoming more precise and thoughtful, the band has also shaved away one of the great things that made the Beard different from the other modern prog acts: the reckless energy and enthusiasm that borrowed inspiration from the great prog acts of yesteryear but transformed them into something fun and unique. This release sounds exactly like you would expect a modern prog act to sound... which I think I'm using as criticism. There are no surprises, experimentation, moments that touch your spirit, or much of anything else on this album that makes Spock's Beard stand out as a unique voice. Hard-rock homages to Gentle Giant don't count.

First let's just get the big question out of the way. How is the band's newly acquired third singer, Ted Leonard? Acceptable is about the best I can do. His voice is in a high register and flat throughout much of the album. He doesn't have much range, and doesn't emote in a way that connects with me. He's not bad, but upon first listen I immediately thought that this guy could be a singer for practically any prog act from the late '90's or early '00's - his voice is that bland and predictable. I'd take Neal Morse's caterwauling or Di''Virgilio smooth, radio-friendly vocals any day. Vocals are the low point of the album.

With that being said, the band sounds very good overall. Dave Meros' bass and Ryu Okomoto's keyboards standout especially. I think that Ryu's soloing and background textures makes him one of the sharpest keyboardists around. Unfortunately, Alan Morse's guitar slips under the radar for much of the album, as he delivers only one or two creative moments. The instrumental sections of songs are easily the most enjoyable part of the album; they are ambitiously complex and well-executed, but they aren't going to knock anyone's socks off.

Compare Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep to the dramatic energy of Snow, to the elevating energy of Day For Night, to the creativity found throughout The Light and Beware of Darkness and you'll see that fine playing and pandering to proggery isn't enough to make a great album. Still, don't write this one off completely; it's a fine example of modern prog even with its shortcomings.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#1420163)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars "Something very strange is coming fast our way"

Ted Leonard of Enchant and Thought Chamber fame joined Spock's Beard full time for this album which by many is considered a major return to form for the band. And rightly so I would say, they sound a bit more alive and vibrant than on many previous albums. Leonard is an excellent vocalist, much better than both Neal Morse and Nick D'Virgilio, making him the best singer this band has ever had. His strong voice often evokes that of Steve Walsh of Kansas, perhaps most evident on A Treasure Abandoned.

Leonard even contributes two songs of his own for this album: the opener Hiding Out and Submerged. The former is musically excellent, but the lyrics are a bit on the weak side. A line like "I need you now" is one of the most clichéd in all of Rock. The overly commercial Submerged is weak in both musical and lyrical respects and is the weakest track of the album. Some passages of this one are positively cringe worthy, like the "I'm candy coated salt" part. Enchant never sank that low, even at their worst.

With D'Virgilio having left the band after the previous album, touring drummer Jimmy Keegan steps up and takes over the drum stool permanently and he does a good job. Founding member Neal Morse returns to lend a hand on two compositions: Afterthoughts (credited to Alan Morse, Neal Morse, and Leonard) and Waiting for Me (Alan and Neal). The latter is a rather typical Morse song and Afterthoughts (Thoughts, part 3?) includes a heavily Gentle Giant-like a cappella middle section that sounds a bit too much like a tribute.

The best songs of the album are those written by John Boegehold, especially Something Very Strange and A Treasure Abandoned (the latter credited to Boegehold and Alan Morse).

Overall, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep is a good album, surely one of Spock's Beard's better albums, but it is not as good as the follow-up The Oblivion Particle which impressed me much more.

Report this review (#1558449)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2016 | Review Permalink

SPOCK'S BEARD Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of SPOCK'S BEARD Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives