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Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

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Spock's Beard X album cover
3.78 | 591 ratings | 33 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Edge of the In-Between (10:31)
2. Kamikaze (4:14)
3. The Emperor's Clothes (6:01)
4. From the Darkness (17:09) :
- a) The Darkness
- b) Chance Meeting
- c) On My Own
- d) Start Over Again
5. The Quiet House (9:14)
6. The Man Behind the Curtain (7:45)
7. Jaws of Heaven (16:22) :
- a) Homesick for the Ashes
- b) Words of War
- c) Deep in the Wondering
- d) Whole Again

Total Time 71:16

Limited edition CD tracks listing:

1. Edge of the In-Between (10:30)
2. The Emperor's Clothes (6:01)
3. Kamikaze (4:15)
4. From the Darkness (16:53) :
- a) The Darkness
- b) Chance Meeting
- c) On My Own
- d) Start Over Again
5. The Quiet House (9:13)
6. Their Names Escape Me (bonus track) (8:51)
7. The Man Behind the Curtain (7:44)
8. Jaws of Heaven (16:22) :
- a) Homesick for the Ashes
- b) Words of War
- c) Deep in the Wondering
- d) Whole Again

Total Time 79:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Nick D'Virgilio / lead & backing vocals, drums, guitar
- Alan Morse / guitars, backing vocals, string & horn arrangements (2,7)
- Ryo Okumoto / keyboards
- Dave Meros / bass, backing vocals, keyboards

- Jimmy Keegan / backing vocals
- John Boegehold / guitar, keyboards, string & horn arrangements (1,6,8), voice
- Danielle Ondarza / French horn (2,6-8)
- Denis Jiron / trombone & bass trombone (2,6-8)
- The Section Quartet:
- Richard Dodd / cello (1,2,6,8)
- Lauren Chipman / viola (1,2,6,8)
- Daphne Chen / violin (1,2,6,8)
- Eric Gorfain / violin (1,2,6,8)

Releases information

Artwork: Erick Anderson

2LP Music Theories Recordings ‎- MTR 7324 1 (2010, Netherlands)

CD Music Theories Recordings ‎- MTR 7324 2 (2010, US)
CD ‎(2010, US) Limited edition with a bonus track

Thanks to LiquidEternity for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SPOCK'S BEARD X ratings distribution

(591 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars Cliches and fresh ideas in one album

With the latter album - X (named after the number of studio albums, the band have released), Spock's Beard continues to explore their typical genre - a mixture between symphonic rock, melodic rock with a flavour of pop and even alternative rock and post-grunge, because of the vocals and some other motifs. Highly controversial release with very beautiful moments on one hand and very unsuccessful and unsuitable parts on the other. I would like to mention the keyboards of Ryo Okumoto as the best fitting instrument on the album. He played some inspiring tunes all around the album. Except this, I have to admit all other instruments' parts are lacking in ideas and quite weak. Drums are passable, too, but the vocals, bass and guitars parts are simple and not memorable at all. The musicianship doesn't contain solid emotional peaks except a few experimental themes, which are not of my type. At the end of the album (because of the length) it becomes more and more boring, especially in the sixth composition. Serious wondering between 2,5 and 2,75 stars, but I would give 2,75 stars, because the musicianship isn't poor and the songwriting contains inspiring piano parts. Interesting, but simple release, not appropriate for profound listening, but as a background (don't expect Close th the Edge here). Not full 3 stars!

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very fresh Spock's Beard's album is a strong one. Strong - for one of the greatest band re-invited progressive rock in late 90-s. Strong - between so many useless clones of 70-s real great progressive bands all around.

Music on this album is very eclectic - mostly based on keyboard-led symphonic progressive sound a-la late Kansas works, it combines many other elements - from light neo-prog polished stereotypic sound combinations to complex structures and long compositions to classic symphonic prog drums-guitar-keys attacks, with strong vocals.

Will you like this album or not strongly depends on your musical taste. If you're searching for modern symphonic prog, doesn't damaged too much by neo-prog tricks, with some roots in 70-s, but in whole - sounding as in 90-s, with great musicianship, nice melodies, strong keyboards, but without experimentation - this album is for you.

Recipe as above is not my cup of tea, but it is music I can listen time to time without being bored. And from such listener position my rating for this album is 3,5, so if you're in modern symphonic prog and don't afraid in few pop-elements in music, so this album will be a good purchase for you.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Even four albums into their post-Neal Morse career Spock's Beard are still having a tough time living up to their earlier output with their former leader in the eyes of many fans. While Feel Euphoria had been a promising start, Octane was a step back and an overall weak effort. Then in 2006 on their eponymous third post-Morse release they really nailed it and came up with one of the best albums of their career period. They displayed not only the excellent musicianship they are known for but now had the songs to match with some killer hooks and consistently strong melodies. Four years later X sees them coming back with an album that has many moments of excellence but tails off a bit two thirds of the way in.

Edge Of The In-Between is a strong start with a typically grand instrumental opening before descending into an instantly catchy vocal section. It's an overall powerful piece with the kind of instrumental prowess you'd expect from a band of this calibre. Well-structured and paced over its ten and a half minutes and things are looking good. The Emperor's Clothes is a more straightforward song apart from a jazzy piano dominated instrumental break from Ryo Okumoto but keeps things moving along nicely. Better still is the instrumental Kamikaze. It's the kind of thing that's all over many a Beard album but nevertheless manages to impress with a dynamic performance.

The album contains two long tracks, the first being the four part From The Darkness. It gets off to quite a heavy start and Alan Morse turns in some impressive guitar work alongside Nick D'Virgilio's and Dave Meros' always excellent drumming and bass work respectively. Fortunately it maintains my interest throughout as it moves through the expected numerous changes and closes with a suitably grandiose finale. Morse seems hell-bent on proving he can rock like the best of them and on The Quiet House alternates between metallic staccato riffs and lilting sustained notes and turns in a fine solo too.

Their Names Escape Me is really the first weak moment. Some time ago the band in an attempt to raise some funds to record this album they did a Marillion and asked fans to buy it in advance. In return they were promised to have their names written into a song. As a result the second half becomes a recital of people's names. Something for these people to dig out and impress their friends at gatherings no doubt, but a little tedious for the rest of us. The Man Behind The Curtain also lacks substance being no more than average so it's down to the second epic and album closer Jaws Of Heaven to get things back on track. This it does to some extent but takes a while to really get going. When it does there's more dynamic instrumental interplay on a track with an overall quite dark vibe. Sadly it drops off again on the third part, Deep In The Wondering but Morse closes it with a powerful solo. Not destined to be a Beard classic but nevertheless a decent close to a very good album.

There's certainly plenty of stuff here to keep the faithful happy, it's just a shame the album tails off a bit towards the end. However despite being a very good album if you don't already like Spocks's Beard this probably won't convert you. 3 ˝ stars.

Review by Andy Webb
5 stars Their true return to form

Spock's Beard is well known as one of the premier "retro" prog bands of today. Since their conception in the mid-90s, the band has been producing quality albums, first with former singer/keyboardist Neal Morse and now with drummer/singer Nick D'Vriglio at the mic. At the time when Morse left the band, many thought that SB would not be able to continue without the band's defining creative force. However, the band rebounded nonetheless with Feel Euphoria that, while not exactly being on par with some of their previous material, showed that they could in fact write music without Morse. While the three albums following Morse's departure are oft referred to by fans as their "lesser" albums, the band continued. However, with this tenth album, the band has fully rebounded, showing their true creative capabilities in the eight beautifully crafted songs that present themselves on this release.

Edge of the In-Between is a fantastic opener, with a nice syth part that breaks into a great melodic and rhythmic piece. The lyrics are awesome, and even the title is cool. The whole 10 minutes is an absolute blast to listen to. The solos are great, the instrumentation is great, the vocals are great, just about everything is great!

Kamikaze is a really fun instrumental track with some cool riffs and solos. Ryo's playing is really great, and him assuming both his and Neal's part has really come along nicely.

The Emperor's Clothes is a nice tongue-and-cheek song based on the classic story. It's got a nice message about the ridiculousness of hot-shot "big-wigs," as NDV says.

From the Darkness is the first epic on the album, and it doesn't dissapoint. It opens with a really "heavy" riff (for SB), and eventually breaks into a more melodic rhythm after the great instrumental opening.

The Quiet House is a cool track with some nice vocals and great instrumentation. It's has a nice "creepy" feel to it.

If you got the "deluxe edition" then you have "Their Names Escape Me." This track has the band list all the fans who pre-ordered the album to finance their latest release. It's great to see all the people who support such a great band. Away from that, the rest of the song is fantastic too.

The Man Behind the Curtain is a catchy tune with some nice vocals and instrumental passages throughout. The chorus is the kind of thing that gets really stuck in your head, as it often is with Spock's Beard's great music.

The Jaws of Heaven is definitely the quintessential track on the album, with absolutely beautiful instrumentation and great vocals.

ALBUM OVERALL: X will certainly go down as one of the best album Spock's Beard has ever released. With the stunning melodies, fantastic song writing, and clean production, there isn't much more one could ask for in a progressive rock album. Overall, I was highly impressed by the album's fantastic quality and grace all around. 5 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars 4.5 stars, really, but this deserves to be rounded up!

The first time I listened to this album, I loved the instrumental breaks, but many of the vocal sections sounded out of place. But naw, after a few full spins on my CD player, this is one of my favorite albums of the year. Looking back at the earlier SB albums, it seems that many of my favorite songs tended to relax a bit for the vocal sections. And this is no different. However, listening deeper into the music, I can hear the beauty of it.

I enjoyed most of the previous, self titled album, but here, there is not a single track I don't love. Particularly the keyboards, presumably by Ryo Okumoto (although Dave Meros and John Boegehold are also credited with some keys), are much better, and more out front than on any other Beard album. And this works well for the music. But don't get me wrong, all of the other players are great as well.

Lyrically, the words are as good as Neil Morse used to write, before his egotistical deity commanded Neil to only write words for him. And I prefer Nick D'Virgilio's voice over Morse's nasal, Tom Petty-like sound.

I think I've found my favorite album of the year.

Review by lor68
3 stars Well, in certain way I've found the same problem as in the best album by Mystery ("One Among the Living"), which seems so good inside a collection of Neo-Prog or AOR rock collection, but in the same time it becomes "strident" in whatever prog discography you consider, especially if compared to the best (a few ones) prog issues of the last years...anyway, by proceeding from the first step, I soon find a different style in their music, since the first approach by Nich D'Virgilio on drums and the additional guitars, with a different purpose in comparison to their last issue, I mean.

In fact I recognize their attempt: that is coming back to the compositions in the vein of "Snow", but looking for new ideas and anyway without forgetting the true "trademark" of the's for sure a compromise, but "Jaws Of Heaven" for example (a bit reminding me of the music by Rush, above all the rhytmical guitars) is the best track here: that's a mini suite including the melodic AOR style and their most improvisational side as well!!

Instead the jazz piano and their usual feel with the old Genesis, which is quite typical for the band, is another main feature, like that one naturally recognizable within the opener "Edge of the In-Between".

At the end their compositions are not banal, but it's difficult for me to evaluate this "X" 4 stars, cause I'm still waiting for the new coming of an innovative band and S.B. doesn't reach this goal, for the moment...nevertheless- to be completely honest- I must admit that the instrumental section inside "The Emperor's clothes" is remarkable and that's should be enough to change partially idea, regardless the disappointing vocal approach, but my doubt still remains!!

Make your own choice, according to your mood!!

Review by lazland
2 stars I'd lost track of the band after Neal Morse left, and, if I'm honest, I always thought they were the weaker of the four bands who made up Transatlantic.

However, a combination of curiousity, a nice album title, and a couple of reviews, persuaded me to reinvest in the band with this, their tenth studio release.

By and large, I'm not devastated that I got this, but, then again, I feel that this is one of the weaker new albums I have got this year.

I like the opener, Edge Of The In-Between, which is a grand and bombastic symphonic track coming in at over ten minutes. A little formulaic, maybe, but certainly a strong track which does remind one of the Neal Morse era with the band.

Things get all eclectic and weird on The Emperors Clothes, with a brass section which sounds quite a bit like some of John Entwistle's madder moments. Sadly, that's about the most interesting part of the track, which tries its best to be different, but merely ends up being a bit of a hotch potch. A throw away track which actually grates on the nerves the more I listen to it. I'm not altogether sure quite what or who they are trying to do here, but whatever it is, it doesn't work very well.

Regrettably, that is the real problem with the album as a whole. There is nothing, aside from the opener, that I can see myself listening to avidly in ten years time, and it is somewhat beyond me how this could possibly be described as a masterpiece of prog rock as in some reviews.

Sure, they are good musicians. and the vocals are competent enough without being outstanding. But there is, to me, the sound of a band clawing its way in so many different directions in trying to be distinctive, that they end up being either dull or derivative. And a word of advice to them. The Flower Kings do the wacky, jazzy, eclectic thing far better than you. Don't try to compete. Ditto with the Dream Theater metal thing. They are also far better at it. The symphonic keyboard passages are very well played, but they are not, either, very distinctive.

I am not a reviewer who thinks that this is a band who deserve a poor review because of a "missing" band member/leader. As I said, I didn't rate them that highly before, either.

But this, I am afraid, is not a very good album, and is absolutely only one for those who simply have to own every Spock's Beard album. On that basis, two stars only, I'm afraid, and it will be a while before the hard earned money is reinvested in this direction.

Review by m2thek
4 stars While Spock's Beard's X was not my first taste of the band, it is the first album of theirs that I've owned since their debut which came out over 15 years ago. Comparing the two, they bear little resemblance other than a name, so this was mostly a blind (deaf) purchase for me. To my surprise, however, the band's tenth offering has become one of my favorite albums of 2010, despite a few flaws that hold it back.

The music of Spock's Beard, specifically that of X, is a mixture of symphonic rock and metal, utilizing classic prog compositional style, with heavier drums, bass, and guitar riffs. The focus is more on the symphonic side, but the metal touches come out enough that it's worth making the distinction. The songs are lead mostly by vocal sections, with instrumental breaks consisting mainly of guitars and piano, but other instruments such as synthesizers and even brasses are occasionally thrown into the mix. The guitar and keyboards are used very well, and are both very clean and melodic. The mixing and production values are great, and the listener is able to hear absolutely everything they want to.

All but one of the tracks have singing on them, and the one that doesn't is the shortest on the album at 4 minutes. The vocals are usually pretty good, which is important, because this is a fairly wordy album. There are a few lengthy instrumental sections, but they are generally short and merely in between verses. The lyrical content is pretty standard for prog: lost loves, comments on big corporations, and philosophical ponderings on life in general. These are usually sung well, with good, albeit standard harmonies between members, however, the vocals do get a little silly and corny at times. There are few enough of these moments that they don't detract from the album as a whole, but they don't stop me from cringing every time they pass.

X is quite lengthy, coming in at over 70 minutes, but unfortunately, the content doesn't completely justify the time. The album also doesn't benefit from a straight listen from beginning to end, and in fact, this detracts from the overall quality. The songs are good on their own, but by the time the first epic has passed, it starts to drag. The album could definitely do with at least one of the shorter songs in the second half thrown away, as they really don't show anything different from the other songs, nor do they do anything better than what's already been presented. Luckily, there is there is about 50 minutes worth of good music here, which is a great amount.

Even with its overkill of music and occasional over serious moments, X still has a lot to offer; the three 10+ minute songs alone make the album worth the money. This probably isn't 2010's greatest album, but it's definitely worth a listen, and since it's the band's first in four years, should be a treat for fans.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain!

Since the departure of Neal Morse from Spock's Beard, it seems like the famed prog band has consistently gotten better with each new release. Feel Euphoria was an enormous drop in quality from their previous albums, Octane was a little bit better, Spock's Beard was a great album, and now we have X, their best album since Snow. Although X isn't a masterpiece like Snow or V, it's a terrific prog album that should undoubtedly please fans of Spock's Beard and modern progressive rock in general. If you've been a Spock's Beard naysayer since the beginning, X won't change your mind, but for anyone else, this is a great entrance into what Spock's Beard has been up to the last 8 years.

The music here is unquestionably Spock's Beard - symphonic progressive rock with pop tendencies and jazz/heavy rock influences. There's plenty of variation throughout X, which is always a good thing when the playing time borders the 80 minute mark. On the album you'll hear prog rock epics like "From the Darkness" and "Jaws of Heaven", a heavy instrumental track "Kamikaze", or even a pop-sounding song with "The Emperor's Clothes". There aren't any throwaways, although I do wish the playing time were cut a bit. The post-Neal Morse era Spock's Beard still hasn't fully mastered making albums this long. It's safe to say that X would've been much more powerful and sharp if somewhere in the 50-60 minute range. Still, it's not a huge complaint when considering the quality of most of the music here. The upbeat opener "Edge of the In-Between", the beautiful "The Quiet House", the symphonic "Their Names Escape Me", and the epic finale "Jaws of Heaven" are all prog rock masterpieces, and surely standout tracks on the album. All of the other music is still great, but not quite up to the standards set by the aforementioned songs. Of course, as we're used to from Spock's Beard, the musicianship is excellent and professional. The prominent basslines from Dave Meros are, as always, a standout element in Spock's Beard's music. The keyboard playing from Ryo Okumoto is also great - just listen to a song like "Kamikaze". He definitely knows how to handle a Hammond organ. Nick D'Virgilio's drumming isn't particularly complex, but he has a distinct and impressive style that nobody can argue with. Not to mention his terrific singing pipes either. Alan Morse's guitar style is also very distinct - he's simply one of the best guitarists in modern prog!

The production is, as expected from Spock's Beard, extremely well done. There's a 70's vibe with the bass high in the mix and a raw drum sound. I have no complaints here.


X is a great album by Spock's Beard, and probably their best since the masterpiece that was Snow. If you're one of the people who's reluctant to listen to post-Neal Morse Spock's Beard because of the heavy pop leanings, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by X. Although there's undoubtedly a commercial edge here, it's no more than we would have expected from Spock's Beard back in 2000. 4 stars are deserved for this highly recommendable release - all modern progressive rock fans should pick this up at some point!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The jazz fusion influences are prevalent and there is enough material on here to appease any SB fan; a whopping 80 minutes of sheer quality Neo.

"X" is an excellent Spock's Beard album that boasts two fabulous epics featuring some of the busiest and most accomplished musicianship from the band since their early days. The vocals of D'Virgilo and Morse are sparkling clean and each musician has a chance to showcase their amazing talents. The tunes are infectious and will grow on the listener after many listens. There is nothing threatening to the average listener in the very accessible melodic music and of course the time sigs are often progressive.

Spocks Beard begin the journey with 'Edge of in between' and it features a very pleasant beat, strong melodic quality and clean vocals. The moderate feel builds to a mid section with a great time sig mood swing. The drums are fabulous, well backed by a funky prog keyboard motif and vibrant guitar break. The jamming style is a feature and is enhanced by an uplifting piano scale. A great start to the album signifying the wonderful music to come.

'The Emperor's Clothes' begins with a horn section and then builds to a strong chorus that is memorable and catchy. There's a quaint speed vocal section too that is complex and effective. The Beard is in fine form here, and the song spirals into a brilliant instrumental break with weird time sigs and virtuoso piano. The guitars play the melody and the piece returns to the main chorus.

The symphonic sounds are absolutely beautiful and there is very little distorted guitar work from Morse, rather the dominant keyboards are put on a pedestal. Ryo is incredible on this album, even getting an outstanding solo on the mind blowing 'Kamikaze'. The instrumental is a showcase for Ryo's innovative keyboard soloing. The rhythm is choppy and dynamic. The bassline is powerful here but nothing compares to Ryo's off the wall playing. A superb track that defines the genre.

'Jaws of Heaven' is the ultimate track to hear if you are wondering what to expect, and this is the pinnacle of the album without a doubt. 'The Man Behind the Curtain' is a more melodic song that is augmented by a very strong chorus and lyrics paying homage to "The Wizard of Oz". 'The Emperor's Clothes' is the one that I could not get out of my head and reminded me of the Neal Morse era. 'Their Names Escape Me' is a truly beautiful song with symph prog keyboards.

I should mention that the orchestration of violins, cello and brass on this whole album are a genuine delight. Meros should get a mention for the wonderful bass work and the percussion of D'Virgilio is exemplary. There is nothing more to say other than "X" delivers,and it is definitely one of the best post Neal Morse albums to date from the sensational Spock's Beard.

Review by Starhammer
3 stars Post-eponymous...

Spock's Beard return to the studio after four years.

The Good: I have always been a huge fan of V but neglected to investigate them any further following Neal Morse's departure from the band. After his solo career took a disappointing turn with Lifeline I decided to see if I'd been missing out on anything.

The sound of X is immediately recognisable, albeit slightly heavier than the Spock's Beard I know. The album kicks off with the brilliant miniature epic, Edge of the In-Between which remains for me the highlight, although the real epics, From the Darkness and Jaws of Heaven give it a run for its money! The bombastic instrumental Kamikaze manages to pack a tonne of music into a tiny space, whilst The Emperor's Clothes is a whole lot of fun and puts a modern twist on the classic fairytale.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this release, proving that the band have successfully developed a more diverse repertoire whilst keeping the classic Spock's Beard style alive.

The Bad: I was unfortunate enough to get my hands on the limited edition which has the incredibly annoying Their Names Escape Me stuck slap bang in the middle of the release. It's essentially just a list of all the people who pre-ordered this edition, set to backing music. I can see it as a nice little incentive but even if my name was on the list I'd only listen to this once, and quite why it couldn't be left off till the end I really have no idea.

In addition, the repetitiveness of both The Quiet House and The Man Behind the Curtain becomes a little laborious after a while and always makes me want to skip to the final track.

The Verdict: VI/X

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An album you cannot afford to miss, really!

As a matter of taste, I'd rather love Spock's Beard with Nick taking care of vocal department even though I love his drumming style as well. It does not mean that the voice quality of Neal is worse than Nick but in my view (and of course my taste as well) Nick's voice is much more natural while Neal seems like making full effort to make his voice like the way it was in the early stages of Spock's Beard. Musically, I'd also like Nick's era as the sound of Spock's Board seems like original not forcing too much in the vein of Gentle Giant, Yes or other influences. I learned from "Octane" album that their music is much different than those the era with Neal as front man. But that's probably a matter of taste.... Let's have a look this tenth album by the band.

Overall, I can see the musical maturity demonstrated by the gentlemen in the band through this "X" album. I immediately loved the music the first time I spun it. Yes, there are roots of their style of previous albums but this time they bring it into a fresher circumstances by putting more symphonic touches. The opening track "Edge of the In-Between" (10:30) opens beautifully with a nice overture even though it then slows down to accommodate vocal line. The music then moves in a smooth and controlled way that most music lovers would be able to digest quite easily. There are changes in style and tempo throughout the span of 10 minutes duration where there are also musical break allowing guitar riffs to appear.

"The Emperor's Clothes" (5:52) opens nicely with good musical composition followed with keyboard solo that elevates the music into different stage and let Nick to take care vocal work. The chorus line "The emperor's clothes ...etc" sounds nice and melodic followed excellently with choirs that remind me to Gentle Giant but performed in melodic way. There is also very nice drum solo followed beautifully with piano solo. Oh man ... this short interlude is truly excellent and makes me proud with SB! The instrumental piece "Kamikaze" (3:50) enters excellently with great music dominated with inventive keyboard work coupled with acrobatic arrangements demonstrating great combined work of drums (so dynamic, indeed), keyboard, tight bass lines, guitar and vintage organ work. What surprises me is the insertion of heavy riffs that might remind you to the kind of Dream Theater stuff. The organ solo is really stunning - especially backed with dynamic drum-work. I believe that NDV is one of the best prog rock drummers. His playing style is so energetic.

"From the Darkness" (16:36) is basically an epic that comprises four parts: a. The Darkness, b. Chance Meeting, c. On My Own and d. Start Over Again. No need to explain in details how excellent this composition is. It starts with an energetic part demonstrating clean voice of NDV and stunning guitar combined with nice keyboard work. The epic has mellow segments as well but it then comes back to energetic segments with great vocal work and dynamic drumming, stunning guitar solo plus wonderful piano. The segment at approximately 11th minute is really great.

"The Quiet House" (9:03) starts off as a rocker with tight bass lines and heavy riffs followed with vocal line in relatively fast tempo, in an energetic style. Like previous tracks, this one also offers changes of tempo as well as style with some segments of heavy riffs that indicate this track as a rocker. "Their Names Escape Me" (8:57) is a nice and melodic song dedicated to their fans who pre-ordered the album. It's really a nice music with excellent lyrics that partly say: "In my mind are faces / In my hands I hold their destiny / I will pray forgiveness / If their names escape me". The names were then spelled out .... It's really nice.

"The Man"Behind the Curtain" (7:46) continues the album with another excellently composed music with dynamic intro part which suddenly changes into musical break to let NDV vocal. You might consider that this track has some flavors of symphonic music. The concluding track "Jaws of Heaven" (16:22) is another epic that comprises four parts: a. Homesick for the Ashes, b. Words of War, c. Deep in the Wondering, and d. Whole Again. Even though I love this album in its entirety but the last track is truly my favorite. It starts mellow with guitar fills accompanying NDV powerful voice. The piano solo performed in classical style backed with mellotron at background brings the music to another segment with stunning guitar solo. I love the guitar solo as well as the bass guitar solo right after the guitar part. what a wonderful opening part! The music then moves dynamically into energetic segment with tight bass lines performed in relatively fast tempo. Overall epic is really a masterpiece!

Well, you know my conclusion already. This is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. 4.5 stars rating. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by stefro
4 stars Still more than capable after all these years, premier US outfit Spock's Beard's tenth studio release finds the modern proggers more than matching their previous efforts with a finely- crafted set of, at times, rather epic tunes than brings to mind albums such as 'The Light' and 'V'. Consistency seems to be the key here as, since Neal Morse's surprise departure and defection to the christian side of life, the group's line-up has stayed rock-steady, with Nick D'Virgilio(vocals, drums), Alan Morse(guitar), Dave Meros(bass) and Ryo Okumuto(keyboards) featuring on their fourth straight album, of which 'X' may just be the strongest. The album certainly starts strongly, with the euphoric ten-minuter 'The Edge Of The In-Between' seguing slickly into the album highlight - and Neal Morse penned - 'The Emperor's Clothes', an orchestrally-driven track which showcases the group's affection for The Beatles. Both of tehse opening tunes feature the trademark Spock's Beard pop-prog hooks, with infectiously catchy rhythms melded cunningly onto fat prog mid-sections which find the four musicians letting their musical imaginations run wild. There's also much fun to be had grappling with the highly- impressive 'From The Darkness', the psych-tinged 'Their Names Escape Me' and the blitzing rock of album-closer 'Jaws Of Heaven', in which the band flex their prog muscles even harder, again showcasing their expert instrumental verve. Ten albums in and, un-surprisingly, Spock's Beard are still going strong. The dynamic blend of catchy pop melodies, Gentle Giant-infused harmonies and prime progressive panache is still fresh, and the group show no signs of slowing down as they ride on into the 21st century. Those who thought the last three albums - 'Feel Euphoria', 'Octane' and 'Spock's Beard' - were a sign of the beard slowing down should think again. Spock's Beard are going nowhere fast and with albums like these there is surely much more great music to come. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Spock's Beard has a weird story on the Prog World. They had a vocalist, they lost it to the Gods, they got their drummer to sing, they lost it to the Circus, they got another vocalist from another band....

Almost Genesis in a way.

Beisdes all that, in 2010 the band delivered X (2010), which in my opinion is their best studio album in the Nick D'Virgilio era. You have all the things that a Spoc's Beard fan would like and yet you got some new stuff going on.

An almost 80 minutes album with long tracks all around like 'Edge of the In-Between', 'From The Darkness' and 'Jaws Of Heaven' with more than 10 minutes. And yet we still have songs that goes between 7 and 9 minutes like 'The Quiet House', 'Their Names Escape Me' and 'The Man Behind The Curtain'.

I remember being all fired up about the album when I've heard it was about to be released, and still today is one of my favorites by the band.

Go for it!

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Spock's Beards' tenth album, the uncreatively named X, continues the band's trend of well-played, ambitiously composed, and energetic releases that - despite seeming to have all the right pieces for a prog-rock highlight - manages only to add another "good but not essential" record to the pile. Like a gymnast whose ring routine is spot on, but somehow fails to stick the landing, the Beard continues to rock on with their signature sound of appealing heavy, upbeat, and occasionally bombastic prog; however, the there's a noticeable banality in the song writing and vocals that keeps this album from being X-ceptional (sorry, couldn't help it).

First, let's talk about how freaking good the musicianship is in this group. Even at their weakest, it's impossible to deny the instrumental talents these guys bring to the table. Every member is spot on in creating a dense sounding record. Morse's guitar sounds as creative as ever, while Okumoto continues to prove he's one of the top keyboardists in the genre. Meros' bass is more restrained here, though losing none of its personality. Generally, when the band is playing, this album rocks; it's heavy, thick, and fun.

There are two standout tracks here, both of the extended pieces. "From the Darkness" may be the group's best epic since Snow. It's dynamic and exciting, with strong and varied musical themes to each section carrying a sense of dramatic tension. Ditto "Jaws of Heaven," which is surprisingly intense at times. When you get down to it, these two tracks are the reason for coming to this show, because most of the other songs range in quality from the: "good, what's next" variety, to the "OK, this has gone on long enough." I enjoyed the energy of the opener, and in the instrumental "Kamikaze," but lost interest pretty quickly in everything else. "Man Behind the Curtain" and "Quite House" remind me of the never-ending, down-tempo pomp of the previous album, which I did not enjoy.

This leads to my thoughts on what holds X back a bit: the songs. Song writing duties are spread across the band, with each member being credited individually, while contributing writer John Boegehold covered all of the lyrics. Boegehold has been on board with the Beard since Feel Euphoria (as far as I can tell), and it's easy to see the shift in stylistic themes that he's brought to the band since Morse's departure. The lyrics are mostly dressed up metaphors that come across as contrivances, treading familiar ground topically. Unfortunately, D'Virgilio's vocals don't muster the gusto to make them stick and when standing on their own merits, I'm pretty turned off by this aspect of the album.

So all in all a good, but not great release by the Beard. I'm pleased overall by the sound and playing, but don't see this becoming more than the occasional listen for me.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by friso
2 stars In recent years I've gained some interest in modern prog by buying some recent vinyl releases of Kaipa, Pendragon, IQ, Galahad and The Flower Kings. Exploring an album by Spock's Beard felt like a logical next step. I must admit; this album sums up all negative ideas I had about modern prog. To poppy, to focused on canonical exploitation and without an own unique vibe or some personality in the performances. Luckily the album gets slightly better after its false start; there are few songs as unappealing as the uneventful sympho-pop and Blue Oyster Cult imitation 'Edge of the In-Between'. The album shows endless hints to the progressive styles of bands like Kansas, Pink Floyd (even 'Atom Heart Mother'), Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and some prog-related groups, without ever capturing some these original recording's main strengths. The overal impact of the record is that of a band playing on the background, whereas my few experiences with early Spock's Beard music is that of being at least impressed by its frontal imminent impact. An atmospheric neo-prog type song like 'The Man Behind the Curtain' starts of just right and then gets sloppy with weak refrains and out of place bridges with Beatles influences, poppy symphonic rock clich's and gutless Yes-imitations. Spock's Beard 'X' is a record full of musical and production talent, but it takes more than talent to make a piece of art.
Review by Warthur
4 stars X would be Nick D'Virgilio's final album both as the frontman of Spock's Beard - a role he stepped into after the departure of Neal Morse after Snow - as well as full-time drummer, a role he'd held since the band's beginning. (He would eventually come back after his replacement, Jimmy Keegan, left, serving both as a live drummer and guesting in the drum spot on Noise Floor.)

Though the consensus on it seems to be pretty positive, for me it just doesn't quite click the way the other Nick-fronted albums did. Once again, the band are taking a fairly magpie approach to prog, grabbing bits and pieces from other genres as the mood takes them; a song might be chugging along in a fairly contemporary rock vein before abruptly incorporating a Gentle Giant-esque bit of intertwined vocals, for instance.

It's the "abruptly" that was the stumbling block here: at first the compositions just didn't hang together to my ears, with there being a few too many moments where the band are casting about and throwing everything at the wall in the hope that something sticks. I mentioned the Gentle Giant comparisons quite deliberately there, because that was an influence the band wore on their sleeves in the Neal Morse years but had been downplayed since. Here, Spock's Beard seem to be cannibalising themselves a little; some might welcome this because there's more sections here reminiscent of their first six albums than we've heard for a while, but to my taste - even after giving the album a few more chances and coming to like it better - it comes perilously close to Spock's Beard cannibalising itself

Eventually, though, my ear got used to the sheer range of sounds that Spock's Beard throw at the wall here and I ended up reconsidering my opinion. In fact, the compositions here might be tighter than they've been since Neal left - it's just that there's so much stuffed crammed into here that it can be easy to miss that. I don't think it's a flat-out classic for that reason, but I do think it's very easy to underestimate.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Mix of Great and Trite. Their tenth album, this is the last one of the Nick D'Virgilio era (after this, he left the band, and joined Big Big Train, among other things). Like the other albums of this era of SB, this album is of very mixed quality, even on the same track (for example, on "From the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1744463) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, July 18, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For my comeback in the fabulous world of Prog Archives (yes i'm a veeeery old member!), I would like to tell you something about this one. ok, Morse left, they are not as good as when Morse where in, they have disappointed their fans since Morse left....bla bla.... Forget all these things you ... (read more)

Report this review (#517367) | Posted by CrazyDiamond | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Has it really been 10 albums for the venerable leaders of the new Progressive Rock genre? Amazing. It seems like only yesterday that I first discovered this band and was re-invigorated in my passion for Prog Rock. Spock's Beard has carried the banner of symphonic prog forward into the new mill ... (read more)

Report this review (#442813) | Posted by BobVanguard | Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Without a doubt one of the best albums of 2010, and perhaps one of the best career of Spock's Beard. I've always been a big fan of Spock's Beard,with or without Neal Morse.In your new album,"X", the band shows why it is one of the best symphonic rock in atuality.The tracks are quite long-they ran ... (read more)

Report this review (#372630) | Posted by voliveira | Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, this album called "X" is the best album that has been cast since Nick is in charge of the vocals in the band, I really enjoyed myself and is one of the best albums released in 2010, is an album for the lovers of progressive symphonic rock with modern elements and certainly did not disapp ... (read more)

Report this review (#321402) | Posted by GermanZERO | Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The tenth studio album from Spock's Beard promises a lot of the interviews with the band is to be believed. Hence, I purchased it with a great deal of hope. The first thing that hits me is the similarities between the new era Spock's Beard and Dream Theater. That after the very promising open ... (read more)

Report this review (#308906) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, November 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hi Nick, this time I disagree! After a long time from 'SB', to my opinion one of the best Spock's Mark II productions, I hoped to listen some more than a sequence of songs strongly AOR oriented. Where 'A' stays for 'American' and not for 'Adult'. Yes. Sure the 'American' sometimes shubby infl ... (read more)

Report this review (#302474) | Posted by progpromoter | Wednesday, October 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is an attempt to say that SB are still alive and kicking. They represent one of the big names in current Symphonic Prog, so they deserve our attention. Yes,'V' represents their finest hour, but everything disappears into an SB sameness. I don't understand why people rave about 'Snow ... (read more)

Report this review (#300321) | Posted by sussexbowler | Friday, September 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My first review! I've been a fan of The Beard for several years now and was one of those people who pre-paid for this album, sight unseen and sound unheard. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!! This album, in my opinion, blows all the other post-Morse (and some other Morse-led Beard albums) out of the w ... (read more)

Report this review (#287048) | Posted by scaife | Friday, June 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hey progheads, I'll be short on my review. If you like any album of SB, sure this one will please your prog tastes. Since Neal Morse left the band, being honest, SB was still trying to find the right way to go, not Octane, or Spock's Beard Cd, reach the highness SB use to get on their first a ... (read more)

Report this review (#285177) | Posted by Poncho Lopez | Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "X" is the most mature albun from Spock´s Beard until the moment. While "Snow" got a strong influence from Genesis, "X" bring to us a more expressive and personal sound. The highlights are "From the Darkness", and the beautiful "Jaws of Heaven". The keyboards are amazing, darker than the others ... (read more)

Report this review (#284649) | Posted by LucasBento | Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just when you thought SB were running out of new ideas along comes an album so totally out of the blue that I have been left completely shellshocked. I've been trying to work out what the major change in the sound is - although it is still quite recognisably SB - and I've come to the conclusion ... (read more)

Report this review (#284129) | Posted by PXR5 | Sunday, May 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars TOO MUCH DOTS! During listening a new album of overrated American band "Spock´s Beard" I cannot get off a feeling I´ve heard it somewhere before. Of course, these (relative) new bands like Beardfish, Flower Kings, Kaipa (new reincarnation), Transatlantic or, naturally, Spock´s Beard - sounds ... (read more)

Report this review (#283963) | Posted by Gandalfino | Saturday, May 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Like many others, I have agreed that Spock's Beard was better with Neal Morse in the line-up. The first Neal-Morse-free release, "Feel Euphoria" had some interesting musical passages, but was inconsistent and lyrically very weak. Octane had some very strong songs, but also had some mediocre fi ... (read more)

Report this review (#283934) | Posted by Arbiter | Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After Neal Morse left Spock's Beard, I felt that the band just didn't have it. Their new releases were ok at best, but overall were just average. I am always under the assumption that a band will get better over time and they have hit the spot with X. First off X doesn't have the high pitch k ... (read more)

Report this review (#283913) | Posted by sirfragalot86 | Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars There's a tendency when reviewing later works of a band to compare their latest offerings to the work of the past. I'm certainly going to be guilty of it in some places with this review, but I had difficulty finding good comparisons between this album and the rest of SB's catalog. But I guess ... (read more)

Report this review (#283135) | Posted by AmericanKhatru | Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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