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Spock's Beard

Symphonic Prog

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Spock's Beard Octane album cover
3.13 | 416 ratings | 46 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Ballet of the Impact (5:34) :
- a) Prelude to the Past
- b) The Ultimate Quiet
- c) A Blizzard of My Memories
2. I Wouldn't Let It Go (4:53)
3. Surfing Down the Avalanche (3:43)
4. She Is Everything (6:46) :
- a) Strange What You Remember
- b) Words of Forever
5. Climbing Up That Hill (3:31)
6. Letting Go (1:52)
7. Of the Beauty of It All (4:53) :
- a) If I Could Paint a Picture
- b) Into the Great Unknowable
8. NWC (4:16)
9. There Was a Time (4:58)
10. The Planet's Hum (4:42)
11. Watching the Tide (5:07)
12. As Long as We Ride (5:35)

Total Time 55:50

Bonus disc from 2005 SE:
1. When She's Gone (5:41)
2. Follow Me to Sleep (5:39)
3. Game Face (4:10)
4. Broken Promise Land (4:45)
5. Listening to the Sky (3:08)
6. Someday I'll Be Found (string quartet outtake *) (1:04)
7. I Was Never Lost (backing vocals outtake *) (1:09)
8. Paint Me a Picture (pipe organ outtake *) (1:29)
9. Video - The Formulation of Octane ("Making Of" documentary) (34:10)

* Extras from "A Flash Before My Eyes"

Total Time 61:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Nick D'Virgilio / lead & backing vocals, drums, percussion, electric & acoustic guitars, loops
- Alan Morse / electric (6- & 12-string) & acoustic guitars, Theremin, saw, backing vocals
- Ryo Okumoto / keyboards
- Dave Meros / bass

- Molly Pasutti / voice
- John Boegehold / string & horn arrangements, Fx, voice
- Gina Ballina / French horn (1,7)
- Johnnie Corno / French horn (1,7)
- Ramon Flores / trumpet (1,7)
- The Section Quartet:
- Richard Dodd / cello (2,7,11)
- Leah Katz / viola (2,7,11)
- Daphne Chen / violin (2,7,11)
- Eric Gorfain / violin (2,7,11)

Releases information

Artwork: Thomas Ewerhard

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 198 (2005, Germany)
2xCD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMSECD 198 (2005, Germany) SE with bonus disc including 5 new tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy SPOCK'S BEARD Octane Music

SPOCK'S BEARD Octane ratings distribution

(416 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

SPOCK'S BEARD Octane reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by hdfisch
2 stars Edited 10/5/2005!

I have to say I liked even "Feel Euphoria" more than this one, although it was already without Neal Morse. Actually it would really be not a bad album, if the band's name would not be Spock's Beard. One could already hear a drop in quality on the last album, but still not that a uncompromising leap into more mainstream hard rock type of music as on this one here and in fact if you wouldn't know that it's Spock's Beard it could be any other unknown mediocre band playing. It doesn't contain almost anything what would be worth comparing with any album before Neal Morse's demise. I have to say neither do I like the harder numbers very much nor the soft ballad type ones. Somehow the complexity of their older stuff is missing and what they delivering here does not deserve the name Prog Rock anymore, maybe Art Rock in the best case or even Art Pop.

Actually the album doesn't open that badly, first track has still quite a strong symphonically textured outline. It's certainly one of the best ones on the whole album. But unfortunately after this one a couple of very weak ones are following ranging from quite straight ahead hard rock type ones like track 3 and 5 or some nice, but meaningless more ballad-esque or atmospheric ones like track 2,4 and 6. Track 7 is the first one showing a bit more what they could do, although starting quite similar to mainstream rock it has some pleasant power in it and reveals as well some symphonic character in its course. After that one there is a track sounding quite like metal in fact, but nevertheless rather good and showing some very good guitar work and percussion. But with track 9 they're returning again to a very much mainstream sounding style as well in the rest of the songs. For me it's very obvious that without Neal Morse they're really missing a good composer and songwriter and for sure if they're going on to produce such records they are not an interesting band anymore for me and even high-class musicians like Ryo Okumoto can't change this. The band lost its mastermind and its soul and I will concentrate on Morse's solo efforts in future which are great as he proved with his new album. Not more than 2 stars for this one!

Review by Clayreon
4 stars Spock's Beard has been for years one of the top acts in progressive rock, but the departure of Neal Morse would not be without any consequences for this American prog band, as for the late super group TRANSATLANTIC. Not that this group has disbanded, but the influence of 'uncle' Neal was so big, everyone feared that they would never fill up the gap. And indeed, I (and many others with me) was not very euphoric about their first album 'Feel euphoria' after the departure of their leader. But let it not be misunderstood, "SPOCK'S BEARD is back", and how. It starts very promising with a pure progressive introduction, a bit in the vein of THE FLOWER KINGS with a sparkle of KARMAKANIC, where after the song continues in a smoothly way, varied with many keyboards (piano, synthesizer, mellotron), beautiful vocals and an intriguing guitar solo? It even becomes a bit acoustic and 'retro' on op 'I wouldn't let it go', a melodramatic song ending with church organ, has Neal something to do with this? And then the very first surprise of the album arises, probably a cultural shock for die- hard Spock's fans, because from the very first notes of 'Surfing down the avalanche' I have to remind of the musical violence of DREAM THEATER. The tempo changes, the pumping bass and guitar riffs, the fragments played simultaneously by all musicians, dark interplay ā la Dead Soul Tribe, they succeed to make a very strong track in less than 4 minutes. But if you really don't like progressive metal, you don't have to despair, because this is the only really 'hard' song of the album, but I would not mind to hear more of that in the near future . What a contrast with 'She's everything', a typical progressive ballad. Sung both beautifully and emotionally, this track tends to be a musical highlight, mainly because of the extraordinary guitar solo, after the first listening this becomes a moment of goose-flesh. SPOCK'S BEARD proves on 'Octane' that progressive rock is not necessarily based on long (read sometimes boring) songs, composition gets the highest priority, so there is no place whatsoever for annoyance! 'Climbing up that hill' is more or less straightforward rock, while Ryo can do his Japanese thing on 'Letting go' by introducing ambient melancholic keyboard sounds. And then it is time again for a next highlight on 'Of the beauty of it all', beginning very quiet but culminating towards true symphonic rock, it seems as if that they have hired a complete symphonic orchestra. Also a special attention for the nice drumming of Nick D'Virgilio, is all seems so easy, but it is damn strong and original.

Nwc is an instrumental track, that will blow you away, the rhythm section is playing once again a very important role, guitar and keyboards are interacting smoothly. Again a very short track of just above 4 minutes, but you get the feeling that a lot is happening here. 'There was a time' is a typical Spock's-song with a modern touch and a catchy refrain, why not trying to reach the (better) hit parade? From the first notes of 'The planet's hum' is seems very clear, this is 'SPOCK'S BEARD plays GENTLE GIANT' (like formerly in 'Welcome to NYC' of Snow), again demonstrating the clean production of this album. This song has lot more to offer, just listen to it and you will undoubtedly discover other influences, very good! 'Watching the tide' is another ballad, perfect variety, and Nick d'Virgilio has clearly found his way as lead singer, here he pulls out all the stops in a beautiful song, ELO in a modern way. And the album ends with a rocking' song, but where on 'Feel Euphoria' certain tracks tend to be a bit boring, enough special elements have been inserted to get you on a grip until the very last second.

A special edition with a few extra tracks and a video will be released, sadly enough I was not able to listen to them because of the lack on the promo cd. Should it be told, this is a sublime album, maybe it's difficult to compare it with their former work like V and The Light, but it's certainly of the same quality level, in fact 'Octane' is the right successor of 'Snow'. This band has started his second childhood, apparently they have switched from normal gasoline to super. I will certainly not miss their next tour, the octane level will be at the top. And maybe I should listen again to 'Feel Euphoria' ;-)

Review by Claude 'Clayreon' Bosschem

Review by diddy
2 stars So this is my first encounter with the "post-Neal Morse-Spock's Beard" for I skipped "Feel Euphoria" as a result of all the negative reviews and the general scepticism. The album seemed to be scatterbrained and somehow destitute, referring to the reviews I read. Now the time of probation is over, or at least; should be. So I was curious what their second album "Octane" would sound like.

Well, you can't say that the band is acting scatterbrained or even destitute any longer, but the album doesn't convince me all the same. The main reason for this appraisement is the low prog proportion and schmaltzy pop songs like "Watching the Tide". After Neal Morse left Spock's Beard I hoped that songs like "All on a Sunday" (For me the embodiment of a schlamtzy Neal Morse song) would wither. "Testimony" confirmed my suspicion that Neal Morse alone is the guilty party for cheesy pop songs on Spock's Beard albums...but unfortunately "Octane" eventually showed that this kind of perception is non-certifiable.

Also "Octane" predominantly contains a lot of pop material but admittedly also some good and interesting parts. The beginning for example is one of these parts and it raised my expectations, unfortunately just to let them down after the second song called "I Wouldn't Let It Go". Together with "Watching The Tide" this song can be regarded as a prime example of Spock's Beard songs I don't like; because they're nothing special, cheesy and therefore quite boring. Most of the other songs are really good pop songs, but from a prog relevant point of view there are definitely too little songs like "NWC" or the first one "The Ballet Of The Impact" among them.

To reach a conclusion: The album can be quite enjoyable in the beginning but due to the pop character it declines everytime you listen to it. It showed that Nick D'Virgilio isn't only a sophisticated drummer but also a very good singer. Spock's Beard found their style and they know what they're doing and what they want to do...regrettably it's nothing I am sold on.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars SPOCK'S BEARD continues to gather momentum and change with each album. "Octane" is their heaviest and most diverse since Mr. Morse left the fold. Nick D' Virgilio keeps getting stronger; he has developed into quite a presence in front of the microphone. It makes you wonder why he sat behind the drum kit all those years and never stepped forward. Of course, the rest of the band have followed his lead and adapted their style and strengths to suit his vocal style. On this album, I think they have reached that creative zenith that was just out of their reach on "Feel Euphoria". Yes, the boys have really battened down the hatches on this effort.

This use of the word heavy pertains to every aspect of the CD. Ryo Okumoto (keys), Dave Meros (guitar), Alan Morse (guitar) and D' Virgilio's drums are a force to be reckoned with. The lead off track which is a three part tour de force that takes the band through all the paces, displays every position in the band and their particular talents and how congeals to form their remarkable unit. When the beauty and clarity of "She is Everything" hits you straight between the eyes, you will finally realize that they have moved into some new territory other than progressive rock. This is sophisticated and perfected rock-pop with enough prog around the fringes to keep you interested. I must say that they wear it well and it turned into my favorite cut on the album after a few listens. It has an irresistible charm and rhythm to it, an element that was not evident on previous releases.

I love the cover of this album; it is so simplistic yet so meaningful. It points to where the band is at, not just an indication of their eighth album but the gas pump is symbolic of the unrelenting high-octane energy this band has now, and they invite you to fill up with some of their fuel. I tell you, my first impression of this recording was, Wow! This really rocks, then as you listen more you find that they continue to offer listeners more diversity than ever possible, or expected for that matter. I say this without any wavering. this is one of the best albums SPOCK'S BEARD has ever recorded.

Note: At press time, I did not have the bonus disc but included the tracks for the reader's benefit.

Rating: 9.5/10

Review by lor68
2 stars Well its a good score as a normal pop-rock issue, but obviously If I liked to regard this one as work in progress I should rather say it's a failed attempt to innovate the best (actually this is valid for a few albums) prog stuff from Neal Morse...I know that since the publication of works such as "The Kindness of Strangers" , moreover by considering a good part of the material inside "A day for night", their music was regarded more pop rock oriented-sometimes in the vein of blues rock- than any other bands of the new progressive era in the USA. Their previous rock album with a few hints of the old progressive breaks through (the first one without N. Morse) was better, above all the prosecution after Neal, the music being their usual strong impact on the common listener, as a matter of fact...but this time these new S.B. are a different thing...there's no trace of their typical style and this fact is able to affect my opinion (the score should be inferior if S.B. were still a prog band).

This is not prog music,but you could choose to hear a different modern stuff from a normal band of our times, which is not bad anyway!

Review by King of Loss
3 stars This is Spock's Beard's 8th studio album and 2nd one without co-founder and main songwriter Neal Morse. The remaining members of Dave Meros, Alan Morse, Ryo Okumoto and Nick D'Virgilio do all the songwriting and here is the result we get, Octane. Octane starts off with a bang, trumpets, a semi-full orchestra and blaring guitars and drums. All slams you until Nick DV starts singing, a significant difference is shown from the last album, Feel Euphoria and the times of Neal Morse. Spock's Beard is now playing with a much heavier tone and hard-driven guitar is used on songs such as Surfing down the Avalanche, which I believe is the heaviest song they've ever made with fast-pace drumming, fast-pace bass, crunching guitars and howling vocals by Nick D'Virgilio rather surprisingly good voice. In Octane, Dave Meros's (Bass) writing talents were clearly shown. His bass lines and crafting of music is much better than it was ever before. Octane also showcases brilliant singing by Nick D'Virgilio, the drummer and the current singer of Spock's Beard. His voice is quite soothing and brilliant-sounding and has increasingly improved since his performance on Feel Euphoria. The symphonic arrangements done by John Boegehold implicates an interesting and moody atmosphere on Octane. Overall, I must say, Octane is a good release, but is not the best Spock's Beard release. It, however, surely was better than Feel Euphoria and surpassed my quite low expectations of this album. A rating of about 3 1/4 stars, rounded down to 3 stars is fitting for the change in tone. Surely, sometimes it was poppy and sometimes Progressive Metal-like, but it shows how a band can change their sound dramatically and not decline massively. Sure, Spock's Beard would be better off with Neal Morse, but Octane shows that the band would be not be just a push-over and will continue to be quite impressive.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is really diverse in styles as it has a blend of hard rock bands like Audioslave, Led Zeppelin; Southern rock bands like Bloodrock, Lynyrd Skynyrd; neo progressive like Marillion, IQ; and of course the sounds of Spock's Beard. The track that is really killing me is "Of The Beauty of It All". Oh man . what a melodic song this one is. I enjoy the neo prog style of this song especially during opening part and the floating keyboard sounds produced. It's so terrific! It reminds me to Marillion "Misplaced Childhood" album. The other track that also attract me is "The Ballet Of The Impact", "Surfing Down The Avalanche". Dave Meros plays wonderful bass lines in "Climbing Up That Hill". The vocal quality of Nick d'Virgilio is in my opinion much better than Neal Morse. This album proves that the band still can do excellent compositions despite the departure of Neal Morse to pursue a solo career. Recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Review by WaywardSon
4 stars This is their second album after the departure of Neal Morse and Nick DīVirgilio does one hell of a great job on vocals. I prefer his voice to Neal Morse because of his sheer range and passionate siging. They are also much tighter as a band on this album.

"A flash before my eyes" is already regarded as a classic Beard song, about ones life flashing before them as they are involved in a car accident. If this doesnīt move you, not much will!

"I wouldnīt let it go" is the only AOR trace I hear on this album, but it fits in so well with the track listing.

"Surfing down the avalanche" is where things really start to rock! Some great vocals from Nick and tight playing from the band.

"She is Everything" contains one of the best guitar solos ever! This is one solo I just wish would go and on. Alan Morse sounds a bit like Gilmour on this solo, brilliant!!

"Climbing up that hill" is about the struggles one encounters in their twenties and thirties. It really has a positive message.

"Letting Go" has some surreal sounding keyboards from Ryo Okumoto, great to listen to on headphones!

"Of the beauty of it all" is one of those songs that just touches your soul. Some people have even said this song brings a tear to their eyes!

"NWC" is a tight instrumental, and when I say tight, I mean Dream Theater tight! These guys can really play!

"There was a time" is a song about looking back on ones life and realizing what you have learned from this experience. Great lyrics!

"The Planets Hum" is another fine example of the song writing skills of this band, itīs rare to find great musicians (no weak link here!) and great songwriters in the same band.

"Watching the tide" is a soft slow song showing that Nick can not only sing the rocking numbers, but can deliver an emotional performance second to none.

"As long as we ride" is a strange song for the ending of this album and to be honest is a bit of a letdown after such strong compositions, so this average sounding basic rocker spoils the ending of this album.

If you like prog with a bit of oomph, this album is for you.

Review by Zitro
2 stars 2.0 Stars.

The cover makes me think that Spock's Beard has ran out of gas.

After a very promising album that followed Neal Morse's departure, I thought that their next album was going to be better. Unfortunately, like Genesis after Peter Gabriel left, the quality decreased after each album. The music is still the same style: a mixture of pop, hard rock, alt rock, and prog. However, the prog factor decreased.

The first 7 songs are like an epic musically and lyrically the first songs are related and are about a guy having a flash of memories when about to die in a car crash.

The Ballet has to be a classic song for the band and is the strongest song of Octane. It has the punch, the emotion, and the virtuosity of Feel Euphoria. The piano and mellotron dominate the track. I Wouldn't Let it Go is a pretty pop song, nothing more. Surfing The Avalanche is a hard rocker with a groovy bass line yet awkward harsh vocals in the style of "Tool" that don't really work here. She is Everything is an overlong ballad without any redeeming qualities besides the great mellow guitar solo. Climbing That Hill is a forgettable uptempo rocker. Letting Go is a showcase of the mellotron and is done quite well. Of The Beauty of it All is the other highlight of the album. A beautiful prog ballad with outstanding keyboard playing and some sudden heavy sections that just rock your socks off! NWC is a heavy instrumental, as heavy as metal. As a result, it is an interesting song coming from the Beard. There was a Time is a forgettable acoustic AOR ballad. The Planet's Hum has an interesting song structure with lots of changes though most of the sections are uninteresting musically speaking. Watching the Tide is another AOR sounding song that doesn't make me feel anything besides being horrified that it sounds like Coldplay. As Long As We Ride is a decent closer with some good riffs, the "something funny" vocal hook, and good background keyboards.

So, I conclude saying that this album is pretty ok, but disappointing for a prog band. This is really not a prog album, it is more like a mixture of classic rock with AOR, some Spock's Beard and some alt.rock. I do not recommend this album to anyone.

Highlights: The Ballet of the Impact, Of The Beauty of it All, NWC

Let Downs: Climbing That Hill, There Was a Time, Watching the Tide.

My Grade : D

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars Octane was Spock's Beard's appropriately titled eighth studio album and their second with D'Virgilio at the helm. This is definitely an improvement over their awful Feel Eurphoria album as the band now shows more cohesiveness and maturity. Still, it's hard not to notice that it doesn't live up to the quality of the albums from the Morse era, but I have to give them credit for improving things. It still seems like they're wandering about in a state of confusion. Like on Feel Euphoria, there is a heavy dose of AOR and a more heavier sound.

The main highlight of Octane is the seven-part suite called "A Flash Before My Eyes." This epic has a feel and structure similar in scope to The Healing Colors of Sound (from Day for Night). The song seems like it consists of separate entities, but they're tied together by musical and lyrical concepts. The rest of the album contains mostly radio-friendly AOR material, except for NWC. The two disc special edition contains even more radio-friendly AOR material that didn't make the cut for the single-disc version.

Die-hard Spock's Beard fans will enjoy the special edition, the rest of you might consider only the single-disc version. For the uninitiated, I would recommend starting with one of their first five studio albums. Good, but hardly essential.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars As good, and perhaps slightly better than Feel Euphoria, Octane shows the Beard furthering their creative discovery post-Neil, and depending on where the listener is coming from, is a fine show creative and emotive playing.

Negative criticism often complains of the overtly pop veneer to the band's new sound-- which I admit, is catchy-- but there is plenty of ambitious, dynamic stuff happening in between D'Virgilio's moments of (excellent) crooning. For those of us who feel progressive music isn't confined to the mold the band fit into during their early era, Octane possess plenty of music to satisfy, from dark walls of guitar sound, like on Surfing Down the Avalanche or NWC to soaring sing alongs like Planet's Hum and There Was a Time. Honestly, the variety in this album is one of the big draws for me, as is fine songwriting the band demonstrates in either field.

Nick's voice is perfectly suited to either, and Octane possess an infectious and genuinely uplifting quality which will please those with an open enough mind to approach it without the pretentious baggage that often comes with being a fan progressive music.

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

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Almost a crashing halt

The second album by post-Morse Spock's Beard [SB] (and it is important to tell the two apart) is a very different offering from the band indeed. This one is a concept album - almost rock album that tells the story of a man in a car crash reliving his life. Now let me just say this: I wanted to love this album. I really wanted to get into it because the concept was something I found to be excellent, and some of the songs are very good indeed. Take for example the first lyrics that hit the audience, ''the windshield explodes/like a bomb packed with diamonds''. Absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, the album has a lot of problems and while the album is not inherently horrible, nor bad by any means, this is an album that - if you're not a fan of the band you might not ''get it''.

What's also strange about the album is this that while SB is a band that usually likes to make things as long and drawn out as possible (in their symphonic fashion) this one sticks to the short tracks and nothing even hits the 7-minute mark. This is likely because the album was meant to be taken as a whole, but it just means that you shouldn't expect any sprawling compositions coming into the album. Really, everything is shorter and at points rockier. There's a sharp contrast in the songs, as they range from some of the heaviest stuff the band has ever done such as Surfing Down The Avalanche to stuff that is much more lo-key like I Wouldn't Let It Go.

Indeed, if you never liked SB because of their slight AOR twinges before then you'll not be a fan of this one. It's the slowest (on the whole) from the band to date and it has more of those AOR feelings than any other record they've put out. This isn't always bad though, some of the slower (more radio friendly) tracks are quite good. Take for example She Is Everything which is am emotional track that fits in quite well with the album.

Of course there's also a couple very good heavier tracks as well. The album is home to one of the better SB songs ever to be written (albeit more of a rock song) in the form of Climbing Up That Hill with its incredibly catchy chorus that creeps under your skin and just induces pure enjoyment. A couple of the later songs are quite good as well such as the heavy instrumental NWC the very cool The Planet's Hum and the fun closer As Long As We Ride which all should make any SB fan smile.

But that's really the problem with the album is that it's geared very much towards fans and while the fans may get a huge kick out of it the world will likely just shrug this one off and go in search of material elsewhere. Ironically, this is likely the least progressive album from the band, more of a soft/hard rock opera for the masses and non-fan listeners might be turned off by that. However, if you are a fan then you'll likely get a kick out of this one - but it may never be your favorite by the group. 3 gas pumps out of 5, a lot of things to like about it, but if you're not already a fan then I suggest you start somewhere else in the band's discography. Fans will still like it, though.

Review by LiquidEternity
1 stars This is the worst Spock's Beard album by a long shot, in my book. One song--ONE SONG--on the entire album struck my interest at all. The rest are simply standard compositions (and I'm not even saying mere pop, just absolutely uninteresting songwriting). The Planet's Hum is a rather neat song, but I was fooled by the epic suite of the first seven songs into thinking that the music will be going places on here. It doesn't. It merely panders around while the band searches for a sound that is completely separate from the Morse-ness that still pervaded Feel Euphoria. Trust me, any album before this and the self titled after it are far more entertaining, lasting, and listenable.

It gets a single star, and while I feel kind of heartless rating it that way, I have to point out that as far as 2008, this is the band's lowest point in terms of every sort of musicality ever.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I do think this is better than "Feel Euphoria" but there are still songs I can't get into. The first seven tracks are part of a mini concept, these songs relay a man's thoughts as his life flashes before his eyes (while he's dying) after getting into a car accident. I found this very interesting, and for the most part well done. I just think they did an excellent job with the lyrics and notes with this suite. The music for me is hit and miss though.

"The Ballet Of Impact" opens perfectly with mellotron strings, before some theremin and then a full sound comes in. Mellotron is back a minute later with piano to follow. Drums and mellotron 3 minutes in before vocals arrive. Gilmour-like guitar and mellotron before it ends. Just an amazing track ! "I Wouldn't Let It Go" features strummed guitar and vocals. It gets fuller but this is all about the lyrics. Female spoken words and organ end it. "Surfing Down The Avalanche" is where they "rock it" pretty good. Deep bass and an almost sludgy sound 1 1/2 minutes in. Love that section. "She Is Everything" opens with some atmosphere as mellotron comes and goes. Vocals 2 minutes in followed by more mellotron. Some meaningful lyrics on this one. Beautiful guitar 5 minutes in. "Climbing Up that Hill" is a good song with some excellent drumming and bass throughout. The vocals sound different on this one. I like it !

"Letting Go" for me is the absolute highlight on this album. Sure it's less than 2 minutes but it's so emotional as the mellotron flows beautifully. "Of The Beauty Of It All" features reserved vocals and is laid back. Mellotron and heavy drums come in around 1 1/2 minutes. It's uplifting after 3 minutes when the trumpets come in. He died. "NWC" opens with lots of atmosphere. Mellotron a minute in as minor riffs come and go. Tempo picks up with some crazy synths. "There Was A Time" features strummed guitar and vocals. Mellotron comes in. Full sound 1 1/2 minutes in. Not a fan. "The Planet's Hum" sounds great after a minute when the heaviness arrives. Organ, bass and drums stand out. It does lighten. "Watching The Tide" is a song I can't get into at all. Maybe if Neal was singing ? Not sure about that. Piano and high pitched vocals. "As Long As We Ride" is better.

3.5 stars. I like this record quite a bit actually. It's just hard not to compare it with what went before when rating it.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Had this album been created and released prior to Neal Morse leaving Spock's Beard, I think many progressive rock fans would have been way more receptive to it. With the exception of "There Was a Time," the songs after the main event (the first seven tracks), are fairly uninteresting, at least to me, but the main segment blows me away. Each individual piece may not be "progressive rock" according to most purists, but once the big picture is taken into consideration, this proves to be a great little album, and one that has made me think about my life a few times. The opening track alone is a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

"The Ballet of the Impact" That first breath of dark Mellotron ushers in some menacing guitar and synthesizer over a heavy drum beat, and then comes in the main, screeching guitar theme. The intensity builds until things quiet, and only the Mellotron remains. Thoughtful piano enters, leading to another main theme of the album. The bass work and swelling Mellotron are excellent thereafter, as it prepares the listener for the very reflective vocals. The music appropriately degenerates into a hazy nothingness, carrying the narrator- a man in his prime- back to the beginning of his life.

"I Would Not Let it Go" This one describes the childhood memories of the protagonist, and is wonderful acoustic rock song. The simplicity works well in that vein, and is a pleasant contrast to the tapestry of the previous track.

"Surfing Down the Avalanche" Appropriately, this angst-ridden, I-hate-my-parents" song describes the teenage memories. It's at once grating and horrific, a frenzied, but moderate-tempo rocker.

"She is Everything" The angry teenager becomes softer and gentler, and the music reflects this. Tranquil but anticipatory atmospheres assume control, leading to one of the best romantic songs this band ever did, and it features a soulful guitar solo.

"Climbing Up That Hill" Now the young man is a father laden with the stress of a family, bills, and the troubles of life- it's a stark contrast to the beauty of the previous song, both lyrically and musically, and one can't help but realize how close to real life this is. The bass drives the music on throughout, and the acoustic guitar is a good touch.

"Letting Go" In less than two minutes, the end of the life of the narrator is guided by the heavenly sounds of a Mellotron.

"Of the Beauty of it All" The melody of the initial piece returns over a dirge-like keyboard. The synthesizer solo is the highlight of the music. All the major motifs of the first track come back to haunt us though, and beautifully so- this is a death after all. And yet, the music is given new life with amazing bass work and different inflections and instrumentation from each musician. This concludes the suite of the album, and I find it to be a heartfelt and graceful piece of progressive rock in its own way, but there's more?

"There Was a Time" An excellent acoustic-based hard rock song with a great hook, this has some lush Mellotron in the backdrop and unimpeachable harmonies.

"The Planet's Hum" Providing a change of pace for a bit, we get a great bass solo accompanied by other instruments (like the Mellotron in "flute mode"). Then it's back to the hard rock again. This is actually my least favorite track on the album; other than the interesting introduction, it's rather insipid, although still good to listen to in the course of hearing the album. It does end rather abruptly, however.

"As Long as We Ride" One final straightforward rock song concludes this record. There's an interesting vocal (almost scat) bit in the middle, but it's brief. Overall, this song is forgettable, but doesn't take from the greatness that came prior.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Writing a song, and then naming the different sections does not make it progressive.

On their second album after losing Neal Morse to the void, Spock's Beard has completely lost their way. The superb musicianship of these guys is not enough to make up for bland songwriting and syrupy lyrics.

The album begins promisingly, with a keyboard intro, and the band joining in on a piece that builds into... bland arena rock. It gets worse. I Wouldn't Let Go follows, sounding like a bad country rock ballad, with lyrics so bad that one of the band members must have "Travis" as part of his name.

Surfing Down The Avalanche ticks things up a bit. It's a heavy rock song, not very progressive, but at least well played. But again, the lyrics are laughable. She Is Everything makes me thinl of Kansas' bad years. Climbing Up That Hill. More arena rock. Very forgettable.

Letting Go is a bunch of keyboard washes. Somewhere Eno is snoring. Of The Beauty Of It All starts out like a weak ballad, but at least the second part of the song (It has it's own name!) actually turns into prog for a bit. NWC is the first fully prog song on the album. But it's too little, too late.

In case you were thinking that the album was going to continue in a good vein, There Was A Time comes in to break the spell. This song might appeal to a fan of The Eagles, but otherwise, no.

The Planet's Hum starts out with some Gentle Giant like instrumental interplay. I betcha thought they couldn't do it. It loses something after the vocals start, but it's not terrible.

The rest of the album is terrible.

Review by The Crow
2 stars Having moderately enjoyed "Feel Euphoria" because its eclectic and anarchic spirit, I must say that this second effort without Neal Morse was a bit of a let-down.

The production of the album is fine, with a great vocal arrangement to fill Morse's shoes, but the song writing is too inconsistent and it contains a lot of filler tracks and some lack of true progressive moments which make this "Octane" some kind of pop-hard rock pastiche only interesting for the great instrumental skills of all the band's members.

So I could say that "Octane", in my opinion, is the lowest point of the entire band's career showing a worrying lack of ideas and focus which luckily improved on subsequent records.

Best tracks: Surfing Down the Avalanche (heavy, groovy guitars), Of the Beauty of it All (great guitar solo and fine instrumental interlude), NWC (another good instrumental track) and The Planet's Hum (interesting keyboard and acoustic guitars)

My Rating: **

Review by Warthur
4 stars The first Spock's Beard album after Neal Morse left, Feel Euphoria, found the band still largely pursuing the prog purist approach which got them noticed on their debut album (The Light) and which had made rich returns on V and Snow. Sure, the precise balance of their blend of modern rock production and execution and classic prog callbacks inevitably shifted without Neal involved, but it was still broadly the same sort of deal, as you might expect for an album whose main mission was to convince everyone that Spock's Beard without Neal was a viable possibility to begin with.

Then came along Octane, and there's a significant shift in their sound here - the band perhaps feeling that having steadied the ship with Feel Euphoria, they could afford to attempt a more comprehensive shift of direction. It's not that the influence of classic prog is gone - far from it, opening number The Ballet of the Impact is awash with Genesis-esque touches, I Wouldn't Let It Go is mostly an acoustic rock number but has these production flourishes reminiscent on those on the straight-ahead acoustic rock pieces Pink Floyd would include on albums like Meddle, and Surfing Down the Avalanche even includes some blink-and-you'll-miss-'em Gentle Giant-esque instrumental breaks amid what is mostly a much more modern-sounding piece.

And that's the key phrase here: "more modern". Past Spock's Beard albums had a strong whiff of retro-prog to them; this was always mixed in with just enough modern touches and influences from outside of prog that they weren't solely and exclusively pandering to the crowd who just want to hear classic prog endlessly rehashed, but there was enough of a homage to yesteryear going on that the audience who did want the nostalgia trip had plenty to chew on.

Here, though, Spock's Beard are less about progressive rock in the sense of "taking inspiration from the prog greats of the 1970s" (though there's still a touch of that) and more in the sense of "applying progressive rock sensibilities to their songwriting, even when making music in an essentially modern mould". On a casual listen, segments of Octane can very much sound like modern-day middle-of-the-road rock - but dig deeper, listen a little longer, and you'll find that even at its AOR-est this is AOR for the thinking listener, and there's prog sensibilities underpinning what they are doing here even if they aren't going out of their way to explicitly signal that.

If you were very, very invested in the Spock's Beard sound as it previously existed, I can see how this might feel like a shift - but like I said, there'd always been a touch of the modern as well as the classic in Spock's Beard's arsenal, and the experiment of focusing on the modern this album feels like it really pays off, especially when if you listen patiently there'll be plenty of prog-oriented moments here and there. The first half hour or so of the album, after all, is a single song-suite - and wasn't Neal always penning long-ish mini-rock operas for the band during his tenure? This really isn't as much of a break from precedent as it might sound - the major shift is that they're leaning less on classic prog sounds in general, and much less on Gentle Giant in particular.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This, for me, IS Spock's Beard. I know that a lot has changed since the Neal Morse era, and the over the top proginess, and instrumentation have been tuned down for this one (for the most part), but actually, I enjoy this more than some of the older albums. Octane have more elements of pop, ro ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068109) | Posted by Grammaray | Monday, October 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This album is not good. Hardly worth 100 words. There is not much prog here, in fact it's AOR most of the time. There is only one song I like, the other songs are pointless and mediocre. It was clear they couldn't go on in that vain, so saying _as long as we ride_ was more of a threat than any ... (read more)

Report this review (#295788) | Posted by strayfromatlantis | Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Octane is so far the only post Neal Morse Spock's Beard album that I own. I cannot say that I am in much of a hurry to run out and get any more at this point. I might later, it isn't a total turn off, but it has been moved down the priority list. The first part of the album is made up by the mu ... (read more)

Report this review (#269310) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Tuesday, March 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First Review! Ah, Octane. Another album where I realized that listening to other people's opinions and the popular consensus is an absolutely stupid idea. I've experienced this with a lot of modern progressive albums in particular, The Perfect Element, The Human Equation, Octane, City, and milli ... (read more)

Report this review (#181604) | Posted by oceanmachine | Wednesday, September 3, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is actually the first Spock's Beard album that i got, so i can't compared this album with their other works. This album opens with an epic called 'A Flash Before My Eyes'.The epic itself speaks about a man that facing his death because a car accident and somehow got a reflections of his p ... (read more)

Report this review (#105099) | Posted by kazansky | Monday, January 1, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Because this is the band's second release after Neal Morse left, I consider this the sophomore effort of a developing band. And what an effort it is. Normally we don't think of a band's eighth release, regardless of whether the group is one less or not, as the start of something new. Nevert ... (read more)

Report this review (#96261) | Posted by The Progmatist | Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Writing this review, I have very little knowledge of Spock's Beard prior to Octane. This may be a good circumstance, though, due to the common bias against the band after Neal Morse departed. Octane is an album of both incredible moments and horrible mediocrity. The inconsistency of the tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#79419) | Posted by Super_Mole | Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Excelent Album, with this album, SPOCK'S BEARD demonstrates that they don't need Neal Morse to do good discs. Definitively the musical line of the band is different without Neal, probably less progressive, but definitively of equal quality. ... (read more)

Report this review (#64641) | Posted by HijoDelDiluvio | Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Spock's Beard's main problem was always the heavy AOR leanings of its vocal sections. Where they would produce some blistering instrumental bits, they almost inevitably dragged them down with verses and choruses that could have sat comfortably on any Styx or Toto album. Seeing as former band supr ... (read more)

Report this review (#61874) | Posted by Teaflax | Monday, December 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Octane" by Spocks Beard is much better than Feel Uphoria. It seems they are finding their footing after the departure of Neal Morse. I still think it lacks the "soul" of previous Spocks Beard records but I believe they have found a great direction and should continue down that road. Nick is g ... (read more)

Report this review (#49670) | Posted by | Saturday, October 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Best of 2005! I can honestly say that I can give an unbiased and free-from-Neal Morse-legacy review since this was the first album I boughtand listened to in its entirety from SB. Before that it has just been a few odd songs. In a time period of 4 weeks I bought all SB studio albums, and th ... (read more)

Report this review (#46505) | Posted by Christian | Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I have the special edition, and though it doesn't really hit you at first, there is some pretty good stuff in this album. it's nothing compared to SNOW, but I'm still impressed; they're holding up pretty well after the loss of Neal Morse. There's more neat stuff on the Bonus Disc, too (i.e. "Foll ... (read more)

Report this review (#39321) | Posted by el_Sethro | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Let's start by getting a couple of things off my chest: I have been writing and playing prog all my adult life, not just listenling to it. I'll also admit to being one of the guys who, after hearing the Beard in support of FE, was standing up (with the rest of the crowd, mind you) yelling "Ne ... (read more)

Report this review (#33551) | Posted by | Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Of the two Neal-less Spock's Beard albums, Octane is a much stronger album than Feel Euphoria. I think FE was the band trying to get an idea of what direction they wanted to go in, while Octane has them settling on a direction and running with it. The editing of the album is notably stronger ... (read more)

Report this review (#33550) | Posted by | Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Spock's Beard has opted to offer 4-7 minutes songs instead of quenching my proggy thirst with 10+ minutes of refreshing mix juice of cerebral sounds. Very disappointing. However, of the short songs that they packed in Octane, three are immediately stood out: The Ballet of the Impact (track 1), ... (read more)

Report this review (#33549) | Posted by | Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, having read some of the reviews here I felt inclined to give my opinion-does anybody else feel there are some mixed opinions here? When Neal left the band, I initially thought how the hell are Spocks Beard going to continue without him? I left 'Feel Euhporia' alone, I didnt know whether I ... (read more)

Report this review (#33547) | Posted by | Saturday, April 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sorry, but this is the worse Spocks album ever. This is the first time I have listened to a Spocks album and got absolutely nothing from any of the songs. No hairs on the back of the neck, no huge hooks or melodies and nothing orginal. This is not prog this is AOR and not even good AOR. Wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#33546) | Posted by | Sunday, March 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After Feel Euphoria, I thought ' that's it', the end of a progrock giant. That's why I had seconds thoughts of even listening to Octane. But beining a SB fan, I couldn't resist the journey to the CD-shop. And again I had mixed feelings about the new SB without Neil. After listening a couple of ... (read more)

Report this review (#33545) | Posted by Flipper | Sunday, March 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second release from Spock's Beard without Neal Morse is called "Octane". It is due out Feb 1st in the US. I was a pretty big Spock's Beard fan up until the release of "Snow", where I kind of lost interest for a while. While I eventually got back into "Snow", the shocking news of Neal Morse's ... (read more)

Report this review (#33542) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars C'mon guys , let's face it, Neal is out, gone. Spock's has a new face and a new sound. Stop living in the past. Octane is a good album, with good songs and impecable production. It might not be 100% progressive any more, but whatever. There are 10,000 prog bands around these days that are cloning ... (read more)

Report this review (#33537) | Posted by | Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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