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SPOCK'S BEARD

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Spock's Beard biography
SPOCK'S BEARD was formed by Neal MORSE, who wrote all the band's material and contributed lead vocals, piano, synth and guitars. This is a superb Progressive rock in the Seventies' spirit, full of contrated climates, breaks and complex compositions based on tortuous, audacious and elaborated instrumental developments. They combine strong melodies with intricate arrangements and superb musicianship. SPOCK'S BEARD should appeal to fans of the FLOWER KINGS and UK.

This adventurous band has built a solid and loyal following with their first two releases. "The Light" received rave reviews across the globe and "Beware of Darkness" was by far the best progressive rock album of the decade. The next releases ("The Kindness...", "Day For Night" & "V") were issued to insatiable fans world wide. The next album, "Snow", was the band's double CD concept album in the vein of GENESIS' "The Lamb...".

With Neal MORSE's departure in 2002, "Feel Euphoria" marked a fresh new beginning for the band. The album fueled a new creative period in the band's career. The album was followed up by "Octane" in 2005 and the band-titled release in 2006. SPOCK'S BEARD ended the decade with another discography highlight with the release of "X" in 2010. Jimmy KEEGAN provided some additional vocals on the release and later followed the band on the promotional tour for the new material. The release of "X" marked another turning point for the band seeing that the Nick D'VIRGILIO finally decided to concentrate on his solo career and thus left the band in 2011.

On November 21, 2011, it was announced on the bands official website that ENCHANT vocalist Ted LEONARD and touring drummer Jimmy KEEGAN would be joining the band. SPOCK'S BEARD will be releasing their 11th studio album, "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep" in mid 2013.

No matter what happens next one thing's for sure, The BEARD is out there and you WILL believe!

Spock's Beard official website

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Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless SleepBrief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$12.50
$11.99 (used)
THE FIRST TWENTY YEARSTHE FIRST TWENTY YEARS
Metal Blade 2015
Audio CD$18.89
$18.88 (used)
SnowSnow
Extra tracks · Special Edition
Metal Blade Records 2007
Audio CD$20.02
$14.39 (used)
XX
Mascot Label Group 2010
Audio CD$10.74
$8.89 (used)
Kindness of StrangersKindness of Strangers
Import
Imports 2016
Vinyl$19.48
$26.78 (used)
The Oblivion ParticleThe Oblivion Particle
Inside Out Music 2015
Audio CD$10.25
$8.99 (used)
LightLight
Import · Limited Edition
Imports 2010
Audio CD$6.94
$9.11 (used)
Live at High VoltageLive at High Voltage
Import
Concert Live 2011
Audio CD$4.21
$16.73 (used)
The X Tour - Live (Limited Edition) (MTR73582)The X Tour - Live (Limited Edition) (MTR73582)
Limited Edition
Mascot Label Group 2012
Audio CD$9.30
$13.95 (used)
Feel EuphoriaFeel Euphoria
Limited Edition · Special Edition
Inside Out Music 2012
Audio CD$18.50
$16.65 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
LOT OF 2 SPOCK'S BEARD CD'S NEIL MORSE TOP PROG LOOK@ USD $8.00 [0 bids]
7h 18m
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SPOCK'S BEARD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SPOCK'S BEARD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 593 ratings
The Light
1995
3.66 | 452 ratings
Beware Of Darkness
1996
3.76 | 447 ratings
The Kindness Of Strangers
1998
3.25 | 390 ratings
Day For Night
1999
4.15 | 734 ratings
V
2000
3.86 | 619 ratings
Snow
2002
3.28 | 345 ratings
Feel Euphoria
2003
3.13 | 346 ratings
Octane
2005
3.35 | 336 ratings
Spock's Beard
2006
3.82 | 515 ratings
X
2010
4.01 | 604 ratings
Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep
2013
3.85 | 283 ratings
The Oblivion Particle
2015

SPOCK'S BEARD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 31 ratings
The Official Live Bootleg
1996
3.67 | 53 ratings
The Beard Is Out There
1998
3.40 | 32 ratings
Live at The Whisky and Nearfest
1999
2.98 | 63 ratings
Don't Try This At Home
2000
3.63 | 19 ratings
Don't Try This @ Home Either!
2000
3.98 | 25 ratings
There And Here
2001
4.00 | 68 ratings
Gluttons For Punishment - Live 05
2005
3.80 | 53 ratings
Live
2008
3.43 | 21 ratings
Live at High Voltage Festival
2011
3.71 | 46 ratings
The X Tour-Live
2012
4.00 | 20 ratings
Live at Sea
2014

SPOCK'S BEARD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.97 | 10 ratings
Live At The Whiskey A Go-Go
2000
4.23 | 46 ratings
Don't Try This At Home-Live / The Making of V
2002
4.20 | 52 ratings
Live
2008
4.88 | 7 ratings
Live at Sea
2014

SPOCK'S BEARD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 8 ratings
Don't Try This/Feel Euphoria
2006
4.63 | 20 ratings
The First Twenty Years
2015

SPOCK'S BEARD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.66 | 20 ratings
From the Vault
1998
3.10 | 10 ratings
Skin
1999
3.15 | 13 ratings
All On A Sunday
2001

SPOCK'S BEARD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Feel Euphoria by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.28 | 345 ratings

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Feel Euphoria
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars It must have been crisis control mode in Spock's Beard land when charismatic frontman Neal Morse decided to leave the popular crossover prog group in 2002, more or less right at the peak of their ever growing popularity and furthering status as a modern progressive rock group of note. Mr Morse wished to continue to make music fuelled by personal religious beliefs that had become hugely important to him, clearly realising that it wasn't appropriate to present that in the framework of the band (although religious references certainly popped up throughout many spots on their first six albums, with the final Neal-fronted Spock's album `Snow' rife with them!), and his departure left the remaining members with not only having to decide whether to carry on or not, but also leaving them with the unenviable task of having replacing their likeable frontman and key songwriter.

The band must have surely realised they had worked hard at building up their reputation through six albums since the 1995 debut `The Light', so they deserved to be given the chance of proving their worth without Mr Morse. An easy choice was the promotion of insanely talented drummer Nick D'Virgilio to frontman, an engaging vocalist in his own right, having sung plenty of backing vocals and occasionally taken the lead singing himself a few times on their previous albums, as well as on his own solo album `Karma' way back in 2001. The `reboot' of the band also meant an opportunity to shake up and experiment with their existing sound, to play around with a range of styles that perhaps wouldn't have worked so well on their earlier works (helped with the addition of a few close associates of the band assisting with the song-writing), and when `Feel Euphoria' arrived within a year of both Neal's quitting and their previous double album `Snow', it was instantly obvious the new Beard were not simply going to remake their past albums and were full of an emerging inspiration and determination to impress.

`Onomatopoeia' attacks with the force of a mule-kick, an up-tempo ballsy rocking opener that shows the band is all business, the whole track blasted with Alan Morse's strangled guitar aggression, Dave Meros' grumbling mud-thick bass and Nick's D'Virgilio's powerhouse pounding drums. The piece is permeated with a sleek metallic heaviness and a very modern sound, Nick's confident voice laced with more than a bit of a `rock-star' swagger to it, whooping excitedly then roaring the next with ease, but it still finds time for some brief yet lighter acoustic interludes backed to keyboardist Ryo Okumoto's eerie rising Mellotron. The introduction to `The Bottom Line' comes pretty close to the previous version of the band, starting with a super-dooper proggy opening of whirring synth wig-outs, snappy drumming, searing Mellotron veils and a soaring symphonic theme that glides with pride. The track then settles into an eclectic range of melodic vocal-driven passages, always remaining melodic with constantly top-notch multi-tracked silken harmonies from Nick, although the ballad-like reflective finale seems uncomfortably shoe-horned in and is a bit of an anti-climax.

The seven minute title-track `Feel Euphoria' is unexpected and intriguing, sacrificing tunefulness for a slinking electronic danger, tortured heavy guitar wildness and a distorted snarling vocal from Nick. There's almost a skewed jazz-fusion experimentation going on here, and along with frantic ranted rap outbursts and an improvised runaway gnashing tantrum-throwing instrumental finale it's easily one of the strangest and most schizophrenic pieces to appear on a Spock's album to date! The divisive `Shining Star' then proves a nice come-down, an unapologetically romantic and radio- friendly popper with a killer melody, warm inviting chorus and lovely harmonies that should have won the group a whole bunch of new female listeners at the time!

`East of Eden, West of Memphis' may not be the most memorable tune of the album, but the sly rocker purrs with a cool groove, has nice dreamy vocals in the chorus and a jaw-dropping break- neck skittering instrumental burst in the middle. But it's on his first Spock's song-writing credit that bassist Dave Meros delivers the sublime `Ghosts of Autumn', a haunting piano tune that grows in dignity and power with a glorious intelligent chorus, but it's the instrumental stretch in the middle from the three minute point onwards and climax that marks it amongst the very best pieces from the band, with Alan delivering the most soaring of guitar solos alongside Ryo's cascading Mellotron serenity that completely captures the same magic and grace of classic era Genesis. It proves to be one of the greatest moments any version of Spock's Beard has ever committed to disc.

And if we were in the Seventies and the age of vinyl, that would have been the ideal place for `F.E' to wrap up, delivering a strong thirty-eight minute LP that would be easier to give more replays, with a great selection of challenging rock pieces, a couple of compact tunes and just enough grander prog-rock moments.

But the band obviously felt the need to reassure their fans that they still had their `prog' credentials ready to go (although much of the album up to this point already showcased that just fine!), and they delivering a six-part, twenty minute suite `A Guy Named Sid'. Starting with an introduction of twitching electronics, pulsing bass, swirling synth soloing and mysterious guitar chimes all sounding like a James Bond soundtrack meets the Ozric Tentacles, it settles into a grunting Hammond organ-roasted heavy rocker, breaks for some more reflective softer ballad passages flecked with dreamy electric piano, wild and loud percussion-dominated interludes, luscious Gentle Giant-like group vocal complexity and reaching Mellotron-lifted grandiosity to close on. It's perfectly reliable, has (of course) terrific musicianship and improves on repeated listens, but in some ways it comes across as a cut-and-paste/tick-the-prog-boxes epic-by-numbers that doesn't quite have enough in it to warrant being dragged out as long as it is, almost like a bunch of unrelated sketches slung together for the sake of putting together an `epic' that prog fans so often demand. It perhaps seems like an early practice run for the similarly presented (but more inspired and successful) multi- part epics on their next few albums like the `Octane' suite and `As Far as the Mind Can See', but that's discussion for another time...

But it's STILL not over - the ironically titled `Carry On' is a final very Neal Morse-flavoured uplifting pop-ballad with sparkling piano, jangling acoustic guitars and warm group vocals, and there's even a pinch of Beatles-esque orchestral fanfare sprinkled throughout too.

Speaking of carrying on, the disc does just that if you have one of the special editions that adds even more bonus tracks - `Moth of Many Flames' is a throwaway but harmless runaway acoustic rocker performed by Alan Morse that sounds like a one-take demo and has a little bit of a nod to Jethro Tull's `Skating Away' throughout it, but more interesting is Ryo's exquisite `From the Messenger', a pure electronic solo piece in the manner of Tangerine Dream with plenty of the tastiest ambient Mellotron atmospheres. Both would have severely jarred with the rest of the album, but they still perfectly capture the `anything-goes' approach of the recording sessions for the disc!

Although right from the start there were those who never accept this `new Beard', this band of impeccable musicians more than deserved the benefit of the doubt, so the chance that things would turn out fairly well were always pretty high. If anything, `Feel Euphoria' is a far more challenging, experimental and less obviously accessible album to the instantly enjoyable previous double `Snow' that soared with winning commercial vocals and golden harmonies. Yes, it's overlong, darts in endless directions that will likely annoy some listeners and showed the band initially struggling a little with lengthier compositions that their former colleague used to so effortlessly pull together, but it was clearly a group of musicians finding their feet and seeing what worked, something that would continue over the next few Nick-fronted albums to equally inconsistent but highly admirable results. Besides, all the sh*t-hot playing the group is known for was more evident and unrestrained than ever, truly a band giving it their all.

Almost fifteen years later, `Feel Euphoria' remains one of Spock's Beard's most fascinating, unpredictable (perhaps even a little frustrating!) and diverse discs that has only proven its worth more and more since its release.

Four stars.

 The Light by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.84 | 593 ratings

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The Light
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's not always easy to write a fair review of a debut album when you are hearing it 21 years after its release and you already own other later albums by the same band. Already owning "V" and "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep", I recently decided to check out Spock's Beard's 1995 debut because someone mentioned the album's significance in the 1990's prog revival. I noticed a few reviewers pointed out similarities to classic Kansas, but I had already committed myself to getting the album.

I can imagine in 1995 this must have made quite an impression. Very much in the vein of The Flower Kings, this album and band sounded yet another trumpet that it was safe for prog to go back in the water. I personally don't hear Kansas as much in there as I hear, well, Neil Morse era Spock's Beard. Though there are obvious differences between "The Light" and "V", it's very apparent that this is the same band, except that they added Ryo Okamoto on keyboards shortly after this album was released. In fact, I can't help but being reminded of "The Great Nothing" from "V" as I listen to "The Light's" opening title track.

Though this album doesn't include vocal counterpoint and harmony tracks like "Thoughts (Part II)" or "Afterthoughts", the music and songwriting is still very much Spock's Beard and it's quite clear that this band knew where they were going right from the beginning. There is a certain rawness to the guitar sound in particular that was cleaned up later. My image of the music on this album is that of a pair of sneakers that are a little worn and tattered while by "V" they have new shoes which are not only snazzy-looking but a little more expensive too. Some of the song part stitching sounds a little inexperienced once or twice. There are a number of enjoyable parts throughout, but nothing can top the title track as a well-written and performed song. I like the longer track "Water" mostly but the final song from the original album, "On the Edge", slips past my attention namely because I'm not keen on it.

As my second Neil Morse Spock's Beard album, I am not really surprised by anything. It's a fine piece of work for the most part. The vocals are treated a bit roughly in the mix, though I believe this is intended, and not everything is genius, but certainly a worthy album of having in my collection. Also, it has inspired me to consider looking into Spock's Beard more in the coming year. It seems some reviewers have a pretty low opinion of this album. I guess that's partly because the band gets better later. Almost four stars but not quite.

 X by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.82 | 515 ratings

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X
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

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

 The Kindness Of Strangers by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.76 | 447 ratings

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The Kindness Of Strangers
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by sukmytoe

4 stars For me, a much more coherent album when compared to their first release. The band is maturing and it shows. The musical playground is still there but this time the ideas that make up the music are allowed to breathe and are given room to claim their own space. The sound quality here is a great deal better than it was on their first album. There is the raucous nod to the first album here but there is also musical subtlety which is so important to coherency as a whole. Neal Morse is not as grating here in the vocal department as I found him to be on the bands first release. The musicianship here is strong as it was on the first album although more restraint is shown and things are tighter and more under control. All in all a much more mature and coherent album from the Beard, one which will be explored again very soon as there are depths to the music herein which demand more time to absorb fully. A four star effort to my ears.
 The Light by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.84 | 593 ratings

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The Light
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by sukmytoe

3 stars There is a lot of energy here - almost too much. Throughout the tracks there are a lot of musical ideas making up each track and coherency is at risk although the musical ideas in themselves are strong. The music making up the album is playful rather than serious and I think that to enjoy this album one has to approach it from that direction. If you are looking for a musical playground then this album is possibly a good one. If you are looking for a serious approach to music then this album may grate the ears. Neal Morse is not my favorite vocalist although he is not terrible. At first his nasal style is a little grating but after a while listening to him I can accept him as a lead vocalist. The musicianship throughout is strong. For me this is a kind of 10 CC does Yes offering - makes little sense but it does work to an extent. The music borders on the corny, coherency and idea wise. Many ideas are toyed with throughout but none of those ideas are given room to breathe on their own.

This isn't an album that I would rush to put in my urgent to listen to again pile and if I listen to it again it will be in a couple of months time. It is playful and therefore a pleasant trip around the monkey bars now and then but it is nothing that I feel bound to seriously get into. Three and a half stars from me, pulled down to three for its inability to draw me in.

 The First Twenty Years by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.63 | 20 ratings

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The First Twenty Years
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by AlanB

5 stars I started listening to Spock's Beard after first getting into Transatlantic, then Neal Morse's solo stuff. The only album of theirs that I have is Snow, but I'd heard enough material online to know that this is a band that would appeal to me. So when this compilation was released I knew that it would be something I'd like to add to my collection. Initially, though, I listened to it several times on Spotify. The drawback with this was that the final song, Falling For Forever, isn't available on Spotify, and also there is a DVD included with the compilation. So recently I bought the CD, and here is my review.

CD1 covers the Neal Morse years, and includes one track from each of the six albums featuring him (apart from Beware Of Darkness and Snow, which have two tracks each). The track selection is excellent, with three long songs, The Light, The Doorway and At The End Of The Day, the beautiful ballad June, and the spiritually uplifting Solitary Soul and Wind At My Back from Snow. The list is completed with Thoughts and the title track from Day For Night. What is apparent from the liner notes is how important Neal was to the writing of the band's material. All of these songs are credited to him alone, apart from one which he co-wrote with his brother.

CD2 has one song from each of the albums recorded post Neal Morse. The writers include individuals who are not in the band, collaborating with various band members. This is more of a mixed bag to my ears, with the opening song, The Bottom Line, being my least favourite on the compilation. She Is Everything and On A Perfect Day have some lovely vocal harmonies and some great soloing, but it's the epic Jaws Of Heaven that first comes close to the standard of songs on CD1. Waiting For Me sees the return of Neal Morse as a co-writer, and this is apparent from the style of the song. Finally, we get Tides Of Time from the most recent album, before the closing epic, a new song written by Neal and featuring the three lead singers and two drummers that have been in Spock's Beard over the years. Falling For Forever is a great song and features a drum duet between current drummer Jimmy Keegan and original drummer Nick D'Virgillio. A fantastic way to close this collection.

Last but by no means least, there is a DVD which is entitled Spock's Beard In The 90s - A Retrospective. This is a slightly misleading title as some of the interviews cover the period from 2000 to the present day. There are a number of very good live performances on here, the most recent of which was 1998. It is certainly a shock to see Neal Morse with long hair. Some of the songs featured are not on the two CDs, songs such as Beware Of Darkness, Walking On The Wind, and The Good Don't Last. There is also an excellent live version of The Light, including a drum solo and a section where Ryo Okumoto plays one of those synths that you sling round your neck like a guitar. The DVD is certainly not just an "add-on."

In conclusion, if you like the sound of Spock's Beard but don't own any of their albums, this compilation is an excellent place to start. On the other extreme, if you have all 12 albums you will have to decide if it's worth paying nearly £20 for one new song and a DVD. If you're somewhere in between, then The First Twenty Years is well worth considering for your collection.

 Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.01 | 604 ratings

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Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars "Something very strange is coming fast our way"

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

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

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

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

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

 The Oblivion Particle by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.85 | 283 ratings

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The Oblivion Particle
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars A better way to fly!

I have never been much of a Spock's Beard fan, but having learned that Ted Leonard from Enchant and Thought Chamber is now the lead vocalist of the band I decided to give their two most recent albums a chance. The latest to date is The Oblivion Particle from last year which is a very positive surprise for me!

The band sounds more inspired and vibrant here than on anything I have heard from them before. Bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, and vocals are all absolutely top notch throughout and so is the production, but the most important thing is the quality of the material which is were I have often found Spock's Beard to be lacking in the past. I was surprised to see that so much of the material is written by outside writers with five of the nine tracks being credited to producer John Boegehold and another one to a Stan Ausmus. Two tracks are penned by Leonard and one is a collaboration between Alan Morse and Ryo Okumoto. While there are no weak tracks at all, my favourites are the final four (A Better Way To Fly, The Center Line, To Be Free Again, and Disappear) and the opener (Tides Of Time).

This album is a bit darker and heavier than the previous Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep, and it is also instrumentally more diverse with many lovely acoustic instruments like autoharp, banjolele, electric sitar, and mandolin appearing to great effect, and also on the closing track David Ragsdale from Kansas guests on violin. There is also lots of tasteful classical piano on many occasions throughout the album. The Center Line goes full Keith Emerson in the beginning and end.

The influences include many of the usual suspects like Genesis and Kansas, but this time around they are better digested and balanced and it is not the case here like on some earlier Spock's Beard albums that one section sounds like a rip-off of, for example, Gentle Giant and the next section of another classic band, etc. Tides Of Time sounds like a cross between Genesis and Deep Purple with Ted Leonard singing in a Peter Gabriel/Phil Collins style and a nice acoustic guitar break leading into hard rocking end section.

The Oblivion Particle is quite possibly Spock's Beard's best album! Highly recommended even to those, like myself, who never fell for earlier Spock's Beard.

 The Oblivion Particle by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.85 | 283 ratings

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The Oblivion Particle
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by AndyJ

3 stars Spock's Beard's 2015 release 'The Oblivion Particle' is overall a pretty entertaining listen; there are definitely a few excellent progressive rock songs on this hour plus record. My biggest issue with this release, however, is a lack of consistency from one song to the next. The album opener, 'Tides of Time' is classic Spock's Beard material and really does bode well for the rest of the record. This is a song which I'm confident any prog-head is absolutely going to fall in love with - it really does have all of the ingredients for an awesome prog song, including that rocking guitar bit at the end!

Unfortunately, however, the next couple of tracks just don't really do much for me - they are a bit too obvious in their compositional style and they don't really challenge or engage with me like the opening track does. Things change up a bit with the fourth song, 'Bennett Built A Time Machine', as drummer Jimmy Keegan steps up for the vocals. I find this song, whilst pretty simple in its style, hugely entertaining and very catchy! More than once I've found myself humming the melody to myself from this song.

The compositions definitely do pick up towards the later part of the album - the instrumental passages become longer and more interesting. The last four songs of the record are simply brilliant, in particular the seventh track 'The Center Line' with that classical piano intro. Sometimes I do find myself wishing that SB would drop back on the vocals and allow longer instrumental passages to develop during a song, but its a minor criticism and one I have with a lot of progressive rock bands!

It's fair to say that the music of Spock's Beard wouldn't exist without the prog-rock of the 70's nor the neo-prog of the 80's, and in that respect there isn't much 'original' in this album - but who cares! Thank God for Spock's Beard, one of the few bands that are still championing prog-rock well into the 21st century. Long may it continue.

As for rating this one that's a difficult question. It is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. The stand-out tracks are all 5-star compositions, but unfortunately for me there are a few throw-away songs on this record which does detract from the overall rating. 3 stars is probably fair, though in reality its more like 3.5 stars!

 The Oblivion Particle by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.85 | 283 ratings

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The Oblivion Particle
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars After the previous Spock's Beard album, "Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep", completely floored me with it's combination of Neal Morse's guest appearance as musician and songwriter, and the freshness of new lead vocalist Ted Leonard (Enchant), I was greatly anticipating the followup to such a strong showing. While not quite the gem "Nocturnes" is, "The Oblivion Particle" hits the mark.

The album tells the story of Bennett Lamb, a sort of mad scientist type who uses the "oblivion particle" to build himself a time machine to use to visit his younger self to correct some not-so-fortunate decisions he had made. I'll admit that this doesn't sound like the most original of stories, but The Beardies tackle it with humor and their usual musical adeptness.

John Boegehold wrote half of the tracks on the album. I must admit that this didn't thrill me, as he wrote much of the disappointing "Feel Euphoria" and "Octave" albums. Yet somewhere along the way he learned how to write some exceptional Spock's Beard songs.

Favorite songs on the album:

"Minion" by Ted Leonard. A song that blends the modern SB sound with a little bit of Kansas (David Ragsdale appears on this album, but not this track) with a bit of Genesis. The lyrics are great, and point out Leonard's influence on the previous album.

"Bennett Built A Time Machine", a Brian Wilson styled track (written by Boegehold), with an exceptional symphonic interlude.

There is not a bad track on the album, and it shows that Spock's Beard doesn't need Neal to provide top level prog.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Rune2000 for the last updates

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