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Spock's Beard - Beware of Darkness CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.68 | 515 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Unlike most other albums by the band, this one does not really feature any weak tracks. They all play somewhere between standing out and being at least passable tunes. Neal's voice on this album seems much stronger and more powerful than on their debut.

The title track is weird, different, opening the album with a strong foreboding that this band is not really going to try to be normal any more (though anyone who listened to The Light first probably didn't much get that impression at all). Following on its tail is the even more unique Thoughts, which features some interesting multiple layers of vocals, interplaying and overlapping. If I knew the correct term for this, I'd use it, but I'm mostly stuck. The Gentle Giant vibe is starting to creep into the band's sound here, but it doesn't sound derivative. At least not on this track. Quite catchy, and well-produced.

The Doorway and Walking on the Wind are two longer tracks, not quite epics, but certainly packing a lot of staying power. The vocal lines and lyrics are simply powerful and beautiful. The instrumental ballad in between the two, Chatauqua (don't ask me how to say it or what it means) highlights the absolutely splendid acoustic guitar work on all three of these tracks. Usually the middle of the album is where the steam is lost, but not in this case. Rather, I think these three are the most solid and intense on the entire CD. The whole album I find to be ordered very well, in fact, and the tracks flow and work together.

Next comes Waste Away, a terrifyingly catchy song with more than a taste of Cat Stevens in the vocal lines. This one is hardly prog at all, again a sort of foreshadowing of the less traditional prog directions that the band will explore over the rest of their catalog. That said, Waste Away segues into the final track, this album's epic, Time Has Come. It does not rank up there with other comparably timed Spock's Beard songs, but it holds its own as a quality track. It's almost tempting to quit after Waste Away, but the album is never complete without its final bit. Splendid instrumentation and beautiful vocal melodies highlight this piece.

This is a great album, though it is a bit weaker than the one that follows it, Kindness of Strangers. If you want to see what the band sounded like earlier, this is the best place to start. They are weird, fun, crazy, and yet still tying hooks and lures into all their songs at this point.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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