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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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Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars The second album by Spock's Beard was the first to incorporate Osaka-born organist Ryo Okumoto. Fortunately we have future albums to demonstrate that it was not Okumoto's inclusion that brought Spock's Beard down to mediocrity. Shoddy songwriting, muddy sound quality, and asinine lyrics are but a few of the major burdens that weigh this album down. The main saving grace is the nine minute song "Walking on the Wind."

"Beware of Darkness" This rendition of George Harrison's work comes across as overindulgent, even for progressive rock, and probably wasn't the best avenue the band could have taken. The organ and guitar are both noisy, but well-played (particularly Okumoto's solo). Worst of all, Neal Morse's voice sounds incredibly forced, and it doesn't blend well with the music. That criticism aside, the Spock's Beard sound is there, and this cover can become well-liked if one becomes accustomed to hearing it in the course of listening to this album.

"Thoughts" If the first track was overindulgent, this is the height of pomposity. What's more, it's imitative of Gentle Giant's work, combining dark and quirky textures and complex vocal work clearly in tribute to "Knots" (is it only a coincidence that the two titles rhyme?). There is a clear Spock's Beard spin on the composition, but there is no question that the band was being derivative. I think the length exacerbates these criticisms. Nevertheless, I find the last statement of my assessment of the previous track holds true here also.

"The Doorway" Morse's brisk piano work dominates the beginning of this song. Finally, Spock's Beard sounds like Spock's Beard, alternating satisfying symphonic rock sections with pleasant acoustic-based ones. Fantastic synthesizer, working with the main theme, takes the hearer back to the initial lyrical section.

"Chatauqua" This is a concise acoustic guitar piece, similar to "Horizons" from Genesis's fourth album.

"Walking on the Wind" Explosive organ, bass, and drum introduce the third longest song with some mediaeval arrangements painted in between. This is a particularly strong composition, with several memorable passages and a good vocal melody. I especially like the role of Dave Meros's bass in this song; not only does he provide the backbone to the music, he treats the listeners to delightful solo on a fretless instrument.

"Waste Away" Such lovely acoustic guitar music is ruined by one of the most horrendous lines in progressive rock music ("Some people are like gravy spilled on God's Sunday shirt"). What follows is very bland (even if agreeable)- straightforward rock that's utterly forgettable.

"Time Has Come" The longest track should have thrown a lifejacket to a sinking album. Instead, it gets thrown an anchor. Lazy acoustic guitar, low, terrible vocals from Morse, foolish lyrics, a muddier sound than ever before, and further unwelcome quirky sounds just drag this piece down to the depths of awfulness. The lead guitar is piercing and directionless. The counterpoint vocal section is a rare moment of enchantment. Otherwise, this is one of the longest stinkers in recent times.

Epignosis | 3/5 |


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