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


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.68 | 516 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars 3.5 stars, really.

This was the first Spock's Beard album I ever heard, and initially at least, it didn't appeal to me much. At the time, I was just discovering that Prog had not died at the end of the 70's, and that there was a thriving and soon to explode modern Prog scene in the mid to late 90's. Initially, I felt the album was derivative and that the weirdness was a little too contrived. However, as I became more familiar with bands catalog, I started to gain more appreciation for this album.

The first track, Beware Of Darkness, is a cover of George Harrison song. Having never heard the original, this seemed like the best song on the album to me at first. Over time however, I still feel it's a good song, but not the best on the album by any stretch. I always thought it was strange that a band would have a cover song as the title track of their album, but there it is. The instrumental sections are fun, and are done in a very Yes style, similar to how they altered America. However, this band does not sound like Yes, and the only real similarities are in the keyboard sounds used.

The second track is quite enjoyable to me, being a long time Gentle Giant fan. Yes, when I first heard it I was appalled at how they pretty much emulated that great band to the point of near plagiarism. But what the heck, it's still a fun song and if you can get past the similarities it is quite well performed and written.

The Doorway presents us with one of the best and most original songs Spock's Beard has ever written. Driven by Morse's piano and vocals, this song (finally) establishes the sound of the band, and it is neither derivative nor imitative. Sure, they use piano and Hammond organ (though these are probably emulated by a synth and are not the actual instruments, but I could be wrong). Beautiful melodies are complimented by excellent playing by all performers. This song is without question the highlight of the album and is a joy to listen to. This song alone makes the album worth checking out.

Chatauqua is a brief, but enjoyable acoustic guitar instrumental performed by Neal. Of course, the Steve Howe comparisons are obvious and Neal does not fair well in the comparison. For what it is though, it's a nice interlude. Walking On the Wind is one that starts promising but for me is hurt by the overly cheesy chorus. I know some people like the more pop aspects of Spock's Beard, but for me it makes the song less enjoyable. Still, there is some outstanding drumming from DiVirgilio and the musicianship in general is quite high. Not a bad track, minus the chorus.

Waste Away does pretty much nothing for me, and has throw away lyrics (though that could be said for most of the songs on this album). It seems to be one they liked to play live, though I'm not really sure why. A sing along type thing maybe? Not one I enjoy, sorry.

The final song, Time Has Come, does not seem to have too many fans, but I for one have grown to enjoy the song. Sure, there are sections that drag a bit, but the Beatlesque middle section is charming and the multi part vocals after are quite good. Perhaps it could have been a bit shorter, but I think much like The Doorway it displays the Spock's Beard sound and doesn't bring to mind other bands for the most part (minus the part that reminds me of the Beatles). I think the heavy, almost dissonant main theme turns some people off but I like it personally.

All in all, not their best album, but certainly not their worst in my view. For me, aside from one track, I felt this was an improvement on the first album. Maybe not a big improvement, but still an improvement. I really don't want to give it 4 stars, but I feel it is a bit better than 3, so 3.5 rounded up to 4 will have to do for this one.

infandous | 4/5 |


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