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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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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This has always been my all-time favourite SB album, and I haven't changed my mind so far. Now as a quintet, newcomer keyboardist Ryo Okumoto gave a special touch of energy and finesse to the keyboard department, while guitarist Alan Morse went for a rougher approach to most of his solos and riffs, and the duo D'Virgilio-Meros complemented each other in a more solid manner. The musical ideas tend to be a bit more concise, which doesn't stop the band from creating two new very long tracks, 'The Doorway' (a SB classic) and the closure 'Time Has Come'; but these are also songs, not collections of successive sections that together fill a suite. So yes, the conception and arrangements of a bigger amount of songs shows that Neal Morse feels more confident about his creative talents, not being so "desperate" to show off his progressive ambitions with one suite and another and another. Anyway, the album kicks off with the George Harrison penned namesake number, rearranged by SB with a harder edge, which gives Okumoto the opportunity to show his power and prowess as if stating a flamboyant salutation to all SB fans. Actually the whole ensemble performs beautifully here, setting a pace of genuine enthusiasm with skill and passion. But a major dose of skill and passion is yet to come with 'Thoughts', a fresh and unabashed homage to the massive vocal counterpoints of GG, destined to become the other absolute SB classic from the album (besides 'The Doorway'). Later on, 'Walking on the Wind' will bring us another exhibition of clever connections between diverse impressively catchy motifs and energetic playing (some hints to GG here as well, this time mostly in the counterpoints and countermelodies during the main motif), while 'Waste Away' shows a mixture of folk-oriented pop and hard rock, with the subtle addition of progressive complexity in the dialogues between the lead guitar and the organ. In the middle of the album's repertoire is the acoustic guitar performance 'Chatauqua', which is kind of a tribute to Hackett's 'Horizons' and Howe's 'Mood for a Day' in one single piece - talking about nostalgia for the old good 70s prog. I've kept the two longest compositions for the final part of this review: both the 12+ minute 'The Doorway' and the 16+ minute 'Time Has Come' contain the largest amount of bombast and emotional tension in the album, with the former heading for the reflective realms of introspection, and the latter sounding a bit more explosive and dense, with lyrics that seem to be focused on the subject of self-determination. I feel 'The Doorway' more rewarding, since I find it more cohesive than the closing epic, but generally speaking, both tracks are quite impressive, living up quite brightly to the standards of complexity, variation and dynamics that one should expect from an efficient long progressive track. The improvement that "Beware of Darkness" shows in comparison to their impressive debut "The Light" is a proof that the band kept on progressing as musicians while maturing their own sound: 4 stars for this one.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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