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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover

SNOW

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 677 ratings

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R-A-N-M-A
4 stars Snow was the first review I ever did upon joining PA. I think it's time to freshen it up a little. Based on what I wrote before in my first review, I should probably have given a three rather than a four. I guess at the time I couldn't make up my mind and erred for higher rather than lower. Almost three years on, and probably four or five now since I first bought the album, my opinion remains undiminished. In fact I would say it's likely improved. Whether I or not I was vacillating then on three stars or four, I can safely say Snow is at least a four and may even be flirting with a five. In a few more years maybe I'll look back on it again and push it all the way. For now it stays four.

I hadn't been listening to much Spock's Beard lately. They were one of the first bands I got into when I hopped on this progressive rock band wagon thing. As a result early on I listened to them way too much and kind of killed it a little. After a healthy break, I'm back and enjoying them more than ever.

One of the most important things to occur during that hiatus was the broadening of my tastes and collection simultaneously. I've now heard much more from bands like Genesis and Gentle Giant, which SB allegedly rips off. I think that while they wear their influences on their sleeve, however they are a band all their own. They are considerably more approachable then Genesis and they are not as erratic as Gentle Giant and aren't as afraid to use those gorgeous vocal harmonies. They are a little closer to the Crossover Prog genre, especially on Snow than either of those two.

The best thing about Snow isn't musical at all, it's the concept. Spock's Beard takes a topic, the rise, fall and redemption of an American albino prophet and healer, that in other hands might have ended up being totally impenetrable and instead weaves a compelling and easily understood epic.

And epic it is! Snow inhabits two full albums clocking in just shy of Yes' monster Tales. Those of us looking for a lot of content or perhaps just something to listen to for two hours will undoubtedly be thrilled by this album. I maintain the same criticism as before, perhaps without the same fervour, Snow will drag at times. Near the mid to late portion of disk one after The Devil's Got my Throat, and again at the early to middle portion of disk two around Carrie and so forth. In my initial review I suggested the band could have done without these portions, but now I feel that would have really upset the narrative and had a deleterious effect on the rest of the album.

Musically, Spock's Beard hits a groove early and stays consistently good throughout. Even if I do find a few tracks a bit boring at times, the band never plays poorly. The highlight of Snow is the latter half of disk two from the Devil's Got my Throat reprise on to the stunning finale. The best tracks are Mr. Ryo Okumoto, a great showcase for a musician who should be put in charge a little more often and of course Made Alive Again/Wind At my Back. As many of you know Neal Morse became a born again Christian (and apparently went off to make some great albums that are on my to do list). That Christian influence is heaviest on Wind at my Back. The synthesis of simple yet encouraging lyrics, smooth vocals and a slow rising tide rock make can make anyone a believer, even if it's for just eight and a half minutes or so.

Snow is a journey, there will be parts you like, parts you are indifferent to or even hate, but I can guarantee there'll be parts you love. Snow is a very diverse album and the Spock's Beard quintet is one of the best kept secrets in rock'n'roll. They so talented, it's a shame they are no longer with us. I think it's worth anyone's time to go check them out on their fantastic swan song. Snow is a four for five... for now.

Below is the original review. I couldn't bring myself to delete my first one ever. Be kind, hahaha.

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In general what I would say about Snow is that it is a mixed effort it has its share of great and at the same time mediocre. My opinion how ever is that the good really out weighs the bad. Here is what I thought was good and what I thought was bad about it, I'll start with the bad just to get it out of the way.

The Bad. It really was quite a lengthy album. I am not one to shy away from a long album but if it isn't consistent it can become tiresome. The repetition was also a rather tiresome aspect. Some songs on disk two and just parts of songs on disk one. My biggest beef with the album is however is its tendency to at times wholly abandon the notion of progressive rock wallow in what I would call unimaginative and monotonous soft rock.

The Good. I really enjoyed the way that one song would flow fluidly into the next. I also felt that the story was well told and fairly easy to understand. Then again I am the type to read along in the inside cover with the music. Another part of the album I like is Ryo Okumoto on the keyboard, especially during the overtures and towards the end of disk two. My favourite parts of this album, and the parts that make it entirely worthwhile in my opinion are the first half of the first disk, (- love beyond all words, +the devil's got my throat) the very beginning of the second disk and the last half or so the second disk. If these had been one album it would have been great but it would have lost the good story telling aspect.

On the whole if you are wary about checking out Snow by Spock's beard I would say don't be. It can be boring at times and not overly so but at other times you'll find yourself repeating tracks over and over again. In closing given the two parts I would take disk two over disk one. Hope this helps, enjoy the prog.

R-A-N-M-A | 4/5 |

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