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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 689 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After five consecutive masterpiece-level studio albums, Spock's Beard intended to take it one step further for Neal Morse's farewell by creating a two-CD concept album, much in the same league as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, The Wall, or Quadrophenia. Unfortunately for the Beard, and I applaud them for their effort, this album just does not quite come up to the quality of their previous five albums and that's mostly because concept albums of this length are typically over-complicated and chock full of filler pieces used mainly to progress the storyline. Snow is as guilty of this as other lengthy concept albums.

Summarizing the storyline, it appears to be about an albino nicknamed Snow, in search of enlightenment, who moves to New York City and lives through a number of ups and downs. Now the concept is much more than that. In fact, Neal Morse took the time to write a few paragraphs about what this album was about in one of the inserts (at least this is so in the 3-CD special edition of Snow). It's just that if I had to analyze this album to that detail, I would end up writing a 20 page technical report on it. If musical adventures for you require this kind of in-depth thought, you'll probably really enjoy Snow.

Musically, Snow consists of 26 or so short-to-medium-length tracks, each one flowing into the other like a long musical story. Again, this is typical of most of these types of concept albums. The closest thing to a multi-part suite are tracks 7 to 13 on the second CD as the connection between them is much more cohesive than on the other tracks. It is similar in some ways to their The Healing Colors of Sound from Day for Night. Because most of the tracks are shorter, there is a lesser effort on Snow for interesting instrumental sections. The overall effect is a much more vocal album. That's not to say that Spock's Beard doesn't display their instrumental prowess, it's just that the material is more AOR in style and structure.

There are some really great numbers on this album, notably Devil's Got My Throat, 2nd Overture, 4th of July, I'm the Guy, and the Freak Boy medley (tracks 7-13 on disc 2). Many of the remaining songs are quite good, but alas, the size of this album means that a number of these tracks are skippable filler (something not known on earlier Spock's Beard albums). Still, it's quite a nice job and is better than most lengthy concept works. Enough so, that I'm willing to give it four stars, but I'm disappointed that it did not live up to expectations that had been built up in me from the five amazing studio albums the band did from 1995 to 2000. Nonetheless, an excellent addition to a prog rock collection.

On a side note, the special 3-CD version of Snow, has a powerful cover of Yes' South Side of the Sky on the third CD, which mostly contains outtakes from the Snow recording sessions. Also, Nick D'Virgilio makes his lead vocal singing debut, for reasons that became apparent later when Neal Morse announced his departure from Spock's Beard.

progaardvark | 4/5 |


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