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Spock's Beard - X CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 599 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars While Spock's Beard's X was not my first taste of the band, it is the first album of theirs that I've owned since their debut which came out over 15 years ago. Comparing the two, they bear little resemblance other than a name, so this was mostly a blind (deaf) purchase for me. To my surprise, however, the band's tenth offering has become one of my favorite albums of 2010, despite a few flaws that hold it back.

The music of Spock's Beard, specifically that of X, is a mixture of symphonic rock and metal, utilizing classic prog compositional style, with heavier drums, bass, and guitar riffs. The focus is more on the symphonic side, but the metal touches come out enough that it's worth making the distinction. The songs are lead mostly by vocal sections, with instrumental breaks consisting mainly of guitars and piano, but other instruments such as synthesizers and even brasses are occasionally thrown into the mix. The guitar and keyboards are used very well, and are both very clean and melodic. The mixing and production values are great, and the listener is able to hear absolutely everything they want to.

All but one of the tracks have singing on them, and the one that doesn't is the shortest on the album at 4 minutes. The vocals are usually pretty good, which is important, because this is a fairly wordy album. There are a few lengthy instrumental sections, but they are generally short and merely in between verses. The lyrical content is pretty standard for prog: lost loves, comments on big corporations, and philosophical ponderings on life in general. These are usually sung well, with good, albeit standard harmonies between members, however, the vocals do get a little silly and corny at times. There are few enough of these moments that they don't detract from the album as a whole, but they don't stop me from cringing every time they pass.

X is quite lengthy, coming in at over 70 minutes, but unfortunately, the content doesn't completely justify the time. The album also doesn't benefit from a straight listen from beginning to end, and in fact, this detracts from the overall quality. The songs are good on their own, but by the time the first epic has passed, it starts to drag. The album could definitely do with at least one of the shorter songs in the second half thrown away, as they really don't show anything different from the other songs, nor do they do anything better than what's already been presented. Luckily, there is there is about 50 minutes worth of good music here, which is a great amount.

Even with its overkill of music and occasional over serious moments, X still has a lot to offer; the three 10+ minute songs alone make the album worth the money. This probably isn't 2010's greatest album, but it's definitely worth a listen, and since it's the band's first in four years, should be a treat for fans.

m2thek | 4/5 |


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