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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
3 stars For a number of years, I was completely happy with only The Light and V to fulfill my Spock's Beard needs. Fortunately for me, I eventually got around to the rest of the Beard's catalog, although this album was the one I was most dubious about.

For my high-level review, I think there is enough good material for a 4-star album. However, extending an album's worth of high-quality material into a double album removes a star in my book. I don't think there's really any debate that there is not enough material for the runtime of this album.

Upon more close analysis, I can understand better how this album came to be. In Neal's book Testimony, he refers to the time in which Snow was conceived and recorded. He was being pulled in multiple ways professionally and personally, When they met to record the album, there was a scheduling conflict in the recording studio, and that is when Snow went from one album to two. It was a bad choice, but I understand why it was done at least. I also think that Neal was moving toward a more symphonic and dramatic form of composition, and if he took a few lumps on Snow to refine his approach to future albums, then it was worth it.

And the concept...oh the concept...well it's just terribly lame. I don't mind cheesy lyrics, and you have to be willing to make a bit of a fool of yourself to make Spock's Beard music, but I can't imagine how awkward it must have felt to be working in the studio on vocal round after round about the albino. Let's just say that nothing in the concept or lyrics resonates with me and leave it at that.

Fortunately, I do enjoy most of the music. The first 10 minutes or so of each album are a bit uneven and perhaps uninteresting, but things really pick up in momentum as the side moves forward. The one glaring limitation is the end of the album (everything after Ryo's piece), mainly because those sections involve reprisals that I thought were done better earlier in the album. Save the best for last, guys! Don't give us a 10-minute reprise of Wind at My Back, please.

I find the playing to be tight on Snow. Meros is a bit muted due to the composition, but fortunately I can hear plenty of bass (which is always a Beard highlight for me). Alan is solid, as is Ryo, and NDV is particularly locked in. They really have moved into a great brand of prog metal at this point, and they cement their place as one of my all-time favorite rhythm sections. Vocals are quite strong, and that includes Neal! He has some awkward moments, but it's not due to lack of ability in my book. With a double album, you can't just sing the same way throughout, and when you experiment, sometimes it doesn't work. Fortunately, I think things work more here than not.

All in all, Snow is yet another cautionary tale of a quality album that should not have been a double album. For those who can appreciate (or at least stomach) the occasional excesses of the Beard, Snow is a must-have.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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