SPOCK’S BEARD – Spock’s Beard

SPOCK'S BEARD - Spock's Beard


InsideOut Music
Release date: November 17, 2006

User Review
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Self-titled albums are often perceived as debut albums, aren’t they? Well, Spock’s Beard is Spock’s Beard’s ninth studio album, so what do they have in mind?

The Music

Although Spock’s Beard claim they don’t consider this a new beginning for the band, it does indicate a somewhat new direction for the band. It’s a step into a world of more Rock-orientated material and a visit to darker moods, where you’ll find lyrics of resentment and alienation (almost). This is, with all due respect, quite unlike your “average” Spock’s Beard album. That said, the album starts rather carefully with “On A Perfect Day,” which as an intro is typical for the softer side of the band. The song hardly intensifies until the end, and it never seems to reach the kind of climax one might expect. However, it is a beautiful melody, loaded with sufficient emotion to keep you listening.

“Skeletons At The Feast” has a lot more to offer, though! This instrumental is heavy, fierce, and vivid, bringing on the aforementioned darkness. It has spots of bright sun, though, adding appropriate balance to the song. “Is This Love” joins almost seamlessly and reveals along with the previous track a lot of spirit and ambition. Sadly, some of the following songs struggle to keep up with this ambition. Songs like “All That’s Left,” “Sometimes They Stay,” “Slow Crash Landing Man,” and “Hereafter” are all basically ballads that never seem to go anywhere. The latter two have apparent emotional qualities (especially in the vocal domain), but “Sometimes They Stay” is borderline annoying. Is this the same band who released Octane last year?

Luckily, a song like “With Your Kiss” is tucked into this slo-mo landscape! It offers a lot of raw Progressive energy, with lyrics reflecting both despair and hope. “Wherever You Stand” also stands out with its groovy, odd-beat R’n’B kind of mechanics. The verse, however, is practically identical to “Surfing Down The Avalanche” from Octane.

Rounding off the album are the four-piece suite “As Far As The Mind Can See,” and the slightly mysterious “Rearranged.” The suite offers moments of musical brilliance, but fails to live up to its name. The conclusion of “Rearranged” offers a most interesting evolution, quite different from any other Spock’s Beard composition, perhaps except for the catchy and uplifting chorus.

The Band

A quartet since the departure of forming member, lead singer, and key element Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard has spent these past few years re-establishing themselves. There is no doubt they have succeeded! Spock’s Beard offers superb performances by all members, but standing out is Nick D’Virgilio, whose vocal ability has truly flourished, and Ryo Okumoto, whose keyboards seem more omnipresent than ever. Bass player Dave Meros serves up a very nice fretless solo in “Dreaming In The Age Of Answers” alongside his elsewhere potent fretting. Alan Morse seems a little left out of this album, except for just a few solos, where the insane one in “Skeletons At The Feast” is particularly worth observing.

A lot of other people also contribute to this album, which is perhaps the most orchestrated ever from the band. You’ll find strings, horns, and vocals from a long line of highly skilled musicians, adding a richness to the sound not possible to create on a Mellotron (yes, even not for Mellotron master Okumoto himself!). Yet, the orchestrations are kept in a rather subtle and symbiotic manner within the Spock’s Beard expression.

The Verdict

Because of a few less inspiring songs, Spock’s Beard lacks some of that intravenous impact found on most of their other releases. Still, it grows with each spin and songs like “With Your Kiss” and the “Skeletons At The Feast”/”Is This Love” two-pack are simply brilliant. After all, this is Spock’s Beard: where past, present, and future is melted and formulated into a unique musical expression. Time will show if Spock’s Beard really is the turning point for the band that it appears to be.


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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