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Spock's Beard
October 2000
Released: 2000, Metal Blade
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Waspman

O.K., I admit it, when I first heard this album I was bored outta my skull. The second time I heard it, it was slightly better but still kinda dull. The third time? Well, you know what they say about the third time being the charm! Suddenly, the album opened up in front of me and I got it! Spock’s Beard is not progressive metal, they are simply progressive music. See, I opened up V expecting it to be heavy as hell (prolly ‘cause I just got finished listening to Symphony X’s V), but it’s not. Spock’s Beard is not about heaviness; they are about making some amazing, and technical, songs. With that in mind, I gave the album another chance and it has been growing on me ever since.

That’s not to say that SB doesn’t have their heavy moments, ‘cause they do, but they are used sparingly to add to the overall effect of the CD. Opener “At The End Of The Day” is the perfect example of this, flowing along smoothly with a quiet chorus, then picking up the pace with guitars every so often to liven things up. There are also a couple of really cool breakdowns in the song where the band gets all proggy and changes tempo and style all in one fell swoop (5:03-5:31 where they go all flamenco on us). Pretty cool!

“Revelation” is a fairly slow and heavy grinder that paves the way for the mellow and yet rockin’ “Thoughts (Part II)”. “All On A Sunday” and “Goodbye To Yesterday” are both serene pieces that wash over the listener, giving you the chance to take a breath before the final workout of the album – the 27:18 minutes of “The Great Nothing”. As you’d expect, the band pulls out all the stops and throws the kitchen sink at you for this one!

The entire band is in top form throughout the album, with extra points going to the performance of keyboardist Ryo Okumoto whose synths flow over the music adding both colour and mood. Also of mote is the fact that (awesome) vocalist Neal Morse wrote almost all of the music and lyrics for the album; a highly unusual occurrence for a prog band. Highly recommended for open-minded progressive fans.
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