Next review: » Spock's Beard - LIVE (DVD)
Released: 2003, Insideout
HUGE changes in the Spock’s Beard camp. I’m here to tell ya, this ain’t no ‘Snow’ part II. Many fans were shocked (and appalled?) as driving force Neal Morse left the band at the height of their power briefly following the bands tour-de-force, the double concept album SNOW. I was skeptical…could the band survive? Then following a label change, a logo change and the drummer coming to the fore to take the lead vocal role, the band not only survived but in relatively short-order released a CD that showed that, in hindsight these changes are fortunately, largely cosmetic.
The at times burgeoning quintet has become a streamlined quartet. In reality there was no other direction the band could go. How could they possibly top (or even try) to top SNOW in terms of scale? A sleek, streamlined album is what we needed and we got.
The disc is the usual prog-rock feast with 13 cuts but six of the them comprise a story called ‘A Guy Named Sid’, but for the most part this is just a straight-up collection of songs. The CD opens with a surprisingly fast and heavy cut called ‘Onomatopoeia’ (look it up) driven by bass and drums. The band slams it into reverse with the second cut ‘The Bottom Line’ (No, not a Raven or David Lee Roth cover) which is almost a ballad with acoustic guitar and piano. I would have preferred to ease into it, but what the heck…it kept me guessing and I suppose that is the point…defiance of convention. The songs are still most certainly progressive with tunes clocking in at over six minutes and arrangements that have little to do with a chorus or formula.
As always top notch production and presentation everything clear and precise, it is a natural fit to find this ex-Metal Blade band on Insideout…it actually makes more sense to me. I could see Spock’s Beard touring with label mates Event and Enchant better than with Gwar and Six Feet Under.
Verdict? Spock’s Beard did survive some potentially crippling changes with ease and even flair. Metal fans be warned this is still very mellow but prog rock fans will be very pleased. Another intriguing release a these prog purists.
2. The Bottom Line
3. Feel Euphoria
4. Shining Star
5. East of Eden, West of Memphis
6. Ghosts of Autumn
A Guy Named Sid
8. Same Old Story
9. You don’t Know
11. Sid’s boy’s choir
13. Carry On
Nick D’Virgilio-Vocals, Drums
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