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Spock's Beard
Octane
March 2005
Released: 2005, SPV
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Wow. Colour me both impressed and shocked. The one and only time I heard an album from these American progsters was back in 2000 with their V release. It was OK, but nothing the shook my world. Once I heard that founding member and main man Neal Morse had left the group, I figured that they were done, cooked, and served up on a plate. OCTANE shows that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Partially a concept album, the discs first 7 tracks form a suite called “A Flash before My Eyes”. Very similar thematically (and musically in places) to Ayreon’s THE HUMAN EQUATION, “A Flash Before My Eyes” follows the last moments of a man as his car is hit by a truck, and all of the memories and emotions that he feels. Like Ayreon, the lyrics are extremely intelligent and moving, joining with the outstanding music to create an absolutely captivating experience. I won’t go into specifics, but suffice it to say that this section of the album is worth the price of admission for fans of progressive music. Each band member shines without being a showoff, with Alan Morse both shredding and adding shades with his guitar, Dave Meros absolutely ripping apart his bass, Nick D’Virgilio doubly impressing with his expressive vocals and drum acrobatics, while Ryo Okumoto colours everything with his otherworldly keys. The power and emotion that they manage to convey her is simply stunning. It’s an achievement, to be sure.

But wait! After that workout, the band goes on to supply another five songs of almost equal greatness with all of the twists and turns the prog-metal fans will eat up. Most shocking however is the last song, “As Long as we Ride”, which sounds like a 50s rock n’ roll song progged up for 2005. Still, it’s “A Flash before My Eyes” that stays with you once the album is over. Needless to say, OCTANE is a rousing success, and sure to be somewhere on my year end list of top albums.
Track Listing

A Flash Before My Eyes:
1) The Ballet of the Impact
2) I Wouldn’t Let It Go
3) Surfing Down the Avalanche
4) She Is Everything
5) Climbing Up That Hill
6) Letting Go
7) Of the Beauty of It All

8) NWC
9) There Was a Time
10) The Planet’s Hum
11) Watching the Tide
12) As Long As We Ride

Lineup

Nick D’Virgilio: Vocals, Drums
Alan Morse: Guitars, Backing Vocals
Dave Meros: Bass
Ryo Okumoto: Keyboards


Next review: » Spock's Beard - Snow
Previous review: » Spock's Beard - LIVE (DVD)





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