Year of Release: 2006
Catalog Number: IOMCD 260
Total Time: 77:12:00
In their twelve year existence Spock's Beard has gone from strength to strength, although when Neal Morse left the band they really didn't know whether at all they could continue. Then in pure Phil Collins fashion drummer Nick took over the role of singer whilst still delivering his incredible drum skills as well. This new album is the band's ninth studio effort and does produce a mixture of material, as not everything you'll hear is pure Spock's Beard. With a lot of the new material written by Dave Meros and outsider John Boegehold they do explore some genres one would not automatically link to the band. As Alan Morse told me: "when it feels right it feels right so why shouldn't we put it on our album?"
The album opens with what could be seen as an outtake from the band's debut album The Light. With added real strings, this is powerful symphonic rock with great melodies, hooks and even some tasty acoustic Spanish sounding guitar. The band takes it one notch higher with the speedy instrumental "Skeletons At The Feast," which includes a huge input by Ryo together with ace playing by Dave Meros. In the end they steer the song towards an incredible melody which might be the catchiest on the album. The first not so evident song by the band certainly has to be the pure aggressive rock 'n' roll of "Is This Love," a song which came into existence after Nick collaborated with Cheap Trick's Ben E. Carlos!
Compared to a lot of progressive acts, Spock's Beard is one of the few that regularly comes up with songs that could easily be played on daytime radio. "All That's Left" is such an example with once again some brilliant singing by Dave - a superb song that nestles in your mind from the word go. As on their previous album Octane, "With Your Kiss" sounds more rough, incorporating a great tribal rhythm which is accompanied by a metal sounding guitar. For sure this is not the kind of Spock's Beard we have known for so long yet it's a daring musical adventure that ends with a fragile acoustic finale, once again introducing Alan's superb guitar skills. With "The Slow Crash Landing Man," the band delivers yet another radio friendly tune based around another of their catchy melodies. The contrast with this song is perfect when "Wherever You Stand" gives us the kind of "in your face" rock 'n' roll that could be linked to vintage Queen if you like. With only voice and piano "Hereafter" is the perfect composition to illustrate both the quality and the wide vocal range from Nick resulting in almost classical grandeur.
As on their previous albums, the band yet again delivers a lengthy epic which is made up out of four separate parts. With "Dreaming In The Age Of Answers" the band sounds like Level 42, especially with Nick getting close to the voice of Mark King and the bass being rather prominent in the mix. Dave even gets the chance to deliver some tasty fretless bass towards the end. Second on the cards is the jazzy, fusion of "Here's A Man," including some fierce organ playing by Ryo. "They Know We Know" even includes a children's choir before letting Ryo loose on his synths during "Stream Of Unconsciousness," the closing section of this magnum opus. It even incorporates a brass section which sounds like it announces the entrance of the gladiators! The album closes with the direct "Rearranged" which is the kind of song a band like Jadis should go for.
Spock's Beard the ninth studio offering from our American friends is an album which grows with each spin in your CD-player so don't make your final judgment after just listening to it only once. After a search that began with Feel Euphoria and a harder approach on Octane, I guess they have found the right route for the future which sees them going back to the very beginning, although with a more elaborate arrangement. Another top quality album from a top quality band which they will always remain!
On A Perfect Day (7:47) / Skeletons At The Feast (6:33) / Is This Love (2:51) / All That's Left (4:45) / With Your Kiss (11:46) / Sometimes They Say, Sometimes They Go (4:31) / The Slow Crash Landing Man (5:47) / Wherever You Stand (5:09) / Hereafter (5:01) / As Far As The Mind Can See: Dreaming In The Age Of Answers (4:49) - Here's A Man (3:28) - They Know We Know (3:18) - Stream Of Unconsciousness (5:23) / Rearranged (6:07)
Nick d'Virgilio - vocals, drums, guitar
Ryo Okumoto - keyboards
Alan Morse - guitar, vocals
Dave Meros - bass
The Light (1991)
Beware of Darkness (1995)
The Beard Is Out There Live (1995)
Official Live Bootleg (1996)
The Kindness of Strangers (1997)
From The Vault - 1995-1998 (1998)
Day For Night (1999)
Live At The Whiskey and NEARfest (1999)
Don't Try This At Home (2000)
Feel Euphoria (2003)
The Light - The Artwork Collector?s Series (2004)
Gluttons For Punishment (2005)
Spock's Beard (2006)
The Beard Is Out There Live (VID) (1995)
Spock's Beard's Home Movie (VID) (1998)
Live At The Whisky (VID) (1999)
Making Of V (VID) (2001)
Don't Try This At Home & The Making Of V (DVD) (2002)
The Making Of Snow (DVD) (2004)
Live (DVD) (2008)
Genre: Progressive Rock