Spock's Beard is easily one of the best Progressive Rock Bands of the current era of music. Starting their career in 1994, they instantly made a mark on listeners, being extremely unique, reviving a small Progressive Rock genre.
Around 2002 Neal Morse, the lead singer and mastermind of Spock's Beard quit the band to pursue music about God, and Religious themes. This is when Before drummer, NDV took up the position of Lead Singer and Drummer. In 2003 they Released "Feel Euphoria" Which was not Amazing, but a very good taste of things to come in the new age of Spock's Beard.
Any fan of Prog Rock / Metal will be able to enjoy Spock's Beard (my Favorite bands being Dream Theater and Opeth). Although Their sound is very unique and unlike anything else in the genre.
[A Flash Before My Eyes]
The opening instrumental passage of "Ballet of the impact" is amazing, and downright groovy.
At about 30 seconds in, this trippy sound makes its appearance, of which reminds me of an alien spacecraft zooming past, then it is replaced with when the guitar comes in harder for a melodic solo.
Once again that trippy sound effect appears over the harder driven guitar, Spiraling around the heaviness of the music. Suddenly it narrows down.
Its quiet.. Piano takes over with slight mellotron sounds following the lead of the piano. The sound of brass then follows the piano, until the drums kick in. Bass, and Mellotron back... It's beautiful.
"The windshield explodes
Like a Bomb packed with diamonds
There’s a deafening silence
Times floats to a crawl"
My mind began to drift away, and tears began to form as the beauty continued.
"So this is how it goes...
So this is how it ends...
A Flatbed runs a red light
No time to comprehend"
I am captured by its beauty. The music is moving me, in whichever direction it goes. It has grabbed my attention, and after it grabs you.. It will not want to let go until the disc is finished.
The song ends with a spiral of sound effects.. into a woman’s voice... The intro is over. The first taste of the new beard has graced my ears... It was beautiful and moving...
The next track "I wouldn’t let it go" starts with acoustic guitar, and some organ backing it up, It is oddly reminiscent of The Beatles mixed with some Pink Floyd. The chorus just drifts and doesn’t change the mood at all, you are just able to drift to this mood.
It's near perfect. It's wonderful; the sonic textures seem near endless by the middle of the track, yet they fit together as one piece so brilliantly. Organ ends throughout the last minute of the song... into beautiful lo-fi staticy toy piano like sound.
"Surfing down the avalanche" starts out with a booming bass track, giving a sample of the heavy grooviness that lays ahead. This song I feel as the least strong feeling of any of the tracks on the CD at first, but after a minute or so, I really began to dig it, and therefore after a few more listens I dug all of it.
There’s a groovy riff in the middle, which reminds me of Black Sabbath, or early 70's "Metal". Nick's voice sounds desperate and screaming. Everything suddenly cuts. Nick begins to whisper to the bass and tribal style drum track. Suddenly it picks up again and ends on a thunderous note.
"She is everything" opens out with a female voice drifting into a piano track. The mellotron track floats by, drifting in and out between the other instruments in beauty... as angelic voices back up the lead guitar.
After 2 minutes of instrumental beauty, Nick's voice enters sounding sad, quiet, and desperate…Desperately in love.
"She is everything
The sacred the pure
The fix, the addiction
The vision the cure"
You can truly feel the singers love, and desperation about his love. Your mind begins to wander thinking of your love.. or loves that have past. You connect to the singers desperation... His love.
3:30 seconds or so, the chorus is displayed again, and the instruments get even more wonderful with what seems to be a jazz inspired background. A melodic solo, soars ahead of the other instruments with endless beauty and passion. I can imagine, the love he is feeling every time the strings are being bent in the solo. it sounds desperate, caring, wonderful, beautiful, everything needed to make a great solo. The song ends after one more wonderful chorus. Beautiful.
The poppy "Climbing up that hill" begins with folky acoustic guitar, and then nicks vocals enter, seeming irritated. The bass track seems to be walking all over the place, wonderful and booming. The chorus, which is endlessly catchy and insightful kicks in.
"Dancing through the landmines
Right down to the wire
Walking through the fire
But where climbing up that hill
Breaking for the blue sky
Someday we will find our real life
On the other side"
You can imagine the couple, going through the struggles of life at this point, its truthful and is splashed with a balance of hope and happiness with the struggle and despair. Excellent synth using the layer the background leads into another soaring guitar solo, leading into another catchy chorus as the guitar continues to solo. The excellent melodic ends and drifts into the instrumental track.
Beautiful mellotron use is apparent as soon as the song opens... It seems to be a symphony of mellotron.. floating around drifting around your body. Realizing the story, and beautiful of the music so far.. You realize how beautiful it all really is by the middle of the track.. My eyes began to water again.. The beauty was near unmatched to anything my ears have heard before. Angelic sounds begin to end the song...sending chills and goose bumps, into chiming bells... which end the beautiful short instrumental piece…
"Of the beauty of it all" starts off with heart wrenching lyric and vocals..
"I'm drifting on the water
Far out from the land
Moving through my memories
As I try to understand
If I wake tomorrow wiser
Or its time to shed my skin
and let go of a lifetime
that I can't have back again"
Nick's greatest emotional vocal performance in on display, and the sound drifting in the background ambiently shows sorrow, sadness and compassion for the final time on the record.. I began to cry. I am on this journey with him... I feel it with him
"All the love we leave behind
All the work we leave undone
All the words we leave unspoken
All the things we wont become
But theres little I would change
In the life that I have recalled
If I could paint a picture
Of the beauty of it all"
I know exactly what he is talking about, in the beauty of the lyrics and of the tone of his voice.. I float away... after the lyric "Of the beauty of it all".. Ryo uses this trippy aryreon like synth sound, to spiral upwards, as if it was representing his soul drifting onward towards heaven
The angelic voices lead into a heavy solo with brass backing it up. It's beautiful, powerful and strong. A bold feeling overcomes you. A bold statement of understand and confusion at the same time. This must be his journey I thought. It's chaotic and beautiful at the same time. It slows down, to Mellotron and Organ... crunching over the mix; then slowing down into a orchestral and mellotron symphony of sheer beauty.
The music continues to take you away somewhere else with its seemingly endless beautiful orchestration... it drifts away... like a stone falling down deep into the ocean. drifting.. It's gone. He's gone. It's over... The greatest achievement in Spock's beard history is over. It's beauty never to be forgotten.
After the beautiful epic ends, NWC begins to drift in out of silence, into ambient chirping and wildlife noises, drifting in with a sound of what feels like a warm aura lead the way into the piece. Suddenly the drums and bass burst into a groovy Mellotron lead song. It's picks up and changes tempo and feelings over and over again.
The guitar part is beautiful and Ryo follows the soaring lead with wonderful synth. I can almost feel an asian influence in the music, it's rather beautiful and kick *** all at the same time. A solo blurts out and spirals down into a groovtacular Robotic distortion drifting speaker to speaker. Nick begins to drum away a little bit. Suddenly it is cut off into a tribal themed piece. Guitar leading as a soaring guide, as if it were flying above a rainforest. Kicks back into gear to the earlier mentioned asian influence. Stunning piece of work.
[There Was A Time]
Acoustic beauty opens "There was a Time" The bass drum then begins to follow a simple 1/4 beat. The song sounds like something right out of a late 60's ballad style piece, in the style of say…the moody blues. Then it breaks out of this, and begins to rock out.
The vocals are beautiful, and the guitar crunching yet melodic. The chorus is absolutely catchy greatness:
"Now I wonder if I ever
Cross her mind
ohh, There was a time"
You can feel his message, you're able to connect to it as well, and just as your begging to drift away with nick... Al presents an awesome soaring solo, which turns into an amazing solo by Ryu, then the guitar and keyboard follow each other until they end when Nick begins to sing again. Beautiful, rocking ballad.
[The Planet's Hum]
Time to dive into total weirdness. A groovy but off beat Bass line starts off, into a keyboard following it. about 1:00 in, the song begins to totally rock out, oozing with flashbacks of the mid Neal days (day for night). The vocals kick in, Seemingly using a Vocoder distortion of the vocals, they are high-pitched and very very odd sounding. Vocal choruses seem to drift back and forth, until once again the lead vocals under vocoder are present.
Then the clean vocals kick in to a funky grooving guitar riff, only to be interrupted by the chorusy Vocoder layered chorus. The song just pours with so much funk, groove, and totally weird sounding instrumental and use of vocoder. I wonder what is this Planet's Hum they hear sounds like.. I am sure it must sound something like this and if so, it's beautiful. the songs endless with a melodic little guitar piece.
[Watching the Tide]
This song opens and is carried by Piano. Nick's vocals are very high pitched here, reminding me of "Carey" off of the Snow Record.
"Watching the tide roll in again
Right now the Ocean's my true friend"
I can imagine, sitting on the beach at night, alone. Waiting for my love, my partner. The song is slow, and beautiful, about halfway through it begins to pick up a bit, but then is dissolved into slowness once again.
The song is stripped down, unlike the rest of the record where its layered so tastefully. All of the sudden, in the end, there’s a wonderful orchestra ional background with keyboard soaring through the chorus.
"And I wait for her answer"
Leads into a spiraling strings...Full of emotion and power. Slowly fades into an end... beautiful
[As long AS We Ride]
"Let's get this engine started
Packup the trunk with all that we own"
Time for a road trip. Bongo drumming, groovy guitar and vocal melody. Until it kicks in with bass for the chorus.
"As long as we ride
Reading the road"
The priceless point of this song is when Nick gives a high pitched "Wooo..Hooo!" The song flows with rocking energy of a 70's classic tune, but is then backed up with a trippy "water flowing" like synth sound, floating, rippling along perfectly to the rest of the track.
The chorus kicks in again, bobbing my head, rocking out... It's truly *** kickingly good. Then suddenly its cuts off to a groovy guitar part where the vocals are following it "Do do do do do, Do do do do Ah do doo Ah do doo", Unexpected and totally awesome.
As usual an awesome solo slashes in backed up by organ. The song begins to drift weirdly, with a backwards spoken word track, unable to make out what its saying. Suddenly it kicks back into the normal song.
"We'll all be doing fine...
As long as we.. As long as we ride!"
The song continues to rock out with a view added sound effects towards the end. Even some awesome Cowbell provided by Nick! The song slowly fades down.
Well, it's over. The journey is over…
The new Beard album is nothing short of stunning, and amazing. Simply one of the best album to come out in 2004.. And possibly, the best Spock Beard disc ever.
Thank God, Beard still knows how to write amazing music.