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Spock's Beard - Snow CD (album) cover


Spock's Beard


Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 648 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What's a prog band without a concept album?

After the success of V The Beard decided they finally needed a concept double album under their belt. And why not? The band were in top form having released a series of albums now deemed ''their classic era'' by fans and with each member seemingly better than ever it really was time. The concept itself may not be the most original tale ever, seemingly borrowing from Tommy, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, The Wall and the movie Powder as an albino child with mind reading powers goes to New York city and is worshiped as a messiah. Of course we also have the love interest who turns him down and the near death experience that makes him see the light once more. Really this can be seen as Neal's own realization of his faith and Christianity, but when its put into metaphor as it is here it becomes rather enjoyable. Besides, this is an album, not a movie, so why be so concerned about storyline? All it means really is that the songs are going to flow together and recurring themes will be used throughout the album, and well used they are.

There really aren't any mammoth songs on the album (length wise) being that it might overpower the rest of the songs, really they all work in tandem with one another. Each of the songs segue into one another giving the impression that they could be conjoined into one massive epic, but having the pieces form the whole is really just as good. The quality of the songs throughout the album also stays pretty steady with no real let downs to speak of. Sure, there's a couple of tunes that stand out above the rest, but it's not like you're just waiting for other songs to end just to get to those ones. Of course, coming into the end of the album the songs start to become amazingly full of energy, but being a concept album it's expected that the climax of the album be the most powerful.

As for style we're still looking at Spock's Beard and they're still doing what they do well. The songs range between hard prog-rockers and some more AOR-oriented material (without becoming annoying), but this really is what we're used to from the band anyways. Some of the tunes like Overture feature heavy riffs from Alan Morse while others such as the excellent The Devil's Got My Throat feature mean keys and some screaming sections from a passionate Neal Morse. Throughout the album we're treated to a number of very catchy hooks in the forms of riffs of vocal passages such as the menacing riff behind Long Time Suffering, the uplifting pace of Open The Gates (Part 2) or the chorus that drives Looking For Answers. If there's one thing the Beard does even better here that they've sometimes tripped on in the past is the use of quiet sections. While on previous albums there's points where you get right into the segments and then BAM - it's slow, breaking the momentum. Here that doesn't happen, as the way the songs are organized makes the audience ready for the softer or harder parts so that you never felt it could have been done a different way.

While the first disc is likely the stronger of the two, the second still has some excellent moments. The main ideas for the album are very strong in the first half, while the second isn't completely exhausted it certainly is different. No problems with that really, some of the tunes here are still very strong, especially coming into the end. The two part Freak Boy is a nicely brooding section that adds to a malevolent atmosphere while The Devil's Got My Throat Revisited makes for a quick and dirty rocker. On the whole this half is less uplifting and more evil sounding, but it makes a good contrast. Really it's the ending instrumentals that really help to make the album. Snow's Night Out and Ladies and Gentlemen... are a great (if far too short) pair of songs that help make the ending climax of the album well deserved.

In the end this album really is great. Being that it's a double album and quite long (some have argued too long) it's a bit difficult to ingest and is not for the Spock's Beard newcomer, but seasoned fans will be able to appreciate this one greatly. This would be Neal's last album with the band, as he would leave to pursue his solo career afterwards - making many believe the band was finished (not true fortunately). This is the last chance to enjoy Neal's work on an SB album and it's quite worth it if you know what you're getting into. 4 freak boys out of 5! An excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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