Album Releases Album Reviews

Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle Review

spocksalbum

 

Released by: InsideOut Music

Release date: 21 August 2015

Genre: Progressive Rock

Links: Spocksbeard.com , Facebook , Twitter , YouTube

 

Lineup:

Ted Leonard – Lead Locals, Guitars

Alan Morse – Guitar

Ryo Okumoto – Piano

Dave Meros – Bass

Jimmy Keegan – Drums

Additionally:

David Ragsdale – Violin on “Disappear”

 

Track Listing:

01. Tides of Time

02. Minion

03. Hell’s Not Enough

04. Bennett Built a Time Machine

05. Get Out While You Can

06. A Better Way to Fly

07. The Center Line

08. To Be Free Again

09. Disappear

 

I remember the first time I heard the band Spock’s Beard. It was back when the best site for checking out new bands was mp3.com. At least it seemed like it at the time. This was back in the days where it was standard to have a dial-up connection, and if you have never had to suffer through that horror, count yourself lucky. Trying to download a 4-5 mg mp3 file on dial-up was a test of patience, so when I downloaded a couple tracks from this band with this weird name, some of the songs were long thus making the file larger which made it even more trying. However, after hearing a brief snippet I wanted to keep the files because I was super impressed. As a long time fan of prog rock I felt like I had made the grandest discovery of all. Those songs were “Gibberish” and “Crack the Sky” (at least I think they were, my mind isn’t what it once was) from the album Day For Night (that fact I am 100% certain about.) I’m pretty sure if I had heard those songs on a tape like most bands I discovered in the 80’s that tape would’ve disintegrated from so much play. I immediately got the full albums (physical versions) and have more or less kept up with the band musically since if not historically.

With their 12th album, The Oblivion Particle, key members like Neal Morse and Nick D’Virgilio are no longer with the band (and haven’t been for some time depending on the member,) and some fans have moved on as well, but I have remained faithful to them. Though they are a supremely talented and progressive band, the thing that has always appealed to me was the accessibility of their songs. Sure, there are times where they go out there, like moments in “Hell’s Not Enough” and the clever and quirky “Bennett Built A Time Machine,” but even when it gets “weird” they hone in on this very pop sound that appeals to me. Tracks like “Tides of Time,” “A Better Way To Fly,” and the epic “To Be Free Again” have that classic Beard sound while creating something altogether different for them. Vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Dave Meros voice taps into a young sounding Peter Gabriel without being a carbon copy. His lilting voice soars and weaves throughout the songs (save “Bennett Built A Time Machine” which features brilliant drummer Jimmy Keegan) meshing perfectly with the sound tapestry created by guitarist Alan Morse, keyboardist Ryo Okumoto, and guitarist Ted Leonard. Complex drum patterns that aren’t trying to overdrive the songs, beautifully sculpted keyboard parts that accentuate the songs, and the delicious guitar riffs and solos all combine to create an album that requires multiple listens to take it all in, but is so captivating from the first spin that it makes you want to listen many times.

The Oblivion Particle may not be the best album of their catalog, but it is a superior work of music that is at least comparable to their best works. Anyone that walks away from this album that calls themselves a fan that doesn’t enjoy it; I’m not sure what they’re missing. Sure, without Neal and Nick it may not be the same band, but they’re still putting out amazing music without them. To my ears this is a masterful piece of progressive genius, complex and beautiful, adventurous and emotional, I’m glad to be a fan of this band.

Written by: Chris Martin

 

Ratings: Chris 9/10

 

 

 

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