Sunday, August 24, 2003

Music Review - Feel Euphoria by Spock's Beard

Spock's Beard was delivered a crushing blow when lead vocalist, keyboardist and main writer Neal Morse left. Their new album shows the band has not only recovered, but evolved into a new lean mean music machine!

Does this sound familiar? A progressive rock band brings out a double-album, a concept album about the adventures of guy in New York. Shortly after the lead singer leaves and the drummer takes over the vocal duties. Are you thinking: Genesis - 1974? Well you'd be right, but the story also applies to Spock's Beard - 2003. In an uncanny repeat of history Neal Morse (lead vocals) left the band after the double-CD concept album "Snow" and Nick D'Virgilio (drummer) took over.

For Genesis, the difference after Peter Gabriel left was noticeable but not too much for fans to bear. Gabriel was a writer and the front-man, but Phil Collins sounded very like him and most of the instrumental writing was done by the other band members even when Gabriel was around. The difference for the Beard is that Neal Morse was the band leader and the main writer. His style was stamped on everything the band did.

So you have to hand it to the remaining band members, not only did they have to replace a great vocalist who also played major keyboards and some guitar but they had to replace the main writer of the band too.

So how did they do? Incredibly well. First off there is new life and vigor in the music that I didn't know had been missing until I heard it on the new album. It starts off in high-gear on the first track and just goes on from there. Every song on the album is great.

Nick D'Virgilio is a great vocalist and very successfully replaces Neal. Ryo Okumoto steps forward to not only play his own Hammond and Mellotron parts, but to more than replace Neal's other keyboards. And the writing is fresh and lively while still retaining a distinctive Spock's Beard vibe. About the only thing missing is the classical feel that Neal brought to the band. The new style is definitely more rock oriented.

So as a fan of the band I am very pleased with the new album. Plus I have the solo career of Neal Morse to look forward to.

Feel Euphoria by Spock's Beard

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