Spock's Beard - Octane

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 198/SPV 085-40702
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:56:00

The more we go into time the clearer it gets. If you like the early Spock's Beard sound with it's myriad of vintage prog approaches, then you have to hang out with Neal Morse's solo escapades. If on the other hand your kind of prog should be adventurous and at times very contemporary, then you should stick with the "new" Spock's Beard. With Octane, the band's eighth album, a lot of the material is more in your face than the "older" Spock's material ever was. The opening track "The Ballet Of The Impact" however is a nice example that the new material might still get close to that wonderful original world Spock's Beard has opened for us a decade ago. A song like "I Wouldn't Let It Go" fuses both the prog material as well as the more laidback bluesy rock elements, delivering the kind of route the current line-up is taking. As always the production is top notch and I really dig the music from the icecream van towards the end. Prog means you have to allow your mind to drift from one end to the other and back again which is exactly what happens when "Surfing Down The Avalanche" leaves your speakers. This is authentic rough rock 'n' roll from the likes of old school Metallica, which would take every single metal festival to heaven. The way Ryo's mighty organ is woven into the wall of sound really is my kind of prog.

The fierce ballad "She Is Everything" is indeed everything you want to find in a rock song. It contains all the right hooks, a stunning guitar solo by Alan Morse whilst Nick's voice sounds a lot like Nik Kershaw here. Even simple chord changes, as in the opening section of "Of The Beauty Of It All" become intriguing and pure genius when you hear Ryo's synth leads, which set the pace for a much more aggressive middle section with shredding guitars and powerful drums. By now you most certainly are fully awake in order to appreciate "NWC," which sounds like a box of fireworks going off all at once in the boot of your car. There's no way you can describe this track, as way too much happens within the four minutes on offer here, so you'll keep on pushing the repeat button for this one (and the entire album as it seems). The acoustic guitars in "There Was A Time" introduce that southern American feel, which set many hearts on fire during the seventies. Bass, acoustic guitar and mellotron form the intricate trio for the folky intro of "The Planet's Hum," an intro that forms a sharp contrast with the heavy rock 'n' roll attitude of the sequel. Although holding strong musical references, "Watching The Tide" evolves towards a pure Kansas feel, once that specific violin steps in. A wonderful ballad with once again an ace arrangement.

Octane closes with the rocker "As Long As We Ride," a party piece which sounds like Foo Fighters merging with Slade. It's like stoner rock with a twist, the twist being the prog attitude. Octane is a very varied album delivering more and more beauty with each spin. Some will like the ballads best, others will vote for the rockers but we should all raise our glasses to a band that has survived a crisis (or more?) and came out clean cut, sounding like a different band. Every single musician still has his solo moments but it's mainly the group sound which prevails. Now all I have to do is go to my petrol station and explain to the guy that this album is a voucher which I can exchange to get my car filled with gas. Better still, I'd rather pay for my gas as no one will ever get his/her dirty hands on my Octane!

A Flash Before My Eyes: The Ballet Of The Impact (5:34) / I Wouldn't Let It Go (4:53) / Surfing Down The Avalanche (3:43) / She Is Everything (6:46) / Climbing Up That Hill (3:31) / Letting Go (1:53) / Of The Beauty Of It All (4:53) // NWC (4:16) / There Was A Time (4:58) / The Planet's Hum (4:42) / Watching The Tide (5:07) / As Long As We Ride (5:35)

Bonus Disk: When She's Gone / Follow Me To Sleep / Game Face / Broken Promise Land / Listening To The Sky / (extras from 'A Flash Before My Eyes'): Someday I'll Be Found / I Was Never Lost / Paint Me A Picture

Includes a QuickTime video: The Formulation Of Octane

Nick D'Virgilio - vocals, drums
Alan Morse - guitars
Ryo Okumoto - keyboards
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)
V (2000)
Snow (2002)
Feel Euphoria (2003)
The Light - The Artwork Collector's Series (2004)
Octane (2005)
Gluttons For Punishment (2005)
Spock's Beard (2006)
Live (2008)
X (2010)
Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep (2013)
The Oblivion Particle (2015)
Noise Floor (2018)

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

Origin US

Added: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.spocksbeard.com
Hits: 1024
Language: english


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