Inside Out [Release date 21.08.15]
The second studio album to feature vocalist Ted Leonard (Enchant) and drummer Kimmy Keegan, the band’s twelfth studio album overall, and one of their more instantly accessible albums of recent years. There is the lead track ‘Bennett Built a Time Machine’ which is great fun from the lyric (a possible nod to ‘Back To The Future’ films?) and the band’s instrumental prowess gets a run out. Alan Morse adds some mandolin to the musical mix on this one.
The other song that sees the band trying something a little different is ‘Disappear’. This has a Kansas feel to the music, in part due to Kansas member David Ragsdale guesting and his whirling violin playing sounding like a second guitar. Again the lyrics mix a little fun with a more serious tone.
Ryo Okumoto once again pulls some magical keyboard and synth sounds out of his musical hat. Have a listen to ‘The Center Line’ which has classical piano to start out with before giving way to the rest of the band and then listen out for the various keyboard/electronic effects. The bass of Dave Meros drives this one along nicely, listening to his bass parts he is like Rush’s Geddy Lee in that it becomes a lead instrument. Again a very instant and melodic song.
The band are famous for their a cappella parts and these pop up on ‘A Better Way To Fly’, a song that recalls classic Yes. ‘Minion’ is another song with a cappella parts, hints of Yes and classic 70′s prog rock, albeit with a modern sound.
Ted Leonard sings in a more melodic, restrained vocal in Spock’s Beard than in Enchant and he sounds fabulous on ‘Hell’s Not Enough’, a song that would appeal to anyone who is wary of of the word ‘prog’! Gentle verses and then a big chorus to rouse the listener.
There is one epic, ‘To Be Free Again’ clocking in at just over ten minutes. There is plenty going on here musically to keep the most ardent Spock’s Beard fan happy.
Spock’s Beard have produced one of their most melodic and accessible albums to date, yet have kept their love of musical experimentation intact (Alan Morse keeps adding to the musical instruments he plays, like a latter day Roy Wood!). ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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