Inside Out [Release date 25.05.18]
Spock’s Beard return with their thirteenth album and it also marks the return of original drummer Nick D’Virgilio who guests on the album, after the previous drummer Jimmy Keegan left the band in 2016.
On this album vocalist and guitarist Ted Leonard, says: “We are always about evolution, not revolution. But what we have done this time is make the songs more melodic. We still love our crazy prog, but now appreciate how important it is to grab people’s attention early on.” They have also added in strings and a horn player to add further dimensions to their sound.
Opener ‘Days We’ll Remember’ sounds like a classic piece of 70′s era Kansas and what a glorious melody it contains. Further 70′s influences appear on ‘What Becomes Of Me’, where the bass of Dave Meros recalls the late, great Chris Squire and the song has a Yes feel.
That’s not to say Spock’s Beard don’t have their own sound, as they come into their own on ‘Somebody’s Home’, where the aforementioned horn ushers in the song. Each band member adds to the musical delights, be it the guitar solo of Alan Morse or the organ/keys of Ryo Okumoto, who is on top form throughout the album be it on a solo or adding to a song’s rhythm with his Hammond playing.
Vocalist Ted Leonard has really come into his own on this album, be it on the gentle ballad ‘Bulletproof’ or ‘To Breathe Another Day’, which has a hint of his other band Enchant about it. Having Nick D’Virgilio back, even as a guest, seems to have pushed the band that much bit further musically and he slips into an easy groove with Dave Meros again.
They still do ‘crazy prog’ as they use their considerable musical talents on ‘Armageddon Nervous’. The bass and drums provide a steady backbeat to the guitar histrionics and amazing keys playing.
The real stand out for me though is ‘So This Is Life’, where the band take a little late 60′s Beatles and add some Pink Floyd approved guitar. Then we have the band’s trademark vocal harmonies and strings to produce a perfect song to appeal beyond the prog world.
Creating wonderful and memorable progressive music does not mean songs have to be overly long or full of endless solos, the melody is key and Spock’s Beard nail that on this song, and indeed the rest of the album.
Spock’s Beard rarely disappoint and on ‘Noise Floor’ they have done it again, producing an album full of wonderful music to be enjoyed again and again. They wanted to go for a more melodic feel on the songs and it is job done. This album will be featuring on the year end ‘Best Of’ lists. ****1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 1 August 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week and an interview with “metal queen” Lee Aaron.
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