(8/10) Spock’s Beard was founded in 1992 by the Morse brothers, Neal and Alan. It was in 202 when Neal Morse left the band, focusing on some other projects he had in the pipeline. The 2003 release “Feel Euphoria” was the first one with Nick D’Virgilio on vocals and the question at that time was, if Spock’s Beard could continue with the winning streak the band had during the first era. The answer is: ‘yes’. Spock’s Beard never unveiled any bad album and the prog outfit was always a sight for sore eyes on bigger festivals like Sweden Rock and Prog Festival at Lorely, Germany. However, the records from the first era had a wider commercial reach with a same level of quality included.
Spock’s beard records are a treat for ears and mind with the new album not starting a different pattern.
“Noise Floor” is the title of the next Spock’s Beard record, an album that comes as a double CD. While disc number one is about “Noise Floor” it’s the “Cutting Room Floor” that adds another four tunes to the total on disc 2.
The band doesn’t change direction when it comes to the 13thstudio album. It is more that the quintet developed their sound and trademarks step by step without deciding for dramatic changes. One thing though is very different compared with the predecessor. Earlier mentioned founding member Nick D’Virgilio, who left the band in 2011, is back and next to the regular line-up Spock’s Beard stretched their sound by adding violins, a cello player and an English horn to the mix, giving their songs a wider frame and some nice twists.
To zoom in on some songs only is not what should be done with "Noise Floor". It's the entirety rather than a specific tune that creates enthusiasm.
However, to describe a bit of what can be expected of this Spock's Beard release, I will use "What Becomes of Me' as an example. The ticking of a clock introduces the tune, followed by some soulful guitar melodies. Sometimes I had to think about Deep Purple while there were other moments that reminded me of Pink Floyd. As with the earlier releases also this time songs are used for transporting feelings and the fact that we have skilled musicians at work widens the spectrum and adds possibilities to do so. Adam Morse and band mates always put the focus on songs and songwriting, in which all musicians are included. Spock's Beard was never a band that put the spotlight on individual skills and experience. It is the passion for music, the willpower to write excellent songs and the emotional depth that creates a base for this album as well as for the earlier releases.
‘13’ might be a sort of unlucky number for some, but definitely not for Spock’s Beard. Their 13thlongplayer showcases again the high level of musical skills when it comes to each of the band members and the band itself. It also feels like the return of D’Virgilio added some extra enthusiasm to the band, which makes “Noise Floor” to an exciting progressive rock album fully in line with earlier releases. If you’re a Spock’s Beard fan, the new album will be another highlight in your prog rock collection and folks that are passionate about well-crafted and approachable progressive rock music will like this album.
Disc 1 - Noise Floor
To Breathe Another Day
What Becomes Out of Me
Have We All Gone Crazy Yet
So This is Life
Box of Spiders
Disc 2 - Cutting Room Floor
Days We'll Remember
Label: InsideOut Music
Genre: Progressive Rock
Release Date EU: May 25th, 2018