Spock's Beard

Feel Euphoria

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Could Spock's Beard survive the departure of its now born-again Christian lead singer and main songwriter? Well, they did manage to put together a new album in decent time, but it is not an impressive opus, to say the least. Then again, the group's music was on a path leading it away from its progressive rock beginnings and toward a tighter, harder-edged, more commercial sound ever since 1999's Day for Night, so it would be unfair to put all the weight of this new leap on Neal Morse's absent shoulders. Nick D'Virgilio, who stepped out from behind the drums to take the lead singer's microphone, lacks the charisma, that trembling something in the voice that endeared Morse to the group's early fans. But most of all it is the writing that suffers. If "The Bottom Line" and "East of Eden, West of Memphis" make convincing art rockers, "Onomatopoeia" and the title track are weak, lacking the rate of ideas by the minute the group was capable of back in the days. The obligatory ballads ("Shining Star" and "Ghosts of Autumn") are enjoyable, but that kind of number, especially when given a hard rock edge, has never been the group's forte. As for the suite "A Guy Named Sid," it ranks among the group's weakest attempts at epic writing. The themes don't gel well, the plot is thin, and how many times must listeners be reminded that "this is the story of a guy named Sid"? It has its moments, especially in the last two parts, but it is a far cry from "Flow" or "The Healing Colors of Sound." The debate still rages on between fans of Genesis as to whether the departure of Peter Gabriel back in 1975 has been a curse or a blessing. It looks like fans of Spock's Beard will have something to argue over for a while too.

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