Spock's Beard are well known in the prog scene. They started in the early nineties and released many studio albums since. This album, called The Oblivion Particle, is their 12th studio album. Well, what can I say? It's a typical Spock's Beard album. The fans will love it, the people who don't appreciate their music will probably still think “Nope, not for me”. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, they're very good at making prog rock music and I'm sure prog fans who never heard of them will find their music and some will stick and (re)discover their catalogue.
The artwork on the cover of the album is superb, like most of the albums from Spock's Beard. I would almost buy the album just for the album cover! I suspect (well, I'm actually sure) that the album cover contains references from their previous albums; the rainbow fish on the wall (from the album Feel Euphoria), the 'X' sign in the chair (from the album X)... And there are probably more references as well.
I've never seen the band live but I would really love to see them perform. Ted Leonard is a good singer. According to me he could be a little bit more daring with his voice, but maybe it's a totally different live experience.
The album is pretty long, it's over one hour. Sadly a bit too long for me to keep my full attention, but I'm starting to appreciate the album more and more the more times I listen to it.
The first track Tides Of Time has a very bombastic intro, something you can always expect from Spock's Beard. The second track called Minion is one of my favourites from the album. I really love the bass in the intro of the song and it has a nice and sweet piano solo in the middle. The third track Hell's Not Enough starts with a nice acoustic guitar intro and becomes louder towards the chorus. This track would do great as a single to show that Spock's Beard can both make tender and rough music. The fourth track Bennett Built A Time Machine has drummer Jimmy Keegan on lead vocals, and I do have to say that he's the right choice to sing this track. Solid and good. I wish he will sing more songs in the future. The fifth track Get Out While You Can is my least favourite track from the album, it could use a bit more power and could be more up tempo. The sixth track A Better Way To Fly has a very spooky and haunting intro. The heavy bass riff halfway during the seventh track The Center Line is really cool. The eight track To Be Free Again has beautiful Mellotron moments done by keyboard player Ryo Okumoto. It's also the longest track on the album. The community singing on the last track Disappear really remind of Gentle Giant.
My final conclusion is that this album is great if you love Spock's Beard or don't know Spock's Beard and/or can appreciate the music they create. A big fan would give the album 5 stars, but I give it 4. I'm not a big fan, I'm just someone who can really appreciate their music.
**** Iris Hidding (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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