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'The Oblivion Particle'
(Inside Out)
Release Date: 21st August 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

spocks beard

American progressive rockers Spock's Beard must be one of the most resilient bands on the planet. Even in a genre much maligned over the years where bands are used to plugging away against the odds, the fact that they have survived the departures of critical members is remarkable. Way back in 2002 they coped with the loss of the creative talent of Neal Morse then had to readjust again when Nick D'Virgilio who had stepped up into the frontman role vacated by Morse left in 2011.

Similar to the situation when Neal Morse left, the first album after the latest change 'Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep' with new recruit Ted Leonard on vocal and guitar duties was remarkably strong and a real answer to anyone who doubted that the band could carry on at the same level.

'The Oblivion Particle' is the band's twelfth full studio album and builds on the success of 'Brief Nocturnes...' to show that once again they have exactly what it takes to produce powerful, inventive progressive rock of very high quality.

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All the elements you would expect from a top band in the genre are here. The musicianship is completely top notch all around. The band's remaining Morse, Neal's brother Alan combines with Leonard to supply some terrific guitar playing and the rhythm section of Dave Meros on bass and Jimmy Keegan on drums easily handles all the complex time structures and dynamics demanded of them.

Leonard's vocals are good too with that sort of mellow strength that suits the band's style so well but if I had to pick out one musician as the outstanding one on this album it would be keyboard player Ryo Okumoto. His playing is superb throughout whether smothering a song with glorious swathes of Hammond organ or supplying beautifully atmospheric piano. Superb stuff.

All the correct boxes are ticked on the song writing side of things too. The album is definitely in the grower category which is where complex progressive rock music with depth like this should be. There are songs which utilise the band's voices in harmony which is one of their immediately recognisable sounds, songs with changes of both time signatures and atmosphere and even a song which almost immediate and destined to be a live favourite in the whimsical time travel story that is 'Bennett Built A Time Machine'.

spocks beard

'To Be Free Again' is the nominal epic track at over ten minutes but most of the songs here clock in at around seven minutes or more so it's not too far out there compared to the rest of the material. What it definitely does have in common with the rest of the songs here is the quality and it is fascinating throughout.

Spock's Beard have once again come up with an album of true quality. 'The Oblivion Particle' is a top notch slice of mature progressive rock with massive depth and much to savour within each song. I'm not sure I totally buy Dave Meros' claim that most of the album is 'fairly different' in style to what they have come up with before and the progression from their previous work is subtle and gradual to my ears. However this is an album that will most definitely please anyone with a love of the band and/or the genre.

I will be picking up new depths and details from these songs for months to come I'm sure and fans of the band will be happy to do the same.

Line Up:
Alan Morse – Guitar, Vocals
Dave Meros – Bass Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
Ryo Okumoto – Keyboards, Vocals
Jimmy Keegan – Drums, Vocals
Ted Leonard – Vocals, Guitar




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