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Spock\'s Beard - "Feel Euphoria"
Inside Out 2003

What were your expectations after "tragically" loss of charisma and band's locomotive Neal Morse? Nothing special happened at all. Well, other four guys survived without him. It seems that they feel even better now. Music didn't loose even one sparkle of its glory. I mean music that we were use to get from Beard's boys. They're still sticking their own trace. Okay, what differ most in comparison with "Snow" (2002) are vocals. Surprising fact is that with Feel Euphoria you won't miss Neal at all. Want some reasons?

Lyrics are not so much pathetic as it was strategy in Neal's era. In other words they are delivering more down to earth verses, and also all compositions are a bit tighter. Alan wasn't afraid to put in also some heavy distorted slashes on his guitar (in opener Onomatopoeia he rocks like beast). Beatles freaks continue to deliver some Beatles moments (beautiful composition called The Bottom Line and then Shining Star). Opener Onomatopoeia begins with amazing powerful groovy new aged drive, it sounds wild and untamed. They went on first ball here and new output is carrying some anger as I felt never before. And funny after all none of us even think that refreshment is actually needed. Spock's Beard is breathing now as a unit even tighter than before. Therefore Neal's decision to take his leave is in my humble opinion right one. Band got a new creative space.

Alan for example uses dirtier and crunchier guitar sounds more than ever. Nick's vocal is what this band needs right now. It completely fits in this slightly changed band's directions. As I said, they are harder then ever. They're sounding sometimes like seventies Deep Purple, especially because Ryo's massive and powerful Hammond attacks that are strengthened with Alan's distorted riffing (A Guy Named Sid: Pt.2 Same Old Story for example). They thought of everything again and spiced up things with a little brass orchestra, violas, cellos... In the title song band was not afraid to use impressive drum computer samples that almost play a centre role and this sample really reminds as if sound would come out of colorful tin pictured on a front cover. Spock's Beard are digging further, tasting and exploring new things. And they are doing this on a very successful way again. Psychedelic keyboard themes and steel drum sound rises destructive drama atmosphere inside title song. This is euphoria for real. It is nicely equilibrated by beautiful gentle waltzer called Shining Star that follows, driven in fretless bass fashion. Huge diversity and dynamic of a new output is achieved once again. Band delivers some amazing atmospheric moments especially in epic lesson called A Guy Named Sid or spine tingling melancholic grand piano lesson Ghosts Of Autumn, and you'll find another impressive prog rocking thing in East Of Eden West Of Memphis with killing crossfire soloing between Ryo and Alan.

Nick's colorful vocals are adapting all the time. He sounds powerful, angry and in next moment very fragile and gentle. This is why Spock's Beard exactly needs him behind microphone. Style changed a bit and band moved into heavier gear to kick and rock some ass as never before.

If you are Spock's Beard fan, than you already have this record and you've got what you were looking for. This band is taking a fresh kick off now. Neal's departure was a surprise. No one would expect that. But it happened spontaneously and on a best possible way I could imagine. They didn't survive just the test of time. Spock's Beard are perpetual change towards new musical horizons and proved that they're still on the top of their genre! Boys, welcome home!

Author:   Aleš

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