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Spock's Beard - 'The Oblivion Particle' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/92/50/05/Spocks-Beard-The-Oblivion-Particle-7-1448916588.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 30, 2015    
 
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Absolutely essential.

As is usual, I played the album many times before reading the PR blurb that came with it. Unusually however, I actually agreed with what I read, particularly the views of bassist Dave Meros – "I think opening track, 'Tides Of Time', is classic Spock's in terms of arrangement and style, but everything else is fairly different... the whole album is still within the parameters people expect to hear from us". I couldn't agree more.

After giving 'The Oblivion Particle' many spins I'm delighted it's not just a rehash of the Spock's Beard sound but a further evolution, absolutely nothing to worry existing fans, far from it. Every track is a terrific and brilliantly constructed.

It's not a concept album but several songs that tell the fictional story of an eccentric genius, Bennett, who is the creation of the band's co-writer, John Boegehold. 'Tides...' opens with a quintessential SB theme that burrows into the subconscious immediately. The vocal melodies are infectious and both the guitar and synth solos are splendid. The song's construction is superb with several different phases all working together; a beautiful gentle passage followed by a heavy section then back into the main theme.

'Minion' has a Styx style vocal arrangement that alternates mid-paced verses and heavy bridge/chorus before moving into a delightful mid-song piano break to which vocals are added as the song builds again. 'Hell's Not Enough' is acoustic guitar-based, putting me in mind of Saga in structure, if not vocally. The bridge/chorus kicks up the tempo and are both utterly compelling. The guitar/synth breakdown towards the end is a bit different from their norm but an interesting twist nonetheless.

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'Bennett Built A Time Machine' features drummer Jimmy Keegan taking on the lead vocals. The verses have a different feel although the bridge has a more familiar SB vibe. 'Get Out While You Can' has a gigantic chorus and another of those refrains you can't get out of your head.

'A Better Way To Fly' has a spooky opening before entering more familiar territory musically; the vocal arrangement being another new facet. The lengthy instrumental section offers something new as well without straying from the path of either accessibility or familiarity.

'The Center Line' offers more wonderful piano before developing into a superbly rollicking song with yet another fantastic melody while the instrumental section hints at Dream Theater technicality. 'To Be Free Again' is epic, using layered vocals in a way rarely heard of by Spock's Beard as is the slow middle section.

Closer 'Disappear' starts slowly, has a technical mid-section that may surprise a little and features David Ragsdale on violin which adds a certain Kansas flavour (no surprise).

In short, absolutely essential.

Gary Marshall

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