SPOCK’S BEARD - Octane (Inside Out)

Read Kev’s review in the last issue and ordered this straight away. Although he was not as enthusiastic about this one as he was about Neil Morse’s solo album, I found the Beard’s last album to be a great collection of hard rock, and if they could pull it off again for this one then I would be more than happy. I do miss the Beard of old, but at least they have not wimped out and gone commercial after the departure of their ‘leader’ as many bands before have done (naming no names Genesis), but if anything they have tightened their new sound to become a superb modern rock band, and this album does nothing but enhance their reputation. Oddly enough, considering that the consensus of opinion is that SB are now more rock than prog, the first few minutes of ‘The Ballet Of The Impact’ does sound spookily like 70’s Genesis, although once the vocals kick in the comparison evaporates into the ether. By ‘Surfing Down The Avalanche’ the guitars are out in force, and heavy riffing is the name of the game. There are no eight minute work-outs on this album either, although the prog influences have not left completely, with several of the songs being divided into two or three part suites, but even the longest of these only clocks in at five and a half minutes. By adopting this economy in their song-writing we are able to be treated to twelve very different songs, all of which still have that SB magic. By getting in early I got the limited edition with hardback booklet and bonus disc of five new songs, three works in progress, and the video of ‘The Formulation Of Octane’, so for fans of both the old and new versions of the band this album is a must have.