Spock’s Beard are a rarity to say the least. For a band to lose its sole songwriter and vocalist and then lose it’s drummer and next lead vocalist only to still be as relevant and creative is incredible. “The Oblivion Particle” is their second album with Enchant lead vocalist Ted Leonard on the mic along with drummer Jimmy Keegan as the full-time drummer. Their last album, “Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep,” was possibly my favorite that the band has ever done! This is quite an achievement.
So how does “The Oblivion Particle” stack up? While the album has no obvious single-type material like “Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep” did with “Submerged” and “Something Very Strange,” it does have plenty of very catchy hooks and the typically great playing of these talented musicians. “Bennett Built a Time Machine” features drummer Jimmy Keegan on lead vocal. It’s probably my favorite track on the album as it has an instantly memorable melody and Keegan is an excellent vocalist!
“Minion” is an interesting track in that it’s impossible not to think of the little yellow critters. Musically, it’s the perfect combo of Enchant and Spock’s Beard. The verses and pre-chorus are right out of Enchant’s playbook while the chorus is standard Spock’s Beard, complete with that odd note that ends it (“expoooooosed”). “Tides of Time” sounds like the typical post Neal Morse Spock’s Beard which is a great way to start the album but what makes “The Oblivion Particle” interesting is that the band stretches out a bit on most of the songs on the album.
Besides having Keegan sing, they also add other new instruments to their arsenal. Mandolins, steel guitars and even violin courtesy of David Ragsdale of Kansas on the beautiful closing track “Disappear.” Also, they try some different arrangements like the gallop on “The Center Line,” which starts with lush piano by the incredible Ryo Okumoto who should get more credit in the prog rock world than he does!!
While I am not sure that “The Oblivion Particle” has topped “Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep,” it doesn’t have to. This is yet another great album from a band that has risen from the ashes more than once and for me, is better than they have ever been. “The Oblivion Particle” has more depth than the last album and therefore, might eventually be a better album in the long run. That’s how great progressive rock should be and Spock’s Beard prove again they are one of the leaders of the genre.
1. Tides of Time
3. Hell’s Not Enough
4. Bennett Built a Time Machine
5. Get Out While You Can
6. A Better Way to Fly
7. The Center Line
8. To Be Free Again
Label: InsideOut Music