SPOCK'S BEARD, one of the leaders of the modern progressive rock movement worldwide, will release their new studio album, "Octane", on February 1 through InsideOut Music America. It is the band's eighth album and the follow-up to their 2003 release "Feel Euphoria".
With "Octane", lead vocalist/drummer Nick D'Virgilio, guitarist/vocalist Alan Morse, keyboardist Ryo Okumoto and bass guitarist Dave Meros have created a richly textured album that is definitely progressive but also expands their sound. One surprise is the hard-rock direction some of the songs take.
The first half of "Octane" is dominated by a seven-part epic titled "A Flash Before My Eyes". It's a shocking story of a man who gets hit by truck on a busy street. Just before the impact, his life flashes before his eyes — childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The song is ultimately uplifting because the man realizes his life was beautiful and meaningful.
The seven songs comprising "A Flash Before My Eyes" are: "The Ballet Of The Impact: (I) Prelude To The Past (II) The Ultimate Quiet (III) A Blizzard Of My Memories", "I Wouldn't Let It Go", "Surfing Down The Avalanche", "She Is Everything: (I) Strange What You Remember (II) Words Of Forever", "Climbing Up That Hill", "Letting Go" and "Of The Beauty Of It All: (I) If I Could Paint A Picture (II) Into The Great Unknowable". The other five songs on "Octane" are "NWC", "There Was A Time", "The Planet's Hum", "Watching The Tide" and "As Long As We Ride".
"This is one of the most satisfying albums we've ever done. We really wanted to make it as solid as possible. There was almost an old-school approach because we wanted it to be relatively short like albums used to be, and therefore it would be very tight and not get boring," says D'Virgilio.
"We really wrote a lot as a group for this album. We all brought ideas in, more than ever before. For example, Dave brought in more ideas for 'Octane' than he ever had in the past."
SPOCK'S BEARD also worked again with longtime friends and collaborators John Boegehold and Stan Ausmus. In fact, D'Virgilio says Meros and Boegehold were the main creators of the storyline for "A Flash Before My Eyes". SPOCK'S BEARD's surge in creativity is arguably the result of increased confidence. "Feel Euphoria" was their first album following the departure of vocalist/guitarist Neal Morse, and it was also the first with D'Virgilio stepping out as frontman.
"It feels more like a group now. We realize this is the permanent lineup. As a result with the songwriting we let it happen naturally," says D'Virgilio.
The band spent a long time writing and rehearsing at Alan Morse's house and then recording "Octane" at the studios of engineer Rich Mouser. D'Virgilio believes "Octane" has a cohesive feel as a direct result of these practices.
The special-edition version of "Octane" has several exciting bonuses for hard-core SPOCK'S BEARD fans. "When She's Gone" is a dark, TOOL-like song from Meros. "Follow Me To Sleep" is similar to mid-1980s GENESIS. "Game Face" is a fusion-based piece from Okumoto. "Broken Promiseland" is a straightforward rock song from Alan Morse. "Listening To The Sky" is a mellotron-based instrumental from Okumoto and Alan Morse. Three snippets are included: the background vocals and string sections from "I Wouldn't Let It Go" and an outtake not used in the main song. Behind-the-scenes happenings are featured on a 35-minute CD-ROM video.
Tour dates are in the planning stages. SPOCK'S BEARD will once again bring a touring drummer on board; depending on the song, D'Virgilio and the touring drummer will alternate behind the kit.