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CD review SPOCK'S BEARD "Noise Floor"

Veröffentlicht am 10. Mai 2018 von Markus W. in Spock's Beard, News, Hardrock, Rock, Prog Rock, Prog Metal, Noise Floor, CD Review, InsideOut

CD review SPOCK'S BEARD "Noise Floor"
(8/10) Spock’s Beard was founded in 1992 by the Morse brothers, Neal and Alan. It was in 202 when Neal Morse left the band, focusing on some other projects he had in the pipeline. The 2003 release “Feel Euphoria” was the first one with Nick D’Virgilio on vocals and the question at that time was, if Spock’s Beard could continue with the winning streak the band had during the first era. The answer is: ‘yes’. Spock’s Beard never unveiled any bad album and the prog outfit was always a sight for sore eyes on bigger festivals like Sweden Rock and Prog Festival at Lorely, Germany.  However, the records from the first era had a wider commercial reach with a same level of quality included.
 
Spock’s beard records are a treat for ears and mind with the new album not starting a different pattern.
 
“Noise Floor” is the title of the next Spock’s Beard record, an album that comes as a double CD. While disc number one is about “Noise Floor” it’s the “Cutting Room Floor” that adds another four tunes to the total on disc 2. 
 
The band doesn’t change direction when it comes to the 13thstudio album. It is more that the quintet developed their sound and trademarks step by step without deciding for dramatic changes. One thing though is very different compared with the predecessor. Earlier mentioned founding member Nick D’Virgilio, who left the band in 2011, is back and next to the regular line-up Spock’s Beard stretched their sound by adding violins, a cello player and an English horn to the mix, giving their songs a wider frame and some nice twists.
 
To zoom in on some songs only is not what should be done with "Noise Floor". It's the entirety rather than a specific tune that creates enthusiasm.
 
However, to describe a bit of what can be expected of this Spock's Beard release, I will use "What Becomes of Me' as an example. The ticking of a clock introduces the tune, followed by some soulful guitar melodies. Sometimes I had to think about Deep Purple while there were other moments that reminded me of Pink Floyd. As with the earlier releases also this time songs are used for transporting feelings and the fact that we have skilled musicians at work widens the spectrum and adds possibilities to do so. Adam Morse and band mates always put the focus on songs and songwriting, in which all musicians are included. Spock's Beard was never a band that put the spotlight on individual skills and experience. It is the passion for music, the willpower to write excellent songs and the emotional depth that creates a base for this album as well as for the earlier releases.
 
‘13’ might be a sort of unlucky number for some, but definitely not for Spock’s Beard. Their 13thlongplayer showcases again the high level of musical skills when it comes to each of the band members and the band itself. It also feels like the return of D’Virgilio added some extra enthusiasm to the band, which makes “Noise Floor” to an exciting progressive rock album fully in line with earlier releases. If you’re a Spock’s Beard fan, the new album will be another highlight in your prog rock collection and folks that are passionate about well-crafted and approachable progressive rock music will like this album.
 

(8/10)
 
 
Tracklist:
 

Disc 1 - Noise Floor

  1. To Breathe Another Day

  2. What Becomes Out of Me

  3. Sombody's Home

  4. Have We All Gone Crazy Yet

  5. So This is Life

  6. Box of Spiders

  7. Beginnings

Disc 2 - Cutting Room Floor

  1. Days We'll Remember

  2. Bulletproof

  3. Vault

  4. Armageddon Nervous


 
Label: InsideOut Music

Genre: Progressive Rock

Release Date EU: May 25th, 2018
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CD/DVD review SPOCK'S BEARD "Snow - Live"

Veröffentlicht am 9. November 2017 von Markus W. in Spock's Beard, Neal Morse, Prog Metal, Prog Rock, Rock, News, Radiant Records, Live, CD Review, DVD Review, Snow - Live, Snow

CD/DVD review SPOCK'S BEARD "Snow - Live"

(9/10) It was in March this year when Neal Morse, together with The Neal Morse Band, released an awesome capturing of a show the band did during the 2015 edition of the well-known Morsefest. Spread out over two nights the band created a real prog rock feast, which included enough excellent material to fill three CD’s and DVD’s.

Seven months after this release saw the light of day it’s again Neal Morse who delivers a new live album which will be a next delight for fans of progressive rock music. This time it’s him, together with Spock’s Beard, releasing another unique moment in time. As you probably know, it was the awesome “Snow” album from 2002 that marked the end of a first era of Spock’s Beard. It was the last album that included Neal Morse who decided the leave the band after the longplayer was finished and in the shelfs.

Since the release was the last step of the first Spock’s Beard era means that “Snow”, with all its musical brilliance, never got the attention needed. Fans welcomed the album very much and it’s more Neal Morse and Spock's Beard themselves who never really had a chance the see the seed growing.

What felt like a missed grande finale over all these years led to a live show at Morsefest 2016 with Spocks’ Beard, in the original line-up and with current members, performing the entire “Snow” album. The show, that took place in Nashville, felt like a dream that became true – for fans and band. The missing link isn’t missing anymore and the grande finale was a great moment for prog rock.

It goes without saying the production and the sound of this live album is exquisite, giving the songs on the two CD’s the right frame and foundation to shine. What's even more exciting is the DVD set. As with the previous Neal Morse Band live release also "Snow - Live" is kept rather simple when it comes to the scenery. The songs from the "Snow" album are so good that extra gimmicks on stage aren't needed at all. Actually they would be a distraction from what such a concert is about - the music. Instead the approach was more to support the "Snow"-anthems with a video installation in the back and a well-done light installation. Various camera's capture in a perfect manner the pure joy of everybody involved that night. Not only that Neal Morse and his musical companions obviously enjoyed very minute of this gig, also fans were hungry for a live performance of these progressive rock classics.

"Snow - Live" is a treat for ears and mind. Excellent musicians perform great songs which is very much appreciated by fans who joined that night. 

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

 

CD 1:

  1. Made Alive/Overture
  2. Stranger In A Strange Land
  3. Long Time Suffering
  4. Welcome To NYC
  5. Love Beyond Words
  6. The 39th Street Blues (I’m Sick)
  7. Devil’s Got My Throat
  8. Open Wide The Flood Gates
  9. Open The Gates Part 2
  10. Solitary Soul
  11. Solitary Soul (continuation)
  12. Wind At My Back
  13. Second Overture
  14. 4th Of July

CD 2:

  1. I’m The Guy
  2. Reflection
  3. Carrie
  4. Looking For Answers
  5. Freak Boy
  6. All Is Vanity
  7. I’m Dying
  8. Freak Boy Part 2
  9. Devil’s Got My Throat Revisited
  10. Snow’s Night Out
  11. Ladies And Gentlemen, Mister Ryo Okumoto On The Keyboards
  12. I Will Go
  13. Made Alive Again/Wind At My Back
  14. Falling For Forever

DVD 1:

  1. Made Alive/Overture
  2. Stranger In A Strange Land
  3. Long Time Suffering
  4. Welcome To NYC
  5. Love Beyond Words
  6. The 39th Street Blues (I’m Sick)
  7. Devil’s Got My Throat
  8. Open Wide The Flood Gates
  9. Open The Gates Part 2
  10. Solitary Soul
  11. Solitary Soul (continuation)
  12. Wind At My Back
  13. Second Overture
  14. 4th Of July

DVD 2:

  1. I’m The Guy
  2. Reflection
  3. Carrie
  4. Looking For Answers
  5. Freak Boy
  6. All Is Vanity
  7. I’m Dying
  8. Freak Boy Part 2
  9. Devil’s Got My Throat Revisited
  10. Snow’s Night Out
  11. Ladies And Gentlemen, Mister Ryo Okumoto On The Keyboards
  12. I Will Go
  13. Made Alive Again/Wind At My Back
  14. Falling For Forever

 

Spock’s Beard features:

  • Neal Morse (lead vocals, piano, synths, electric and acoustic guitar),
  • Alan Morse (electric guitars, vocals),
  • Ted Leonard (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals),
  • Jimmy Keegan (drums, percussion, vocals),
  • Nick D'Virgilio (drums, percussion, vocals, acoustic guitars),
  • Ryo Okumoto (keyboards, hammond organ, mellotron, jupiter 8, minimoog, vocoder),
  • Dave Meros (bass, vocals).

 

Label: Radiant Records / Metal Blade Records

Genre: Prog Rock

Release Date EU: November 10th, 2017

 

 

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BluRay/DVD review THE NEAL MORSE BAND "Morsefest 2015"

Veröffentlicht am 26. März 2017 von Markus W. in The Neal Morse Band, Prog Rock, Prog Metal, Rock, News, Live Review, DVD Review, Spock's Beard, Transatlantic

(10/10) Some releases are already impressive even before you open the case and put the disc into your player. I got this impression when I received Neal Morse newest masterpiece “Morsefest 2015!" You literally have to unfold this package of six discs, depending on which version you go for.

But of course, this stunning release has far more to offer than ‘just’ an unusual packaging and a high quantity of music. Neal Morse is a very well-known musicians and introducing him feels like carrying sand to the beach. The multi-instrumentalist from Nashville, Tennessee is an icon in progressive rock, being part of bands like Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic and many more. Next to all the involvement in other bands and projects, Morse always maintained his solo career as well with records that are released under with a header of Neal Morse or The Neal Morse Band.

Next all the studio activities Morse also love to play live and therefor he initiated a festival called ‘Morsefest’ back 2014. The second edition followed one year later, an event that was also recorded and filmed. The footage of this two days event, that took place in September 2015 in Cross Plains, Tennessee, is the base for this overwhelming live release that basically covers the entire show – both, day one and two.

The core band during these two night has been The Neal Morse Band – Neal Morse (V, key, g), Mike Portnoy (d), Randy George (b), Eric Gilette (g) and Bill Hubauer (key, v). That these guys can even give the most complex material a certain ease is as amazing as also know by fans of progressive music. Already listening to this tight working five-piece band is already a treat for ears and mind. However, Morse would not be Morse, if he wouldn’t try to lift things to a next level. In the context of ‘Morsefest’ this led to additional musicians he invited to join the two show, adding strings, horns and more instruments to the great songs that have been performed. And last not least it’s a bigger choir that supports the band, something that leads in total to 39 artists being involved in this epic release.

The core of both shows have been two longplayers – "?" and “Sola Scriptura”. The DVD starts with night one when The Neal Morse Band put the entire focus on “?”. But before the first notes of the  "?" album started filled the room, Neal Morse and band added some songs mainly “The Grand Experiment” to the set. “The Call” was the first song performed that night, followed by the outstanding title track. Via highlights like “MacArthur Park”, re-arranged by Bill Hubauer based on a ‘Portnoy challenge’, the show came closer to its core – the “?” record from 2005. The scenery is kept quite simple, supported by a rather video projection and some spotlights. Morsefest isn’t about fancy gimmicks and crazy light shows. These two nights are about compositions and harmonies that are performed in perfection with Neal Morse being the leader of the pack. And you get a lot of these great songs since night one means a 2,5 hours prog rock firework that is an impressive masterpiece.

Halftime.

Night no. 2 was build around the “Sola Scriptura” release, an album telling the story of Martin Luther. And what else should start such a show than the epic “The Door” which is done as 34 minutes jaw dropping ‘prog symphony’. I’m not sure if the two dancers during “The Conflict” added so much to the general experience, but who cares. The song is awesome and a beautiful way to spend 25 minutes. As on the album “Heaven in My Heart” follows and it’s “The Conclusion” that brings it home. With the last note of “Sola Scriptura” played, the show moved on with the acoustic “Waterfall”, before “At the End of the Day”, a Spocks’ Beard song that came with a surprise. Instead of Mike Portnoy it was Mick D’Virgilio who took place behind the drum kit. And the fact that both, Morse and D’Virgilio also sang, “Wind at My Back” together brought back old Spock’s Beard memories.

All in all it's these two nights that gives you almost 5 hours of finest prog rock. This DVD shows the beauty of music. It’s a pleasure to listen to these guys when performing songs that are multi-layered and approachable.

After having seen these two show the bonus material feels almost trivial. It’s another hour that provides background information and some insights into the preparations. Everybody of The Neal Morse Band has sections when they talk about the Morsefest, private stories and much more.

“Morsefest 2015” is more than just a DVD release; it’s lifts the bar. It’s a monumental and comprehensive release covering creative milestones of a musician (and band) that belongs to the group of main influencers in contemporary progressive rock music.

 

(10/10)

 

Tracklist:

DVD 1:

  1. Intro (1:56)
  2. The Call (10:25)
  3. The Grand Experiment (7:36)
  4. Go the Way You Go (14:01)
  5. MacArthur Park (13:36)
  6. A Whole ‘Nother Trip (24:14)
  7. New Jerusalem (8:33)
  8. Question Mark Intro (3:16)
  9. Temple of The Living God (6:35)
  10. Another World (2:16)
  11. The Outsider (2:52)
  12. Sweet Elation (2:46)
  13. In the Fire (8:02)
  14. Solid As the Sun (7:57)
  15. The Glory of The Lord (3:05)
  16. Outside Looking In (5:12)
  17. 12 (7:00)
  18. Entrance (6:14)
  19. Inside His Presence (7:16)
  20. The Temple Of the Living God Reprise (1:14)

DVD 2:

  1. Intro (2:06)
  2. The Door (34:28)
  3. The Conflict (27:55)
  4. Heaven in My Heart (5:42)
  5. The Conclusion (17:34)
  6. Waterfall (7:56)
  7. At the End of the Day (17:07)
  8. Wind at My Back (7:02)
  9. Whirlwind Medley (16:37)
  10. Additional: Behind the Scene Documentary

CD 1:

  1. Intro (1:56)
  2. The Call (10:25)
  3. The Grand Experiment (7:36)
  4. Go the Way You Go (14:01)
  5. MacArthur Park (13:36)
  6. A Whole ‘Nother Trip (24:14)
  7. New Jerusalem (8:33)

CD 2:

  1. Question Mark Intro (3:16)
  2. Temple of The Living God (6:35)
  3. Another World (2:16)
  4. The Outsider (2:52)
  5. Sweet Elation (2:46)
  6. In the Fire (8:02)
  7. Solid As the Sun (7:57)
  8. The Glory of The Lord (3:05)
  9. Outside Looking In (5:12)
  10. 12 (7:00)
  11. Entrance (6:14)
  12. Inside His Presence (7:16)
  13. The Temple Of the Living God Reprise (1:14)

CD 3:

  1. Intro (2:06)
  2. The Door (34:28)
  3. The Conflict (27:55)
  4. Heaven in My Heart (5:42)

CD 4:

  1. The Conclusion (17:34)
  2. Waterfall (7:56)
  3. At the End of the Day (17:07)
  4. Wind at My Back (7:02)
  5. Whirlwind Medley (16:37)

 

Label: Radiant Records / Metal Blade

Genre: Prog Rock

Release Date EU: March 24th, 2017

 

BluRay/DVD review THE NEAL MORSE BAND "Morsefest 2015"
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CD review SPOCK'S BEARD "The First Twenty Years"

Veröffentlicht am 8. Dezember 2015 von Markus W. in Spock's Beard, Prog Rock, Neal Morse, Rock, HardNew, CD Review

(8/10) If you only heard about Spock's Beard but never heard stuff of Spock's Beard, than I can recommend you this album; assuming that you like prog rock.

The story of the band began in 1992 in Los Angeles, California when the Morse brothers, Neal and Alan, founded the band that became to one of the most important ones in prog rock.

This release focusses on the first twenty years of this impressive group. The chosen songs mark the highlights that have seen the light of day during all those years.

The flow is a very chronological one. The album starts with the brilliant "The Light", the title track of the 1995 debut, and the trip through progressive rock end with "Tides for Forever" which was published on the latest masterpiece "The Oblivion Particle". And it's a given that all the tracks went through a remastering, done by Rich Mouser.

And if this wouldn't be enough the highlight is placed at the end of this double decker. "Falling For Forever" is a brand new track that was written by Neal Morse, who actually left the band in 2002 to start a not less successful solo career.

Anyhow, he wrote the closer of this "Best of..." which is almost twenty minutes long musical diamond. Next to the greatness of this tune it is also the fact that all three Spock's Beard singers contributed during the recording, which makes it to a special one. Neal Morsedid the verse while Ted Leonard took the duty for the chorus. Last but not least it was Nick D'Virgilio that signed responsible for the whole middle part. Those twenty minutes are a pretty unique moment in the discography of the proggers and it's defintely a 'must' for each fan of the band.

Around X-mas time "Best of..." releases are very popular and normally they are also redundant. But his reflection on twenty years of prog rock are well done and worth to go for. And in case you're still doubting; CD 3 contains some rare recordings of the bands show at the Progfest in 1997 plus an few more tasty tidbits.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

CD 1:

  1. The Light
  2. Thoughts
  3. The Doorway
  4. June
  5. Day For Night
  6. At The End of the Day
  7. Solitary Soul
  8. Wing at my Back

CD 2:

  1. The Bottom Line
  2. She is Everything
  3. On a Perfect Day
  4. Jaws of Heaven
  5. Waiting For Me
  6. Tides Of Time
  7. Falling For Forever

 

Label: Inside Out Music

Genre: Prog Rock

Release Date EU: November 20st, 2015

 

CD review SPOCK'S BEARD "The First Twenty Years"
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CD review SPOCK'S BEARD "The oblivion particle"

Veröffentlicht am 29. August 2015 von Markus W. in Spock's Beard, Prog Rock, Rock, Classic Rock, Hardrock, CD Review, News

(8/10) To date, there have been two crucial moments in Spock's Beard history. Of course there was the moment of foundation in 1993 when the Morse brothers, Neal and Alan, formed the band in Los Angeles. The second milestone was in 2002 when keyboarder and singer Neal Morse left the band to start a solo career, which brought very successful prog releases too. The question at that time was, if Spock's Beard could continue writing great music, considering the loss of such a creative source.

The good news was, that Spock's Beard could still keep a high level of songs and songwriting. Five more records could prove this and even though the band had some more changes in the line-up, it was constantly progressive music on a high level what the guys delivered.

The newest result of their creative work got the title "The oblivion particle" - a longplayer that comes with nine songs.

Listening to Spock's Beard bassist Dave Meros "it's not a matter of how much the album recalls past Spock's Beard's material, but how much it differs". And even though some parts are slightly differ from former releases it's still the fantastic mix of many different influences that makes the bands music special. Rock, prog, classic and jazz melt together. This has been Spock's Beard in the past and those trademarks also come back on "The oblivion particle".

The opener "Tides of time" is one of the typical tracks of the five-piece. It's a well chosen track since it opens the door to also some other stuff on the record.

A highlight on "The oblivion particle" is "The center line". The tune starts like a suite for piano before the song becomes a cineastic prog rocker. The track is complex without being complicated for the listener to follow. It is very melodic and catchy.

"Bennett build a time machine" is another cool track that reminded me in parts to Barcley James Harvest in the "Mocking bird" era. It's an epical and swinging number, telling a tale about time travelling. The track is full of great melodies that makes the number even more irresistable.

"Hell's not enough" convinces with great keyboard elements and is nicely accentutated with a flute. The vocallines are build on a beautiful melody that goes throughout the entire track. Next to that there is a constant increase of hardness. Beginning slow and fragile, the song is a rocking prog one toward the end. 

Spock's Beard added another good album to their discography that has enough complexity to grow over time and that is on the other hand easy approachable. Even as not being a musicians you will find your way into this album.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Tides of time
  2. Minion
  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
  9. Disappear

 

Label: InsideOut Music

Genre: Prog Rock

Release Date EU: August 21st, 2015

CD review SPOCK'S BEARD "The oblivion particle"
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New SPOCK'S BEARD song online

Veröffentlicht am 29. Juli 2015 von Markus W. in Spock's Beard, Prog Rock, Prog Metal, Rock, News, Video

Prog rockers posted a new song called "Minion". The track is taken from the upcoming album "The oblivion particle" that will be released end of August this year.

New SPOCK'S BEARD song online
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Cover of the new SPOCK'S BEARD album

Veröffentlicht am 19. Juni 2015 von Markus W. in Spock's Beard, News, Prog Rock, Prog Metal, Rock, Tour

Spock's Beard worked on a new album called "The oblivion particle". Release date will be 21.08.15. Here comes the cover.

Additionally the band announced some tourdates:

16.09.15 – (BE) Verviers - Spirit of 66

17.09.15 – (NL) Zoetermeer - De Boerderij

18.09.15 – (DE) Markneukirchen - Framus & Warwick Music Hall

19.09.15 – (PL) Warschau - Progresja

20.09.15 – (CZ) Brno - Metro Club, Brno

21.09.15 – (HU) Budapest - Ship A38, Budapest

23.09.15 – (IT) Milan - Legend

24.09.15 – (DE) Augsburg - Kantine

25.09.15 – (DE) Tübingen - Sudhaus

26.09.15 – (DE) Mannheim - Alte Seilerei

27.09.15 – (DE) Köln - Essigfabrik

29.09.15 – (UK) Nottingham - Rescue Rooms

30.09.15 – (UK) Leamington Spa - Assembly

01.10.15 – (UK) Glasgow - The Classic Grand

02.10.15 – (UK) London - O2 Academy Islington

03.10.15 – (UK) Manchester - Club Academy

Cover of the new SPOCK'S BEARD album
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CD review NEAL MORSE "Songs from November"

Veröffentlicht am 17. August 2014 von Markus W. in Neal Morse, Transatlantic, Spock's Beard, Rock, Hardrock, CD Review, News

(9/10) "Songs from November" is the new album for music mastermind Neal Morse. The multi instrumentalist is well known from bands like Spock's Beard and Transatalantic. He belongs to the established musicians in the prog rock scene and this is what I had in mind when I put his new solo album into the CD player.

But already after the first notes I was surprised of what I heard. Instead of prog sounds it was grooving rock music which came out of the speaker. Quick check of the CD. Is it really Neal Morse. Yes, that's what the label says. OK.

"Songs from November" stands for excellent rock music which isn't connected to the Neal Morse prog rock history. A good description is given by the musician himself when he sings in "Flowers in a vase": "Light up the fireplace, let's slow down the human race. I sing you a song I wrote today". I couldn't have said it better. The songs are the perfect soundtrack for a lazy and grey November Sunday afternoon.

The opener "Whatever days" surprises with the horn section. It fits perfect to the song which builds on a perfect melody. The tune has a lot of soul. The same goes for the last track on the album "The way of love".

"Heaven smiled" reminded me to John Denver since the track has a real singer/songwriter approach. Morse shows another new side of his musical creatifity which is quite cool.

In general the album is a very reflecting one. It seems that Morse thought a lot about life in general during the songwriting period. I also could imagine that he included won experiences in the lyrics of certain tunes.

There is a kind of sad basic mood, which goes for all the tracks on the "Songs from November". But mostly this is connected to a positive statement too. An example is "Daddy's daughter" in which he reflects on getting older and see the kid getting adult as well. It's about letting loose in one or another way by still keeping the good times in mind. The theme of 'letting loose' or 'saying good-bye' is even more intense in "My time of dying". Reflections of person that's life is fading away. It is a very soulful tune, but even here Morse gets the positive part in as well. It's the end in one or another way, but actually it's not. Impressive and heart-warming.

I appreciate the fact the Morse entered new and unkown territory. If 'prog rock' means contemporary music with an touch of development and future orientation this record is even 'progressive'. 

"Songs from November" became an excellent rock album from Neal Morse which is for me a highlight of this years releases. 

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

  1. Whatever days
  2. Heaven smiled
  3. Flowers in a vase
  4. Love shot an arrow
  5. Song for the free
  6. Tell me Annabelle
  7. My time of dying
  8. When things slow down
  9. Daddy's daughter
  10. Wear the chains
  11. The way of love

 

Label: InsideOut

Genre: Rock

CD review NEAL MORSE "Songs from November"
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SPOCK'S BEARD have a new video clip

Veröffentlicht am 21. Juni 2013 von mwie in Spock's Beard, Rock

Spock's Beard present an new video for their song "Submerged". The song is from the current album "Brief nocturnes and dreamless sleep". Enjoy watching it.

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