20 November 2016

Marillion - F E A R


This review is looking at the latest album from British Progressive Rock legends, Marillion.  We have only reviewed one of their previous albums, their 1991 release 'Holiday In Eden' (our review cleverly linked here) and I promised at some point I would review more of their work.  Well, it is high time I made good on that promise and no time like the present, especially after they have released their first album in four years, since the release of 'Sounds That Can't Be Made'.  The full title of the album is 'F E A R (Fuck Everything And Run)', it has been one of their best received albums in many years and their highest UK charting album is the 1987 release 'Clutching at Straws'.As with a lot of recent Marillion releases, this album was released via a crowd funding campaign; in fact, Marillion were one of the first bands to use this method and this time they used the PledgeMusic service.  The album has six songs, but three of them are suites - with the music being split into separate songs within themselves which bring the total of tracks up to seventeen; for the sakes of my mind and OCD, I am going to review the suites as one song, as they are sharing the same theme.  It has been a while since I have sat down and listened to Marillion in such details, I wonder what my conclusion will be to the album?

01 - El Dorado

I - Long-Shadowed Sun
II - The Gold
III - Demolished Lives
IV - F E A R
V - The Grandchildren of Apes

This album starts with a sound of summer, birds in the sky and the feeling of nostalgia; soon this is replaced with a darker tone, one that is reflected in the lyrics about the fall of men and how we live our lives in pursuit of money (gold for the purposes of this album), about how we act like animals and we should be acting like angels.  The suite is a mixture of aggressive prog, piano led gentle moments of rest and more solos than you can shake a stick at.  Separately, each track feels good, but as if it is missing something; together, it is a beautiful, strong and fascinating.

02 - Living in F E A R

One of three standalone tracks, this one is all about the waste of war and how all the time that humanity spends on self-destruction is just so redundant.  As you would come to expect from a band who have been together for so long, they are making some fantastic music here and it is a brilliant song that reminds me of works by Pink Floyd & later day Queen.  It has a fantastic chorus which buries itself so deep into your mind that you will be singing it for days, I love the way that the song switches so easily between the various sections, languages and passionate delivery from the band. 

03 - The Leavers

I - Make Up in Music
II - The Remainers
III - Vapour Trails in the Sky
IV - The Jumble of Days
V - One Tonight

This is the longest of the three suites on 'F E A R', coming in just over nineteen minutes in length.  On this number, the individual songs are about the life of the band - people that are left behind, the desire to stay home with your loved ones; then it is counteracted by the need to perform and to release your work into the wider world.  Influences on this song are wide ranging, but it is their own careers are the inspiration of this tale.  It is a beautifully crafted piece which literally takes you on a trail and it ends with a fantastic tale indeed.

04 - White Paper

A song about everything fading with age and time, 'White Paper' is a piano/synth heavy song that has such a melancholic sentiment; there is love and loss at the centre of this song and it is brought to life by the band, even if the taint of sadness runs off every note, every plucked string, every line sung, every drum hit and key lowered.  It is a song that is performed very well, continuing the quality of the album.

05 - The New Kings

I - Fuck Everyone and Run
II - Russia's Closed Door
III - A Scary Sky
IV - Why Is Nothing Ever True?

The final of our three suites, 'The New Kings' is a tale of horror and greed as it talks about how the rich are becoming more greedy and the end game will see everyone destroyed.  There are hints at some of the UK past leaders, the fear of Russia, the war machine in full swing and it is all played on a prog classic which is one of the crown jewels for this album.  If this song was a CV for replacing Pink Floyd at the heart of the UK Progressive Rock scene, then this is as good a set of songs as any to stake their claim to that throne.

06 - Tomorrow's New Country

The album ends with a gentle piano led number, with a mournful guitar as the band as saying goodbye to this album and the possible future world that maybe to come; it is what is required after all the passion and peaks of 'The New Kings', but it is a coda to this album and ends it on an apprehensive number.

This album is all I could have hoped for from Marillion, quite possibly my Prog Rock album of 2016.  The story telling, the music, the packaging, everything about it is top notch.  From beginning to near the end, this album is such a beautiful record, but to be picky, I do think that 'Tomorrow's New Country' sound have just been added to the end of 'The New Kings' and not as a separate song; but that is a minor point to be honest.  I came into this album just hoping for a decent record, I have found one of the best Progressive Rock albums of many years; well played Marillion, well played!

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track - Living in F E A R

You can visit the Marillion website here (where you can purchase F.E.A.R. directly from the band).

You can purchase F.E.A.R. from Amazon here.

You can follow the activities of F.E.A.R. on Facebook here. 

You can stream F.E.A.R. on Spotify here. 

You can stream F.E.A.R. on Deezer here. 

You can stream F.E.A.R. on Tidalhere.

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