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(68:02, Ear Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. El Dorado 16:34 2. Living in FEAR 6:25 3. The Leavers 19:07 4. White Paper 7:16 5. The New Kings 16:39 6. Tomorrow's New Country 1:47 LINEUP: Steve Rothery – guitars; backing vocals Mark Kelly – keyboards; backing vocals Pete Trewavas – bass; backing vocals Ian Mosley – drums; backing vocals Steve Hogarth – vocals; keyboards
Prolusion. "FEAR”, the brand new album by the cult English band MARLLION, was released via the semi-major German label EarMusic (a division of Edel Entertainment) a few days ago. FEAR is an abbreviation for “F…ck Everyone And Run”, although the working title of the album was "Fool Everyone And Run".
Analysis. The new Marillion album has been compared to "Brave" and very early Marillion. In fact, however, it sounds like “Afraid of Sunlight” (or even "This Strange Engine") Part 2, artificially constructed as an epic. The music is either slow or very slow and is unpretentious, most of the time reminding me of symphonic Ambient with vocals. There are few purely instrumental arrangements (none of which exceed 1 minute in duration), and they’re as boring as the mixed ones, Hogarth really whining this time around – throughout the album, no matter what he whines about, i.e., the lyrics are more than merely decent overall. Sans the concluding one, The New Kings, all the epic-length songs are just pseudo-epic in construction. Either way, while being the best track here, The New Kings is also dissatisfying from a progressive rock perspective, strongly inferior to ‘The King’ from the aforementioned "This Strange Engine". IMO, any progressive rock song should be created on the basis of instrumental arrangements (as it was in the case of "Brave", for instance), rather than by using the vocal lines as a ‘starting point’ for composing music, but “FEAR” is characterized exactly by the latter approach. To be objective, I must add that the album is by no means devoid of what we’ve used to call “atmosphere”, which is more often dramatic than romantic (indeed, it would’ve been very strange had it been otherwise), but never really dark, let alone fearful. The album has very little to do with Progressive Rock and is, figuratively speaking, a brainchild of mediocrity.
Conclusion. If you consider “Brave” the best Marillion album (as I do), avoid “FEAR”, because there’s too little here to please even a ‘classic’ neo-prog fan, let alone those who prefer profound progressive rock. Otherwise you will be deeply disappointed.
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