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Marillion

F E A R

Review by Greg Olma

Marillion are now a band that does not need to pander to any record label or current trend.  In fact, they create a sound that I can’t compare to anyone else. They are entirely unique.  To my ears, this record is a continuation of Sounds That Can't Be Made but with more depth.  There are some political themes, but I don’t feel like they are hammering the listener with their political views. Instead, they  give you another perspective for you to think about.  The whole record is filled with passionate lyrics and melodies that sit on top of some of the best prog sounds the band has made.  F E A R is made up of three multi-suite tracks that are separated by three shorter tracks. While longtime fans will find this record enjoyable (it gets better with multiple spins), I think it would be too much for a new listener to start their journey with the band.  That being said, I believe that this will become one of the records that fans will mention in the same breath as Clutching at Straws or Brave.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
El Dorado

Just like “Gaza” on the record before this, we are hit with a track that makes you think and gives a very bleak outlook of the future.  Climate change, weapons, and walls are lyrical themes throughout this five-track suite piece.  Only Marillion could get away with starting a record with a 16-minute track in 2016.  Musically, it is not as foreboding as “The New Kings” which shows up later on this disc.  There is a lot going on in this song, and it took me a few listens to really appreciate its beauty as it weaves between suites, each having a sound if its own.

Living in F E A R
This tune starts off with just Steve Hogarth playing piano but it slowly builds into a nice little prog-rock number.  The album has few choruses, but this song has the catchiest one. While not overtly political, it touches on “melting our guns” and “walls,” which makes it very topical in today’s world.
The Leavers
Life on the road can be difficult, and this track made up of five parts deals with their take on the relationship between band (Leavers) and fans (Remainers).  Each of the five pieces captures a different musical idea, but the lyrics somehow make this whole song cohesive.  Clocking in at over 19 minutes, this is one of the standout tracks, both musically and lyrically.
White Paper
Here we get what seems to be very personal lyrics from Hogarth.  The music behind the words flows and ebbs from very somber to very beautiful.  It’s kind of a simple tune but one that should not be skipped.
The New Kings
This track gets political and does not hold bankers in high esteem with lyrics like “We're too big to fail,  And when we do..., It's down to you.Also, the title of the record (in its uncensored form which is used in the print edition of Music Street Journal) is the title of the first of four movements.  With other lyrics like “Greed is good” and “I don't know if I can believe the news, this song is very topical today but hopefully will not be in the future.  There is a dark and foreboding feeling throughout the song, with the music and lyrics fitting perfectly with one another.
Tomorrow's New Country
The record ends on a short piano piece that revisits the “Leavers” theme. At just under two minutes and after the intensity of the previous track, it is a nice way to end the record.  I feel that if this release had ended on “The New Kings it would have left the listener a little depressed. Having this cut  end the album,  I feel better.  It’s kind of like saying goodbye to a good friend but knowing that you will see them again.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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