Marillion - F.E.A.R.


Year of Release: 2016
Label: Intact
Catalog Number: IntactCD185
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:10:00

It has been quite some time since I sat down with a new Marillion album, sad to say, as they have long been my favourite band.* There was a long period where I just couldn't get into the direction they were taking. I came back around, to some degree, with Marbles, but drifted away again after that. That's not to say I didn't buy their albums when they were new, but as yet most of those remain unheard.

In 2015, with news that there would be a new album, I pre-ordered the CD and waited patiently for September 2016 to come round, determined to listen to it. Especially since they would be back on the US West Coast for the first time in 12 years, and I had tickets.

So, where to begin with Marillion's snarkily and pointedly titled F.E.A.R. (or Fuck Everyone And Run for long)? Firstly, it has a sound that harks back to Marillion past (1989 on). Secondly, there's lyrical content that seems up-to-the-minute, if you are following the news at all. I won't leave you in further suspense, however; I love it! It is a significant achievement for a band with many significant achievements.

This is the first Marillion album in a long time that has resonated with me. If you loved or liked Brave, Afraid Of Sunlight, This Strange Engine ... this is the album for you. It is emotive, epic, intimate, rich and dynamic, at times delicate, almost fragile ... sonically stunning. This is a band that is firing on all cylinders - to use a worn out but apt cliché. I don't know if preparing this concept album reinvigorated the band, but it sure sounds like it. And frankly, they looked reinvigorated when I saw them live this past October.

This is very much a socio-political album. This is not new territory for the band - I think of "Berlin" (Season's End), "Man Of A Thousand Faces" and "Hope For The Future" (This Strange Engine) to name just a few among others. (And certainly this was also true during the Fish years.) They have something to say in each song; some are obvious, such as "The New Kings" (wealthy financiers/business tycoons and their idle offspring, oligarchs, etc., essentially in charge); others not inscrutable, but open to interpretation ("White Paper," in which Hogarth's delivery recalls Holidays In Eden's "Waiting To Happen"). I would think that right now, most couldn't hear/read the lyrics to "Demolished Lives" (part of the "El Dorado" suite that opens the album) and not think of Syria and it's refugees. Or Iraq. Or any other town or city ravaged by war (of one type or another).

I have read elsewhere that some find the perspective posited in "Living In Fear" a bit... naïve. Especially the refrain/idea: "... melting our guns as a show of strength." It's one of those "if only" kind of things. But the greater point is, you can live in fear -- never leave your home, jump at every sound, think the voices outside people about to burst in -- or live with fear, accept that death is part of life and live your life... Well, this could be a topic for long discussion - but not in a CD review.

So let's return to the music. You get a microcosm of the album right at the beginning with the "El Dorado" suite, especially in "The Gold" and "Demolished Lives." There is something magical about Kelly's keyboard work in "The Gold," even though it is a simple phrase -- warm, and familiar like a favourite blanket -- it is the key phrase that moves the piece forward. Here, too, is where the beloved dynamic Marillion shadings between intimate and epic occur. It was this piece, upon first hearing it, that I knew I was in for something sonically wonderful. Not to mention a signature Rothery solo to round things out -- in the lingo of the times, Rothery's guitar playing throughout will give you the "feels" (and oh how I have missed that). The crescendo of "El Dorado," "F E A R," is classic, epic Marillion. It reminds me strongly of Brave, in the passion and power (courtesy of the drums and percussion of Mosley and the bass of Trewavas).

The tinkling keyboard phrase that opens (and recurs throughout) "The Leavers" reminds me of that which opens The Who's "Eminence Front;" part of the vocal delivery recalls "Berlin." And it is at about the 2:20 mark of "The Jumble Of Days" (part four of "The Leavers") where we are treated to a sweet, classic, thrill-chills inducing guitar solo from Rothery. By the way, while you might think "The Leavers" and its subpart/counterpart "The Remainers" is some end-times reference, it isn't. "The Leavers" are the "rolling stones" - those who live/live for a nomadic lifestyle. "The Remainers" are the "9 to 5-ers" - those of us live/live for a stationary lifestyle. Never shall the twain meet? Yes, in epic style of course, to close out the suite (more Rotheryness there, too).

"The New Kings," is the final suite. The overarching arrangement takes the understated, restrained, tension-building atmosphere and juxtaposes it to a grand release (a dynamic which Marillion have long utilized). It starts with "Fuck Everyone And Run"**, moves through "Russia's Locked Doors," to end with "Why Is Nothing Ever True?" which is that grand release, the epic culmination. There is a charmingly arranged and cheerful-despite-itself interlude in "Russia's Locked Doors," rich with lyrical interplay between Kelly and Rothery, instrumental but for a chorus of voices singing "greed is good..." By the end of "Russia's Locked Doors," however, we are in full glory, all that which makes Marillion, Marillion. But "A Scary Sky," the next section, is back to somber tension that perfectly underscores the uncertainty expressed in the song.

The album ends with short, sparse, mostly piano and vocal, "Tomorrow's New Country."

*And by "long been" I mean since 1985.Misplaced Childhood remains a permanent fixture in my "deserted island discs" list.

*this is probably the most I've used that particular four letter word in a review.



Tracklisting:
El Dorado: i. Long Shadowed Sun - ii. The Gold - iii. Demolished Lives - iv. F E A R - v. The Grandchildren Of Apes / Living In Fear / The Leavers: i. Wake Up In Music - ii. The Remainers - iii. Vapour Trails In The Sky - iv. The Jumble Of Days - v. One Tonight / White Paper / The New Kings: i. Fuck Everyone And Run - ii. Russia's Locked Doors - iii. A Scary Sky - iv. Why Is Nothing Ever True? / Tomorrow's New Country

Musicians:
Steve (h) Hogarth - lead vocal, hammered dulcimer (5), bass xylophone (3)
Mark Kelly - keyboards
Ian Mosley - drums
Steve Rothery - guitar, fretless bass (4)
Pete Trewavas - bass and additional vocals
Sofi Hogarth - additional vocals (1, 3, 5)
Jennie Rothery - additional vocals (3)
Mrs Bond's Class - additional "Greed is Good" voices (5)
Strings - Covent Garden String Quartet

Discography:
Script For A Jester's Tear (1983)
Fugazi (1984)
Reel To Real (1984)
Misplaced Childhood (1985)
Brief Encounter (ep) (1985)
Clutching At Straws (1987/1999)
The Thieving Magpie (1988)
B-Sides Themselves (1988)
Season's End (1989)
Holidays In Eden (1991)
A Singles Collection 1982-1992 (1992)
Live At The Borderline (1992)*
Live In Caracas (1993)*
Live In Glasgow (1993)*
Brave (1994)
The Making Of Brave (1995)*
Afraid Of Sunlight (1995)
Made Again (1996)
Kayleigh (1996) (Dutch comp)
Essential Collection (1996) (UK comp; same as above)
Real To Reel/Brief Encounter (1997)
Best Of Both Worlds (1997)
This Strange Engine (1997)
Rochester (1998)*
Piston Broke (1998)*
Tales From The Engine Room (1998)
Radiation (1998)
Christmas 1998: The Web Christmas (1998)**
Kayliegh: The Essential Collection (1998) (UK comp.; diff. from above)
Unplugged At The Walls (1999)*
Marillion.com (1999)
Zodiac (1999)*
Christmas 1999: marillion.christmas (1999)**
marillion.co.uk (or bonus disk) (Ver 1-2000)
The Singles: '82 - '88 (box set) (2000/2009)
Christmas 2000: A Piss-Up In A Brewery**
Crash Course (Sampler) (2000)
ReFracted! (2001)*
Anoraknophobia (2001)
Another DAT At The Office (2001)*
Christmas 2001: A Verry Barry Christmas (2001)**
Fallout (2002)*
Anorak In The UK Live (2002)*
marillion.co.uk (or bonus disk) (Ver 2-2002)
Brave Live 2002 (2002)*
Caught In The Net (2002)*
Crash Course (Sampler) (2002)*
The Singles: '89 -'95 (2002)
Brave Live (2002)*
AWOL (2002)**
Christmas 2002: Santa And Elvis (2002)**
The Best of Marillion (2003)
View From The Balcony (2003)**
Christmas 2003: Say Cheese! Christmas With Marillion (2003)**
Curtain Call (2004) (3CD Box)*
Crash Course (2004)*
Marbles (2004)
Remixomatosis (2004)*
Christmas 2004: Baubles (2004)**
Popular Music (CD oop, avail. as download only) (2005)**
marillion.co.uk (or bonus disk) (Ver 3-2005)
View From The Balcony (Sampler) (Ver 2-2005)
Marbles By The Sea (2005)*
Marbles Live (2005)*
Handful Of Marbles (Sampler) (2005)*
Christmas 2005: Merry Xmas To Our Flock (2005)**
Unzipped (The Making Of 'Anoraknophobia') (2005)*
Crash Course (Ver 4 - 2006)
Smoke (2006)*
Mirrors (2006)*
Marbles Vinyl Edition (2006)
Christmas 2006: Jingle Book (2006)**
Somewhere Else (2007)
Crash Course (Ver 5 - 2007)*
Christmas 2007: Somewhere Elf (2007)**
Family (2007)*
Friends (2007)*
Crash Course (Ver 6 - 2008)*
Happiness Is The Road - Volume 1: Essence (2008)
Happiness Is The Road - Volume 2: The Hard Shoulder (2008)
Early Stages - The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987 (6CD Box) (2008)
Christmas 2008: Pudding On The Ritz (2008)**
Happiness Is Cologne (2009)*
Live From Loreley (2009)
Recital Of The Script (2009)
Less Is More (2009)
Size Matters (2010)*
Tumbling Down The Years (2010)*
The Official Bootleg Box Set, Vol. 2 (2010)
Live From Cadogan Hall (2010)*
Live In Montreal / Saturday (2010)*
Live In Montreal / Sunday (2010)*
Keep The Noise Down (sampler) (2010)
marillion.com Deluxe Digipack (2011)
Somewhere Else (2LP) (2011)
Marbles Deluxe Digipack (2011)
Marbles (2LP) (2011)
Live In Montreal / Friday (2011)*
Season's End Live 2009 (2011)*
This Strange Engine Live 2007 (2011)*
Afraid Of Sunlight Live 2003 (2011)*
A-Z (2012)*
This Strange Engine - Deluxe Digipack (2012)
Fugazi (LP) (2012)
Holidays In Eden (LP) (2012)
Sounds That Can't Be Made (2012)
Sounds That Can't Be Made - Deluxe Edition (2012)
Crash Course (2012)*
Sounds Live (2012)*
Anoraknophobia (LP) (2012)
The Glow Must Go On (2012)*
Sleighed Again (Christmas 2012) (2012)**
Best.Live (LP box set) (2013)
Radiation 2013 (2013)
Brave (LP) (2013)
Misplaced Childhood (LP) (2013)
Clocks Already Ticking (CD/DVD) (2013)*
Best Of Leamington (2013)*
Best Of Montreal (2013)*
Brave Live 2002 (CD/DVD) (2013)
Radiation 2013 (LP) (2013)
Somewhere In London (CD/DVD) (2013)
Afraid Of Sunlight (LP) (2013)
Clutching At Straws (LP) (2013)
Sounds That Can't Be Made (LP) (2013)
Brave Live 2013 (2013)
Sounds That Can't Be Made - 2013 Special Edition (2013)*
Proggin Around The Christmas Tree (Christmas 2013) (2013)**
A Sunday Night Above The Rain (dlx bx set) (2014)*
A Sunday Night Above The Rain (Holland version) (2014)*
A Sunday Night Above The Rain (Montreal version) (2014)*
A Sunday Night Above The Rain (3LP) (2014)*
A Collection Of Recycled Gifts (xmas comp.) (2014)*
Live At The Forum (2014)
Chile For The Time Of Year (Christmas 2014) (2014)*
Glass Half Full (2015)
F.E.A.R. (2016)
Waves & Numbers (2016)*
Marbles In The Park (2016)*
Singles Night (2016)*

Recital Of The Script (VHS/DVD) (1983/2003)
Grendel/The Web (VHS EP) (1984)
1983-86 The Videos (VHS [oop]) (1986)
Live From Loreley (VHS/DVD) (1987/2004)
From Stoke Row To Ipanema (VHS/DVD) (1990/2003)
A Singles Collection 1982-1992 (DVD) (1992)
Brave, The Film (VHS/DVD) (1995/2004)
Shot In The Dark (VHS/DVD [oop]) (2000/2002)
The EMI Singles Collection (DVD [PAL only])(2002)
A Piss-up In A Brewery (DVD) (2002/2010)
Brave Live 2002 (DVD) (2002)
Christmas In The Chapel (DVD) (2003)
Before First Light (DVD) (2003)
Wish You Were Here (DVD box, oop) (2005)
Colours And Sound (DVD) (2006)*
Marbles On The Road (DVD) (2005)
Bootlet Butlins (DVD) (2007)*
Somewhere In London (DVD) (2007)
This Strange Convention (DVD) (2009)
Snow De Cologne (DVD) (2009)**
Out Of Season (box set) (DVD) (2010)
Ding Dong Loreley On High (live) (DVD) (2010)
In-Tube DVD Sampler (DVD) (2010)
Out Of Season (DVD boxset) (2010)
Live In Montreal (3DVD) (2011)
Holidays In Zelande (BR) (2012)
Clocks Already Ticking (CD/DVD) (2013)
Brave Live 2002 (CD/DVD) (2013)
Brave Live 2013 (BR & DVD) (2013)
A Sunday Night Above The Rain (BR & DVD) (2014)*
Breaking Records (BR) (2015)
Unconventional (BR & DVD) (2016)
Out Of The Box (BR & DVD) (2016)

* Racket Records releases; ** Fan Club only

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 9th 2017
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.marillion.com
Hits: 610
Language: english

  

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