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Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.28 | 2210 ratings

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5 stars 5.0 Stars. The Album that Refused to Leave my Playlist

As a new member of the site I have dedicated my first 3 reviews to my top 3 albums of all time. My first 2 reviews were on Genesis Foxtrot and Yes Relayer, so it may be a surprise to some that I am giving such a high honour to this very popular but also very new record. Normally when I find a new album that I love I will listen to it frequently 4-5 times and then leave it alone for a while so that I don't tire of it (this even applies to my other top 2 albums). With the Raven it's been completely different, ever since I got it last February it has been the soundtrack of 2013 and it doesn't matter how much I listen it just doesn't get dull!

"Luminol" kicks things off on an energetic note with 4 minutes of mostly instrumental jazz fusion. There is some awesome bass guitar work going on here. It basically gives SW a chance to show off the musical skills of his new band and to clearly declare that this album has a lot more energy than GFD. Vocals come in and the mood turns slower and more atmospheric. Piano and flute are the main instruments used to keep things mellow. After some trademark "la la la's" from Wilson the Mellotron come in and after a few energetic sections the song finishes with the opening theme. It's quite an opening song!

"Drive Home" is more in line with typical PT. It's mainly a downbeat ballet with some string arrangements to add to its beauty. At the end there is a killer lead guitar solo (hands down the best solo of the album!) that still leaves me open mouthed no matter how many times I've heard it. How much you enjoy this song depends on how much you like the softer side of PT (and I'm a major PT fan so obviously this is right up my street). There is a video of this song coming on the Drive Home DVD which I am looking forward to!

"The Holy Drinker" also starts with some jazz fusion, but the tone is much darker and intense. It reminds me a bit of what Opeth are doing nowadays. The verse and chorus section also leaves plenty of room for wild outbursts so that you are kept on your toes. But that's what you would expect for any song that mentions the devil! An ELP inspired section follows which leads to a quiet but tense section. The tension is broken with more dark and intense music that reminds me of The Incident crossed with Opeth. Heavy Prog/ Prog Metal fans should love this song!

"The Pin Drop" is another PT song in essence that has been tweaked to match SW's new direction. It's a fast paced song from start to end with 2 epic solos packed in. While the song structure is traditional PT the music is a lot more complex and technical than usual. Wilson also sings at a much higher range than normal which depending on your view will either be praised for doing something different or just plain annoying. Only you can decide, but you can probably guess what I think...

"The Watchmaker" reminds me a lot of Genesis "The Musical Box", especially during the beginning. Things start with some very beautiful and tender Symphonic Prog in the vein of the intro of the mentioned Genesis song, but without any of the tension. 4 minutes in the song builds up to another frenzied and technical jazz fusion section before settling again. Things drift for a while at mid tempo and la la la's vocals are heavily used. Things are brought to a violent conclusion with another section that is not too far away from Opeth style Death Metal.

"The Raven That Refused to Sing" is probably the most emotional song SW has ever written; it's absolutely heart-breaking! It's the only song here that is driven more by atmosphere than technical prowess (although there is a load post-rock ending). There is another great video of this song which will also appear on Drive Home. It's the perfect closer for what I consider a virtually perfect album.

Before I conclude I want to try to dispel a common criticism about this album. People have said that this album is too much like Retro Prog and that it is a rehash of 70s bands and songs. Let me break it down, tracks 2, 4 and 6 have NOTHING to do with Retro Prog. Tracks 2 and 4 are effectively SW trademark sound and 6 is a mixture of Radiohead and post-rock. Tracks 3 and 5 do contain 70s Prog but they also have ideas that clearly belong to modern prog (like the Opeth inspired endings). Track 1 is the most Retro Prog song present, but Wilson went to extensive effort for that to be the case. The Mellotron solo used in that song comes from the EXACT same Mellotron that was used in King Crimson's ITCOTCK (as seen on the bonus DVD). That song is therefore a deliberate homage to 70s Prog, not a rip-off!

The Raven for me is SW crowning achievement and one of my favourite albums of all time. Will it stand the test of time? Who knows but for me this is easily the best post 70s album I have ever listened to and my love for it is only growing. It takes the best of old and new Prog and blends it together into one cohesive sound. If I had to pick one album to define Progressive Rock in general, it would be this one. A Masterpiece.

LakeGlade12 | 5/5 |


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