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Radiohead - Hail To The Thief CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.44 | 445 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Yorke was never very good at math...

Hail To The Thief is a very strange album for Radiohead. After straying more into electro-prog territory with their last two albums, Kid A and Amnesiatic, they finally decided to bring the guitar back out and give it more of a rock sound. As such, this really isn't much of a prog album, not that they really wanted to be a prog band in the first place - often denying the tag. Guitar, Piano and bass dominate the album along with the usual Yorke grumble (or whine, or scream depending on what kind of mood he's in). The album itself is very hard to rate because at times it's mindblowing, while at other times it's sickeningly boring. The song We Suck Young Blood pretty much defines the album, it's blindingly beautiful and incredible piano piece that could take on the piano from Supertramp's School sandwiched between boring, almost a-capella vocals from Yorke. Flashes of brilliance between seas of uninteresting songs.

Most of the songs here on any other album would have been called 'filler'. Not like, ''crappy song to fill time'' filler, but ''short songs to fit between the standout pieces'' filler. None of the songs on the album are a showcase of the band's abilities, and all of them end frighteningly before they should. 2+2=5 could easily have been 20-minutes if the band really wanted to make a prog masterpiece, but instead ends right when it picks up. This happens for a lot of the songs on the album, leaving many of them forgettable. Other standouts on the album include the heavy-as-hell and synth driven Mxyomatosis, which brings back memories of Idiotique from Kid A thanks to it's almost club-beat, (which actually works for them in this case) and the creepy coda A Wolf At The Door with it's offbeat delivery.

The rest of the album really doesn't stand out. There's a couple of amazing melodies used once and mistakenly discarded as the formally mentioned We Suck Young Blood and other times a sea of melody-less bass overtake the song and turn it into noise as on The Gloaming.

One thing that is kind of cool about the album is the gimmicks. Each song has two titles (a title and a parenthesis title) and the fact that all the songs are all so short work with the ADD culture of today - although that really is not the prog audience. Some of the heavier moments being back memories of the band's glory days and the first half of the album definitely overtakes the second, but all around this one is a pretty big disappointment for the prog world.

Ultimately this one is going to get 2 scattered brains out of 5. Pieces of this album could have enhanced other releases from the band but overall this one doesn't hold together too well. Hiring a lot of people who don't do much work is not better than hiring few people who really know what they're doing in this case (to use an analogy of short vs. long songs). Not a bad album and fans will definitely enjoy it, but the rest will be able to miss this one unless they really need to hear some later Radiohead.

Queen By-Tor | 2/5 |


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