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Marillion - Radiation CD (album) cover

RADIATION

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

2.64 | 362 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars We might be wrong

Marillion's tenth album (on the sleeve the 10 is reflected in the letters IO in the album title and the band name) "Radiation" finds the band making a conscious and concerted effort to change their style and sound. Denying at the time of its release that they had ever really been a "prog" band, they seem here to have deliberately tried to ensure that there is as little as possible which might qualify for that tag.

Cited by fans and critics as borrowing heavily from the music of Radiohead, while the band themselves deny any such overt influences, they do admit that Radiohead albums were on their playlist around the time the album was recorded. The brief introductory track "Costa del Slough" is certainly off-beat enough to put long terms fans on their guard. "Under the sun" though offers a level of reassurance, lyrically at least, as the theme mirrors that of the title track of "Season's end". The off key lead vocals and harsher overall sound though are more difficult to digest.

"The answering machine" is more in line with the type of music which appeared on the previous "This strange engine" album, although the vocals here are deliberately distorted (as if heard on an answering machine). "Three minute boy" is apparently a nod lyrically towards Oasis (the band). Musically, it comes much closer to songs on former Hogarth Marillion albums, while building to an anthemic chorus with hints of "Don't look back in anger". The track introduces a softer core section for the album, with "Now she'll never know" and "These chains" being more traditional Marillion songs.

"Born to run" (not the Springsteen song) is a melancholy dirge, rather spoilt in my opinion by a clumsy drum beat. The two longest tracks are saved till last. The 7 minute "Cathedral wall" has a wonderful blast of synth upfront, then settles into a Porcupine Tree like mid-paced piece. A sinister cacophony builds midway before suddenly giving way to an almost inaudible conclusion. This track alone would make the album worthwhile. From here we merge seamlessly into the 10+ minute closing track "A few words for the dead". This is one of those growers, a song which at first appears lacking in substance, but which gets under the skin and imposes itself after repeated listening.

In all, a decent album by Marillion which is not quite as radical as the band and some others would have you believe. If you enjoy the music of Hogarth era Marillion, chances are you will find something here to enjoy too.

The bonus track on the Japanese release "Fake plastic trees" is a cover of the Radiohead song. It was also included on the CD single version of "These chains".

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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