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Marillion - This Strange Engine  CD (album) cover

THIS STRANGE ENGINE

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.43 | 401 ratings

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Una Laguna
3 stars This represents the start of what I see as something of a lull in Marillion's career, although you can probably decipher that from the average ratings of Marillion's studio albums. A string of really very good albums (with the exception of Holidays in Eden) was broken by this one. It's by no means bad, and certainly has its moments, but much of the material lacks the inspiration and vitality which Marillion are known for.

Let's start with the great tracks. Man of a Thousand Faces and Estonia are a couple of classic Marillion tracks, filled to the brim with emotion (if perhaps not as proggy as some people would like). Likewise, 80 Days is rather un-progular and has a couple of iffy solos, but as a song holds up reasonably well. One Fine Day has a string section which isn't to my taste, but overall is another emotionally-charged song. An Accidental Man goes into the same pile as these couple of songs: not amazing, but still perfectly listenable.

And then there are the more questionable tracks which fail to press my whoopee button. I understand Memory of Water is trying to be all mysterious and atmospheric, but I just find it rather boring. Hope for The Future seems a bit goofy and at times, particularly during the solo, is all over the place. It just overall has an aesthetic quality I don't enjoy.

Which only leaves the title track. The epic. Except it's really, really not that epic. It feels like you're waiting for the crescendo to come, for the lacklustre beginning to be compensated for... but it never comes. It lacks the focus or clarity of other Marillion epics (such as Ocean Cloud from Marbles), and makes for a disappointing end to the album.

This is not a bad album. There are some very good moments on it and there's something good to be found in most of the tracks. However, the album is dragged down by uninspired, aimless and sometimes just plain dull moments, most of which turn up in the second half. A good album, but by no means essential.

Una Laguna | 3/5 |

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