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Marillion - Script For A Jester's Tear CD (album) cover





4.22 | 1865 ratings

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4 stars The absolute peak of Neo-Prog.

Neo-Prog is a very difficult genre for me to review fairly. Most of the bands that work within this genre have certainly got the spirit of prog in their hearts, and Marillion is no exception. I really want to love them, if only for their commitment to the genre.

Unfortunately, the customary sound of this genre does not conform to my tastes. This has perhaps more to do with the production than the music, but for me it's unavoidable. All the hallmarks of 80s pop music are present - the gated reverb on the drums, the synthesizers pushed WAY forward in the mix. Worse still, the highly simplistic drumbeats common to the period have found their way onto most tracks here.

And yet, I have awarded this album 4 stars. Why? Well, the only thing that can overcome this sort of production for me is terrific songwriting, and the 6 compositions here are uniformly excellent. The songs are very melodic and sparsely arranged (for prog) which puts a huge amount of focus on Fish's vocals. This is perfectly acceptable, as his voice is powerful and emotive. His delivery, modelled closely on that of Peter Gabriel, makes for several highly satisfying crescendos throughout the album.

For me, the disc's highlights are "The Web" and "Forgotten Sons". The Web is far and away my favourite Marillion song, and therefore my favourite Neo-Prog song. It features some utterly majestic, and insanely catchy synthesizer work, which I assure you is not something I say lightly. Synthesizers have never been my favourite instrument, but here it is quite literally the perfect accompaniment to Fish's outstanding singing. This track also features by far the most interesting work from both members of the rythm section, and a very pleasing guitar solo indeed.

Forgotten Sons ends the album in truly epic fashion, and anything else would have seriously hurt this album. It's the sort of musical journey that simply demands an epic ending, and these boys really delivered. The first couple of minutes are somewhat The Web like, with the synths and rythm section shining once again. But before long, we hear a lone distorted guitar riff, with some character voices in the background, and we know this a different beast. From here the listener is treated to a slightly psychadelic funky section, which is excellent. Finally, the album reaches it's apex as it builds to a crescendo with drum rolls galore, giving way to delicate melodic guitar, synths and vocals. Glorious.

Truly a masterwork within a genre I don't even normally like.

Eapo_q42 | 4/5 |


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