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Steve Hackett - Voyage Of The Acolyte CD (album) cover

VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.21 | 904 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

40footwolf
5 stars You will never have wanted to boot up a game of "Legend of Zelda" more in your entire your life than you will have after hearing this album, and I mean that as a big compliment. If you ask me, the main function of progressive rock should be to create musical vistas that excite the imagination, and "Voyage of the Acolyte" pulls that feat off as very few other albums can.

Largely instrumental, Voyage of the Acolyte is Steve Hackett's natural extension of the music he did with Genesis-just as lush and wondrous but with an air of solemnity that sets it apart from his work with the seminal prog group. As grand as early Genesis could be, one got more of a fairy tale vibe than an ancient myth one. As well they should have, as they fulfilled their goal exceptionally. Hackett differs, however, in infusing his music with a more dire sense of gravity. Just as the listener is apt to be thrilled by the second half of "Star of Sirius", they are as likely to be put into a dark, meditative mental frame by the sombre, brooding "The Hermit". This mix of styles and sense of importance is almost assuredly entirely intentional, as the album is a concept of sorts based on the mysticism of Tarot cards. As soft as the melodies can get, they never lose their feeling of being ancient, almost holy. On my first listen I noticed that the music had a very hymnal feel to it, and it's completely to the album's advantage that it does. There isn't one moment that feels wasted, no song without at least one or two moments that are completely sweeping.

As I mentioned earlier, the tones of the album are vast and various, and what's more impressive still is that not a one of them feels out of place. The album's moods range from thrilling on "Ace of Wands" to menacing and foreboding on "A Tower Struck Down", and almost overwhelmingly beautiful and awe-inducing on both parts of "Hands of the Priestess". That said, the album's highlight has to be the final song, "Shadow of the Hierophant", where all the moods of the album, be they serene or ominous or grand or sorrowful coalesce into one magnificent thematic crescendo. The first half of the lengthy tune features vocals from Sally Oldfield that are heavenly enough to bring peace to the Middle East, and the latter half features a build that suffers from the lack of a true finale but still proves itself to be one of the most majestic tension builders this side of the middle of "Starless".

While I'm generally not a fan of a lack of lyrics, the largely instrumental structure of this album definitely works in its favor, as the musicianship from Hackett and company carries a beauty and virtuosity that, in this context, for the most part does not need to be supported by vocals. The use of bells is some of the best I've ever heard in a prog context, and even the occasional keyboard passage is kept to a restrained and tasteful minimum. Much of the album truly does feel like a perfect fusion between classical music and rock and roll.

The sheer beauty of "Voyage of the Acolyte" enables it to be enjoyed by music lovers of all stripes, including those not familiar with prog, and features the musical and thematic sophistication to be studied by scholars of the genre for days on end. This perfect mix of accessibility, virtuosity, tasteful musicianship and moments of awe-inspiring beauty make "Voyage of the Acolyte" an album that no fan of progressive rock can afford to be without.

40footwolf | 5/5 |

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