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Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.21 | 1648 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
4 stars It's been more then a month already since Wilson and his new gang of recruits totally blew us away in London's Shepherd's Bush. I was already very enthusiast about this album before the show, but hearing these songs in their full live glory was a revelation. The record doesn't always reach the level of intensity that some of the songs require but when played at a deafening loud volume it's a treat!

For "Grace of Drowning", Steven Wilson decided to let go of his ambivalent feelings with the Progressive Rock tag and openly indulges in his love for the dark fusion-prog approach of early Crimson and VDGG, especially on the album's masterpieces (or at least my personal favorites): 'Sectarian', 'Remainder The Black Dog', 'Track 1' and to a lesser extent also 'Raider II'. Those tracks have everything I want to hear in Prog: excitement, fluency, spontaneity, rock, surprise, interactive musicianship, intricate melodies, the works. Next to those mostly longer gems, there are also a couple of less proggy tracks ('No Part of Me', 'Index' ) where Wilson's love surfaces for electronics, pop, trip-hop and the occasional heavy guitar chord. Those tracks are the only ones that reminds of the goth-y style of the preceding 'Insurgentes'.

There are also a couple of short and peaceful tracks that balance out the intensity of the material I summed up so far, such as 'Grace For Drowning','Belle De Jour' and 'Raider Prelude'. Nice stuff. So far so good, and I wish this review could end here. But unfortunately the album also contains no less then 20 minutes of lame ballads that break the whole flow of this album. 'Deform To a Star' deforms indeed, be it into cheap sentimentalism, but it's not half as bad as the cheesy ballad-pop of 'Postcard', which sounds like a 13 a dozen Blackfield leftover. And the closing 'Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye' is Wilson's dullest album closer ever.

Those black holes excluded, this is a fine album full of sparkling stars, reconnecting with the essence of Prog but without sounding retro. It has that dynamic organic rock sound of the years before Prog became all gloss and polish; and at the same time it sounds entirely modern, using modern instruments and recording techniques. It's a unique approach and how it pays.

"Grace For Drowning" has become a very long album, consisting of material that ranges all the way from stellar to downright lame. My own 60 minute compilation of it is a classic! but in the 2CD format for which it was conceived it is merely excellent. Most importantly, this album offers the freely flowing creative that I missed in the tightly structured and riff-based output of Porcupine Tree in the 2000 decade. Wilson let the music flow again, offering a Prog counterpart for the kraut/space-rock he did in the 90's with PT and IEM. My personal preference still lies with the older work or with the dark songwriting of 'Insurgentes', but nevertheless this is quite brilliant as well. I'd give it 5 stars if it wasn't for those freakin' ballads.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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