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Marillion - Seasons End CD (album) cover





3.75 | 870 ratings

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4 stars Well this is far and away Marillion's best album from the Hogarth era, and Fish's spirit (thankfully) seems to be still haunting the band ever slightly. There are quite a few progressive elements in Seasons End, which is good to say, because the Hogarth albums tend to explore the band's pop side, much to the disdain of just about everyone. But that's really not why this album gets such high marks from me. While prog is all well and good, ood times and complicated rhythms amount to remarkably little when there isn't a good song laying the framework. That's where Seasons End really excells. Every single song is well-written and successful in it's own way. Naturally, there are pop songs on Seasons End ("The Uninvited Guest," "Hooks in You," "Holloway Girl") but I'd argue that they are some of the best Marillion would ever write in the Hogarth years. They're upbeat, and if you can get past the plain fact that they are pop songs, and if you enjoy Marillion's form of prog (that is, theatrical and bombastic while maintaining easy-to-digest instrumentation), then you should feel less of a need to press the skip button to the next track.

"The King of Sunset Town" begins Seasons End with a flurry of electronics and keyboards, creating a sheer atmosphere off of which an energetic rock song developes. Now, the title track really tries the patience of the listener. It has a good chord progression, but developes slowly, and never reaches the energy level of "The King of Sunset Town." Therin lies the problem that plagues every Hogarth era Marillion album: they cannot reclaim the energy that they so easily held during the Fish years. The songs may not be bad, but they can often be boring. The problem is not as prevalent on Seasons End as Brave or Marbles, but it can still be found. "Berlin" echoes this sentiment, though it does try to wake up the listener toward the end with a propulsive beat.

For a change of pace, "After Me" begins as a simple acoustic folk tune, perhaps in the Irish tradition, and after a dark, melodic bell interlude, bellows into a rousing ending with a great chord progression. One of my favorite songs on the album! "The Space..." seems bound to go down the same drowsy road as "Seasons End" and "Berlin," but there is enough variation in instrumentation and rhythm and tempo changes to grab your attention. Not to mention it has a very moving and powerful vocal performance by Hogarth.

And I saved the best for last.Though my opinion changes frequently, I'm torn between naming "Easter" or "Script for a Jester's Tear" as Marillion's best song. "Script" is proggier, but "Easter" is simply so well-written that I can't put it out of my mind. From the simple acoustic intro to the echoey guitar ending, from the completely appropriate use of bagpipes to the best solo Rothery ever put on record, this song has it all. The lyrics are beautiful, and the vocal performance Hogarth gives ranges from subdued to cathartic. Brilliant!

If only the rest of Seasons End was as good as "Easter," all would be well. Yet there is the constantly lingering sense of boredom just waiting to rear its head. This may or may not bother you, and hopefully you'll know if you're the type of person who does get bother by such things. Reguardless, there is enough interesting and captivating material on Seasons End to appeal to a broader range of prog fans.

stonebeard | 4/5 |


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