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Fish - Sunsets On Empire CD (album) cover





3.80 | 221 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fish's 1997 release saw him treading into newer and more modern territories musically. This album is not truly progressive rock, but it's a nather blend of hard rock with progressive overtones. This album is very guitar oriented and they lay the basic foundation for essentially every song on here. Essentially what you can expect is high quality and very sniping lyrics on top of solid guitar riffing and chord progressions. It's not Fish's best album, but it certainly is very very far from his worst.

The album opens with The Perception of Johnny Punter, a rollicking 8:30 affair with a great guitar riff and some bitter lyrics about being a hostage or in a hostage situation. It starts of the album is a similar fashion that most Fish's albums start, fantastically. It's also the first of many songs on this album to feature a nice monologue or section of dialogue from Fish. Goldfish & Clowns opens with a lone droning piano note and some swelling guitar chords. A strong chorus and some interesting instrumentation are other highlights of this great song (that's better represented live, in my opinion).

Change of Heart is a 12 string guitar based piece with some floating slide guitar licks from Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson (who appears on this album and Fish's next album, Raingods with Zippos). This song has a similar feel to some of Fish's older songs like Just Good Friends and Dear Friend (both from Internal Exile). It's a bit of a throwaway, but it still is a pretty good song for what it is. What Colour is God? is one of my favorite pieces on the album mainly because of the addictive chorus. A strong percussion based verse breaks loose into a multi-layered vocal experiment with a rather interesting chord progression underneath it. Tara is one of the poppier tunes solely if you base it on the music (but the lyrics are still pretty sappy). It's a predominantly mellow tune with a dynamic bassline, pretty piano work and some anxious synthesizer textures on top of it all. Jungle Ride is a 7:30 Fish monologue augmented by tribal/middle eastern sounding textures. The duet chorus and the uneasy environment created gives this song the perfect feeling.

Worm in a Bottle is a winding tune that has Fish singing happy birthday to himself. Some groovy organs and some quasi-electronic drumming as well as some Alex Lifeson inspired riffing can also be found on this song. Brother 52 begins with Fish making a phone call to a friend and they talk about the murder of a friend. Some more groovy organ and gutiar fills can be heard here as well as a punchy chorus. Sunsets on Empire is a vocal led piece that has a triumphant and uplifting feel despite a rather downtrodden theme. I'm quite fond of the piano work on this song, which ranges in many moods such as melancholy to energetic within a matter of seconds. Say it With Flowers has a nice phased guitar chord progression as well as some great acoustic instrumentation. It's a bit on the poppy side, but I feel that it ends the album well.

In the end, Sunsets on Empire isn't Fish's best work, but it isn't far from it. The modern edge and the pristine production only help improve the overall quality and feel of this album. Fans of Fish and Marillion will probably find a lot to enjoy about this album. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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