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SOUNDS THAT CAN'T BE MADE

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.70 | 412 ratings

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J-Man
Prog Reviewer
5 stars As 2012 is entering into its final stretch, I can confidently say that Marillion have provided me with some of this year's finest memories. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform an inspired and purely magical concert in Philadelphia this June, I've rediscovered some of the band's classic albums and gained an entire new appreciation for them, and to top it all off, they've also released one of their strongest albums in recent memory with Sounds That Can't Be Made. From my perspective, this has been a great year for Marillion (without even mentioning Steve Hogarth's killer collaboration album with Richard Barbieri released earlier in 2012), and anybody who's been 'on the fence' about the band's recent material owes it to themselves to check out Sounds That Can't Be Made. In what I can only call the band's strongest effort since the 1994 masterpiece that was Brave, Sounds That Can't Be Made is a breath of fresh air in the modern progressive rock scene that offers the introspective sound that Marillion has become known for, as well as a few more progressive twists than we may have come to expect from the band recently.

Although Marillion have generally distanced themselves from any form of 'traditional' neo-prog in recent years, the band's fragile and emotional style of rock music has appealed to me greatly on albums like Happiness Is The Road; that album may have been met with fairly mixed criticisms, but the meticulous attention to atmosphere grew on me to the point where I consider it a truly great observation. Sounds That Can't Be Made focuses on the same sort of subtle beauty and intense ambiance as its predecessor, while incorporating more progressive twists and bombastic atmospheres. This is still an extremely mellow listen compared to most prog bands on the scene today, but the exceptional songwriting and brilliant arrangement makes it no less satisfying. Sounds That Can't Be Made may take a few listens to 'click', but it's the sort of album that leaves a huge impression when given the time it deserves - I still find myself discovering new subtleties with every listen, and the emotional impact of some of these tunes rivals the best material that Marillion has ever produced.

My first experience with Sounds That Can't Be Made was through "Power", the single released some time before the album's actual release date. The thick bassline and powerful chorus immediately grabbed my attention, and by the time I heard the entire album, I was actually really impressed. Tasty musicianship and professional compositions are to be expected from Marillion at this point, but this album had an extra edge that really set it apart from the band's other material. The epic songwriting and thought-provoking lyrics in "Gaza" shows Marillion taking their art to a new plateau, "Montreal" is one of my favorite songs in the band's entire discography, and "The Sky Above The Rain" is a perfect example of a 'goosebump song' - whether I want it to or not, Steve Rothery's soulful leads and Hogarth's mesmerizing vocal performance never fail to send chills up my spine. This trio of epics accurately represents Sounds That Can't Be Made's highlights, and although "Lucky Man" doesn't do a whole lot for me, the entire seventy-four minute running time is captivating and powerful.

Sounds That Can't Be Made may not have an ambitious concept like Brave does or the same classic potential that the Fish-era recordings have, but the quality of the release alone is enough to have it regarded as a high point in Marillion's career. A remarkably strong effort indeed, Sounds That Can't Be Made has been on my rotation for dozens of spins now, and it still packs a massive punch every time I take it out for a listen. I think Marillion fans will be delighted to hear this one, and folks who haven't been too enthusiastic about other recent albums may also want to check it out - this is one of the strongest albums that these British legends have ever released for sure! While it would probably take an album crafted by some supernatural force to dethrone Brave and Clutching at Straws (for me, at least), Sounds That Can't Be Made is the next closest thing. In a few short words, Sounds That Can't Be Made is an essential landmark in Marillion's discography - and all I have left to say is "well done, gentlemen!".

J-Man | 5/5 |

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