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VIGIL IN A WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS

Fish

 

Neo-Prog

3.80 | 252 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

J-Man
Prog Reviewer
4 stars After releasing four neo-progressive rock classics with Marillion in the eighties', Fish parted ways with the band in 1988 due to internal struggles and creative differences. Marillion went on to release the excellent Seasons End with new vocalist Steve Hogarth in 1989, and Fish released his debut, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, the following year; though the album was finished being recorded in mid-1989, it was delayed until early 1990 in order to avoid conflict with Marillion's new record. Whilst neither Seasons End nor Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors quite managed to match the magnificence of Marillion's early masterpieces, both were tremendous releases that proved that fans of the band had no reason to lose sleep because of Fish's departure.

Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors features nine songs, all of which are composed by Fish with assistance from Mickey Simmonds (who would later collaborate with Camel and Renaissance), Janick Gers (of Iron Maiden fame), or Hal Lindes (best known for his work with Dire Straits) depending on the track. An impressive cast of songwriters for sure, and it definitely shows in the music; although this may be a solo album from a singer, the instruments don't feel like they've taken a backseat to the vocals at all. The music is melodic neo-progressive rock in the vein of early Marillion, but there are a few notable differences. For one, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors comes across as a bit more pop-oriented, especially in a track like "Big Wedge" with its Phil Collins-esque horn arrangements. It's not something I particularly care for, but it's still a decent track. There are also touches of Scottish folk music in "The Company" - something that would be even more prominent on Fish's next record - and a heavily orchestrated ballad in the form of "A Gentleman's Excuse". A truly beautiful song with Fish's trademarked lyrical prowess, this one is a fine example of a sappy ballad done right.

There are also a few more standard sounding neo prog songs like "Vigil" and "Family Business", the latter of which deals with the horrors of domestic violence using some of Fish's most powerful lyrics ever penned. I also love John Giblin's bass guitar contributions to this track - his melodic and soloistic style of playing really adds another dimension to the music. "Cliche" is another big highlight, with its beautiful melodies and excellent lead guitar work making it one of the album's most memorable tracks.

Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors might not have too much appeal to Marillion naysayers or newbies to neo-progressive rock, but any fan of the genre is likely to find a lot to enjoy here. With great songwriting, professional musicianship, and tremendous lyrics all delivered through a crystal-clear production, it's tough to not recommend this to any early Marillion fan. Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors is a great start to Fish's career as a solo artist and an essential purchase for fans of the man's voice.

J-Man | 4/5 |

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