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Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.30 | 1875 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Reading some of Steven Wilson's comments to his fans here ans at other sites, I get the feeling that he has never been too comfortable with being labeled as a prog musician. And that feeling causes me to wonder if on this album he is making or making fun of prog.

We all know that Wilson has spent much of his time the last few years making remixed versions of classic prog albums by some of the greats, including King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Jethro Tull. It could be that here he is just paying homage. If so, it is fine homage. If not, it makes me think of Mark Wahlberg's character in the film "The Other Guys", where he becomes very good at all sorts of artistic endeavors (such as ballet dancing), just so he can show the other kids "how stupid it is".

Don't get me wrong, just like Ian Anderson's thumbing his nose at the genre with "Thick As A Brick", Wilson has managed to create an excellent album of original music. But some of the influences sound a bit too cliched to my ear, and almost gratuitous.

Luminol, the opener, is a gem of a track, blending old school prog with modern prog metal. It has a fantastic funky bass line, and uses Robert Fripp's own Mellotron for that retro effect. Drive Home is slightly reminiscent of Moonchild from the first King Crimson album. The Holy Water has some organ playing that borrows from Keith Emerson's history. All of these have fine flute and sax riffs that bring classic Mel Collins to mind.

The Pin Drop is the weakest song on the album. Instead of looking back at classic prog, it sounds to me more like Wilson's Porcupine Tree efforts, that have way too much of the alt-rock sound for my tastes.

The Watchmaker sounds like a nod toward Genesis, with some light opening verses that would sound very much like the aforementioned group if Wilson sang with a thin, nasal Gabriel/Collins-like tone (luckily, he does not. The middle section of this tune reminds me of King Crimson's One More Red Nightmare, before a Tony Banks-like arpeggio brings back the Genesis feel, but with some Yes (South Side Of The Sky) and even a Rush lick thrown in.

And the title track at the end is a good, but not overwhelming crescendo for this album.

There are a lot of parts of this album that bring to mind very specific pieces of classic prog, and some that just capture the spirit of those bands. But even so, Wilson has managed to come up with a wonderful collection of music.

Steven, if you read this and I am wrong about your intentions, I'm sorry. But I still love the album.

Evolver | 4/5 |


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