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4 stars Marillion mark II wasn't that a radical departure from the Fish led one for Seasons End, the musical style isn't that much different from Clutching At Straws. Gone are the fat analogue synth solos and the keyboards are used more to create texture and mood, Hogarth has a much more technically impressive voice and his lyris are less flowery but with no less of a social conscience or romantic. Those observations aside everything else is present, and Easter contains one of Rothery's (if not rock music as a whole) most moving and emotional guitar solo. Would be highly recommended if it wasn't for the horrible psuedo hair metal effort Hooks in You.
Report this review (#12225)
Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2003 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Of course this was a major shock that this raging Scottsman had left so obviously the average Marillion fan was lost . I also never got used to the new voice, but something else was changed. Clearly the musicians were trying to adapt to the era and in a way, this album is the logical continuity of Clutching At Straws album - if you do not count the vocals .

If you want to investigate this new era go directly to Brave (which is clearly the best album or Hogarth-era Marillion) and if you like it work backwards (as later stuff is not really enthusiasting to my ears). All things considered, Fish-era fans (of which I was moderatly)will not like the album, but it is not a bad album.

Hardly essential - as its successor is also.

Report this review (#12228)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars this is the last one from Marillion I rate by five stars, although Steve Hogarth is not as good vocalist as Fish we still have here great progressive work. Most symphonic album in Marillion's career , beautiful guitar solo and perfect sounding.
Report this review (#12229)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "You never miss it till it's gone"

"Seasons end" was the first of the post Fish offerings from Marillion, with Steve Hogarth taking over on vocals. Hogarth's voice and vocal style is somewhat different to his predecessor, and any remaining links with the Genesis sound were roundly eliminated with Fish's departure.

The album finds the band moving towards a slightly softer overall sound, with the title track in particular being virtually a ballad. The song, a message about global warming, starts softly then moves through powerful choruses, and a great keyboard section. Having appeared to finish, it is then moves in to a coda with a long acoustic section, which slowly builds again before the final fade. A wonderfully structure song which clearly demonstrated that this version of Marillion came with new and fresh ideas.

There is a consistency to the remaining tracks which means that you'll either enjoy the whole thing, or you won't enjoy much of it at all. "The uninvited guest" is lyrically a somewhat inappropriate, if slightly humorous dig at the departed Fish (inappropriate especially because it was being sung by someone who had not actually been in the band with him).

In all, a confident venture into the brave new world without the "fifteen stone first footer", which, while it may have caused a few of the band's fans to jump ship, reassured the vast majority (in the same way as "A trick of the tail" did with Genesis) that the band had plenty of life left in it yet.

Report this review (#12233)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Fish is replaced here by Steve Hoggart, who has a more mellow, less theatrical voice. This album is similar to the previous "Clutching at straws", still having many atmospheric & ethereal keyboards and guitars, and even being slightly more progressive and powerful rock than "Clutching at straws". It is the best one of the Hoggart-era so far, followed by the Brave album. The finesse and subtlety of the many dreamy mellow & ambient moments are absolutely palpable. The sax parts on the Berlin track are really interesting, giving a very refined touch to the Marillion's sound. The omnipresent clean & brief rhythmic guitar notes, like the ones on "Clutching at Straws", are, again, very catchy and addictive. The keyboards are VERY modern, floating and melodic. Rothery makes many excellent guitar solos, especially the VERY emotional and sustained one on "Easter". All the tracks are excellent. The only slightly irritating point is Hoggart's too highly pitched & moaning voice when he sings too loud. The "Seasons end" track has an OUTSTANDING finale, very majestic, dreamy, relaxing, ambient, percussive, mainly consisting in a perfect mix of ethereal keyboards and spacy guitar sounds.


Report this review (#12245)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, Hogarth is no Fish, but he is also a great singer, with a different style. The lyrics make you think as they did in the Fish-era, but are more ellegant. And the band is at their best, they never sounded so melodic as in this record, and would never sound so melodic again. This is a very touching album, and all songs are great. A masterpiece.
Report this review (#12234)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first album of the Hogarth-era and this album shows what Fish had meant to the band, for better or for worse depending on your preferences, the difference is telling in all aspects of the music.

Hogarth is, I agree, a much better singer than Fish in that his voice is a lot better and his range vocally is much wider. However there to me is something special about Fish´s singing that makes you really listen. Without being pretentious he brings the words to life better than anyone I have ever heard. Also lyrically Fish is much better although some prefer the less personal and often "lighter" lyrics of Hogarth.

What about this album then? Well it´s certainly got a more accessible and commercial sound than any of the previous albums including Clutching At Straws. Some of the tracks, however "commercial", are really good such as for example The King Of Sunset Town, Easter, Seasons End and The Space. While tracks like The Uninvited Guest, Holloway Girl don´t really do much for me. Add a horrible track like Hooks In You which almost makes me want to puke and what you have is a very uneven album which at times is really good. Worth having since there are a couple of really strong tracks but nothing earthshattering to write home about.

Report this review (#12236)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1990 I knew that Fish left Marillion and that the band had a new singer when I listened to the beautiful song called "Easter" in a FM Radio Station. I bought the album and I liked it very much. It is an album with some nostalgical songs like "Seasons End". This album also has songs with social comments (like "The King of Sunset Town", "Holloway Girl"). I also like "Hooks in you", with a good "ordinary rock guitar". I was surprised when in Marillion`s official website I read that the song "The Uninvited Guest" was about AIDS, and that "The King of Sunset Town" was about the killing of several people in Peking`s Tianamen Square."Easter" is a good gesture to Ireland. And as someone commented in previous reviews, the song "Seasons End" is about changes in the nature due to pollution. I still like to listen to this album, but I bought this album when I finished my University studies, so for me it was time for a change too.
Report this review (#12237)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Marillion - Seasons End

This was the first Marillion release after the departure of their old front man Fish. Logically people would be anxious to know in what form the band would continue to exist. Simply because I was two years old when this album was released, I never needed to be wondering about the further existence of the band, because I got to know them exactly ten years after the release of "Seasons End". This also leads to a fairly objective way of looking at the album if put into contrast to the history of the band at that moment.

When listening to this album you cannot help but notice that most of the material was written when Fish was still in the band. The sound is almost identical to the older albums, with the exception that Steve Hogarth's vocals give it a twist.

May I suggest that you listen to the second disc of the remaster of Marillion's "Clutching at Straws" album if you like "Seasons End". I mention this because there are a handful of demo tracks included on that bonus disc, which are version of songs that finally ended up on Seasons End, but with Fish performing on them. That means some different compositions with familiar melodies and completely different lyrics.

Regarding the music I can say that compared to Marillion's previous output, "Seasons End" includes more songs that I would consider as 'filler' and that I hardly listen to nowadays. I personally think the songs Uninvited Guest, Holloway Girl and Hooks in you are basic, mediocre, straightforward rock songs. I wonder what made the band decide to put these on the album, instead of for instance the song The Bell in the Sea, which is a far more epic tune that was discarded to b-side status. oh right. of course how stupid of me, a simple three letter word/abbreviation explains it all: E-M-I.

Not everything is filler of course, for instance the classic live track Easter with its lyrics about Ireland and it's recognisable guitar playing, not to mention brilliant solo! Or what about that Alan Parsonesque introduction to the album with The King of Sunset Town? Or maybe the saxophone stuff that's included on track #6 Berlin?

And the best has not even been discussed yet: the title track and the haunting closing track The Space.. Both are fairly lengthy, respectively eight and six minutes long, dark and ambient songs. Thematically seen the song Seasons End points out to us that we should be more environment-friendly, whereas The Space. is more or less about feeling insecure and perhaps being unfamiliar with your surroundings because of that feeling of insecurity.

I guess Marillion still needed to adapt to the new situation with a new singer and lyricist. Hogarth's input on this album were limited, because a lot of things were left over from the earlier "Clutching at Straws" sessions, or maybe even from before that time. It seems that they needed a bit longer, up to "Holidays in Eden" -like the album or not, Steve was indeed more of a band member then- to fully understand the potential the Steve Hogarth had (= has!)

Report this review (#12239)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've always ignored this album, thinking that Marillion's life was over when Fish left that band. I was very much mistaken - it was somewhat like when Gabriel left Genesis. The band carried on in good form, and this album is surprisingly good, even on the first listen. OK, so it's not a masterpiece like Script For a Jester's Tear, but otherwise a very solid, melodic, atmosferic piece of work. The gorgeous title track in particular is a great piece of music, regardless of the musical style. So is the irresistible Hooks In You and Easter. There is no filler material on this album at all, it's very solid throughout. The sound is more streamlined, but just as full of emotion as the older Maillion material. And the instantly recognizable Marillion trademark sound is still very much present. I would call this style of music Art Rock rather than Neo-Prog or Progressive Rock.
Report this review (#12242)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fish has left and 2 years later Marillion released SE. This CD sounded like Marillion and it didn`t, too. Like CAS it is a little dark, but H`s voice didn`t work on all songs, Easter, The Space or the title track are great songs. On King Of Sunset Town or Berlin Ě was missin Fish`s voice, I think, with Fish they could sound a little warmer, buit that`s history. After all, SE is a good album (and it was a good live prerfomance, too), I prefer the rerelease as a double CD with the brilliant Bell Of The Sea and The Release
Report this review (#12243)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Okay, let's be honest. Hogarth is no Fish. I think most fans would agree with that simple statement. But in fairness, Hogarth is still an excellent singer, a solid lyricist, and a strong performer. Unfortunately, too many Fish fans dismiss Hogarth-led Marillion, starting with this album, and that is their loss.

When I first listened to the album, the airy riff that opens "King of Sunset Town" drew me in, building both suspense and anticipation for what was to come. Suddenly, it crescendoed into a blazing Rothery solo and then "the ragged man came shuffling" in, and I thought to myself, "They still got it!" By the end of the second tune, "Easter," which is perhaps the most charming and beautiful song in the Marillion catelog, I was hooked. The third song, "Univited Guest," is a solid song and is not a slap at Fish, at least no more so than "The Company" and "View from a Hill" is a slap at Fish's old mates. The fourth tune, "Season's End," is a lovely piece, especially the closing two minutes in which Hogarth's vocals ooze in and out over the spacy music. Side B opens with "Holloway Girl," an underrated number about injustice and false imprisonment. Anyone who has ever been walking "out in the cold on a North London street knows that the opening bass line perfectly reflects the extra hop in one's skip. The song also contains some of Hogarth's finest lyrics. The sixth song, "Berlin," is both atmospheric (especially the sax solo) and emotional. The section about the man being shot down while running for freedom was especially poignent given that the album came out only months before the Berlin Wall came crashing down. And the final section that opens with "The butcher, the baker, the munition's maker" (an interesting play on the fairytale rhyme) is as powerful as anything from the Fish-era. This is not surprising given that the music to "Berlin" was origininally recorded with Fish -- to the lyrics of "Family Business" of all things. (Both songs are better for the split.) "After Me" is a nice power ballad, and "Hooks in You" is a strong rock/pop effort that has held up well over time. The closing piece, "The Space," is the strongest song on this great album. What started with a song about the massacre in China ends with a car crashing in Amsterdam and the realization that everyone -- from chinese students to Irish freedom fighters, from an unjustly imprisoned girl in London to a murdered man seeking freedom and love in Berlin -- is the same, and that all people have the same basic hopes and fears. Though perhaps not as eloquent as Fish's lyrics, the message here is an important one, and the music is as strong as earlier albums.

It is sad that so many Fish fans dismiss the Hogarth-led Marillion albums. If they were not so closed-minded and biased, these fans would realize that this album (and others like it -- "Brave," "A of S," "TSE," and "Marbles") is excellent. I, too, am a BIG fan of Fish's work (in fact, I like Fish more than Marillion), but I am open-minded enough to recognize that the Fish/Marillion split all those years ago was actually a good thing because it led to two sources of wonderful music instead of just one. That is a win/win in my script!

Report this review (#12244)
Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was 17 when Fish left Marillion and I was very upset about that. I remember I was listening to their albums the whole week and crying (I was a quite sentimental teenager). Then after one year the Season's end appeared and I was agian dissaponted. I recognized it was the band after a few tones played in the Polish radio, that was one of a few free islands in the Eastern Europe Radio brodcastings ( I am from Slovakia). However, after several rounds of listenings I started to like it, especially the tracks Berlin, Easter and the title one. One can still smell the atmosphere of the former Marillion and one can soon get used to the voice of Steve H. Then, the next year it appeared the first solo album of Fish, and I liked it from the beginning very much. I found it very strong, especially the tracks Gentleman's excuse me and cliche. However, after several rounds of listenings I started to miss something in it. So to summarize it, I think that both albums are nice and good, but lacking something. SE lacks a strong, straight and pressing expression which was the case in the Fish era. VIAWOM needs more expressive style of playing. The band does not have its own style, one can hear here the echoes of former Marillion but not played with the former mastership. I remember, the one of polish radio editors, Tomek B., expressed it nicely: new marillion is like a sea without a fish and solo Fish is like a fish out of water. Still, they both found their styles later and all their achievements are worthy listening. But I cannot tell the same what I can about Gabriel and Genesis, ie. it was better for the music that he left the band. To conclude, both albums are good through inertia.
Report this review (#12246)
Posted Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm not one of those for whom the world ended the day Fish left Marillion. Indeed when I first heard Seasons End, I had no idea that it was going to be the last Marillion album that I would want to own. I thought that the opener King Of Sunset Town (power chorus and all) laid the foundation for the then new Marillion, with the familiar tones of Mark Kelly's synth and Steve Rothery's guitar layering the Marillion sound (and in some ways beginning to stretch more than they had when their erstwhile lead singer was present) and nobody could say that new boy Steve Hogarth was a weak singer. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, I do feel that the heart was ripped out of the band. It's not often that I think a vocalist/lyricist is the strongest member of a prog band, but I have little doubt now that Fish was most responsible for the character of Marillion. At least the Marillion I wanted to listen to.

Still Seasons End is not a bad neo-prog album. The title track is a sweeping work of real power, with Kelly and Rothery doing their thing once again ... although I've often caught myself thinking that Kelly should have solo-ed more and Rothery could have found a little more variety in his lead work, I have few arguments with their work on this one. Berlin is another extended Marillion song that works, although I must confess even as I heard this one for the first time, my mundane brain kept imagining how much better it would have been had a certain Scottish gent wrapped his cords around it. And then there's The Bell In The Sea, probably my favourite track on the album, which, while hardly a prog piece, does have a mythic feel to it.

I must also put in a word for Easter, a beautiful rich ballad that must rank among Steve Hogarth's finest moments. After You is another decent piece, while The Space is an uneven song, that mixes some nice passages with some unimpressive overwrought vocal passages.

The album does also exhibit signs that Marillion were about to find a new less intriguing direction. Both The Uninvited Guest and the truly scary hair-metal single Hooks In You are way too close to the sound of Def Leppard for my liking, and The Release is one of those lame pop-rock songs that were a dime a dozen in the late 80s. My CD version of this album is actually a double disc affair with a 12" version of The Uninvited Guest and Mushfoom Farm Demos of six album tracks tagged on as bonus tracks. I'm afraid I don't consider these sort of extra tracks to be a real "bonus".

Simply put, Seasons End is still a decent listen (especially for neo-prog fans), but there was a kind of magic that was present in the early days with Grendel and Script For A Jester's Tear that was still alive (albeit in mutated form) even in the last Fish/Marillion singles like Incommunicado and Sugar Mice. It just isn't here. ... 54% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#36937)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was at Batam Island accompanying a friend of mine who played billiard at our company's club house sometime in 1989. A gentleman who was my company's Process Engineer talked with me about hobbies and interests, and of course - what? - I told him that my hobby is enjoying great music especially rock with groups like Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, and the "defunct" Marillion. Oops !!.. suddenly he stopped me talking and telling me this: What ? Marillion? Script for A Jester's Tear? I told him: Yeah - Marillion! The "So here I am once more .. " thing that BLEW me at first listen! And you know what? He told me like this: "Come on Gatot, Marillion is not defunct. They are still alive and I got the CD of their latest album"; and I interjected: "You mean . Clutching At Straw..?". "Nope! It's called xxxxx End" (at the time I could only caught the word "End"). I was shocked because approx a month before I read an article that the band about to be disbanded due to Fish leaving the band. I could not believe Marillion was still alive!!! Horraaaaayyyy ...!!!! The problem was then; who is the lead singer? Will he sound like Fish? What about the music? Would it be still a heart-bleeding, touchy and killing like before? (I remember vividly how the "So here I'm once more .." or "Peace on earth and mercy mild" or "On the outskirt of somewhere on the ring road to somewhere.." or "Leave me alone with my thoughts oh runaway -duk-duk-thak!" or "I was flicking through the channel on TV .." melodies have killed me whenever I listen to the CD of old Marillion albums). Good that finally that Process Engineer gave me a cassette containing the album songs.

Oh man .. if you ask me what was my first reaction about this album - I could not even rate it because I was totally disappointed to the drain! Really. I mean it. Why? My feeling was that: How come a great band like Marillion who had been a very important part in my life created this kind of totally mellow music? I did not have the patient to enjoy the album really. Where is the killing melody or energetic style or beautiful and smooth transition piece? Gone man. Gone . And I did not want to enjoy the album at all.

Well , that was then and this is now . (after I have ventured into wider ranges and spectrum of progressive music and let my mind being open to any style of music).

"The King of Sunset town" (8:02) is a very very slow growing track with a too long ambient style at the opening. But it then it grew with me with couple of spins especially when I observed the beauty of Mark Kelly keyboard work and stunning guitar by Steve Rothery. Their styles remain intact only that the composition has required them to play it differently - with a sort of "sustained" play. "Easter" (5:57) hit me at first listen because the track has an excellent melody with nice acoustic guitar work. It reminds me to their "Chelsea Monday" of debut album. "The Uninvited Guest" (3:52) has a guitar fills that you can refer to their earlier albums but with different composition and nuance - especially the adjustment with Hogarth's different voice timbre compared to previous singer, Fish.

"Seasons End" (8:07) is to me like "Sugar Mice" from Clutching At Straw album. The melody is great. The only different one is that it lacks the "bleeding-heart" parts like what I heard from early album. On the peak that I expect the band would deliver such a killing melody like "so if you want my address is number one at the end of the bar" it does not really happen here. Fortunately, the guitar solo in the interlude part is pretty similar. Excellent! "Holloway Girl" (4:27) is a free flowing song with powerful voice of Hogarth at opening part and great howling guitar work by Steve Rothery.

"Berlin" (7:43) is a good track that the band experimented with the use of sax in its composition. It's an excellent exploration. "After Me" (3:19) acoustic guitar intro reminds me to "Easter". "Hooks on You" (2:54) is a rocker and I think this is Marillion's answer to Van Halen because it's basically a hard rock music. "The Space" is really an excellent track and I like the symphonic nature of this song. It rekindles Marillion early albums.

Having enjoyed with many types of prog music, I finally conclude that this album is an excellent addition to any prog collection. Yes, it's different with early Marillion but it's still excellent. The band's spirit to go on with their music is really a good. Fish's gone and Marillion had to move on . Bravo Marillion! Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#40488)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was always going to be a difficult album to rate. Having enjoyed the Fish encarnation of Marillion, I listened to this album with the hope that Marillion was going to continue long term. Steve Hogarth surprised me greatly. He had an excellent voice with a much broader vocal range than Fish. The album as a whole was a mixed bag with music left over from Fish sessions married to Hogarth lyrics. The music was still excellent although it seemed to have a much mellower edge to it. The lyrics seemed to fit most of the time and it has to be said that listening to the album 16 years on, like Clutching at Straws, it has not dated.

There are several stand out tracks on this album. The Space, Uninvited guest, Easter, Seasons End. Not essential but definately a great addition to any prog fans collection and a great introduction to Steve Hogarth's Marillion!

Report this review (#41376)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars Excellent Steve Hogarth's debut album with Marillion. But not a masterpiece, of course.

This album it's in the style of the previous with Fish, with a sound close to Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws, but maybe a little more rock-oriented (The Uninvited Guest, Hooks On You...). The main guitar of The King Of Sunset Town reminds me a lot to some parts of Misplaced Childhood, but songs like Easter (the best Marillion's songs in my humble opinion...) and Season's End are different, and we can see the great influence of Steve Hogarth in the band's sound. Maybe a more pop oriented in this album and the later Holidays In Eden, but still very progressive in works like Brave and the recent Marbles.

I don't give this album five stars because there are some songs thatn I don't like very much. Season's End I think it's a little boring, as much as Berlin, while other songs like The Uninvited Guest and Hooks On You aren't bad, but there's not the kind of songs I like from Marillion...

Great songs for me: The King Of Sunset Town, Easter (everyone should hear this absolutely beautiful song, one of the best songs I've heard in my life...), After Me (very nice acoustic guitar...) and The Space... (with insteresting Pink Floyd's echoes...)

Very recommended, but maybe not for Fish's fanatics...

Report this review (#45164)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I didn't know Marillion at all when i bought this album about two years ago. I may say that it has been my initiation to Progressive Rock, although I already knew Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa. "Seasons End" introduced me to Marillion and made me want to buy the entire discography of the band.

Someone may regret Marillion's old sound; someone might have regretted the departing of Fish, but after all, "Seasons End" remains a very good album. Maybe it's not one of the most important titles in Marillion's discography, but Steve Hogarth's songwriting is not bad at all, as "King of Sunset Town", "Easter" and the suite "Seasons End" seem to explain. The melancholic atmosphere, the "fluid" sound of this record, the dreamy sensation that I felt listening to it... they all make me say that a real Progressive Rock fan can't miss this elegant piece of Marillion's history.

Report this review (#67291)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fish vs. Hogarth. Seems to be the catalyst for any heated discussion with Marillionites worldwide. Some online groups ban the mere mention of a comparison for fears of an all out e-war clogging servers and computers. I don't claim to be a Marillion purist, as I came on rather late in the game; but, if there's one thing Hogarth brought to Marillion, it was a powerful lead voice with excellent range, and (eventually) a thought-provoking lyricist. Much of Seasons End was collaborated with John Helmer, so I consider Brave to be the first real testament to what Hogarth did to Marillion as a band. With that said, Seasons End still sounds great to these ears.

King Of Sunset Town: The bands introduction of H to the world...and what a way to do it. The first minute and a half or so is this swirling keyboard, bass, percussion interplay that is manufactured to tease the listener. At it's peak, Rothery breaks into a introductory solo as to reassure the listener that Marillion rises triumphant and ready to begin another chapter. We get a good idea as to what Hogarth is capable of as a vocalist, as his voice reaches heights never before heard in Marillion. An awesome choice to open Seasons End.

Easter: Hogarth's gift to the band, and as it turns out, to the rest of us. I remember hearing this for the first time and hitting the 'repeat' button on the player several times. Just absolutely beautiful, with a classic guitar solo by Rothery (This could be one of the greatest solos ever). The song just ebbs and flows in 3/4 time until the powerful ending sequence kicked off by Trewavas slamming the bass pedal. Brilliant!

The Uninvited Guest: Very sinister in feel and moods. It reminds us that we all have little skeletons that need to be pushed back into the closet now and then. "I'm the evil in your bloodstream. I'm the rash upon your skin. You made the biggest mistake of your life the day you let me in. And you can fly to the other side of the world, you know you'll only find I've reserved the seat behind you. We can talk about old times." Footnote: the only track on Seasons End that the previous vocalist could've pulled off.

Seasons End: In the same vein as "Easter", just a seemingly quiet song with a powerful layer throughout. And yet another brilliant solo bestowed upon us by Rothery.

Holloway Girl: Along with "King Of Sunset Town", this really showcases Hogarth's voice. Although a fine vocalist, Fish never gave me goose flesh the way Hogarth can. One of the songs on his debut with Marillion where he simply steals the show. "In deepest darkness, the faintest light looks bright".

Berlin: As H says on the Stoke Row DVD, this song became a "quiet nostalgia" given the collapse of the wall several months prior. Still, a moving song that is as dark and brooding as it's subject matter, the band simply launch into an all out assault that gives us a sense of the brutality and bleakness in Berlin.

After Me: A beautiful acoustic track with touching and sensitive lyrics. Again, Hogarth presents vocals unheard in Marillion music. Just a nice little addition to Seasons End.

Hooks In You: Pop. Pure and simple. Probably one of the shortest Marillion songs, it was the choice for Marillion's first single with H. Not sure I agree with that choice. I've read where people thought it was Bon Jovi at first. Not sure if I'd go that far, but it is what it is. Still, great guitar work by Rothers. Kelly's keyboards sound uncharacteristically dated, but it doesn't overpower and one might not even notice it.

The Space: A song that didn't strike a chord with me at first, but I've grown to like. Exquisite keyboard work by Mark Kelly and the slicing guitar of Rothers, Hogarth is actually overshadowed a bit on this song. It's not like on "Berlin" where the music is as equally powerful as H's voice. "The Space" just sort of flows along vocally, and the musicians make an impression. It's not until the end when H's signs off with soaring declarations of unity and how the world can truly be a small space.

Report this review (#70285)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok, so now Fish is gone and then it's the turn for many of the progheads that had Marillion as one of the few proggressives hopes of the 80s to scream in horror. From my particular point of view, at this point Marillion lost a quite concerned and brilliant songwriter our Scottish friend is, but gained a much more balanced and listenable vocalist. Was it worth it? Well, let's not fool ourselves, from this point on the thing would not be the same, but I think it could have been worse. Steve H is not probably as talented as a songwriter as Fish was, and probably he is more inclined to a more straightforward approach, but I also think that under his leadership Marillion has achieved many good things, and this album is one of them.

In this case Hogarth still doesn't have complete control here (John Helmer is in the shadow), and we can appreciate that this record has some continuity and shares a similar spirit to "Clutching at Straws". We still find a powerful and trademark guitar work by Mr Rothery and Mark Kelly continues to provide an excellent keyboard atmosphere, more mellow, but still brilliant.

"King of Sunset Town" gives us a welcome to this new era in a grandilocuent and ambitious way, with powerful guitar arrangements and Steve H sounds like saying "Hey, I'm here". "Easter" is my favourite track from this album, and probably one of the most memorable songs from the Hogarth's era. It is a delicious ballad full of inspiration, probably divided into two structural phases, both of them quite romantic. "The Uninvited Guest" put a controversial touch to the album. The song is pretty good although the lyrics seem to be a bit out of place, I don't know. "Season's End" is a song quite reminiscent of the previous era, and I think Fish could have sung it with no problem (it shows quite a "CAS" feeling). "Holloway Girl" is another poweful and grandilocuent song, but also with slower and more mellow moments. It is similar to the opening track from my point of view, although probably better. "Berlin" introduces some saxo touches, being another enjoyable track, showing again Hogarth's vocal talent. We find that this song is nearly 8 minutes, like some others here, which shows another similarity with Fish's Marillion records. It is another strong track. "After me" starts in a similar way to "Easter", although it is a weaker song. "Hook's in you" is probably the addition I found most strange to this album. It is a quite easy-listening and a bit unispired rocker if you ask me. It doesn't fit much with the rest of the songs. "The Space" brings some choir arrangements and shows once again another piece of Rothery's virtuous skills. It is a somewhat melancholic piece where Hogarth expands himself again (for the delight of some and probably the annoyance of others)

Then, I don't think we could consider that Marillion "died" here, it only resurfaced with a slightly different face (that would change with the years, that's true). But you know, you can't expect a band to be doing always the same, and given the circumstances this album and some of the following would be worthy records.

Report this review (#72304)
Posted Sunday, March 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#74459)
Posted Sunday, April 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1989 was a transitional year for Marillion. Fish had just left the group to pursue a solo career, and the future of the band was uncertain. In come Steve Hogarth, who (along with the rest of the band) ushered in a new era of Marillion in terms of sound and artistic direction. The first album released by this new incarnation of Marillion was the eponymous Season's End, which takes the classic Marillion sound and gives it a more upbeat and creative spin.The group took a more poppish route with this album, with Hooks In You and The Uninvited Guest being drenched with pop tendencies, but these pop songs are well written and they give a hint to the direction Marillion would go to with the next album. The entire band plays well on this album, from the creative and catchy guitar of Rothery, to the thumping and driving bass of Trewavas, to the lush and intuitive playing from Kelly, to the precise and concise drumming from Mosley, all topped with strong vocal performances from Hogarth.

The King of Sunset Town opens the album with electronics and minor ambient effects. Once the band gets into full swing, the feeling of the song is completely changed. Rothery really shines here with a magnificent riff that has a very catchy feeling to it. Easter is arguably the strongest track of the album, with maginificent acoustic work from Rothery (and a brilliant 3/4 arpeggio-based riff), some great vocals from Hogarth, a phenonemal emotional guitar solo from Rothery, and a stunning 5/4 outro. One could not ask for more with this song. The Uninvited Guest is the first pop song on the album. It is catchy and has a nice upbeat chorus despite the kooky lyrics.Season's End is the second longer song of the album, and it sparks memories of songs like The Web with it's catchy riffing and powerful keyboard work. Kelly really shines on this track. Berlin has some nice riffing to it, but the song tends to drag, and that feeling of energy that the band sustained when Fish was the frontman was gone, and their attempts to replicate it come up short. I do really enjoy the saxophone on the song, as it shows that Marillion were willing to dabble in new instruments and territories.

Halloway Girl continues the pop trend of the album, but that is all it really is, one of the weaker songs of the album. Berlin has some nice riffing to it, but the song tends to drag, and that feeling of energy that the band sustained when Fish was the frontman was gone, and their attempts to replicate it come up short. After Me is another acoustic based ballad of sorts. Rothery is no slouch on the acoustic guitar, showing that he can create powerful emotive riffs when electrified or in an acoustic setting. Hooks in You is definitely the pop single Marillion had in mind for the album. Despite it being overdone pop, I really enjoy the nice 7/8 intro and the chorus is astonishingly catchy. The Space... concludes the album, and it really does what the title suggests, it fills the space that the rest of the album needed. Despite the nice chorus and bass work, I can't really get into this song all that much.

Overall, Marillion was treading into more pop territories with this one, and that would become full circle with Holidays in Eden, one of their weakest albums to date. If you love Fish era Marillion, you may find some things to like about this album, but you may feel a bit disappointed because that feeling of despair and sorrow that Marillion once had in their music was now gone. But for me, I liked this album and I feel that it would fit nicely in any collection of music, provided you have some tolerance for pop music. Despite faults such as needless noodling and filler, the album holds up strong even today. 4/5

Report this review (#76511)
Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Seasons End is the disk that marks the beginning of the Hogarth era of Marillion, and the one where I started to lose interest in the band. The late 80's were also the end of the vinyl age for many music fans, and this was one of the first works I bought on cassette instead of album.

To me Fish always seemed like he was just one step away from coming unglued at any time, and the band's music with him reflected that free-fall spirit. That's what I found so appealing with the early Marillion, even at those times when they really did seem to be copping their sound straight out of early Genesis. That intangible edge is missing here, but also gone is that hint of plagiarism that was always lurking on the edges in the band's earlier works.

With Hogarth the band seems more like they are searching to find some kind of significance to their music. In "The King of Sunset Town", Hogarth tells of how the song came together quite early in his relationship with the band, and that it was supposed to be just a fictional fantasy tale. The lyrics were changed later to refer to the Tiananmen Square protests, which is a worthy enough subject, but I can't really see Fish penning a song without a very definite goal in mind from the start. It's a subtle difference I suppose. This song also runs on for eight minutes, although the band proved with their five minute version on Live at the Borderline that the extra weight didn't really add much.

One comment on Hogarth's voice - in my opinion it is not as striking as Fish's, but by about halfway through the album it starts to kind of grow on you, and I suppose it's unfair to try and compare the two of them anyway, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

"Easter" is an excellent coming-out song for this second iteration of Marillion, and it was a very fresh sound for them at the time. Steve Rothery's guitar passages here are as good (or better) than anything else I've heard of his before or since. Hogarth could have sung the lyrics in Punjabi and the song still would have brought a lump to my throat.

I'm not sure if "the Uninvited Guest" is supposed to be a humorous number or not, but either way it seems like a rather trite topic for a band of Marillion's caliber. I could see Phil Collins doing this one with a straight face though. This and "Hooks in You" are the two songs that definitely should have been left off the album, as both are pretty much straight-forward rock numbers with nothing in particular to distinguish them.

The title track is something of an environmental song, or at least I think it is. This is a sad, slow tune, and one which I can't help but compare to the more mellow parts of Wind and Wuthering.

I really don't like "Holloway Girl" much, a song about unfairly imprisoned young women (and what a strange topic that is). I don't mind political songs, but this one is more of a social statement, and not a particularly strong one at that. The lyrics here are probably more suited to a European sensibility than to some other societies. Even Hogarth's accent is more noticeable here than in most of his other work. Musically, the choruses have a nice balance of wistful singing and understated but powerful guitar backing. It's a good song, but not really in the same vein as the first half of the album.

If "Easter" is one of the real jewels on this album, then "Berlin" is the other. For the younger generation that did not have to grow up with the Cold War, it's important that we all remember this time when those who lived in the surreal 'Land of Oz' and those who suffered in emotional chains of oppression, were one within ready view of the other. The human drama this song portrays equates to similar situations that exist in the world today - the Korean DMZ, the Mexican border towns of North America, contrived native 'homelands' of South Africa, and any small civilian community that lies outside the gate of a major military base. These are all places and situations where the social norms become distorted realities that approach madness, due to the blunt segregation of two wildly different cultures. What an incredible achievement for the band to capture that emotion in this music!

Why "Hooks in You" follows "Berlin" and frankly why this song is even on the album is a mystery to me. This is a straight-ahead trivial rock song that must have been intended as a radio-play single. This song underscores the fact that there is a really uneven delivery of quality that spans this album.

I've heard the story about the scene where a tram (what is a tram - is that a bus? a train? not sure). Anyway, this 'tram' thing hits a parked car, basically just destroys the thing. "The Space" is about those times in life where we are just completely and unequivocally crushed by the weight of something totally overwhelming. I'd like to think the album ends on the high note of getting back up from such an encounter, dusting oneself off, and continuing on, but I get the impression this song doesn't quite make it that far. This kind of seems like a thought left hanging as the album fades out. This is another example of the latter Marillion tendency to produce outstanding music, but sometimes without the lyrical or emotional sense of purpose that the early Marillion had in spades.

I'm not sure about the vinyl or CD versions of this record, but the cassette has a little "bonus track" called "After Me", which is a fluffy little love song of sorts. Not sure why the band went though the trouble of adding it, except that maybe it was to balance out the playing time on both sides of the record.

When Seasons End first released I actually hated it, largely because it doesn't sound anything like the band's first four studio recordings. Over time Hogarth and the more mainstream sensibilities of the band kind of grew on many its fans, and on me as well.

When taken simply on its own merits, this is a very solid album that has a couple of weaker tracks, but offers enough great music and thoughtful lyrics with "Easter", "Berlin", "Seasons End", and probably even "King of Sunset Town" to make this a worthwhile addition to any music lover's collection.

For older Marillion fans this is probably a 2.4 effort, but on its own it just barely merits four stars. I'm inclined to give it three stars just because of "After Me", "Uninvited Guest", and especially "Hooks in You", but I don't suppose the superior tracks here should be degraded just because of the lesser efforts - that's what 'seek' and 'fast- forward' are for.


Report this review (#76617)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Hmmm...well, I've had the remastered edition of this for about a year, and just gave it a good listen. Fish's distinctive vocals and his larger than life personality that gave Marillion such a strong image are gone, so what are we left with? Steve Hogarth's performances demonstrate that he has grown a lot since '89, because on this album I'm afraid I'm reminded most of Lou Gramm and Foreigner, very middle of the road AOR-type vocals, and even the songs are fairly bland, with the exception of the environmentalist anthem Season's End and N. Ireland-tackling Easter, which are beautiful and heartfelt songs that are almost worth the price of admission alone. The rest of the material is forgettable to me, with overwrought but not very deep lyrics and ponderous arrangements that don't really go anywhere except AOR-land and usually overstay their welcome by a couple of minutes. I think Hogarth really grew into his role as leader and lyricist in the 90s, culminating in Brave and Afraid of Sunlight, which are excellent albums. This one feels like a band unsure of what direction to take and a singer who hasn't quite found his voice yet. The second disk contains demos and a couple of unreleased tracks, of interest to Marillion "Freaks" only. A star each for the title track and Easter, but the rest of the album I can do without.
Report this review (#88591)
Posted Thursday, August 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Seasons End is the fifth, and possibly the most important album by Neo-prog leaders Marillion. I say most important as this follows on from the departure of Fish from the Marillion line-up, an event that would prove to be more than just the loss of the charismatic front man. With this album they had to prove that they could go on without Fish, the genius behind the bands writing and, effectively, their sound. Enter Steven Hogarth, or "H" as he's sometimes known.

First off, the biggest difference from the previous album. Hogarth is a very different singer from Fish, none of the theatrics that led to the numerous Genesis comparisons, but brimmed full with souring and powerful vocals that will come to characterise the band for the rest of their career (so far). The other major difference is that Hogarth's lyrics aren't as symbolic, at least not in the same way, but they are equally effective to the music and whatever it is he's trying to say.

Musically this is a very strong album with only a couple of exceptions. Hooks in You is a pretty bad song for this album, clearly it seems to have been written as an attempted single, something that Marillion were very good at doing with Fish (think Garden Party, Kayleigh and Sugar Mice) but this has iffy lyrics and a constant driving riff that gets very boring very fast. The only other low song on here is After Me, which is an acoustic led song that isn't bad per say, but it lacks the feel and dynamic of the other songs on this album.

Seasons End does have a lot of great songs on it, though, and the best is almost certainly Easter. To me this song has a very folksy sound to it, but it contains what is quite easily Rothery's best ever solo, something that is completely unforgettable. Add to this Trewaves and Mosley's great bass/rhythm lines and you have one of Marillions best ever songs. However, Easter isn't exactly a prog song, probably closer to folk/pop but with proggy tendencies. Don't let that put you off though, it's a great song and worth getting this album for this song alone.

One thing that many of these songs have is a big, epic feeling to many of them, most notably the title track Seasons End, Berlin and The Space.. This is quite clearly something that the band do well, and have done throughout there career, showing that, musically, there's nothing wrong with this album. Throughout this album Pete Trewaves continues to show us that he is one of the best bass players around. His lines are never overshadowed by the keys/guitar and he seems to be the one driving many of the songs forward whilst working brilliantly with Mosley's effective drumming.

Overall this album is a match for its predecessor, Clutching At Straws, and confirmed that Marillion could continue just as effectively without Fish as they could with him. It isn't a masterpiece due to the two aforementioned songs that really add nothing to the album, but the rest is brilliant, a solid four star album.

Report this review (#88693)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first album after Fish's departure, and still Marillion kept making beautifull music, the new frontman wasn't as dominantly present as Fish used to be, which benefitted the music, which was given more room to develop from tune to tune. Of course Fish was sorely missed on some parts of the music, but Steve Hogarth's style fits the new Marillion sound, it took them some time and two albums before the real Marillion sound was in place. The first two Hogarth albums are devoted to searching their new sound, and with Brave they found it.

The music on Seasons End is a continuation of what marillion was doing starting with Misplaced, a more comercial sound was sought and found, accumulating in some hit-singles (Kayleigh, Lavender, Incommunicado) and on this album that was continued in songs like The Uninvited Guest, Easter and Hooks In You, that kept the interest from the general public, but it turned the old fans away, for that was not what the fans really wanted (though most were proud Marillion made it in the commercial world), it represented a fear of losing the progressive sound in favour of popularity. Luckily Marillion soon refound their progressive roots with Brave, and this album isn't completely lost to pop, for still the musicality and melodicity of the band remained.

Musically Marillion transformed their music to a mix of their previous sound (Clutching at Straws) some Simple Minds/U2 influences with roots in their Irish origin. Hogarths voice took me a while to apreciatte, and still it's to whispering for my liking, but it gives a little dark element that serves the music, as it blends beautifull with the atmosphere, and emotionally Hogarth get's as much under your skin as Fish could get..

Season's End signals the beginning of a new Marillion era, and the music is almost as beautifull as their previous albums, maybe even more beautifull. very good moments to be enjoyed but it sees a further departure from their original style.

Songs like Berlin, Season's End, The King Of Sunste Town, Easter, The Uninvited Guest, The Space and everything else on this album makes this album worth having, maybe Fish is missed, but the new man in the band makes an excellent debut, and this album deserves some recognition.

I like it, though it doesn't compare to Fish era, it comes pretty close.

Report this review (#96097)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Right then, Season's End. A record I knew very well on its initial release (I was still at school). The effect of Fish's departure was massive. Now I was a fan of the early records - Script For a Jester's Tear and Fugazi were ugly, unfashionable, tasteless, and brilliant - but Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws while certainly displaying some nice touches both threatened to embrace that late eighties pop/rock mundanity: you know, thin ties, white suits, tidy mullets... I liked the grubbiness of the early records, these two albums seemed a bit polished. Season's End saw a different direction - or at least the beginnings of one. Marillion made the important decision to replace the distinctive vocal range of Mr Dick with something completely different. Trying to find a copycat would (and should) have spelt their demise. There are six good songs here. Holloway girl is mis-judged and cringeworthy in its... worthiness; Uninvited Guest might have worked better as a comeback single that wasn't on this LP, it's too breezy among so many epics; Hooks in You is just ghastly - embarrassing. King of Sunset town is a bit sixth-form in the lyric stakes but reminds me of Massive Attack's Big Wheel which I bet has never been said before. Easter comes close to twee but just about escapes with its dignity intact thanks to some rather wonderful guitar playing by Mr Rothery (not sure if the 'duck 'n doo doo's' add much to this though). After Me is sweet. Season's End and Berlin show how far the Marillion sound has come and are for me, the standout pieces here. The title track is genuinely moving and is more reminiscent of Gabriel- era Genesis than anything produced by Fish while Berlin is fabulously sinister - full of concrete and fetishistic imagery: cabaret! Marillion became a different group in 1989; no better or worse, just different. The next LP hippupped a bit but they found their feet again in 1994. Season's End lays a few ghosts to rest and points the way to better things.
Report this review (#102136)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Easy access - I never expected that from Marillion

I was introduced to Marillion at the end of the eighties, around the time La Gazza Ladra came out. Within a record time I went to try all their albums, and I really liked what I heard. So, like many, I considered the announcement that Fish was going to be the beginning of the end for the band. To some extend, the release of this album, Season's End came as a positive surprise, it turned out that Steve Hogarth was, no matter how much it is debated. actually a pretty good singer. This album is a lot more accessible than the four studio albums with Fish, and it's definitely different in style. The guitars and keyboards are still as present as they always were, but the songs are less dark and with The Uninvited Guest and Hooks in You we get two rock songs that are as unlike Marillion as the band themselves can get. Steve's talent as a singer and, less fortunately, his musical ideas put the band onto a different track.

The album opens with The King of Sunset Town, a song that caught my attention right away when I first heard it. I'll never know whether that is because of the fact that it was the first Marillion song without Fish that I heard, or because of the image of a Chinese student trying to hold of the tanks at a Beijing's Tiananmen Square. A song that gets me every time, lyrically and musically. Following is Season's End, a semi acoustic ballad in 3/4, which even my wife likes to hear every once in a while. Downside is that it gets boring rather quickly. It's follower, The Uninvited Guest is something Marillion would never have done with Fish - the 'I' character is the opposite of the victim Fish considered himself. It's a rocking tune, and not very complicated. I use this track to reminds myself of how my customers (I'm a consultant) could feel if I present my message in the wrong way. Still, although I like the song when my I'm in a certain mood, it's not a Marillion worthy effort.

Season's End and Holloway Girl are two somewhat emotional tracks that reveal some interesting things when listened to very carefully. However, the songs take very long to gather speed and momentum, so it's easy to get bored and skip to the next track. Berlin is a longer track, with some great saxophone work going on about halfway. It contains a number of mood changes and could be considered a mini epic, that suffers from the same lack of energy as the previous two. Hooks in You is, as far as I know, a one time experiment by the band, a straightforward, catchy guitar rock tune. Love it or hate it, it's far from what Marillion stands (or stood for), but at times it feels great to be driving a car with this one blairing from the speakers. The Space finally is a 6 minute track, that I always feel lasts 12 minutes. The tempo and volume go up and down, and musically it shows what the band can do, but again, it gets boring after a while.

My original vinyl didn't include the track After Me, which I later found on the CD release. A short half acoustic/half electric track that doesn't do much for me. The lyrics are almost a continuous repetition of the track title.

All in all, this album shows that Marillion was not dead after Fish left, although for many, including myself, they would go into a coma about one or two albums after this one. Steve Hogarth's influence on the band shows already, and it makes the album good, but not a masterpiece. Marillion gets very accessible on this album, and it's hard to forget the dark beauty of what preceeded it. I could give this 4 stars, as an essential mile stone in the history of Marillion, but music wise I have to keep it at 3 - good, but not essential. After so many years it still hurts that the biggest source of musical energy in this album is in the two least Marillion-like tracks, something that is barely compensated by the opening track and the sax in Berlin.

Report this review (#114146)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Marillion's first album with Steve Hogarth is so different from its predecessors that comparing them directly is almost a worthless proposition. "h" has a completely different singing style; his phrasing, timbre and inflection are very unique... and honestly, much more controlled and professional than Fish's. Moreover, the band itself is actually starting to sound like a refined and calculating unit. They seem much more in control of their music and sure of themselves, interesting considering the shock the departure of Fish caused amongst their fan-following.

As for the songs, they are all top-notch. "King of Sunset Town" is a monstrous introduction for their new singer, while "The Space..." closes the album with just as much power. Fan favorite "Easter" and "Uninvited Guest" are good examples of the band's changing sound (with only "Berlin" and "Holloway Girl" sounding anything like previous albums. The songs are infectious and artistic, oozing with great playing and emotional singing. Great listening for all but the most jaded Fish loyalists.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#116749)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Marillion´s first post Fish album was a shock for most fans. Released in 1989 it showed the band taking a more pop/alternative turn, leaving much of their prog roots behind. At the time I hated the record. It sounded to me like nothing Marillion has done before. It looked like they decided to be another AOR band like, say, Foreigner. A few months later Fish released his solo effort, the brilliant Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors, which sounded much more like Marillion than Marillion in Seasons End. I was so disgusted I sold the LP a couple of months after I bought it. I gave up upon Marillion for many years after that. The band was finished for me since Clutching At Straws

Things would remain the same until 1997, when a friend of mine put a cassette recording of Marillion´s Made Again live album during a car conversation. I was impressed by some of the stuff and decided to give the band another shot. That brought me back, in the end, to Seasons End. By the new millennium I was able to see Marillion with Steve Hogarth as entire new band. If you don´t compare their earlier work and you´re not a pop music hater, then you can enjoy it. I did, at least in parts.

In fact, I found the record to be very good, specially what was the vinyl's first side: King Of Sunset Town, the beautiful ballad Easter, the rocking Uninvited Guest and, specially, the title track (one of the only two real prog songs in the album). Things got a little worse by the second side: Halloway Girl is a weak pop song and Berlin has that alternative/pop structure that goes nowhere (unfortunately it showed the path Marillion would follow in the next years), but the very worst is Hooks In You, a Bon Jovi pastiche hard rock, one of the few Marillion songs I can´t stand hearing it even today (and, no, I don´t hate Bon Jovi!). Fortunately, the last track is The Space, a fantastic prog piece that starts slowly, building up to a great climax, showing off Hoggarth´s best vocal performance to this day. Great tune!

So, I found this record not to be the crap I once called it, neither the essential masterpiece few (very few) praise. It has some very fine songs, at least two of them excellent, but, please, just don´t compare Seasons End to any Fish era CD. From then on Marillion became a completely different band (I heard they even considered a change of name at the time) and things would never be the same again, like it or not. I rate this record now 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#117098)
Posted Monday, April 2, 2007 | Review Permalink

After the cataclysm we all know, how could Marillion survive ? IMO, Marillion was Fish and Fish was Marillion. After an attempt from Fish to sack Marillion's manager, the members of the band decided to proceed the other way around : they just sacked Fish ! In the game on whether to know if the Fish era was better than the Hogarth one, I will play as well. My vote goes definitively to Fish.

His charism, his personality, his voice, his song-writting has nothing to do with Hogarth's one. While Fish was all emotion, Hogarth is all mellow.

Marillion Mark II is a completely different band. I guess that the shock was enourmous amongst the fans when it happened. If only they had done like Genesis when Peter left ! Trying to find a singer that could remind some of the grandeur of their frontman (even if Genesis won't find it and opt for Phil). Nothing as such for Marillion, I'm afraid.

There are a few good songs on this album, but do not try to find any epics nor great tracks. IMO, the best are the opening number "The King of Sunset Town" although a bit too long, "Easter" and "Season's End". "Uninvited" and "Hooks" will break the melancholy.

But songs as "Berlin", "Holloway Girl" (the worse of all) and "The Space" are rather dull and all very similar. During my Marillion mania (which took place very late as I have already mentioned), I bought a great lot of their work. All in their remastered and double CD format.

At least you'll get a nice packaging with useful information for about the price of one CD. This bonus CD won't have the flavour of the ones from the Marillion Mark I era. A couple of single releases (not bad actually) : "The Bell in the Sea" and ..." The Release" are OK songs. The demo tracks are not really useful.

The change of lead singer has drastically influenced the sound of the band. Not only in the voice but on the style as well.

Marillion Mark I had recreated the passion one could have felt for another great prog band (I guess you know which one I'm talking about). Marillion II will be an unemotional band displaying mellow and dull music for most of their work. This effort not being their worse.

Two stars.

Report this review (#123808)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The album may be called "Seasons End" but this is really a new beginning for the band. And where did they find Steve Hogarth ? His vocals, especially on the mellower songs could melt a stone. I don't think I will ever tire of hearing him sing. I like what it says in the liner notes, that Hogarth is no Fish, but then Fish is no Hogarth either.

"The King of Sunset Town" opens with spacey keys and synths as the song slowly builds. A great solo from Rothery, and drums come in passionately.Then Hogarth ! His vocals are so uplifting just after 7 minutes. "Easter" is about Ireland, and it opens with acoustic guitar and beautiful vocals. The guitar solo that follows is gorgeous ! This really is music for the heart. The vocal melody with keys is cool. "The Uninvited Guest" has another stunning guitar solo from Rothery. The longer this song plays out the better I like it.

"Seasons End" has this haunting keyboard intro with fragile vocals. I swear he can draw out emotions simply by using his vocals.This is a slow paced, beautiful song. Yet another amazing solo from Rothery. Ok, now he's just showing off. This song is actually about global warming, although it makes me think of the end of the summer and the sadness associated with it. "Holloway Girl" has reserved vocals, almost sad until the chorus arrives and then his vocals change. It's like the sun coming out from behind a dark cloud, it's so uplifting. Great tune. "Berlin"is both sad and emotional,and features some sax 2 minutes in. "After Me" is a mellow song with some emotion. "Hooks In You" is an uptempo tune that would be good to hear live. "The Space..." has another fantastic guitar solo followed by Hogarth crying out the vocal lines.

This album like "Misplaced Childhood" really strikes a chord with me. Especially "The King of Sunset Town" ,"Easter" and "Seasons End". Unlike "Misplaced Childhood" though, this has some weak tracks.

Report this review (#124944)
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Marillion was a band I came to late in the game, and our relationship remains tentative as of this writing. I started with "Seasons End" based on comparisons between the Collage album "Moonshine" and this, the first post-Fish effort. Well, the similarities seem superficial to me, mostly based on Rothery's guitar, which is really mostly Hackett's influence anyway, and Marillion's effort seems a lot softer. The brilliant Moonshine wins out easily, but "Season's End" is pretty weak even when measured against less exemplary yardsticks.

My big problem with it is the general ersatz sound of several of the songs generally considered to be highlights - "King of Sunset Town", "Hooks in You", even "Uninvited Guest", lyrically strong though they may be, or not, they really never take off, characterized by musical cliches and without much to recommend from a melodic standpoint. Even "Holloway Girl" , blessed with a great hook, doesn't develop much upon it. Luckily, "Easter" is a gem, with Rothery and Hogarth teaming up to produce a work of aching beauty, and the title cut delivers as pleasant ambient ballad. In terms of the suite type pieces, "Berlin" soars to life on impressive sax from Phil Todd, and then changes direction for one of the harder rock segments of the album, which unfortunately is a bit aimless. The original closer, "The Space" starts off a bit muddily as "Berlin" ended, improves with a spacey element introduced mid-song, and ends emotively with a powerful tune sung by Hogarth, even if it borrows lyrically, verbatim, from BJH's "For No One"'s - "Everyone is Everyone Else".

The bonus cuts are, as per normal, relegated to the superfans, although "The Bell and The Sea" does make me feel like I'm being tossed around a bit with the tide, and not in an entirely bad way. But most of these are old original versions of songs that appeared on the original disc, for completionist's sake.

If you want to pick up something from Rothery era Marillion, this might not be the best place to start, although having not heard anything else, I can't say for sure. I only hope there is a bit more substance behind the hype.

Report this review (#127293)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Seasons End marked a new era for Marillion as this would be their first album without frontman Fish. Their new lead singer took the form of Steve Hogarth (formerly keyboardist and singer of The Europeans), who joined the band during the Seasons End recording sessions after a lot of it had been finished. The most notable difference other than Hogarth's vocals, was the nearly complete abandonment of Genesis influences in their music. Many of the songs clearly were aimed at being accessible for radio play, which Marillion had been evolving towards ever since Fugazi. I can imagine Hogarth's voice may have been really annoying for die-hard fans during this transition, but it never bothered me any as Seasons End was my first purchase from Marillion, slowly acquiring albums backwards through their catalogue. Hogarth had a more theatrical style of singing and had a very emotional delivery, not to mention a very different tone compared to Fish's voice. It took some getting used to, but all these years later, I think Marillion found themselves quite a skilled vocalist who's unique style sets him apart from any other singer I've ever heard.

With Seasons End, Marillion became more of an art rock band (more rock than art) with symphonic progressive tendencies in places. Lyrically, they became better than ever (sorry Fish fans). Whether this transition in musical style was a good idea or not can be quite debatable as I really miss the instrumental escapades of their first two albums, but at the same time admire the Hogarth era for creating a unique sound that is all Marillion's. I even question whether you could call the Hogarth era neo-progressive as it is often labeled. The band would have some hits and misses after this album, some remarkably well done and some only worthwhile to fans.

If you are into accessible, song-oriented prog rock, you can't go wrong with Seasons End, a new foundation for the rest of this band's career. However, if you're looking for symphonic prog rock (or the neo-prog version of it), you won't find it on this album. Definitely a three star album. Good, but not essential. A must-have for Marillion fans.

Report this review (#141362)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While the departure of Fish (now heading to a solo career) really shocked Marillion, the rest of the band had to move on, as some material for a fifth album was already written and the contract with EMI was still active.In early 89' they recruited ex-Europeans and How We Live keyboardist/singer Steve Hogarth, an artist with a New Wave/Pop-Rock background and far from Progressive Rock's knowledge.The new album ''Seasons' end'' was released in September 89', featuring a nice cover with the four seasons, partly produced by future Genesis producer Nick Davies.

The audience was really sceptical about Hogarth, but the new album was the proof that Marillion were alive and well and Hogarth's voice fit perfectly with the band's style.While his voice was far less theatrical than Fish'es, he had a beautiful, crystalline and sensitive approach on singing with a nice range of expressions.Musically ''Seasons' End'' seemed like an amalgam of Marillion's previous albums.It contains both song-based material and semi-long dramatic epics as presented on ''Clutching at straws'' and ''Script of a jester's tear''.''Easter'', ''The Uninvited Guest'', ''Holloway Girl'', ''"After Me" (only on the CD and MC releases) or ''Hooks in You'' are mixes of lightweight tunes with incredibly memorable choruses, good arrangements, fantastic guitar work by Rothery and dreamy keyboard parts by Kelly, all great tracks in the vein of catchy Neo Progressive Rock.The longer compositions are even greater and stand easily next to the Fish-era epics.''The King of Sunset Town'' is a fantastic opener, awesome guitar work by Rothery along with flashy synths by Kelly and Hogarth's impressive first performance.The eponymous track is fully FLOYD-ian, a melancholic long soundscape with grandiose symphonic keyboards and crying guitar solos.Hogarth's voice seems more sensitive than ever.''Berlin'' is another winner.Dramatic Neo Prog with some light saxes thrown in, characterized by Rothery's bursting solos and a structure split between vocal performances and energetic soloing.The closing ''The Space...'' is a total masterpiece.Opening with an orchestral section, this will give room for a Kelly/Rothery groove next to Hogarth's melodramatic vocal delivery, to return before the end, as Hogarth comes back in the most atmospheric tune of the album, supported by a full-blown symphonic background.

Not only Marillion managed to welcome a great singer, but ''Seasons' End'' ended up to be a future masterpiece of Neo Progressive Rock with no weak tracks at all.A band that just made a fresh start, creating an album among the milestones of the genre.Not to be missed in any version or at any cost.

Report this review (#147758)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having recently posted a review of Happiness is the Road, the band's latest opus, I thought the time was right for a reappraisal of all the Hogarth albums. This was the first, and it is a worthy 4 star LP.

Like most Marillion fans, it was Fish who drew me to the band in the first instance, from the early Marquee days I was a huge fan. This LP went a long way to persuading me that the new incarnation might be worth sticking with.

The album opens with a bang as King of Sunset Town bursts into life. A frenetic and powerful song about Tianammon Square, it is the perfect showcase for a band obviously enjoying a new creative phrase with a bloke who can sing well.

Easter is simply the finest ballad I have in an extensive collection, and if you get the chance to see the live version in Dublin on You Tube, do so.

The title track is again moving, sad, and powerful, with all band members stretching the limits.

The Uninvited Guest & Hooks in You are fun tracks which showed that the band had not lost their touch in writing catchy singles to attract a wider audience than the prog core.

Berlin & Holloway Girl are interesting songs, which hint at a future direction. The only trck which, to my mind, prevents this LP being more than a 4 star is The Space, a track I have always found unconvincing and over long.

If readers are looking for an introduction to the band still the finest post prog outfit around, they could do a lot worse than start with this. An exciting, new, and still remarkably fresh sounding LP after all this time. Yes, we loved Fish, but, by God, Hogarth is a great successor.

Report this review (#196537)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK, Fish left with slamming doors and the boys were to find a successor that could bear the burden to make Fish history. We now know that Steve H. was the perfect choice, adding so much more to the band than just a new singer. But back then we as fans of the old Marillion were more than worried. I still am embarrassed about the ongoing discussions that started after the release of 'Season's end' because they did not give full credit to Steve Hogarth and the other guys in the band. But that seems the way it always goes. I was worried too what the new direction would be. 'Season's end' was to me the immediate proof that Marillion was really the great band they had proven to be in the Fish-era. I immediatly liked the album very much because of its variety of rocky and quiet songs but especially because of the distinctive new sound. Marilion proved for the first time that they really wanted to evolve theiur own unique style, no matter what major labels expected. They proved that they wanted to stay independent, serious musicians who want to play the music they believe in. And how right they were! The album couldn't start better than with 'The King of Sunset Town', a beautiful and very characterictic Marillion-song. Catchy melody after a slow start, great guitar work by mister Rothery and very effective keys and drums. 'Easter' is for me one the best songs Marillion has ever recorded. It is so beautiful, in melody, in lyrics, in music, it is for me an absolute favourite by the band. Quite an achievement when you just lost the dominant front man! It is too bad that they don't play it anymore at their concerts. 'Uninvited guest' ranks among the weaker songs on the album. It is a rather simple rocker, quite listenable but nothing special. And definitely not up to the quality standards Marillion should use. The band recovers with the title track that with its more than 8 minutes offers a beautiful, romantic atmosphere. The band is in np hurry at all, the song evolves in a slow pace and sounds almost as a ballad but the melody and breaks are, in my opninion, too complex to consider it as a ballad. It is a trademark for Marillion however, they were to record a lot more of these slow and almost ballad-like songs in the many years to come. 'Holloway girl' and 'Berlin' are somewhat in the same vein as the title track. Excellent melodies, quite a slow pace, haunting guitar solos and very, very good singing. Alas that can not be said of 'Hooks on you' which to me is just a bad Marilion song. Simple, not effective, not special, not melodic, just a poor attempt to sound like a rock band (what they would do a couple of times more, alas). It is also in strong contract with 'After me', a small nice song that works extemely well on the album as a sort of break from the intense songs that surround it. The album closes with the very strong 'Space' that, for my part, could have lasted much longer. The rerelease contains a lot of nice bonus material, including tow singles that were never released on a album. I could have done without the alternative mixes and demos but for collectionists they may be valuable.

From 'Season's end' on Marillion would go to deep lows (Radiation ..) and, fortunately, very high peaks (Brave, Marbles, Happiness is the road), showing that they rank among the best bands ever. And with this album they gave their first proof of originality and independance. A fully deserved 4 star!

Report this review (#216280)
Posted Sunday, May 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars In comes new singer Hogarth and out goes most of what made Marillion special. At least that's how I recall my first impression of this album. I remember buying this for my brother's X-mas in '89 and how enormously disappointed we were when listening to it. It sounded so bland. It was Marillion, but reduced from stellar to ordinary with the passing of just one album. But the blame should not be put on Hogarth, he's a fine singer that would gradually integrate well with the rest of the band.

20 years after its release I can appreciate it a lot more. There are some songs like Berlin and Seasons End that reveal some of the potential of what the Hogarth-fronted Marillion would become but most of it is still pretty disappointing, especially where they sink down into pop territory. Hooks In You and The Uninvited Guest simply make me cringe.

The unbearable lightness of pop music...

Report this review (#236893)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars First album after the departure of legendary big frontman Fish. Some material for this album was already mostly written during the Cluthing at Straws follow-up while the band was still with Fish. After Fish left, the band kept the music parts and Fish kept the lyrics, so that's about where Hogarth found himself when he was hired.

I actually like Hogarth's voice although I find he puts too much honey from time to time. More mellow, more subtle, although less charismatic. And obviously nobody expected the new frontman to match Fish lyrically. What made old Marillion magical was the chemistry between the emotions Fish was putting in his lyrics and vocals with the band's unique talent with atmospheres and melodies. So also obviously, that would be gone too.

Yet, Seasons End was an extraordinary 'debut'. The band's sound was evolving, but was still slightly reminiscent, just enough, of what it did on the brilliant Cluthing at Straws. And since many elements were already there, the band was not pulled into trying to change itself all over and become more commercial (this would happen on the next album).

Seasons End, like its predecessor, is mostly a nocturnal and atmospheric album (dont try to enjoy it in full daylight driving your convertible if you know what I mean...). So when played in the good mood, and save perhaps for Hooks in You, this is an album with no filler and a fair number of great, great songs. Easter, Seasons End, Berlin and The Space count legitimately among the best songs Marillion ever did.

I do not want to go into the details of each song as this is an album which, I think, most prog aficionados should own, although I will remain short of calling it an essential. It has heavier rock parts (King of Sunset Town, Uninvited Guest), mellow parts in the pure prog tradition (notably Easter with a beguiling guitar solo and keyboard riff, as well as the delicious title track which I cant get tired of and which ends with a three minute long instrumental, atmospheric segment) as well as more versatile exquisites such as Berlin or The Space..., a total keyboard guilty pleasure. I also note that Berlin is a song that took much more time to grow with me, but it's now one of my favourites. This is a great composition, starts strangely, has saxophone, and slowly builds up something like only few bands can think of. Great stuff.

I know that a lot of fans will say that Brave (or Marbles) was the best album since Hogarth came in, but I honestly think that this is a legitimate contender. I still miss Fish, but this is an album that has what it takes to ease my pain. Somewhat...

Report this review (#239288)
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Let us cross the border into the new frontier in Marillion's development. Towards the end of the '80s the band went from the peak of their career to the all time low. How could they ever replace their front man Fish who left the band towards the end of 1988 taking with him all the pre-written lyrics for the fifth studio album? Not to mention, his unique vocal style and front man image made the band almost seem like a simple backing band without him. Then comes John Helmer and Steve Hogarth to the rescue and deliver the material just in time for the belated September 1989 release of Seasons End.

Marillion's fifth studio album is generally considered a letdown and it's not until the 1994 release of Brave that the band would once again receive unanimous recognition from both the fans and critics alike. But is Seasons End really as bad as the ratings and reviews might suggest? Well it's definitely a drop in quality compared to the magnificent streak that began with Misplaced Childhood but we all knew that it couldn't last forever and considering all the changes that Marillion had undergone with the departure of Fish and Mark Wilkinson I still think that they made a great transition album. It might not be a consistent release since the quality of the compositions fall towards the end of the album but the band still pulled together enough highlights to make Seasons End stand out in, what will become, a long album streak that the band spanned since then.

I don't really see a point in comparing Hogarth to Fish since their styles shift the music into completely different directions but that is exactly what memorable front men are suppose to do. The music on this album still sounds a bit like the other Marillion records from the '80s but the new vocal twist makes it difficult for most people to actually recognize those wonderfully subtle moments. The album begins with a 2,5 minute intro of The King Of Sunset Town that must have made the long time fans impatient to hear how the new vocalist would turn out to sound. It almost feels like the band is teasing the audiences here but once Hogarth gets his first moment in the spotlight he definitely makes the most of this performance.

Considering that this is supposed to be a transitional album the band still managed to deliver one of my all-time favorite Marillion compositions. I'm talking about the brilliant album closing number titled The Space.... I always thought that they tried to recreate the magic of Happiness Is a Warm Gun where the band put together three sections of different songs and made them work as a coherent piece of music. First part ends at (2:53) and third part begins at (4:10).

The few instances where the band truly shines on Seasons End still makes this mix bag of an album into an excellent release well worth the investment for anyone who is interested in exploring Marillion's catalog and a definite must-have for the already established fan base!

***** star songs: The King Of Sunset Town (8:02) Easter (5:57) The Space... (6:14)

**** star songs: The Uninvited Guest (3:52) Seasons End (8:07)

*** star songs: Holloway Girl (4:27) Berlin (7:43) After Me (3:19) Hooks In You (2:54)

Report this review (#276762)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars Transitional & Uneven

When I found that "Derek W Dick (Fish)" had left MARILLION, started to fear that as GENESIS, the band would soon start a long and tedious process that would lead to turn them into another boring Pop Adult Contemporary ballad based band, and the time proved I was right. But as in other previous cases in which the most charismatic and inspired member left, I knew we could at least expect a transitional process in which one or two good albums would be released and again "Seasons End" proved I was right.

This very good album was released when "Hogarth" still hadn't time to impress his balladesque seal in the band and in my opinion sounds more like a "Fish" era album played with a different vocalist who was still trying to find his own sound, and for that reason singing more or less in the vein of his brilliant predecessor.

The album starts with the atmospheric introduction of "The King of Sunset Town" and as usual they manage to enter to the song with the usual sound of the band, until this point, nothing new has happened,. the good old sound is alive and the music is still great. Of course the voice of "Hogarth" is a shock, even when he is a good singer, the usual Scottish accent is missed, but the guy manages to maintain the style alive (As Phil Collins did in his first two albums as GENESIS lead vocalist). Very good opening, it's obvious there's a change, but no damage is done.

Strangely "Easter" sounds as a Scottish/Celtic folk tune, something I could had expected from the previous vocalist but is a bit odd with "Hogarth", but the song flows nicely without falling into boredom, the choirs are well worked and when the band has to add their strong ouch, they still do it. A special mention to the brilliant instrumental section, soft and delicate but yet interesting and haunting, not a single bad note in the track.

"The Uninvited Guest" is a little gem, sounds like a classic MARILLION song even when the vocals are not in the level, but at least "Hogarth" tries to adjust his voice to the versatile style of "Fish" and does a good job, Rothery's guitar work is delightful and "Kelly" maintains the sound we learned to love.

Sadly the previous song marks the peak and everything starts to go downhill after it, "Season's End" is not bad, Rothery's work is outstanding but "Hogarth's" voice lacks the emotion required for such a beautiful melody. A similar problem occurs in "Holloway Girl", nice howling guitar and keyboards but the voice is simply not in the level.

"Berlin" is my first disappointment, yes the band experiments and the song has bright parts, but that cohesion and magic of previous days is lost, for our luck it's followed by "After Me" which is not original being that the band starts to imitate themselves (In this case "Easter"), but at least it's good music.

"Hooks on You" simply sounds out of place, it's like a bland copy of "Van Hallen", what sounds good in a metal band, sounds caricaturesque in a band that tries to play Progressive Rock.

The album ends with the very Symphonic "The Space", extremely dramatic and full of emotion but again "Hogarth" ruins it because the band is making us shiver with emotion and he just sings without the necessary strength, the band does an spectacular job, but the vocals are far behind.

I believe that "Seasons End" is a relatively good but extremely uneven album, some tracks are brilliant, others are bellow the bar MARILLION set for them, maybe 3.5 stars but not being possible, will go with 3.

Report this review (#289932)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the Fish departure, the band continued with this great album. In my opinion it shows how important were the other members and that Fish was not all. Of course they lose a fantastic voice and a superb lyricist and creator of conceptual albums. The fact is that after Seasons End and after Vigil in a Wilderness of mirrors, Marillion and Fish, by separated roads, couldn`t reach the same level anymore. By the way, Seasons End is the last great album of Marillion. Of course we have some excelent tracks here and there, but as an album this was the last.

The music even has the same taste of its predecessors, but now with a new voice. Hogarth has a good voice, much different than Fish, but very personal. In Seasons End, he uses his voice in a way, that he would not use anymore in the subsequent albums.

The best tracks:

The King of Sunset Town: Great track. A neoprogressive number, domined by the Rothery's guitar and a great performance of Hogarth.

Eastern: Maybe the best of the album. The track starts as a prog ballad with acoustic guitars and a great melody line very well sung by Hogarth. Then Kelly put some keys inputs, and all flows into an outstanding electric solo by Rothery, after that the track mutates to a moved and non conventional way in which the keyboards, the guitar and Hogarth creates a very good atmosphere.

The space: Another prog one. A rather long track with two different parts. The first one with a good verse and chorus over a great keyboard work. After a guitar solo, the track gets into a different and dramatic ending in which Hogarth stands out again.

The other tracks:

Uninvited guest and After me are two prog-pop tracks, with good solos (guitar and keyboard in each one). Berlin is a neoprog an agressive song, with a good guitar riff support. Seasons End is a quiet and long prog track, that I really like.

Hooks in you and Holloway girl are the weakest side. Hooks in you is a short hard guitar riff based track. Not so bad but a bit mediocre. Holloway girl, just a humdrum song, with nothing to say about it.

As an average is a good effort, and I consider it a good addition. Four stars.

Report this review (#299201)
Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Seasons End is the first Marillion album with new singer Steve Hogarth replacing Fish who left to pursue his own musical direction. Much of the material was written whilst Fish was still with the band which ensures some continuity in style.

Fish is a different singer to Hogarth and it is unfair to compare them directly although I think Fish is a superior vocalist.

Overall I find this album very listenable with well-crafted songs although it does take time to adjust to Hogarth after Fish. Seasons End does contain a purpose-written radio single "Hooks in You" which is the weakest track (a standard rock song with little prog interest) but I assume that the record company loved it. Better would have been "The Bell in The Sea" which appears on the bonus CD of the 1997 remaster release.

Highlights are "The Space" (with symphonic keyboard), Easter, Uninvited Guest and Seasons End.

Not quite to the standard of the earlier releases but enough to show that Marillion can survive without Fish.

3.7 stars.

Report this review (#358945)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars When Fish left the band some magazines wrote that Marillion were disbanded so I've been surprised to see a new release with a new singer. I went immediately to a shop and bought the album. I didn't know what to expect, and effectively it didn't convince me totally.

The slow instrumental crescendo of the first track, "The King of Sunset Town" was already sounding "different", even before the first touch of Steve Hogarth's voice. Not bad until the first guitar solo. After it, a guitar harping came and the high pitched voice of Steve Hogarth was a shock. Nothing to do with Fish, even if good. Something to make the ears more used. The song is an average neo-prog song, also seen with today's eyes. Too few to decide if I like Hogarth or not. I liked the song actually, and I still like it, but the first impact was light- years beyond any album of the Fish era.

Then it came "Easter". The song, of course. Now it was clear that Marillion were a totally different band. There's nothing of the old band in this song apart of the keyboard part followed by the guitar solo. They are more melodic respect to the Fish age. The odd signatures and the Genesis flavour are gone.

"The Uninvited guest" was the album's single, the first videoclip featuring Hogarth. To my ears it sounded like an attempt to give continuity to the band. What's the real difference between this song and Garden Party?

The title track starts with a guitar harping similar to "Three Boats Down". Slow and based on minor chords. The guitar solo is at the level of Rothary's best but it's too short. I find this song too pop-oriented. The coda lasts about half of the whole track so I don't know if it can be called a coda even when Hogarth sings the last stanza once more.

"Holloway Girl" is in line with the previous albums from a musical point of view, but it looks like it was written thinking to Fish. Hogarth is a good singer. I don't like much when he picks the highest notes with the throat, but he's not bad. The problem with this album is that Marillion are not completely Fish-independent in the songwriting, even if Hogarth is co- author or author.

"Berlin" is very similar to "Season's End" in the structure and in the chords. Phil Todd's sax is unusual. I think it's the first time for a sax in a Marillion album. Good performance anyway. It's th efirst song in the album on which the voice of Hogarth sounds approrpriate. Also in the "throat" finale.

"After Me" wasn't on the vinyl edition so I can't say anything of this song. I'm conservative, at the end of the 80s I still hadn't purchased a CD reader.

Now comes the hit single....I'mm not sure but I suppose then "Hooks on You" was a flop. It failed to conquer Top of the Pops as previously done by "Kayleigh" or "Incommunicado". I remember it as opener of the Alpine ski world cup runs. The initial guitar riff was exceptional in commenting the images of Stenmark, Girardelli, Tomba and Zurbriggen.

"The Space" is a nice song that doesn't add much to the album. I have to say that I had the possibility to see them live one month before Fish and I've been impressed by a great Hogarth's performance. This album represents a transition between the two singers, too different to sing the same things so I can't rate it highly, but this doesn't mean that Hogarth is poor. After all those years this is an album that I still spin up sometimes. A thing that I don't do with the most celebrated "Script...". It was a 3-stars waiting for the following album, actually. I keep this rating.

Report this review (#377499)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marillion's first album of the Hogarth era probably has the worst cover of any of their studio albums. The four elements concept isn't bad, but what irks me is the almost gleeful destruction or effacing various Fish-era symbols as part of the cover. Under the circumstances, it can't avoid looking like a mean-spirited stab at the former frontman - and even worse, it means that the cover ends up saying more about what the new Marillion is *not* about, when it really needed to state what the new band *was* about.

It's a particular shame because musically speaking the album is actually a pretty decent reinvention of the band's sound, evolving the direction taken on Clutching at Straws and diverting it into something a bit more esoteric and contemplative than might have been expected with Fish fronting the band. The way I see it, both eras of Marillion often come back to the same sort of subjects; you have a mix of songs commenting on various real-life issues of importance to the band, and you've got songs exploring people's emotional inner lives. In the former case, Fish had the likes of Forgotten Sons and White Russian, whilst H has Out of This World, Estonia, and on this album tracks like The King of Sunset Town, Easter and Holloway Girl. On the emotive side, you've got Fish era tracks like The Web, Sugar Mice, and Script for a Jester's Tear lined up against H-era material like, in this album's case, The Space or After Me.

What the crucial difference between the two singer's styles is not, then, the subject matter they choose to turn their attention to. Nor is it really Fish's tendency to thesaurus-like verbosity, because whilst that is a habit of his it isn't a constant - the lyrics of Kayleigh use fairly simple and effective language to make their point for instance. No, the way I see it the difference between Fish and H is that Fish's style is theatrical and performative, whilst H at his best is a lot more naturalistic and intimate. Fish always comes across as though he is putting on a drama, or giving a speech, or regaling a large group of friends at the pub with an anecdote; H, on the other hand, often sounds as though he is confessing something to the listener, or taking you personally aside to tell you a secret.

This is not a criticism of either performer's styles, but it is a fundamental difference in approach which Marillion adapt to on Seasons' End marvellously - in fact, I would not be surprised if they picked H for their new singer precisely because they wanted to move in this direction. The weakest songs on the album are probably The Uninvited Guest and Hooks In You - attempts at boisterous rocking out which don't suit H's performance and which were presumably included to present EMI with suitable material for a single. The other shorter song on the album, After Me, I think is actually quite good, transitioning from an acoustic confessional to an energetic exorcism and in doing so charting a course for the H era's more successful rock-out tracks; I do wonder whether the band's post-Fish fortunes wouldn't have been markedly improved if After Me had been released as the lead single from the album, since it feels to me like it chimes well with the direction many bands on the UK indie scene were taking at the time.

As it stands, I can't deny that this album doesn't quite hit the level of consistency of the four Fish-era releases; in particular, The Uninvited Guest is unremarkable and mildly repetitive whilst Hooks In You just doesn't sound like it belongs in the company of the rest of the material. But the other songs on here - King of Sunset Town, Easter, Berlin and After Me in particular - are so successful at charting a new course for Marillion and exploring the possibilities of what they could achieve with Steve Hogarth as a frontman that I can't not give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. It scrapes into the four-star category by the skin of its teeth.

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Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The perfect link...

When "Seasons End" came out I wasn't the only person who somehow tended to not really listen for long and, with Marillion's former frontman Fish having released his overall convincing solo-debut "Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors", be misled by absolutely false expectations. So I neglected their first effort without him for quite some years, which turned out to be a big mistake.

It might be an embarrassing fact that what had me listening to Marillion again was their beautiful pop-song "No one can" about two years later, a tune that I quite liked and bought as a CD-single - after a single listen in on the album "Holidays in Eden" did not really convince me. Here you can clearly see that Rupert is no proghead after all, but - in order to introduce my review, I want to tell you the whole story. My Marillion-collection wasn't that big. I first had a vinyl-copy of "Script" and rebought it on CD later, and I had "Kayleigh" as well as "Lavender" on several VA-Hit-samplers from the 80s, which was what it was until the "No one can" single found itself in my collection. I thought it should be a hit - it wasn't. I didn't feel too excited about the whole album, ( I'm still talking about "Holidays", so do yourself a favor and have a good laugh now: ) cause to me it wasn't "Pop enough" ( ! ) and, as a prog-rock-offering... well, one could easily say "neither Fish nor flesh" when comparing it to "Script" ! All i can say is - I should have listened to "Seasons end" instead... but, again, it took some years until I really did. The next thing I got hooked upon was another single in 1992, Marillion's rendition of "Sympathy", the classic Rare Bird-Oldie. I fell in love with it and wanted to buy the single again... but on the single there was a live-version of "Kayleigh" sung by Mr. H and I couldn't imagine me to ever like it, so I thought: "Why not buy the best of-Album now ? I got so few Marillion stuff and it may serve me well getting some highlights from both worlds !". This is what I did and, after many hours of listening I was quite surprised, cause I had expected the elder tracks to please me more - and what happened was simply the opposite, I started to fall in love with Hogie's voice and found each and every song that featured him even better than the ones with Fish, each and every song apart from "I will walk on water" - which seemed to be the only drop out on "Half dozen of one...", and, having already been inflamed, this was easy to forgive. The rest of the story is quickly told: I somehow felt that this band was up to something very special with their forthcoming album, call it intuition, but when "Brave" was released I got 100% of confirmation and I didn't need more ( see my forthcoming review for that album, I'll add it soon ). I was lucky to see them in Concert on the "Brave"-Tour and this was when I finally knew that I needed to own the other albums as well, cause I wanted to have "The Space..." and "Waiting to happen", two songs that were absolute highlights of the encore-section and didn't feature on the sampler I had. And they did not play "Kayleigh", thank god, but Steve Hogarth proved he could do a far better job with "Slainte Mhath" and "Garden Party", so I had grown keen to get all Marillion-Albums ( to find that I prefer "Clutching at Straws" to "Script" and "Seasons end" to the both of them ! ).

Now I've said it. "Seasons end" was not only an excellent new beginning, it was the best album Marillion had produced so far, only to be topped by "Brave". And though Steve Hogarth is a very different singer to Fish, with not only a completely different voice and singing-style but a different approach, here, on "Seasons end", you still get a lot of what was brilliant before and I'm completely convinced that it should appeal to every fan of old, if only for once, cause it's not at all this sort of radical change that - I do understand this - was to turn a lot of old hands away in the years to come. Hogie came and brought himself in... and just as he took the others the way they were he was taken the way he was. And he did a marvelous job, as did the whole band, delivering a great album from start to finish. He had huge footsteps to walk in, consider this. And he never ever pretended to be "another Fish", those days were over and best he could do was do it his way, helping the band to start anew and then, one by one, really break new ground. Wasn't that what Fish was trying to do before he left - and hadn't his departure been a consequence of having tried and... failed ? I thought to have read this somewhere, somehow in an interview, though there is always more than one reason when it comes to a successful band's line up parting ways. With "Seasons end" Marillion did re-establish themselves as a powerful, inspired artistic unit, and I would easily give this album a five-star rating only because of its songs... no stinker amongst them, not a single one, me - you can guess - even loving "Uninvited guest" and "Hooks in you", the two songs that - if anyone here wants to find something to complain about - aren't "prog" but very clever, well constructed and delivered rock-poppin' tunes to please this "commercially depraved listener" - with absolutely stunning lyrics due to the assistance of a man named John Helmer.

But, of course, the absolute Crackers on this album are the title track, "The Space..." and "Easter", featuring perhaps the best guitar-solo in Rock History ( well, that's a hard one to pick and I know that many people would go for, say "Comfortably numb", a worthy contender, but I'm no Floyd-Fan at all and we may meet in the middle if you just admitt that with "Easter" we got one of the most beautiful, okay ? ). If you like, you can add "The King of Sunset Town" ( a real pleaser for prog-lovers, innit ? ) and "Berlin" ( a great one that, for me, is becoming a little too heavy, making Hogie's voice sound a bit overstrained a few times, so I prefer to not listen to it that often ) for yourself , that's only a question of taste, quality one and all, with "After me" and "Holloway Girl" not far behind, adding variety at highest standards to this already mindblowing mix of music. What makes me refuse the highest rating still are the severe instructions for this site and the sheer fact that every little bit this great band is coming up with has to be compared to "Brave"... look at my ratings, I'm going to write my reviews one by one, in chronological order, you only find one 5 star-album up to now*. This doesn't mean that there aren't more personal ones for me.

I even lowered my rating for "Radiation" to three stars ( while, to me, it's a four-star-effort and, for example, is my second favorite straight after "Brave" but I wouldn't dare to give it the highest rating* on a "prog-rock-site", cause even if you dig my taste it'll be misleading for lots of readers then ) cause I know how deeply disappointed one can be when comparing it to "Script", it seemed to have become a totally different world by then and does not appeal to so many prog-fans. But "Seasons end" should be no disappointment to anyone loving Marillion the way they were before, if only... you can befriend yourself with a voice that's about as far from Fish as Barry Gibbs voice is from Paul Weller... and if you like one or two poppier songs ( with a strong rock-appeal ), you can add the fifth star in your mind.

*I have changed this afterwards. Read my review to "". LOVE Roop

Report this review (#610442)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The departure of Marillion's eccentric Scottish frontman marked the beginning of a new era for the band, and Seasons End is the first album where the then-new lead singer Steve Hogarth could prove his worth. Hogarth may have seemed like a rather odd replacement for Fish, with his clear, melodic voice sounding vastly different than his predecessor's dramatic, heavily-accented delivery, but time would prove that the choice couldn't have been better. Although the Hogarth era of Marillion does generate some controversy, I'm of the opinion that this long period of the band's history is every bit as good as their highly-acclaimed time with Fish - and right from the beginning of Seasons End, it's clear that the quality of the band's music didn't suffer without their iconic frontman. This album does have a few rather mediocre cuts, but overall it's an absolute gem. Seasons End was an excellent way to introduce the world to Steve Hogarth, and it's also likely to appeal to neo-prog fans more than many of their later albums.

Seasons End opens up on a high note with the melodic progressive rock masterpiece "The King of Sunset Town"; this song immediately makes it clear that Steve Hogarth is not only an extremely gifted vocalist, but a distinct one as well. Though the opening cut sounds very much a track that could've been on a Fish-era album, Hogarth's vocals are delivered in a way that Fish never would've done. "Easter" is another absolutely beautiful track, as is the thought-provoking "Seasons End", a song that reflects upon the ultimate effects of global warming. These three songs are my personal favorites from the album, although "Holloway Girl", "Berlin", "After Me", and especially "The Space..." are all top-notch. "The Uninvited Guest" and "Hooks In You" are both decent pop tunes, but nowhere near the standard set by the rest of the album - these feel more like attempts to be successful on the single charts than to create music as excellent as the band is capable of. Although I could've done without both of these tunes, neither are weak enough to severely damage my enjoyment of Seasons End. The rest of the album is so excellent that it's difficult to let two iffy efforts ruin the experience.

As we're used to from Marillion, the musicianship here is melodic and professional, with most of the emphasis on well-structured melodies and lush arrangements. Steve Hogarth's vocals sound totally inspired, and all four instrumentalists are at the top of their game as well. Steve Rothery's Gilmour-esque guitar solos are breathtaking, Mark Kelly's keyboard palette gives the compositions a rich and developed feeling, Pete Trewavas's basslines are powerful and well-written, and Ian Mosley's drumming is always rock-solid. Marillion would later distance themselves from the eighties' sounding production and arrangement style of their earlier albums, but Seasons End is very much an album from the 1980's. The production has that lovably synthetic sound, and the songs contain just as many digital keyboard sounds as Marillion's albums with Fish - this, and the general style of the songwriting, gives Seasons End a neo-prog flavor that would be largely absent from Marillion's sound within a few years. This album probably has the highest probability of pleasing a fan of the band's first four LP's who were dissatisfied with their later alternative/art rock efforts.

Seasons End was a major turning point for Marillion, but this new lineup proved that they were still ready to create excellent progressive rock music with or without Fish behind the microphone. This is an inspired, memorable, and fresh album that ranks up there with the very best in eighties' prog. Although it is a small step down from the band's two previous efforts and has a few flaws, Seasons End is a stunning album that comes highly recommended to every neo-prog fan. Though I can't quite hand out the 'masterpiece' score, Seasons End is very much deserving of the next-best thing. I've been enjoying this CD for years, and it still sounds every bit as exciting as it did when I first opened it - that is the true mark of a great album!

Report this review (#664905)
Posted Sunday, March 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is possibly my favorite Marillion album, although I definitely haven't heard all the albums with Hogarth. I've used the opinions of my fellow PA reviewers as a guide to Marillion's catalogue, so I should thank all of you! My rating for Season's End is 5 stars, which I don't use often.

The relative merits of Fish vs. Hogarth are not a decisive factor for me. I do sing in a church choir, and I'm a sucker for singers who can really sing. A friend tried for a long time to convert me to a Smashing Pumpkins fan, for instance, but I just couldn't get past Billy Corgan's voice! At times, I do find Fish's singing overwrought. I believe Hogarth uses his voice better, but I like Marillion albums from both eras.

Season's End contains some of Marillion's best melodies. Favorite tracks include Easter and Holloway Girl. They are both just beautiful and moving, in different ways. I also love The King of Sunset Town and the title track. Let's call Hooks in You a necessary evil. Hogarth is an excellent lyricist. However, I think it's the songwriting and arrangements that make Season's End one of Marillion's best.

Report this review (#918440)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars A very appropriately named album - the Fish season with Marillion had ended. On listening to this I found that this wasn't the Marillion that I had come to love a great deal. Having said that I really got into this album and I liked it - a lot. I still do. The music on here is highly emotive and melodic.

"The King of Sunset Town" - Soaring track with a great melody. Rothery excells here with his amazing lead guitar sound. Hogarth - well! - the man's voice is almost angelic. As a whole the band put together a very nice sound full of emotion. Bodes well for the rest of the album.

"Easter" - Man! I love this track. The lyrics, the voice, the whole dang thing. This is a very rousing number and you almost feel like bursting into song and singing along with the track.

"The Uninvited Guest" - At first I thought that this track was a bit of a let down however it grew on me and I don't mind it now.

"Seasons End" - A giant of a track. Highly emotive and it resonates with me like few tracks do. Again Rothery excels with his use of the lead guitar.

"Holloway Girl" - Not my favorite track from the album but nothing really wrong here.

"Berlin" - Another giant track, especially from around the two thirds mark where things come together powerfully.

"After Me" - Soft very emotional track. "She named him after me!" Very powerful stuff.

"Hooks on you" - Nice upbeat number. The rock-out number of the album.

"The space..." - Very nice album closer. "Everyone is only everyone else".

I remember that initially I felt let down by Marillion on listening to this album for the first time as the sound had changed totally. Gone was the anger, the sarcasm, the disdain (at times) that dripped from Fish's vocals. This is a softer Marillion iteration however it is a very powerful album in its own right. The melodies throughout this are simply fantastic and although it is emotively different to Marillion MK 1 it is very powerfully emotive. Very much driven by Hogarth's voice as well as Rothery's lead guitar however the keyboards are up there as well. I had to learn to love Marillion all over again and with this album I felt that that may have been an easy thing to do. Later on I feel that the band lost the plot however but here they are exceptional and they released an exceptional album with this. Very easily a five star rating from me.

Report this review (#1003148)
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars When this one came out I had been a Marillion fan for approximately three years, and had already started to prefer the prog classics of the 70's. But it was still inevitable that I would buy the new Marillion album, introducing the new vocalist Steve Hogarth. I'm far from being a puritanist in my relationships with bands: for example I have no trouble enjoying Yes' 90125 - not to mention the excellent Drama - or post-Gabriel Genesis, as they are, without feeling bad that they sound so different from the big classics. So I gave a warm welcome to mr. H. And after all, we still had Fish too: a win-win situation! This new leaf in the band's story tasted fresh.

'The King of Sunset Town' is a great opener that deliciously grows from the quiet instrumental beginning into a solid prog song with pop tendencies. 'Easter' is an emotional, folky ballad which is improved by the more lively final section. The freshness! Then comes the weakest track: I have never enjoyed 'The Uninvited Guest', it sounds nothing but a boring wannabe hit. The title track is fantastic. It has both emotion - approaching sentimento in the underlined environmental message - and the kind of intimate instrumental ambience Marillion was so good at later on (especially on Brave). I love the bright keyboard sounds in it.

'Holloway Girl' and 'Berlin' are rather mediocre tracks that attempt to continue the Fish-era style songwriting including a plot. These songs might work better with Fish on vocals (and in charge of more powerful lyrics, of course). I remember noticing that in the intensive section of 'Berlin' H sounds occasionally like Jim Kerr of Simple Minds. The simple, down-to-earth 'After Me' feels nice - and fresh - at this point of the album. 'Hooks in You' is the catchy hit, quite OK as such but I can live without catchy pop hits. The dramatic closer 'The Space...' is another proggy highlight with 'The King...' and 'Seasons End'. Hogarth's high notes are not always very succesful to me either, but this is definitely one of those Marillion songs I couldn't imagine being done with Fish. Of course with time their style moved further and further away from their original style.

A good start for H-era Marillion, followed at first by a poor, poppy Holidays in Eden, and, through the decades, by a massive discography with a striking uneven-ness. 3˝ stars.

Report this review (#1178565)
Posted Saturday, May 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars I remember that I rushed to purchase this CD the moment It went out. And I clearly remember that after a good five - six spinnings on my CD player I hated the guts of It.

I haven't listened to this in a long time but I found the CD and I have played a couple of times and I was very surprised. This is half nice. Easter is a good song and I'll keep It on rotation on my iPod.

This is not a masterpiece (see Brave for that) but Hogarth and company were good at this point of life. If You can get It don't hesitate to listen to It.

Report this review (#1386867)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars After the turbulent departure of frontman and lead singer Fish after a string of majorly successful albums interpolating progressive rock into the synthpop and new wave laden 80s, MARILLION didn't even think of calling it a day and opted instead to reinvent their sound with a new singer with Steve Hogarth, former keyboardist / vocalist of The Europeans. The differences are striking from the very first track on SEASONS END, an appropriately titled fifth album that signifies a change of guard in the lead vocalist department and an abrupt change from the energetic raucous 80s MARILLION into a more placid, gentle and breezy version of the band.

Unlike the previous albums, this one is not a concept album of any kind and is simply nine tracks that are unified only by their overall sound which eschews the synth new wave leanings of Fish and emphasizes progressive rock aspects placing the keyboard runs to be a subordinate underpinning to lush melodic developments and gentle pastoral passages through chord progressions and less metaphorical allegories and more on tangible real life situations ranging from the Tiananmen Square protests to climate change.

While i admire the band's desire to continue down the road of progressive rock, this is where two very separate paths diverge, namely those who love Fish-era MARILLION and find a successor impossible to live up to (this is my position) and those who see the band as a totally new incarnation that shouldn't be compared to the previous era. While i am by no means a purist when it comes to bands evolving and replacing key members, i have never found myself connecting to the Hogarth era of MARILLION. His performance style is more subdued and he lacks the magnetic persona that Fish projected with authority. While his vocal abilities do fit in well the band's new style of progressive rock, the problem i pretty much have with this post-Fish era IS the style itself.

While this first Hogarth album does attempt to rock at points it is apparent that the band have gone for a softer and more laid back approach creating a lush fluffosphere of prog that i don't find particularly appealing. As much as i try to get into these Hogarth era albums, i just find myself bored to tears as the diverse elements that i loved about Fish-era albums always bring me back to those instead of wanting to hear the newer ones. SEASONS END is probably the album i can connect to the most of Hogarth era albums simply because at this point the band hadn't toned down all the parts to a whisper yet. There are moments of grandness here and there and despite my not digging the Hogarth vocals nearly as much as Fish, this is a decent reinvention of the band that unfortunately would go in a direction that i haven't had the desire to follow.

Report this review (#1529770)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars After their colorful lyricist and lead singer ("Fish" aka Derek W. Dick) jumped ship, Marillion were left to pick up the pieces and reassemble them meaningfully, and that they did but good! Using some of the music they had written while Fish was still in the band, they took on new boy Steve Hogarth, rewrote the libretto, and discovered their second wind.

This is a wonderful set of songs if not quite picking up where Marillion left off stylistically under Fish's influence. Highlights of "Season's End" include the title track -- addressing climate change when hardly anyone was thinking about it yet -- and "King Of Sunset Town" which goes from utterly quiet, adding instruments subtly and gradually into the mix, until an incredible cathartic mid-section and end is reached. "H" has arrived....

But there is also "Easter," a powerful vocal and instrumental tour-de-force from the band (in this case with echoes of Irish folk music) that transports me to a place of such ecstasy that I'd swear I am rolling in four-leaf clover; and it boasts one of the most gorgeous, lyrical guitar solos ever from Steve Rothery. The remaining songs are just fine: Marillion would go on to do better things, but this shows that the group retained all of the talent and spirit they had prior to the split with Fish. This album is a musical documentary of a group in transition, and essential for those who dig the "h" era of Marillion.

Report this review (#1564907)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Cast thy weary minds back to the depths of 1989. Tensions were rising, a new decade was blossoming and the glamorous aura of the 1980s was meeting its inevitable decline. In the world of alternative British music, - Madchester had reached its peak with major-selling groups like the Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets whereas groups like New Order and the Smiths had already become remnants of yesterday. A little further South, in the progressive rock world, was a group called Marillion, - a quintet whose reign amongst the sheltered bedrooms of rock fanatics had reached their ten-year anniversary. With albums such as 'Script for a Jester's Tear' and 'Misplaced Childhood', they had become household names in Britain by now, - largely due to original frontman Fish who marked his territory on the grounds of rock with his blending of fantastical lyricism, despondent imagery and stage theatricality. In 1988 Fish left the group and was soon replaced by Steve Hogarth. Short on press support but high on ambition and confidence, the group set out to record their fifth album with their new vocalist.

The album starts with the eight-minute opus 'King of Sunset Town' which is a sprawling and diverse piece of music and lyricism. Thematically similar to earlier works like 'The Web' with high connotations of dejection and moodiness is balanced nicely with segments of fantastical elevation. Keyboardist Mark Kelly is consistent as usual but is now taking full advantage of more modernized keyboard sounds, particularly during the intro section. Guitarist Steve Rothery also shines with usual displays of melodic nuances throughout the track. Indubitably a strong opener and the proggiest track on the album. 'Easter' is an electric- acoustic pop song which was released as a single after its release. The song begins as a gentle acoustic ballad before gradually building up tension into a climactic chorus, which is followed by an extended heartfelt guitar solo which is simulataneously passionate and sedative. The song closes with an upbeat reprise of the main theme with accompanying scat- singing. 'The Uninvited Guest' is another catchy pop song with hard rock elements similar to that of 'Incommunicado' from their previous album Clutching at Straws. 'Seasons End' is the representative track of the album; another eight-minute opus which is very slow throughout. First half of the song is very emotional and dramatic which is chock-full of crashing cymbals, guitar chords and cascading synth pads. The second half takes on a more quirky vibe with Mark Kelly taking centre-stage with polyrhythmic marimba-sounding swirls before the track gradually fades out and closes Side One.

Side Two opens with 'Holloway Girl' which is a fairly slow yet upbeat and catchy song which is led by a pervasive delayed guitar riff. 'Berlin' is the third-longest song on the album which retains true to the album's dramatic and ambient quality, - but not quite as breathtaking as Easter nor nowhere near as progressive and diverse as King of Sunset Town or Seasons End. 'After You' is a gorgeous ballad which is definitely one of my personal favourite for it showcases a sublime vocal performance by Hogarth and the lyrics are very sincere and sweet without sounding too saccharine or sappy. 'Hooks in You' was the leading single from the album and definitely the sole AOR-styled rocker on the album, - although in reflection it doesn't age too well in comparison with the rest of the album. 'The Space...' closes the album with a punch as it enriches the listener with its somber, reflective yet life-affirming quality. Rich in orchestral textures and layering, the six-minute slow epic ends with the universal lyric "Everybody lives and loves and laughs and cries and eats and sleeps and grows and dies.." giving the whole album a very earthy quality.

Overall; - a splendid release at a very difficult time for the group. Inevitably hesitant to stray too far away from their roots yet they clearly had an adamant desire to progress and evolve beyond the sprawling progressive-rock epics of the early 80s into a more balanced and streamlined group with ambient textures. A very solid record, a key release and an essential listen for even the most ardent Fish-era Marillion fanatic.

Report this review (#1729096)
Posted Thursday, June 1, 2017 | Review Permalink

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