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Founding Moderator
5 stars If Genesis had never existed, Marillion would have been Genesis. (However, if Genesis had never existed, there may never have BEEN a Marillion. How's that for a conundrum!). Brave is not only Marillion's best album, it is one of the greatest concept albums of all time, ranking comfortably alongside Pepper, Dark Side, The Lamb, et al. Based on the true story of a young woman who was found wandering on a bridge - but who could not or would not speak with authorities, and was never identified despite national outreach - Marillion imagines a "life" for her, evoking a melancholy (but not morbid) atmosphere, bringing to bear all of their well-honed prog-rock sensibilities. Moving beautifully between ballads, rockers and extended "atmospherics," few bands today - or yesterday - match the maturity of the sound. No prog-rock collection is complete without it.
Report this review (#12293)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Actually the high point from this era , this has moods that have been absent since Script . If I was mean I would say that this album is the only worthwhile since Script. This concept album has lots of real moments in its first half, but tends to drag on a bit after. Don't let me be a party pooper and if you like this band , this is a gem.
Report this review (#12294)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars An amazing album and the best of the Hogarth-era music. Packed with emotion and feeling with some of the best song constructons this album really deserved to have sold more copies. An absolute must for any serious prog fans!
Report this review (#12297)
Posted Friday, March 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is another one of the classic prog recordings of the '90's in its entirety. Centered around a bizzare concept-story line of alienation and psychedelia, MARILLION have struck gold. This is by far their "brave'st" release so far and it works well! Each song builds on one another here and builds like a good story up to the climax near the end of the record. Along the way we are treated to the tasty riffs of Steve Rothery and the unmistakeable core of strong musicianship from MARILLION. The songs are well written and I like the length of this cd as the story seems to need the space in its entirety...there is no filler here or weak moments, but a powerful release. The sound quality is quite excellent and provides great dynamics for the audiophiles out there....

Report this review (#12285)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've tried to understand why I do not give the perfect note for this album, and here is the explanation:

There is something new here compared to the FISH era: the organ-like keyboard is omnipresent and this really irritates me. MARILLION is a crystal clean modern sophisticated sound band, and definitely putting an organ in the tracks doesn't work: leave that keyboard to the 70's prog bands! The rythmic distorted electric guitar is disappointing: the distortion is very annoying because there is a flagrant lack of bottom and cleanness in the guitar sound: it's like if you cut all the low frequencies of the guitar sound. This creates tremendous losses of power and presence coming out of the guitar sound. The best example of this is on "Hard As Love" and "Paper Lies": the guitar sounds like the cheapest razor on sale at Zellers; you turn up the volume, and it becomes worse. This means that the distortion level/cleannesss were badly tuned. And on these tracks, you have this annoying organ in the background: awful! The guitar solos are not bad, but the powerful crystal clean sound like on the "Fugazi" album disappeared: we are extremely far from the quality sound of the guitar solo on "Jigsaw", for instance. There is bizarre psychedelic stuff in some parts (Hoggart influence?). Not really for me.

Let's now talk about the good points:

The bass is very good: complex, good presence; I think this is their best album for the bass. The rythmic electric distortion-free guitar notes is like the ones on "Clutching at Straws" and "Season's End": addictive, clean, pure and well played. All the other keyboards except the organ give extremely impressive parts. They are very various and never repetitive.

This record is very progressive! The musicians do not stuck for a long time on a specific pattern; I must admit that the pattern changes are made in a very subtle and refined way: never irrelevant! The drums can be very various too: from gentle cymbals arrangement to more elaborated patterns.

It is quite simple: I would easily give 5 stars to this almost masterpiece if it was not the outdated organ and the bland electric guitar mentioned above!

Report this review (#12288)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Severnth sojourn

Often cited by fans as post Fish era Marillion's finest hour (and a bit), this concept album certainly finds the band in a confident, if somewhat depressive mood.

This is not an easy album to get into. Unlike most of their albums, there's nothing which is instantly accessible. The pace of the album rarely changes although the 5 part "Goodbye to all that" does manage to get going now and then, and "Paper lies", the eighth track, finally finds the band waking up, even if it is all too briefly.

The closest the band comes to obvious accessibility is on the delicate "Hollow man", which became an inappropriate (for Marillion) single.

I do enjoy the music of Marillion immensely, but with "Brave", I really can't see what all the fuss is about. It's a doomy, depressing work about a young girl who commits suicide (or does she?), by jumping off the Severn bridge (which links Wales with England).

The album is similar in many ways to Pink Floyd's "The final cut". There are far better Marillion releases than this.

Report this review (#12289)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I've listened to BRAVE many times over the past few weeks -- and I'm re-listening to it as I write -- in an effort to "get" it. Esteemed fellow Archives reviewers Maani and James each give this 1994 Hogarth-era album the highest possible rating of five stars, but, for my tastes, I really can't go much higher than two stars.

What is it about this, my first post-Fish Marillion effort, that I find less than satisfying? Well, unlike some who have given low marks to Hogarth's vocals, I like his singing fine, and think that, if anything, Hogarth's taking over the mike from Fish has given Marillion a more original, less overtly Genesis-inspired sound. That sound has been updated since the MISPLACED CHILDHOOD era, and, unlike another reviewer, I have no problem with the inclusion here of organ with the more modern instruments and sounds. Though I have no complaints with the vocals or the overall sound of the disc, I do have "issues" with the album's theme, and the songs which serve as vehicles for its "message."

BRAVE deals with the unpleasant and all-too-brief life of an abused runaway teenage girl, who committed suicide by throwing herself from a bridge. I don't want to enter into an overlong analysis of suicide here, but I will say that I -- perhaps understandably -- find it (as with Floyd's THE FINAL CUT) to be a decidedly depressing theme for a piece of music. Nor do I believe that taking one's own life is an act of "bravery." I feel that suicide is a desperate, fearful and angry act of ultimate VIOLENCE by those whose mental state has deteriorated to the point that rational thought is precluded. Rather than merely ending with the death of the immediate "victim," suicide devastates the lives of too many people for me to regard it in any sort of positive light. I just can't "get behind" such a theme, and truly enjoy (let alone sing along with) such gloomy material.

Depressing lyrics and theme aside, I also find BRAVE's music to be too weak overall to permit extended enjoyment. There is some strong material here -- "Hard as Love" and "Paper Lies" are very effective "arena rockers," and merit listening, but much of what remains is by turns plodding, overblown, and (there's just no getting around it) rather a "downer."

Thus, BRAVE is not a bad album, as such, but an average one. Now that I have reviewed it, and in light of its sobering subject matter, it is not a disc that I expect to re-visit in its entirety very often, if at all. Rather, BRAVE is another good candidate for my CD player's "program" button. As with suicide, look (within) before you leap....

Report this review (#12298)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Brave Move

I've listened to many of the post-Fish albums now, in the vain hope that I might somehow come to terms with Hogarth's singing style. I find it "precious" and somewhat contrived - in other words, not to my taste. On the other hand, he has no problems with intonation, uses a palette of different singing styles, and avoids the obvious in the melody lines - which is always a good thing.

As ever, the lyrics are sixth-form standard, generally contrived to get the rhyme or, where there is no rhyme, the mechanics stand out uncomfortably - here's an example of both;

"The clash of religions The loaded prayers Information The face of starvation and the state of the nation"

I suppose h is trying to be contemporary - but my feeling is that he writes for his audience, not for himself - this latter is, for me, one of the hallmarks of a great lyricist, that the audience is largely irrelevant and the inner poetry is everything; Although the concept of "Brave" is not a bad one in itself, the subject matter may not be to everyone's taste and the presentation leaves me somewhat repelled. To sugar my bitter pill of criticism, however, the concept is kept up the whole way through the lyrical content of the album, which is no mean feat.

There's not too much to criticise in the musicianship on this album - where later albums like "Anoraknophobia" were very beige in style, with the uncomfortable feeling of having been designed for FM airplay, the music here is recognisably the same Marillion who wrote "Script For a Jester's Tear", with an underlying Celtic (Scottish) flavour, most noticeable in the title track.

Kelly uses string pads and piano sounds to create some beautiful ambience, but not as many solos as I would like - in some places I find it too understated. Rothery counterpoints this ambience with his hallmark understated guitar - but also unleashes that beast at just the right times. Trewavas keeps it very solid on the bass - which is very well produced indeed - but seems a little short on inspiration.

"Hard As Love" is on the surface a stand-out rocker of a track, and somewhat commercial, but all kinds of little "proggy" elements can be heard to shine through - and that organ solo is superb - a nice surprise, given that Kelly's solos normally tend to be delicate and haunting melodies rather than raunchy seventies Hammond rockers.

"The Lap Of Luxury" sees the beige style I mentioned earlier starting to creep through - although Marillion attempt to counter this by making it overly busy in places to the point of harmonic dissonance. This track is a rare instance of filler, until the last two minutes or so, which work surprisingly well.

It's good to hear a band pushing the envelope of their own style, and there is really precious little by way of contemporary music to compare Marillion to - the influences that permeate this album are quite amazingly diverse; even 1980s rock is not ignored in the quest for the Marillion Holy Grail.

If you don't like the flavour of 1980's rock, then this album may not appeal to you. If, on the other hand, you can listen with an open mind, this will become an album to revisit. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection and definitely better than just "Good" - but I would hesitate to call it essential. Three and three quarter stars!

Report this review (#12303)
Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First of all, I haven't followed the band in so long I really didn't know they'd changed singers...I left before Fish did. "Brave" almost makes me wish I'd paid a little more attention, for it is not the MARILLION that I remember. There are unique sounds here and an expressive quality more subtle and effective- Hogarth really changes the overall character of the band. Not that I'm in love with his voice- at best it resembles WATERBOYS Mike Scott's plaintive, wavering tenor, at worst just amateur hard rock- but it does help coax an emotional depth out of a band I previously thought was a little sterile-sounding. They are obviously an older, wiser band than they used to be.

The title song appropriately sums up the feel of most of "Brave"- after a free-flowing vocal over warm synth sounds, we get a prolonged buildup with some exotic textures- including some nice piping by guester Tony Halligan. Slower ambient passages dominate the album, with the fewer harder-rocking moments strangely more common in the middle. The opening track "Bridge" establishes a recurring piano motif (a close cousin to "The Great Gig in the Sky") and sets the album's overall melancholy tone. Added to this, the ambient environmental sounds and the texture of many passages (the more rocking parts of "Living With the Lie", the leslie-ish guitar in "The Hollow Man", and more) generate an unmistakable FLOYD quality, especially "The Wall" and "Final Cut" era, but done with enough of the band's own character to avoid being derivative.

I'm afraid I can't completely follow the details of the story even after repeated listenings, but the positive side is that the narrative never seems to take precedence over the music, which is a big point in their favor. A girl commits suicide, this I'm sure of. It seems to have the same 'streetwise' leanings that characterized "Lamb Lies down on Broadway" and "Operation: Mindcrime" (songs like "Runaway" and "Goodbye to All That", among others, definitely bring QUEENSRYCHE's album to mind) but is neither as mystically surreal as the former nor as conspiracy-cyberpunk (or as metal) as the latter tries to be. The range of the band is most apparent on "The Great Escape", which is really quite good; soaring and emotional like the best moments from "The Final Cut". And what concept album would be complete without a sensitive, climaxing coda? "Made Again" fills the bill nicely and has some nice, organic keyboard and guitar playing to finish off the experience on a good note (no pun intended).

Steve Rothery's range and skills are showcased here, from standard hard rock and blues rock basics to a surprising palette of unconventional ambient sounds, with some occasional lapses into an over-processed 80s style and tone. Speaking of which, "Hard as Love" and "Paper Lies" both start unpromisingly mediocre- maybe I'm out of line thinking of BON JOVI- but I'm sure they're live crowd-pleasers. To make things worse, "The Lap of Luxury" blasts a seeming tribute to "Spirit of Radio" before launching into an overwhelmingly 80s guitar backing ("Is This Love" by WHITESNAKE is an infamous example of this bland pop sound). Generally, production is a bit strange on the album- the pianos and guitars often sound a bit plastic, and there seems to be missing chunks of the frequency spectrum that the music never fills; I suppose it's the sound of a 70s-influenced 80s band coming to grips with the 90s.

Much of the musical and narrative territory here has been covered already, but MARILLION makes an admirable, accessible album out of aging ideas. I think hardcore proggers may want to look elsewhere for innovation; however, for classic rock folks (or 80s rock folks especially) just getting into progressive music, this is a pretty decent transition, and it's ambitious enough to impress longtime fans. I just might owe the band and the fans an apology for dismissing them for so long.

Report this review (#12304)
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favourite one... The songs influenced by sth mysterious... I consider the solo in brave song as the best solo ever played. Many people will not agree with me I know that, but for me the album is full of retrospections. Maybe this is the main reason of my fascination directed to this album. Warm greets to all of Marillions' fans.
Report this review (#12305)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
5 stars Marillion - Brave

This is one of the few (neo) progressive rock albums that I really consider to be a masterpiece. This is one of the darkest albums I have ever heard up to this very moment. I am not trying to exaggerate things: from the first note of opening track Bridge until the final note of the Fallin' from the Moon segment of the The great Escape so; it is all dark and depressing, complex and most important ambient.

Brave is a concept album based on true events. Some parts are fictional.. others are not. The concept saw the light of day when vocalist Steve Hogarth heard a police broadcast on the radio about a girl that was found wandering on the Severn Bridge, near the city of Bristol. This girl refused to speak and therefore the police did not know who she was and where she was coming from. As a last resort they tried to approach relatives of the girl via the media.

Steve Hogarth came up with a fictional background of the girl, which is what you find in the contents of the Brave album. The story basically reaches back into the girl's childhood up to the very moment when the police find her on the Severn Bridge. Hogarth's lyrics are not as cryptic as those of his predecessor Fish on Marillion's other concept album Misplaced Childhood, but they still tell the story in a way that the listener is still a bit left in the dark about what is really happening. It is all a bit suggestive and perhaps this is the charm of the lyrics and story. The story is not given as a fact; it is left to your own imagination, with Steve's lyrics as a rough guideline for your own interpretations.

It is not an easy digestible album on the first listening, because it is quite intense and emotional, but it also centres on all kind of negative feelings. This is noticeable right from the start with the mostly instrumental opening track Bridge. This introductory song is one out of two mostly ambient songs on this album. The thick keyboard atmospheres and sounds welcome the listener and it is immediately clear what the overall vibe will be on this album: DARK. Sounds of police broadcasts and water noises are great additions to this already very moody song. These samples also create a good introduction to the beginning of the story about a misplaced girl.

Slowly the keyboard layers disappear and a guitar starts to play. The sound of the guitar is very reminiscent of PINK FLOYD's David Gilmour. Living with the big Lie is the first true album track. Lyrically, it more a general thought about society and its values nowadays, but musically seen this is one of the heaviest songs on the album. Slowly the song progresses from the minimalist introduction into a heavier outburst of guitar soloing towards the end of the song, before the song slowly fades into the beautiful melodramatic ballad Runaway.

Runaway is one of my favourite Marillion songs. Especially H (Steve Hogarth)'s vocals are great and accompany his wonderful lyrics in a superb way. His singing clearly projects the anger that is shown in the lyrics, but without sounding angry, simply emotional.

The twelve minutes long suite Goodbye to all that concludes the album's first and perhaps most depressing half. This five piece suite starts off with the piano and vocal driven segment Goodbye to all that, before heading off into my favourite instrumental section of the album: Wave. This piece starts off with a kind of 'jam session' in which all individual instruments create an atmosphere that slowly builds up to a climax before continuing with a more up-tempo interlude, that fluently crosses over into the dark and mad part Mad. I am not joking; this song simply sounds as if Hogarth has literally gone mad. The final three parts of this lengthy suite are mostly ambient and spacey with a lot of use of effects on the various instruments. Especially Pete Trewavas' bass guitar performance on this section is great, very subtle but also very professional. The whole thing builds up into a gigantic climax towards the end of the suite; showing a huge contrast to the ambience of the previous minutes. And then all of a sudden the noise dies and there he is, Steve Hogarth and his little piano. Are you still with us? The outbreak of noise must have woken you up if you dared to fall asleep ;-)

What is coming up next was a bit disappointing, even after several listens. Hard as Love is pretty much a standard rock song. It does not gain any momentum with the first half, but then, just when I though all hope for the track was lost: mid section begins: cello's and piano, this is still a progressive music piece! The composition changes from being an unoriginal rock song into an up-tempo, but interesting tune. It is partially quite aggressive to be really honest.

The hollow Man is a nice change of pace and atmosphere after the previous rock segment. This is a semi-acoustic music piece. The vocals are lovely and the pianos sound great. When halfway through the song the sliding electric guitar begins to play the track really lifts you off this earth. Certainly one of the most intense songs Marillion has ever written. Although one has to be in a certain mood to fully enjoy it.

Okay Marillion must have had their fingers twitching out of nervousness, because that was the end of our little quiet and gentle section. Alone again in the Lap of Luxury picks up where Hard as Love ended and shows again that these guys can rock.

Yes it is one of the poppy songs -also being one of the album's singles-, but it is definitely are more memorable and coherent track than Hard as love. The song consists of three different movements. The first part is a pop rock song with a great sound in the verses and a great guitar solo included. The second part is where the band begins to improvise with the composition of the first part and the song is steadily getting heavier and heavier with some nice soloing by mister Rothery. The final segment of the song is called Now wash you hands. This little piece of art is a short dark interlude that connects the song to the next up tempo rock Paper Lies.

Despised by most Marillion fans, this is a tune that does not seem to have connection whatsoever with the concept of this album. I personally do not dislike the song, but I do agree it is a bit misplaced in the album's context and therefore spoils the mood a bit. It would be better off as a b-side to one of the singles. As a plus point: this song includes Mellotron sounds! But it might as well be an organ, I can hardly tell the difference -how shameful-

Now the most depressing part of the albums starts. Beginning with the album's title track Brave. This is the other mostly ambient track. It starts off pretty weird, but in this case that is a good thing. The song lifts the listener up to higher regions after the ambient rhythmic session begins. This song includes bagpipe!

What should have been the last son on the album, if it was up to me is the song The Great Escape. This the most emotional track on the album and it suggests that girl in the story eventually commits suicide on the Severn Bridge, by jumping from it in the deep dark water. I suppose this is not what the record label wanted so they included the final track Made again on the album, to have a more optimistic and uplifting ending.

The closing track is a mostly acoustic song that shows some obscure kind of relief to the album's concept. Although I rather saw it not included on the album, it is a great song on its own. Especially the last minute of this song is highly regarded.

As you might have noticed, this is quite an intense album and I personally, with it being my favourite Marillion album, have to be in a certain mood to enjoy it.

Report this review (#12307)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars So many people has said that this is just "another looong album". i differ. Actually i think this is one of the most impresive and beautiful records of all prog music. Every time i hear it is a journey; so... lets ride!. From the oppening cut, BRIDGE, MARILLION is facing a very serious matturity, a complex mix of sounds evoking the city, mostly a river, followed by the answer to that sounds and moment, the first impression of "what's happening?" with LIVING WITH THE BIG LIE. After that the record shows a little more complex ambients, and more important, a full palette of textures leding you to a "unreal" silence. The "happy" moment comes with HARD AS LOVE, a very terrible description of events that ends with HOLLOW MAN, and PAPER LIES. Actually the greatest moment is filled with ALONE AGAIN IN THE LAP OF LUXURY, but the key moment relies in THE GREAT ESCAPE. If you are fan enough or at least interested enough in this record, you'll find out that MADE AGIN, the last song, is a sort of redemption song for the record, giving hope to the desperate beacuse the "real" finale is in the bonus record with THE GEAT ESCAPE (SPIRAL REMAKE), that shows the unhappy ending with a lot of sad textures and the sound of water. Well, if you don't hear the record (actually in any case) you won't be able to feel the real thing, is obviuos, sometimes this kind of music is somehow strange and "pop" if you like to label it, but is pure fine expression of music. A must have.
Report this review (#12308)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Everything I planned to say ratings-wise has been said, so I'll just add my clarification to the end of the story. As it appears on the CD, the girl does not commit suicide in the end. On the LP there was a double groove, creating an alternate ending. In this alternate ending, she does jump. The only difference is there is no Made Again, and The Great Escape is replaced with the spiral remake appearin on disc 2 of the remastered version. The spiral remake is the first part of the Great Escape followed by about 10 minutes of water sound effects
Report this review (#12311)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Their masterpiece in my opinion. No question. Though I still don't get what 'Paper Lies' has to do with anything. The track 'Brave' is one of my favourites, along with 'The Space.', 'King', and 'The Invisible Man'. My guess is that the people who Just Don't Get It are, in this instance, really the ones with the lack of imagination. 'Brave' is quite simply the most emotionally focused Marillion album ever. It is not simply a flight of fancy about the background of the girl on the bridge. It is not even simply about child abuse. Oh, yes, that's the theme, in case the Just Don't Get It people hadn't realised - and I'd like to know precisely how you can criticise an album for being depressing when that's the theme. Yes, the girl has been abused; yes, she dies at the end. But what happens in between is not merely confined to the theme and is precisely more effective because of that. Maybe the flaw of the album is that you have to understand it to get it, rather than simply know what it's about.

The sleeve notes suggest that you should 'Listen To It Loud And With The Lights Out', and that is most definitely the best way. As close to genius as Marillion will ever get.

Report this review (#12312)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over 5 or 6 years, i have this album, and for some reasons i did not listen to it enough attentively or i was not really into a marillion type of mood when i bought it (i know i bought it with 6 or 7 other albums... you know when a music fan gets excited in a music store and feel guilty afterwards ;-) . For mehaving brave in my cd colections was a real mistake...The real mistake is shocking me now. As a matter of fact, some of the progarchives users, gave a 5 stars to this album and i asked myself, how could they say that, it is a poor album? I've read many reviews, exemple the one from Tristan in july 2004, which brought back my curiosity and i decided to listen brave was full of dust,but i tried it.

Wow, What a shock to see that i had a very amazing album in my possession since many years and that i never paid the disserved attention. It is a powerful dark album, the concept is great, i had never paid any attention to the lyrics, it is dark but gee it is well made , i am feeling weird of having had a masterpiece in my collection and not knowing it. To me marilion was Marillion with Fish, and nothing else. Now i know there's Fish and There's Marillion, Mr. Hogarth you just won my greatest respect and admiration. Let me be sorry for putting Your band in the "eighties has been" bands, 1994 album Brave is almost perfect, from a great prog band.

Report this review (#12313)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is the last breath of the real prog-Marillion. A great concept album with very poetic lyrics by Mr. Hoggarth and of course, the classical trademark neoprog of Kelly,Mosley, Rothery and Trewavas. A piece for collectors, obviously. After "Brave", Marillion fell into a deep hole of repetitive and bored unnecessary albums that just left good memories of a dying golden age. But as a last breath "Brave" is a great album with many beautiful songs, a pair of prog suites very acceptables and a brilliant vocal work from Mr.Hoggarth, theman who killed Marillion.
Report this review (#39863)
Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Staring out over the bridge. A million photo flashes from the water down below ."

I did not expect much of this album when it was first released as their previous album "Holidays in Eden" was kind like a pop rock album especially with song like "No One Can". Even though I like the epic that comprised three songs in one piece of music: "This Town", "The Rakes Progress" and "100 Nights". It reminded me to early Marillion album especially on Rothers work. Nothing wrong with the album at all - it's just that I didn't get used to it especially remembering the early days of the band. So I purchased "Brave" in cassette format because I just wanted to test the water before collecting in a more expensive format, the CD. My first reaction was that it's not the kind of music I really enjoy even though I had followed the guidelines at the sleeve: "Play it Loud with the lights off". So I put it on a shelf. Until couple of months later I visited Bandung, meeting my dear prog-mate I'an Arliandy of Yess Bandung. I was quite surprised, really, that I'an adore this album and he recommended me to have the CD because Brave should not be enjoyed with a cassette format. As I admire I'an especially in introducing me "So here I'm once more" thing at first time in his small cassette store, I finally purchased the CD. I started to appreciate the band with this philosophy: "Get rid of everything in your mind about early days of marillion - or if you cannot do it, just pretend that this album is not being played by Marillion. Enjoy the music!". With this philosophy, I can then be more open to welcome any stream of music that flows into my mind and my heart through my ears.

And so here I am with my view .

The album starts off with "Bridge" (2:52) in an ambient nuance through the keyboard soundscape followed wonderfully with a floating piano touch and soft Hogarth voice "Staring out over the bridge ..". Oh man .. what a killing piece here. Performed in a very mellow style, this short opening sets the overall tone of the album. "Living with the Big Lie" (6:46) continuous seamlessly with soft keyboard touches accompanying low register notes voice in - still - very slow tempo. The music increases into higher point when the lyrical part enters "The babble of the family ." and it moves in a crescendo with a great organ / keyboard work augmented with stunning guitar by Rothers. "Run away" (4:40) is a nice song with excellent melody and this was the first song from this album that I could accept well at first listen. "Did you cry when they dragged you home. Put a lock on the door and the telephone ." is a very nice opening with a mellow music at the background. The killing part is when this track enters approx min. 2:35 with great piano followed later with wonderful guitar solo which reminds me to early Marillion. Hogarth voice is excellent! One of my favorite Marillion tracks.

The fourth track is an epic (a very good one) "Goodbye to All That" (12:26) that comprises five parts, opened with a floating soft piano touch that accompanies Hogarth voice. It's basically like the opening part of first track "Bridge". The music moves into crescendo through soaring keyboard sound and the tempo turns faster. Guitar and keyboard work together to form a rocking style of the music The guitar solo part is also awesome! I really like this rocking part. The music then suddenly turns into what I call a truly mellow music with excellent soundscape exploration of sound effects coming from keyboard, guitar, etc. Yes, this is the segment that it can bring you to another world especially if you listen to it loud will all lights turned off and only your power amp lamps be the lights. I also enjoy the inventive bass lines by Trewavas in the middle of the track augmented with guitar sound effects. Oh man .. it's killing me! I won't write a novel-long review about this track but it's a magnificent epic! It reassured my confidence with the band for their future.

"Hard As Love" (6:41) is basically a rocker with great guitar work even though the music is a bit rough for my ears, especially on its melody that is not smooth enough. But I love the energy projected by this track. "The Hollow Man" (4:08) brings the music back into a piano-based mellow track. "Alone Again Into the Lap of Luxury" (8:12) is a medium- tempo track with great guitar work at the opening part. The music flows smoothly combining Marillion's style and a touch of pop music. "Paper Lies" (5:49) is a relatively fast tempo track with a rocking style in straight forward structure. "Brave" (7:54) starts off with an ambient long sustain keyboard layer (in a away it reminds me to the opening of Peter Gabriel's Secret World DVD just before "Come Talk To Me"). Hogarth sings with his heart here. "The Great Escape" (6:29) continues the music nuance of this album opening part "Bridge" but this time with different style. I really enjoy this track especially when the music gradually moves into higher point with excellent voice combined with great guitar solo. "Made Again" (5:01) starts off beautifully with a simple acoustic guitar work and excellent voice in mellow style.

Overall, this album is very potential to be considered as masterpiece as the composition is quite tight (excellent arrangements and structures). What I think is missing is that in a way Brave has some disjointed parts that reduce its coherence as a concept album. OK I can accept that 90% of the songs are mellow ones and very dark, but actually I also want to hear the band also composed some energetic songs and made it a balanced album. But I agree that this is the finest post Fish-era Marillion albums and I really enjoy this album. Borrowing words from my prog-mate (Icann) who ever met each member of the band (plus Fish) "in person" sometime in 1997 during their US concert, I need to express a honest gratitude to Marillion: Thanks for being in my life!. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#40663)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's safe to say that Brave was a bit of a shock for EMI after the largely poppy Holidays in Eden!

This album is so dark that you could almost feel like jumping off a bridge afterwards if it were not for the tacked on up beat ending!

This was Marillions second Masterpiece. But I have to say that it is not an easy album to 'get'. It took me a very long time to realise just how good this record was. Mark kelly's keyboards are the show on this album. They build the atmosphere and sustain it. Although Steve Rothery's guitar is present throughout, he is pushed into the background alot (With the exceptions of Paper Lies, a full on rocker and Made Again, an acoustic mood lifter at the end!) Steve Hogarth's vocals are superb and very moody throughout the album and his concept based on a news story about a girl found on the Severn bridge is a very surprising turn for his song writing.

Very accomplished all round and an Essential masterpiece!

Report this review (#41378)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4,5 stars really

After the slightly disappointing first two Hogarth era albums ("Seasons End" "Holiday's in Eden", both beautifull musically, but disappointing in a progressive rock view) "Brave" was promoted as a return to their progressive rock roots, being a huge fan of early Marillion albums I had high hopes when I bought it. With the first couple of spins I didn't get it and it ended up on a shelf collecting dust. Untill one day I in a moment of boredom decided to put it on once more.

Whoah completely blew me away then. How could I not have recognised this album for what it was, a rare masterpiece. I was probably hoping for early Marillion sound, but they had changed, and Brave is practically as good as their early day albums, just different, and it took me an open mind to their new stuff.

With the departure of Fish, and the subsequent addition of Steve Hogarth on vocals Marillion transformed from a neo-prog band into a symphonic rock band, the term neo- progressive rock doesn't apply to Marillion anymore for me at least.

"Brave" is a great attempt at a concept album. It's about a girl who commited suicide, and the storie of the album is the storie of how such a thing could happen. The music is really awsome, from slow spacy atmospheric too rough and edgy, with beautifull melodies and intense singing, really an emotional rollercoaster ride, like the liner notes on the album says - "play it loud".

The music starts very intense, with the sound of water flowing and a synth sound that reminds me of a fog-horn, thus creating a dramatic opening, where you can imagine someone standing on a bridge contemplating suicide. Slowely the music develops from that with soft piano and atmospheric music to a more heavy dense sound on the second song. This is designed to suck you right in, "Never got over it, got used to it"

Run Away tells the tale of a runaway girl being dragged home, but no attempts being made to take away her reason to run away. Beautifully and intensly set to music, with a fabulous Rothery guitar solo "And you would starve before you let him get his hands on you again". Goodbye to all that is a 5 part suite that revolves from intense to spacy atmospherics, with many great changes, " don't know what you're doing here When there's murder on the street I appreciate your concern But don't waste your time on me"

Hard As Love is the first hard rock song on the album, and it comes at the right time, great synth solo from Mark Kelly, and some power in the singing and the guitars. Hollow Man is a soft ballad, with soft tranquill piano and slow build up, a very sad song "I feel I have become one of the empty".

Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury is my favourite song, starts rather fast, with great guitar and bass play, builds up with an emotive singing Hogarth "Is there no escape from the lap of luxury" really fabulous and intense, the song grows more intense with every passing second great. Paper lies is again a rather heavy rock song, but too straight forward for my liking, still not bad, just misplaced in the concept I think.

Brave, the song reminds me of Belfast Child from the Simple Minds, the same vibe and celtic influence, great. The Great Escape "They shower you with flowers when they bury you" A fabulous song released as a single, didn't do much on the charts if I recall correctly, but a nice single and it builds up to the final of the album, "heading for the permanent holiday" The album closes with Made again, a semi accoustic song, which is a bit positive ending to a very emotionally intense album.

MARILLION's "Brave" is a very good album, and a return to form, from one of my favourite bands. It takes some dedication and willingness to like it, but once you've gone through the Rites Of Passage, you won't be dissapointed. Like I said it's not really neo-prog anymore, it's 90s progressive rock, with ambient/atmospheric parts and some rocking parts, with a very emotional (to me at least) impact.

The Best of post-Fish Marillion, be Brave and listen to this.

Report this review (#41868)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
5 stars I think it´s simply one of the best english prog albums released in the 90´s, and of course one of the best Marillion´s efforths...

I believe that Brave was an album that had a lot of influence en the 90´s beginnings. In my opinion, a lot of english bands was influenced by this work, like Blur (they entitled one of their works "The Last Escape", just like one of the best Brave´s songs...), Oasis and Radiohead, of course. Hearing some Radiohead´s passages, Brave comes to my mind. And I like it a lot, because in the 90´s most of the prog bands from the 70´s and 80´s had lost a lot of their popularity and their quality. But Marillion they were still releasing very good and influential material, like this magnificent album or the later Afraid Of Sunlight, the best Marillion´s album in my humble opinion.

Brave is a conceptual album with a little confusing story, but with great lyrics made between Steve Hogarth and John Helmer. The music it´s just incredible: very well produced by Dave Meegan, very well executed (with a lot of overdubs and an impressive instrumental developement...) and with a really strong songwriting. Here we can hear totally progressive passages (Goodbye to All That, The Great Escape, Brave...), the usual Marillion pop oriented catchy songs (Runaway, Alone Again In the Lap of Luxury, Made Again...), and the typical hard-rocking Marillion´s songs (Living With The Big Lie, Hard As Love, Paper Lies...)... This is a very variated album, with a lot of details and sound effects, that grows in every listening on you... Because every time you hear it, you will find new things, new sounds...

The album´s mood it´s also very changing. Maybe the predominat feeling it´s of melancholy, even sad sometimes (Bridge, Runaway, The Hollow Man...). But there´s also a lot of positive feeling here, with beautiful and romantic lyrics (Made Again, Fallen From The Moon, Alone Again...). And some moments with a lot of epic and strong feeling too (some passages of Goodbye to All that, Hard As Love...) Just like a really good conceptual album!!!

Absolutely recommended for every prog lover (of course, not for metal heads...) and for all these people who says that Marillion died the day when Fish left the band...


Report this review (#51880)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars I've listened to many dark, depressing cds from genres of rock 'til metal, but Marillion's "Brave" remains one of the most. If you feel depressed, this cd makes you feel even more. Not for the faint of heart, this tour de force of post Fish-era Marillion forces a very intense and deep listen from the listener. The story of a schizophrenic, disillusioned girl, who commits suicide in jumping off a bridge may be frightening in first place, but allways brings on some uplifting moments in such songs like "Hard As Love" and "Paper Lies", which are the only misplaced ones on this album though, they sound too radio-compatible for my taste. That mustn't mean that it's bad in general, but somehow fits not to the main mood of the record, which is all about lost hope and sadness. The strongest pieces are the accesible "Living With The Big Lie", "Runaway" and the wonderful "Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury", the complex, at the same time very atmospheric epic "Goodbye To All That", the challenging title piece or the superb highlight "The Great Escape", which sets up the crown and makes "Brave" in truth kind to a small masterpiece.

At the beginning I was a bit confused about the (for Marillion standards) unusual dark complexity of the whole record, but after some spins it showed off it's strong deepness, which is also the reason for disappointing less sold copys of the record and EMI forced the band to produce the more lightful, accesible follow-up "Afraid Of Sunlight".

The fact, that the record is more for a small group of listeners, makes it so interestening. Steve Hogarth shows here, that he is a excellent singer and really was the right follow-up to Fish, who pulled down the songwriting skills of the group with his alcohol/drug-concept "Clutching At Straws". Steve Rothery brings also on some of his best guitar work that he made for Marillion and is able to show all of his talents on "Brave". The album has grown on me like a little tree and makes me to recommend it to all, who enjoy modern progressive rock. For those, "Brave" will probably grow to a masterpiece.

Rating: 9/10 points = 92 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

Report this review (#56140)
Posted Sunday, November 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I find this one of the dullest concept albums ever released.Desperately lacking in invention and good tunes with occasional nods towards Pink Floyd (but nowhere near as good).I saw Marillion on the Brave tour and it was a tedious experience as well so this is not something that goes down well live either.Not a masterpeice by any stretch.
Report this review (#59520)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, this is it. The first really big record made from a band with a depleted sea (no Fish at all). Once you are beyond that point you are going to like this recording. Gone are also the crisp solos of Rothery in favour of a new sound in the guitar more hard rock oriented but overall very interesting altogether. This is a concept album and Hogarth sings it well, specially the first part which is the best part of the CD. You have a Killer A side and a weak b side. So it is a mixed emotion to hear it completely. I didn´t like the organ in the songs I think Jon Lord was behind those solos but overall it is a good record. Too bad they didn´t keep the spirit of prog in the next sessions but I think this one is one of the best records of this band. And boy how I love the Jester!
Report this review (#59673)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is the real masterpiece of progressive rock. If not an album "Brave", with group it was possible to say goodbye. The album is magnificent from the beginning up to the end. Over and over again I put 5 stars. I am ready to put without of doubt 5 stars very much to few albums. Only that from which listening you run into ecstasy. It is one of those albums. Magnificent music, strong social lyrics, all is excellent. A masterpiece and hundred times on 5 stars.
Report this review (#67404)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Where to start with Brave? Personally, I can start with the fact that it's the best CD I own. Period. For 70 minutes plus, the listener is brought in to accompany the girl for whom the album is dedicated through the darkness of betrayal by a loved one, to her own personal struggles in dealing with it. The subject matter is sometimes disturbing and bleak; however, what Brave gives us is hope through the words and the music. One may view it as dark; but, on the contrary, the message in Brave is of hope and light in an otherwise sinister world.

It begins with the sublime and powerful "Bridge/Living With The Big Lie" and one cannot help but notice the passion in Hogarth's voice (I would loved to have been a fly on the wall to see him record the vocals). From there the music goes over peaks and valleys, but never becomes stagnate (albeit, "Paper Lies" seems out of place).

The final 15 minutes of Brave is nothing less than breathtaking. Ending with their masterpiece "The Great Escape" and the optimism of "Made Again", I sometimes am spent emotionally by this time. "The Great Escape" especially is moving, capped off by the always amazing Steve Rothery just making his Fender Strat weap during the "Fallin' From The Moon" portion of the song. I cannot single out a best of moment of Brave because it's all a memorable journey from beginning to end. I've only within the past few years re-discovered Marillion (most notably the Hogarth era); however, they've quickly become my favorite band and have added so much to my life. Brave especially brings a little something to me emotionally. For almost 20 years U2's The Joshua Tree was the best CD I owned. Although I still am taken in by it, U2's own masterpiece loses out to Brave. Yes, it's THAT good.

Report this review (#69988)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Marillion strived to create an overly atmospheric album in Brave, creating that atmosphere by recording every little nook and cranny of the castle in France in which it was recorded at (Steve Hogarth mentions that with this remastered version you should be able to hear the ghosts). Anyway, after the overly commercial sounding Holidays in Eden, the band wanted to take a more progressive direction with the next album. Spanning over a 15 month period, the writing and recording of this album was creative and very ethereal in approach.

The album itself, a loose concept about a runaway girl who commits suicide, is as I said a very ethereal and atmospheric album, with nice touches of organ and swells of guitar. The rockier sections, though, really rock, Rothery showing that he is no slouch on the guitar almost 100% of the time. Mark Kelly plays a variety of keyboards, from organ to touching pianos to anxious synths, regardless of what he plays he's great at it. The rhythm unit, consisting of Pete Trewavas and Ian Moseley, are tight, cohesive, and they keep perfect rhythm while the other three do their thing.

The album goes through many different moods, from melancholy (Bridge) to triumph (Made Again), but regardless of the atmosphere the band is spot on with the emotions. The lyrics by Hogarth and outside writer John Helmer describe these emotions brilliantly and Hogarth expresses them magnificently with emotional performances on every song. It certainly sounds like he put his heart and soul on this record. My personal favorite piece on the album is The Great Escape, which begins sadly with only piano and Hogarth, then it reaches a peak at the 1:30 mark with The Last of You, possibly the most chilling section of the album. Hogarth really shines here with his dramatic vocal (he seriously put all of his effort forth on this one). Rothery's riffing is impeccable juxtaposed against Kelly's excellent keyboards and the precision of the rhythm unit.

Overall, this album is the masterpiece from the Hogarth era. It's hard to top the messages that are conveyed here. In my opinion, only Marbles really rivals this album in terms of the Hogarth era in quality and creativity in compositions. Fans of Marillion, or music in general, do yourself a favor and get this album, you won't be disappointed. 5/5.

Report this review (#70702)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of the most lauded and reviled entries in Marillion's catalogue. The truth, as always, lies in between. The band invested a lot of time, money and emotion in this concept album about a suicidal, abused teen girl. Hogarth certainly brings a lot of angst to his vocals and tries to bring the tragic story to life, but one still can't help feeling that his intensity is a little more stylized than Fish's. Nonetheless, comparing the two is pointless, of course. They are two very different characters and singer. This was a new era, and the band sounds different. They sound like they are trying to modernize their sound, less keyboard solos and more songcraft. There are more atmospheric and ballady pieces, which is where H-era Marillion shines, particularly on "The Great Escape", which starts from a delicate whisper and builds to an agonizing climax based around one of Rothery's best solos. "Made Again" is a beautiful acoustic ballad, and "The Hollow Man" is a fine Beatlesque piano-based ballad. The band's much worse when they try to rock. "Hard as Love" and "Paper Lies" sound more like Foreigner than Marillion, as H shrieks and emotes shamelessly over generic AOR backing. Another problem is the remastering done in 1998. I know that preserving dynamics is important, but I find myself fiddling with the volume knob during quiet bits, only to have my head blown off by a loud section. I only have this problem with Marillion albums, so there must be a connection...anyway, this is a good album with some of Hogarth's best tunes and Steve Rothery's best playing. However, it also contains some embarrassingly 80s ish AOR moments as well. Marillion's next album, Afraid of Sunlight, would take care of those issues by giving up any hard rock pretences in favour of experimentation and atmosphere, and it worked brilliantly. This one is still worth having, though.
Report this review (#70923)
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After recently discovering and becoming a big fan of Fish era Marillion, I was excited to hear BRAVE, the supposed zenith of Hogarth Marillion. Well judging by this release, the two eras of Marillion are about as strikingly different and dividing as the two eras of Genesis. All of the magic, variation, and raw emotion of Marillion seems to be lost with Fish's departure. The albums marches on through the same melancholy atmosphere for a hour, and it becomes tiresome. All the songs seem to share the same gloom and depression as each other, and it eventually begins to wear on you as a listener. Overall, the music hear just fails to impress or challenge. They play it relatively safe and the music is kept simple, more like highly melodic, atmospheric rock than prog. It really is just boring more than bad or anything else that can come to mind.

With all this said Hogarth actually has his moments as a singer. If he sang on a few tracks I'd be a fan of his, but after an album full of material his voice really wears on me. He just doesn't carry the same quirkiness, drama, and above all, emotion that Fish did. He also suffers from a rather annoying enunciation problem. I couldn't really speak to the lyrical competence of the album due to Hogarth's mumbling.

Report this review (#76929)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Marillion's greatest after Fish left. This is proof that Marillion did not die after Fish left, in fact they released the best album of the 90s after he left. Brave contains some of the best Marillion moments.

The melodies, the feeling, the concept, all of it is great. My personal favorites are: Lap of Luxury, Hard as Love, Living with the Big Lie, Made Again, and Paper Lies, so you can see most of the CD is made up of my personal favorites. No matter what they say H is still a more than deserving of his spot in the band after Fish, and he definetely shows it in this album. He sings with passion, with melodies, with feeling, and with strength when needed. Give it up for post Fish Marillion and go buy this right away, you'll love it on first listen. This album gives me feelings no other album has ever given me, the power this album emanates is incredible.


Report this review (#79792)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brave is such a wonderful experience. A dark one as well. I wouldn't describe the album as depressing, but the overall tone is certainly not uplifting. It tells the tale of a lost soul on the way down. The story leaves a bit of room for interpretation, but we get the feeling that the main character may or may not have committed suicide after a long struggle to make a place for herself in life. So as you can see, this is not light fare. I feel this album serves a place as a nightcap, or for a contemplative moment.

The music is perticularly outstanding. Be sure that if you're familiar with the Hogarth- era albums, this is one of the best, perhaps the best. At this moment in time, I enjoy Marbles and Season's End slightly more, but Brave is a definite must for any Hogarth- era fan. If you're not a fan of H-era Marillion, Brave may covert you, but there's no guarantee. It is one of the proggier albums of H-era Marillion, but rest assured the production and tendencies of this era are well in place, meaning the songs are generally more subdued than those from the Fish-era, and that there is hardly an odd time in sight. I love this album, but if you're not one for brooding, atmospheric, Neo- Progressive rock, then it's not for you.

The keyboards on Brave are the one instrument that deserves more acknowledgement overall. Not to say that they hog the spotlight or anything like that, but they support the music very well. As with most H-era Marillion albums, they are not dominant or obtrusive, but more akin to the scenery or the framework of the songs. I wouldn't associate their sound with the commonly held notion of cheesy Neo-Prog sythesizers reminiscent of the electronic-fetish 80s musical scene. They deserve their own connotation, for I believe the sounds that Kelly uses are as unique to latter-day Marillion as any Wakemen or Emerson developed. But that might just be the fanboy in me talking...

Right, on to the songs. There's quite a nice balance of straight-forward rock song on Brave, and I find them to be satisfying and enjoyable. "Hard as Love" and Paper Lies" are among these. I believe they're quite similar in style to "Hooks in You" and other songs off Season's End and Holidays in Eden. Take that as you will, but I generally enjoy such songs by Marillion. Not as much as the following songs, but they're still great. My favorites just happen to be the mood-shifting, near-epic "Goodbye to All of That," the atmospheric "Brave," which makes excellent use of Uilleann pipes to create a distinct Scottish feel, "The Lap of Luxury," which turns from a excellent rock tune with a memorable chord progression to a murky, ambient ending, and the uplifting (quite a rare experience on this album) "Made Again."

For any H-era Marillion fan, Brave is an absolute must. I admit it took awhile to grow on me, but I rank it up there with the best of Marillion.

Report this review (#97041)
Posted Saturday, November 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I cited this in my review of 'Marbles' as being the first masterpiece by Marillion while led by Hogarth. Simply put, 'Brave' is one of the best albums of all-time. I have never heard another record so full of emotion and dripping with atmosphere. It's easily one of the most cinematic albums that I own. It's a concept album, but one that isn't overwrought with pretensions or clichés. It follows the story of a girl that is found on a bridge by the police who has no memory of who she is, and the album explores her past.

Beginning with the ethereal "Bridge," 'Brave' grabs a hold of the listener immediately. A certain somber feeling is captured with the first few chords, and it doesn't let up until the end. It is certainly an emotional experience and it's a memorable one. The album then takes a dive into "Living With The Big Lie," a rocking song that contains some fiery singing from Hogarth. The song slowly dissolves into the organ chords of "Runaway," another excellent song with a painstakingly fierce solo by Steve Rothery. All the while, the setting is being maintained by Mark Kelly's synth work, which keeps the listener focused on the concept at hand.

"Goodbye To All That" is a longer song that is divided into smaller movements. It begins with the distant cries of h, before launching into an driving force of nature, led by Ian Mosley's drums and Rothery's guitar. The lyrics evoke such a sense of hopelessness that it's impossible not to be drawn into the world of this girl. "Goodbye To All That" realistically twists and turns its way through feelings confusion, anger, and depression. The execution of the concept alone would be impressive, but the music is so flawlessly designed to imprison the listener in this world that it extends beyond the realm of concept album.

"Hard As Love" is a rocking song with great work by Pete Trewavas, Mosley, and Rothery - and another stunning delivery by Hogarth. 'Brave' follows up with the quiet and beautiful "The Hollow Man," which is one of my favorite tracks on the record. "The Lap Of Luxury" is a truly epic song with hauntingly dark lyrics and two great solos from Rothery. "Now Wash Your Hands" seems to be the breaking point for the girl, and contains some suitably disheartening keyboards from Kelly. "Brave" opens with an ominous and breathtaking chord being played on synths with bagpipes playing over them - it's one of the most amazing moments on the album. After a wonderful performance from Hogarth, it disintegrates into distant hums, faraway laughter, and whispers.

"The Great Escape" was nearly the album closer, and for good reason. It is the release of all the emotions and atmosphere being sustained throughout. The whole band plays to the best of their abilities, weaving around each other. The song collapses at the end, and fades away to the sound of water. 'Brave' closes with one of Marillion's most beautiful songs, "Made Again." Rothery plays a somber guitar, while Hogarth sings with hope. 'I have been here many times before/In a life I used to live/But I never saw the streets so fresh/Washed with the morning rain/Like the whole world has been made again." Eventually the band joins in at the end, around Rothery's optimistic acoustic guitar.

I'm thankful 'Brave' ends the way it does, with the hope that there could be something good arising from all of her troubles.

Report this review (#105489)
Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Never before or since have I heard an album so dull, boring, and devoid of life. I apologize to all the Marillion fans, but I just can't seem to get anything from this album. This was my only sample of the Hogarth formation of Marillion (though I would like to try more........have to listen to some samples on the site here). There is no doubting that these are competent musicians, I just think the songwriting and atmospheres are far too "samey" and, well, dull. Hogarth's voice, at least on this album, seems rather bland and uninteresting. At least Fish has some character to his limited vocal range. Hogarth certainly is the better technical singer, in terms of range and ability to hit the correct notes and pitch, but the result for me is just dull. Anyway, an interesting concept and story, but quite depressing. Perhaps that has something to do with the dull sameness of the compositions? I don't know. Surely for me this is a matter of taste only, so rather than pan this completely and give it 1 star, I will round up to 2 because I seem to be in the minority on this one and fans of the band always seem to hold this in high regard. I simply can not.
Report this review (#105518)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars MARILLION - BRAVE This album represent for me the highest point during the Hogarth era.Despite i'm a huge fan of the Fish era,this cd shocked me and has become (together to Marbles) one of my preferite Marillion's efforts.Brave is a concept,based on an original story of alienation and solitude,and eleven superbly-crafted songs guides you towards this psychedelic tale.An excellent lyric work by Steve Hogarth meets a Steve Rothery "goldfinger" that chisel worderful solos during the entire opera,expecially during "Runaway","The Bridge"(this solo has a very similar pentatonic structure with "The Web"'s solo,script for a jester's tear)and "Goodbye to all that".An impressive rhythmic section,lead by the greats Mosley and Trewavas surround all the work. Tracklist: 1. Bridge (2:52) = the intro of this album,a slow keyboard piece that ends with the delicate voice of Hogarth who open the first part of the 2nd song.Very peaceful and symphonic.

2. Living with the big lie (6:46) = by my opinion one of the highlights,and my preferite piece of this cd. A delayed guitar opens the show with a kind riff in the perfect Rothery's style(Slainte Mhath,Kayleigh,Childhood's end?) accompaigned by the fine voice's work of Hogarth.At 1:53'' the song become more rock,with an excellent simil-purple guitar pattern.The song ended in a vanishing climax,like some radio programs.Outstanding.

3. Run away (4:40) = The most beautiful ballad of this opera,wich contains one of the most involving and well-crafted rothery's solos.Pay attention to the words of this song,you can adore Fish 'till death,but when Hogarth throw out from the cylinder a text like this,and sing like this,we need to remove the hat in front of him.Dreaming.

4. Godbye to all that (12:26) : The Epic.With the notable duration of 12:26,this song can considered the pinnacle of Brave.A soft piano interlude lead us to an incredinble symphonic passage(from 1:38'' to 3:40'') that postpone to some Pendragon acts like "As Good As Gold".Like "Living with.." this song ended with a climax dominated first by a drum march and then by all the instrumest that play an happy ending(probably the unique of this cd) very similar to the first part of the song.Impressive

5. Hard as love (6:41) = A 70' rock song during the first 2:10 minutes,they change totally in a piano/keyboard driven act,pilotated by the oniric lyrics of steve hogarth,except then return in the ending like the first rock part,but much harder and in some passagges like some kind of metal bands.But better.It reminds me "Emerald Lies".Except the bass.Chamaleontic.

6. The hollow man (4:08) = A sweet piano ballad,very beautiful,with the usual excellent voice's work by Hogarth and an interesting use of the brushes by Mosley in the central part of the song.

7. Alone again into the lap of luxury (8:12) = A metal guitar open to you the first seconds of the song but change quickly in a smooth arpeggio surrounded by a very good keyboard orchestration.To difference of other songs of Brave,this ends in a calm way,and not with the cacophonic use of the instruments done in the first songs of the album.Cacophonic in the good sense,of course.Almost an epic,but still great.

8. Paper lies (5:49) = Electronic noises are common during this piece,in particularly during the beginning and in the ending together a wah-wah riff made by the whammy bar(i think).The guitar riff is builted in a blues style that give an interesting novelty and a gust of freshness in an album that began to become too dark.Nice song,but not at the other's level.

9. Brave (7:54) = The self-titled and the "braveheart" of the disc.Very beautiful Uillean pipes dominate this piece.Like a scottish clan anthem,probably one of the most cryptic and darker song of the album,with an epic crescendo that remind me the battle of stirlinf in the 1226 between william wallace's army agaisnt the Plantagenet of england.Brave

10.The great escape (6:29) = The happiest song in the entire cd,and the first ray of sunlight after nine songs of dark.Great chorus and an incredible guitar/keyboard work make the great escape one the highlights of the disc.In this act you can hear all of the Mark Kelly's technique,and it seems like the man that there wasn't,but you feels.

11. Made again (5:01) = a pretty acoustic ballad who represent the ideal coda of the concept,with nice guitar arrangements and flute passagges.Pat Metheny seems to be passed here.Great Work

In conclusion i have only two words about this masterpiece.BUY IT.Brave is an essential neo-prog act that any progster should have in this collection.Sure.

Report this review (#105582)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now this is other thing. Completely. While the two previous records were average to good ones, mainly due to the changes the band was going through at the moment, this album is now a clear declaration of intentions.

While many fans would have thought that Marillion would end up being a pop product like Genesis almost ended up being, given the direction their albums were going to, "Brave" comes as a big surprise and a "brave" move as well.

"Brave" is as dark-edged, sombre and conceptual as their predecessors were friendly and more conventional. In it you can find structures more suitable for a progressive rock compositions, with long compositions like "Goodbye to all that", with a tremendous and wonderful synthesizer and guitar interleaved intro. We also find concise, very conceptual and very well structured songs like "Living the big lie", "Paper lies" or "The Great Escape", very good rockers like "Hard as love", and we can listen to more romantic and melodramatic songs like "The lap of luxury" or "Brave".

Summing up, this album is Marillion's dark opera, exploring a conceptual issue in an elegant, dark and well performed way, providing a sample of the band's potential, specially Steve Rothery again, and a resurrected Mark Kelly, whose role had decreased in importance since Fish departed.

For me, this record is one of the top moments in Marillion career, certainly the best one released in the Hogarth's era and one of the few comparable to Fish's Marillion records.

Almost compulsory to any progressive rock listener.

Report this review (#108787)
Posted Thursday, January 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I possibly add to the long and good reviews already written about Marillion's BRAVE ?

Not much, as we already know that this is a pretty dark concept album about a girl who wants to commit suicide by jumping from the Severn Bridge between England and Wales. The story explains everything that had happened to this girl to make her commit this horrible act of self-destruction. Therefore I will limit myself by explaining how I got to love this album.

Of course, when "BRAVE" was issued I had already heard some Marillion tracks, but mainly from the Fish era. "BRAVE" was lent to me by a friend who knew I also liked various kinds of rock music. I certainly did not expect to be so pleasantly surprised! Before this album I did not really know Marillion and because of this album I got interested in them. Both in the "Fish Marillion" as in the "Steve Hogarth Marillion". I still think "BRAVE" is Marillion's (SH's era) best effort till date, with "AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT" and "MARBLES" followed closely after it.

Conclusion: if you like Neo Progressive and don't own this album yet go buy it! If you don't particularly like Neo Progressive, but you have any interest in music at all at least give it a chance!

Excellent album! 4.5 stars

Report this review (#109844)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars The first, and only, fully conceptual album from Marillion (minus Fish) remains one of their most dynamic and impressive. As a whole the band has never been tighter and more focused with what they are playing, particularly the rhythm section; Trawavas cranks out some mean licks on this one. h himself delivers many passionate deliveries-- especially during the excellent "Living with the Big Lie" and "Runaway". The band is at its most intense, and most delicate throughout this album, and the contrast between the two do wonders for the piece as a whole. The nature of the songs make them best if played in one sitting, with the lights off... and when ready to feel depressed.

A highlight from their career, and has just enough power to make one feel goose-bumps from time-to-time.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#116751)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars When I started my second batch of reviews I did not know the daunting task I would be confronted with. Reviewing (almost) the entire catalogue of bands like TFK, Cast, Mostly Autumn and Marillion is quite time consuming. Not only will those bands produce lots of albums, but they will as well release very long ones (lots of double CD sets as well).

As I have already mentioned, I discovered Marillion quite recently (2001) with "Misplaced". "Script" followed in 2003 and based on that I purchased almost their entire catalogue (up to "The Strange Machine") without knowing that Marillion was made of two bands. The genuine one and the Mark II one. Unlike Purple, this Marillion Mark II will be a difficult story for me and won't appeal to my musical taste.

Between the time of purchase (2004) and this review, I guess that I have listened to this work about three times. Even "Season's End", "Holidays in Eden", "Afraid of Sunlight" or "The strange Engine" have scored substantially better. I have never been able to enter into this soporific and dull "concept" album.

But since I saw all these high ratings, I thought that there was maybe something more to get out of this album. The remastered version offers a very nice and instructive leaflet with the history of this recording, how the project evolved etc. This is the most interesting part of the whole.

From the mouth of Steve (Rothery), we'll learn that as a new father, I quote : "he felt very hard to be creative after getting only a couple of hours sleep". I bet you !

The band was already been writting for a few weeks, when Steve (Hogarth) came with a broadcast news about "the girl on a bridge" as a starting point for the theme of the album. What a great idea !

They decided to work with Dave Meagan again (he worked with Marillion on "Fugazzi"). He was mainly appointed because : "we loved the vitality in a lot of Dave's work". I guess he left his vitality outside of the studio because apart from extremely melancholic (and boring) tunes there is not an inch of vitality here.

Just listen to the long suite "Goodbye To All etc.") to be convinced. These are really very dull twelve long and useless minutes. Don't worry, with "The Hollow Man" you'll get an additional four minutes of the same treatment. Boooooring, I tell you.

And when the band tries to be a bit more dynamic, they will produce a track as "Hard To Love" which is a PITA all the way through.

Steve (Hogarth) will be more explicit about the "concept" : "The Bristol police had picked up a young woman wandering on the Severn Bridge who refused or was unable to speak to them. In desperation the appeal was broadcast to the general public in an attempt to discover her identity".

So, actually no trace of a suicide here. Sorry folks, it is not as dark as that... The first bearable track (IMO) will be "Paper Lies". Somewhat dynamic, just to wake you up. But it is already the eighth song of this (very long) album. At least a bit of rocking to escape the general mood.

About his appointment, the producer, Dave Meegan admits that he thought that : "it was an odd choice since most of his productions were almost exclusively indie style". But Mark II Marillion wanted an album between progressive and indie...

My preferred song of the whole double CD set, will be the almost all-instrumental (just ruined at the end by some "vocals" form Hogarth) "Marouette Jam". It is a very pleasant song : spacey and psychedelic. Not really in this Mark II tradition. The other songs featured on the second CD are not worse than on the first one. Acoustic and demo versions of the original songs.

All in all, I have been suffering for over two hours to write this review. I am afraid that some more dark times are ahead of me when I see the list I still have to review from Mark II Marillion.

Two stars for this one.

Report this review (#126107)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The band was determined not to make another commercial record like their last one "Holidays In Eden". I would say they were very successful in accomplishing that goal.This is a concept album that was built around a news clip that Hogarth heard on the radio, about a girl who was wandering around on a bridge, not able (or willing) to give her name to police.This story was spread across the news in hopes a relative or friend would recognize her and come forward. Hogarth was touched deeply by this and was moved to make up a story about what this girls life must have been like to bring her to this place. It would be a story of her being abused at home leading to her running away and becoming a homeless person. So yes, this is a dark and moody record for the most part.

"Bridge" opens with the sounds of water splashing below, along with eerie and spacey sounds.The vocals and synths standout on this tune. "Living With the Big Lie" continues in the same mood until 2 minutes in when the song blossoms to a full sound. Rothery shines as this contrast continues. "Runaway" has some sampling but Hogarth's vocals are the focus. What a beautiful solo from Rothery as Hogarth becomes quite passionate. "Goodbye To All That" is one of the better songs on this record. I like the way it builds.Tempo changes and fantastic drumming, Rothery then tears it up. It becomes very atmospheric 6 1/2 minutes in but not for long as tempo and mood changes continue. "Hard As Love" is uptempo for the most part. It doesn't do a lot for me for some reason though. "The Hollow Man" has fragile vocals and piano in the beginning and it developes from there.

"Alone Again Into the Lap Of Luxury" is a good song with some nice guitar late. "Paper Lies" for me doesn't cut it at all. Now up to this point in the record I would say it would be a 3 star rating, good but nothing to write home about. This all changes with the last three songs. Almost 20 minutes of amazing music, especially in light of the concept of this album. Lets just say it is worth the wait to get here, and you will be writing home. "Brave" opens with uillean pipes giving it a Celtic feel as vocals and synths follow. The instrumental melody that comes next sounds cool. "The Great Escape" is in my opinion the best song on the record. It's so powerful and emotional. Hogarth's vocals just before the 2 minute mark are the highlight of the album. Soaring guitar as well. "Made Again" features acoustic guitar, piano and fragile vocals for 2 minutes when it becomes quite uplifting with strummed guitar.

Well we certainly have 3 very different albums to start the Hogarth era of MARILLION off don't we. It's hard for me to say this is better than "Seasons End" only because I have such a soft place in my heart for that one. So I won't say it.

Report this review (#127046)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars So what's the big deal?

"Brave" was my first foray into the Hogarth-era of Marillion. Bear in mind I am a huge fan of the Fish-era Marillion. So much so that I intentionally avoided listening to any "H" Marillion for a long time. So today I decided to change that line of thought.

What better place to start than the "H" Marillion album which is most highly-rated at

It takes the album a while to 'get going' so to speak. And once it gets going it doesn't really go anywhere. I won't provide a track- by-track analysis because that is not necessary.

Hogarth is undoubtedly a more talented vocalist than Fish - but for some reason I find his vocals to lack the purity and passion of Fish. This was not the most disturbing element of "Brave", however.

From a purely instrumental angle, I do not see how this album can be considered prog. There are some moments of pure cheese ("Hard As Love", "The Lap of Luxury") which honestly approach the frightening doldrums of arena rock (Night Ranger and Journey come to mind).

Based on what I have heard on "Brave", someone such as myself, who cut his teeth on Fish-era Marillion, has no business listening to "H"-era Marillion.

Report this review (#129396)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars When this album is put in the three star section, you know somethings wrong!

Well, I dontknow much about this band, except this album, WHICH IS EXCELLENT!

I've heard people talk that Hogarth has no voice and no emotion, complete Bull****. I have trouble listening to the title song without crying like a baby ; ), but seriously, listen to the last three tracks and tell me Hogarth is bad at what he does! Now as amazing as this album is, I would have to say that the epic of the album, Goodbye to all that, is probably the least enjoyable. Because it has five minuetes of sheer nothing, but weird ambient noises, the ending of the song is quite spectacular though!

Just about every song is about a four star plus, the big lie, and hard as love, are quite un inspired, but have some very nice guitar work. Living in the lap of luxury, is another one of those songs, but Rothery's voice is jst too good to ignore.

Well I might as well give you the concept of the album...

So, it's about a society hating girl, who thinks the world that she live in is just made of lies from the government, parents, school ect ect. She even trys running away, but eventually gets found "cries while she is being dragged home", I'm not sure, but I think she is an opium addict and fantasices aout living the high life. Eventually she throws herself off a bridge and dies. She wakes up in heaven, or some other life in the last song... which is also beautiful, and ends on a high note.

*EDIT* Well, I simply Overated the album, a couple of completely non prog songs is in no way deserving of five stars.

Well there is Brave in a nut shell, but you have to listen to it to understand... SO LISTEN TO IT!

Report this review (#131241)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I feel I owe Marillion this, since I have only given them some 2-star reviews of minor items. Brave was several years my favourite prog album. Before it they had almost dropped out of my listenings. Indeed, what a leap it was from the dull and commercial Holidays In Eden! Especially for Steve Hogarth this was the moment of truth; both as a vocalist and as a lyricist he helped Marillion to reach new levels of expression unseen at the Fish era. His sensitive style is totally different from Fish's, as is the musical style of the whole band too. Naturally it can't please all old fans, but I believe the band feels more at home with Hogarth.

Brave is not an easy album to get into (or rather, you either love it or you don't), but one can really sense that it's done with the deepest dedication and ambition. It's a 100% concept album, telling a sad story of a young girl. And it's very dark and sad itself, asking for a specific listening MOOD with full concentration - with the lights off, as the liner notes tell. Probably it's the sadness that puts it off for some, and also the reason why I listen to it nowadays clearly less than in the nineties.

I won't go much into track details, there are many reviews here to do that. What I most enjoy in Brave are the dreamy, wavy instrumental sequences - the one in 'Goodbye To All That' and the latter half of the title track. 'The Hollow Man' may be the best sad ballad ever by Marillion. I also love the passionately melancholic chorus of 'Runaway Girl', the breathtaking Neo Prog of 'The Great Escape', the delicate and gloomy opening track 'Bridge', and the bright and fresh cathartic closer 'Made Again'. Yes, I must say this is one of the prog masterpieces of the nineties, no less.

Report this review (#138937)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars After failing to reach a wider audience with the mainstream Holidays in Eden in 1991, Marillion took a brave step (pardon the pun) and went back to their progressive roots with Brave, the band's first true concept album since Misplaced Childhood (or Clutching at Straws if you're inclined to think of it as one). Instead of returning to their Genesis influences of earlier albums, Marillion took on a more Floydian feel with Brave. This is most noticeable with the many sound effects throughout the album and the depressing, moody, and deep atmospherics. The concept was based on a news story Hogarth heard on the radio about a girl who was taken into custody by police after she was found wandering around Severn Bridge (between South Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, Wales). The girl had no idea who she was or how she got there. Hogarth developed the story around her and what might have led her to her present state on the bridge.

This was probably the most ambitious project in Marillion's recording history, taking nine months to write, record, and produce. I have to say, Marillion really did an exceptional job on this. Further, they managed to move their sound into new territory as it sounds really different from previous efforts. The concept and lyrics are also well written and Hogarth's delivery is fantastically done. The haunting atmospherics and sounds are remarkably well done. In fact, it has been said that Radiohead's OK Computer was partly influenced by Marillion's Brave.

Brave was a remarkable achievement during an era where this type of music was often frowned upon. Not quite as good as their masterpiece debut in my opinion, but definitely well deserving of five stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#141742)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have just recently been introduced to Marillion and have been pleasantly surprised with what I have heard so far. Unlike most people who start with the earlier Fish albums, my initial taste of this British group was with the albums Marbles, Brave and Afraid of Sunlight (which happen to be the only three albums I have listened to at the date of this review). I must say, I do like the sound these guys make.

Brave is a concept album, but I'm going to spend very little time (if any) in this review discussing the concept since I much prefer focusing on the music itself. While the story in the music may be worthy of some additional appreciation, it's always the music that makes or breaks an album. Brave is chock-full of very good music.

"Bridge" The opening track is hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric as the setting is appropriately set for the story that is to be told over the course of the album. The music is soft, with the vocals almost being whispered to convey the anguish and despair of the situation. While the song clocks in at just under three minutes, I always wish it would last a little longer since the music truly is beautiful through here.

"Living with the Big Lie" What a great song this is! Wonderful lyrical passages combined with a hard-driving melody really make this a standout song. Marillion may be considered a neo-prog band, yet the sound on this song is so fresh and powerful (even 12 years later) that I would never consider this to be even remotely derivative.

"Runaway" Things slow down a bit as this third song continues the musical bliss that started from the opening sounds of the album. Strong contributions from all members of the band meld to make a soft, subtle sound that is pleasing to the ears and warming to the heart. (I know that sounds cheesy, but that describes how this song affects me.)

"Goodbye to All That" This twelve minute track begins somewhat inconspicuously with Hogarth singing along with steady chords from the piano. The pace then picks up with Rothery's guitar doing all sorts of nice things with strong vocal passages from Hogarth. There are a number of very intense parts of this song, creating another strong chapter to this musical journey.

"Hard As Love" This is a fairly straightforward blues rocker, with nice touches from the bass and hammond organ. You can sample this song right here on ProgArchives. Hogarth does a nice job of mixing up the chorus as the song progresses, going just a little bit higher each time the chorus is sung. Even though I have grown to like this song, I still consider it one of the weaker tracks on this album.

"The Hollow Man" The melancholic feel is back as in some of the earlier songs. While some may consider it to be filler, it does fit in nicely and fills an important role in developing the album's concept.

"Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury" This is perhaps my favorite song on the album. The melody is just so compelling and the lyrics are of the right word)...good (that's all I got). Rothery's guitar is silky smooth and leads the charge during the song's transition which adds a lot of intensity. This is just a wonderful rock song.

"Paper Lies" Just as "Hard as Love", this song leaves me a bit cold. It's another blues rocker with not much depth, in my opinion.

"Brave" What a change of pace occurs from the last song to this one! It's like being time-warped from Memphis, Tennessee to Dublin, Ireland. One minute: Springsteen, the next: Iona. This song sounds very Celtic, with some Scottish Highlands-flavor thrown in for good measure. This song begins a very beautiful passage that continues pretty much for the rest of the album.

"The Great Escape" This track begins quietly with dampened quarter note chords from the keyboard and Hogarth's single voice. Then the music begins to build as the bass is added and Hogarth's vocals become more intense. At the 1:45 mark, this song just freakin' takes off! Hogarth lets out a spine-tingling scream which is accompanied by some powerful sounds from the band which create 90 seconds of musical perfection. Rothery's guitar finishes off the passage leaving the listener in a state of complete awe. This song quiets back down and incorporates some other nice transitions as the conclusion draws near.

"Made Again" The album concludes with another nice tune which wraps up the album quite nicely.

Marillion has truly captured my attention with this album and I would recommend for any music lovers and especially for lovers of good progressive music. While some of the tunes on this album are typical rock 'n roll ("Hard as Love" and "Paper Lies"), I still consider this to be a masterpiece. I look forward to hearing more from these guys. Who is Fish?

Report this review (#148609)
Posted Friday, November 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars If there was still skepticism about the future of Marillion after the departure of Fish (which after Holidays in Eden would be warranted), Brave should abate it all. This is the bands most ambitious outing to date: a 70+ minute concept album taking a look at a runaway teenage girl on a bridge, contemplating suicide and what led her to such a situation; it was inspired by a story Steve Hogarth saw on the news. The atmospherics, one of the strong points of Hogarth-era Marillion, get even more ethereal here, Hogarth's vocals are his most powerful, the guitar solos are as impassioned as ever, and the rhythm section continues to be solid. I don't want to get too deep into this album, but I will say that every song is a highlight in some way, and it is the most gratifying of Marillion's works, along side their debut.
Report this review (#150911)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The third album from the post-Fish Marillion is seen by many as their finest achievement up to that point. For me, however, it has always been an album I've never been able to like as much as I wanted to. It has all the ingredients for a great concept album - a decent story about a runaway girl, lots of emotion, lots of scope for developing musical themes etc. But somehow, despite listening to it again and again, it has never gripped me as I felt it should. There are some strong moments, particularly in the final quarter. The Great Escape will always be a contender for the best ever Marillion track. It never fails to send shivers down my spine as H sings fallin from the moon, and Steve Rotheray's guitar comes soaring in - wonderful stuff! Hard As Love, and Paper Lies show us that the band haven't forgotten how to rock. But somehow I always seem to drift away somewhere in the midst of 'Goodbye To All That'. It seems too long and loose, and I can't help feeling that is my problem with the whole album. Just possibly the guys spent too long on the whole project and let it get over clever. My overall verdict - some great music, but too much other stuff in there as well!
Report this review (#161857)
Posted Friday, February 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Thankfully, after the lacklustre Holidays in Eden, the band gave us this, the first of the truly great classics which the Hogarth era has provided us with.

I cannot find a fault with this LP. From the opening bars of The Bridge (surprisingly very good live, even on its own - see Marbles live DVD), to Made Again, Hogarth tells the story of a teenage runaway who ends up killing herself from jumping off the Severn Bridge superbly. Apparently, Hogarth got the idea from listening to a news story.

Hard As Love is a strong, rocking anthem to abuse, with Hogarth shouting out the lyrics as if he were the victim. The Hollow Man (the single did not chart) comes down miles to a quiet introspective gloom.

Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury follows the tradition of strong singles, whilst Paper Lies rocks with the unfairness of the news media. Again, on this, Hogarth drips with passion and scorn against his target.

Brave, the title track, gives the backdrop to the inevitable end, and is a thoughtful ballad. And then comes the ultimate song... The Great Escape. I defy anyone listening to this track not to be moved at the tragic outcome of a young life, and I swear that Rothery's guitar sings in mourning to us. It is quite exceptional.

The band sound like a fellowship on this work. It is as if they had decided their fate - not to be shackled to the whims of EMI and other majors, but to break free and make music that they loved and pass on that passion to fans. All the members of the band contribute, but I especially rate Kelly & Rothery's sounds. The latter has rarely had better days!

This LP marked the passage from being a mere fan to being fanatical about the band. It is in the top three of my extensive collection, and I would rate it as being an essential addition to any collection. Certainly, it is the finest concept piece I have.

All sceptics of the H era should give this a chance.

Report this review (#196751)
Posted Thursday, January 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Superb, beautiful album

While not the biggest Neo-prog fan you'll find at PA, I have to join the side of those who proclaim "Brave" to be a great album. Oddly enough I don't consider it to be "sad" or "depressing" as many do-but then I don't consider "The Wall" depressing either. What I hear in Brave is uplifting musically and without a question one of the most beautifully and delicately constructed albums of the 90s. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The story may be a sad tale but the music parts are often so beautiful that they lift me up rather than make for a melancholic album.

Brave is one of those subtle albums that take many plays to truly reveal all the intricacies of its hand. It is a long conceptual feast of ambient and moody landscapes telling the story of a troubled young woman, but I actually believe it is meant to be a more sweeping social commentary on our fading humanity, life priorities, etc. I love the fact that besides the fairly obvious rock of "Hard as Love" the band has made a very uncompromising album, placing texture and detail above crowd pleasing. It is definitely a more Floydian work than anything Genesis influenced, it sounds almost like taking the slow, brooding portions of "Shine On Your Crazy Diamond" and melting it into the lyrical short story style of "The Final Cut." You have Hogarth telling the story but doing so between these long delicious instrumental sections that are all about sound and atmosphere.some of the sections rock but most are just content to ooze melody and emotion. Pure music that takes time to appreciate but rewards tenfold once the connection is made. I find all of the performances to be exceptional across the board, dramatic, full of life and conviction. "Runaway" is a highlight with guitar work that grabs my head and my heart, a great solo but also dramatic buildup throughout, and these lovely drop-offs at the end of the build-ups. The only problem I have is the same one I have with The Final Cut. In the chasm between the soft and loud portions of the album it is really obnoxious dealing with the volume extremes. The soft portions can be very quiet and so I turn them up quite a bit because I want to hear everything.then you get absolutely pummeled when the rock kicks in, and that does drive me crazy.but I'll deal with it. The album's weakest moments without question fall into the 14 minutes devoted to "The Lap of Luxury thru Paper Lies" where you get some standard, rather boring sing-along rock. Given the length of the album it would have been perfect to condense this section way down-keep enough of the better parts to advance the narrative but perhaps cut down the repetitive parts. "Hollow Man" features some great lyrics about those who are essentially already dead as they slumber through work-a-day existences with "lies behind their eyes." In the finale of the final three tracks the band nicely wraps the album while going out with a bit of sunlight and hope.

"Brave is all about the spiritual aspect of life dominated by the non-spiritual, so we filled the songs with as many sounds and pictures as we could dream up-I sent out sound engineer out at dawn one morning to record silence for the beginning of the album!...I think of Brave like a Christmas cake full of hidden ingredients which only reveal themselves gradually. I can still listen to it and discover moments I don't remember being there before." [Hogarth] He also says that they had mikes set up everywhere in the Chateau Marouatte in the hopes of picking up "ghosts" and that he can feel them throughout the album. His advice is to play the album alone, in one sitting, loudly, and in the dark for maximum results. Hopefully you will hear some passing ghosts. There certainly is a presence, something hard to articulate, that hangs in the air throughout Brave. It is an achievement to package that kind of feeling into music that is entertaining.

This is my first Hogarth-era studio album but if it is representative of the quality of the era, then Marillion is miles ahead of the other bands I've heard from their genre. I look forward to hearing some of their other titles. It is a real shame they blew the film version of Brave, this music deserved so much better. Brave is a fantastic album that I would recommend to anyone into concept albums.

Report this review (#196753)
Posted Thursday, January 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, here it is, Brave. Marillion's creative peak ( so far ). With the addition of Steve Hogarth in 1988 the band assembled what has become their strongest and longest surviving line-up. This collective remain innovative, but their secret strength lies in their accessibility. Progressive, yet never straying too far from a popular music center. Brave does break this pattern a bit, and is a darker, more brooding journey. The band visit places they have not gone before, and in doing so the musical essence is superseded by the story they have to tell. The great thing about this approach is that it allows the group to relax, and a flow is achieved that unifies the entire piece. It becomes a work of art, rather than just a series of songs strung together. Probably my only negative critical comment, is that sonically Brave could have been improved somewhat, because at times the sound gets cluttered, a bit harsh and brittle. That aside, it is a marvelous experience. Who can listen to the Falling from the Moon section of The Great Escape, and not have tears well up in their eyes ? Splendid and sublime !
Report this review (#210813)
Posted Thursday, April 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Marillion's 1994 release is one of the most boring albums I have ever heard. It mostly fluctuates between insipid keyboard-based droning to uninteresting rock, and the engaging moments are few and far between. The sputtering effects applied to the vocals are something of an interesting distraction; in some places, it works, and in others it just sounds bad. The volume is also something of an annoyance; when it's quiet, it's almost silent, but things can become very loud without warning, making me reach for my volume control an uncomfortable number of times. The bottom line is that it's just hard to stay awake.

"Bridge" The first couple of minutes of this album consists of a sleepy atmospheric synthesizer and quiet vocals.

"Living with the Big Lie" The second song shows promise despite a lethargic introduction, especially with the heavier moments in play. The spirited guitar work sits nicely against the chunky bass and the seemingly improvised vocals toward the end. This is one of the better tracks, however, which is not saying much.

"Runaway" Clean guitar begins a more straightforward, late 1980s-sounding rock song. The bass and piano interplay in the middle makes for one of the best moments of the album.

"Goodbye to All That" On this longest track, drowsy, synthesizer-based parts are interspersed with heavier fare. A riff somewhat similar to the introduction to "Tubular Bells" comes in, followed by a more exciting section in 7/4 time. The guitar solos and the eventual guitar swells are really the highlight of the piece. It's easy for this sprawling song to lose my attention, but it is by no means bad work, and it does end spectacularly.

"Hard as Love" This is classic rock music, and sounds similar to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It slows down (of course), to quiet piano, vocals, and a slide guitar leading back into the edgier part. There's a riveting organ solo thereafter, but it's a bit out of place with the rest of the music. I honestly can't decide if I like all the curt reverb on the vocals.

"The Hollow Man" More quiet vocals over piano begin this track. There isn't much else to it than that.

"The Lap of Luxury" A speedy guitar lick kicks off this second long piece, but rather than be a hard rock song as expected, it's another clean guitar-based 1980s-sounding pop song. I could honestly see this as a popular Rick Springfield number.

"Paper Lies" This song is more like a heavy John Cougar Mellencamp song- not my thing at all.

"Brave" The bagpipe introduction is a nice touch, but it fooled me into believing I would actually like the song itself. Yet again, this is a synthesizer pad and vocal song exclusively until over four minutes in, and then it remains uninteresting, as the clean guitar and bass just add to the monotony.

"The Great Escape" By now, I would think Marillion would shake things up, but this one is just more dull music with drowsy vocals. Steve Hogarth's singing does get interesting after a bit, however, but things return to the bland rock that over half the album seems to consist of.

"Made Again" Of course, this album wouldn't be complete without another wearisome soft song. The acoustic guitar adds much need variety to the album, but by this point, it's too little and too late.

Report this review (#218582)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A brave attempt.

Even though it is one of the most highly acclaimed albums in the Neo-Progressive subgenre, Marillion's Brave is not all it's cut out to be for every listener. With the most sincerest of apologies to a great contributor and friend of mine through this site (who labels this album as his favorite of all time), this Hogarth-era Marillion album is lost in translation, between where they were and where they are now. A truly transitional album that at one time combines everything that they did with Fish and everything that they would do even to this day, it comes off as a stew of inspiration that never manages to get its hold on what it's trying to do.

One of the main problems with the album is that it always attempts to use the slow-climactic-build on every single song, often times defeating the purpose of the song in the first place. If you were to start just about any song it would be near deafening silence, and granted ? sometimes this style works very well. Hell, it even worked well for the band on their album Marbles some time later, but here it just doesn't work. While each song does get going eventually, the problem is that the attention span of the audience isn't always able to keep up with the constant break in momentum. On some occasions the songs are mixed so low that the album becomes simply difficult to hear without having to constantly toy with the volume nob.

Of course, this should never detract from the songwriting on the album. And being that it's a concept piece, the narrative of this album is of utmost important. It's an impressive one at that, the story of a suicidal girl at the edge of a bridge recapping her life and how she got to her position at life's edge. The songs themselves can be truly captivating, heart wrenching and downright emotional ? but rarely are they pulled off to the degree of accuracy as they were on albums like Misplaced Childhood or would later be on Marbles. Granted that on a true concept album, not every song is going to be instantly accessible or memorable, so long as they all contribute to the overall construction of the tone and story, but Brave seems to dance on the far side of story telling, forgetting themselves musically.

Still, there are a number of classics throughout the album. Even the most cynical Marillion critic will have a heart enough to accept quite a number of these songs as great, be it in a progressive realm or not. They may not be as overly complex as their forefathers, but that's simply the modern-ness of newer Marillion taking its course. Which is refreshing in the long run, really, since if everything just sounded the same then we'd have to pick fun at that fact instead (and this is something that neo-prog often gets hit with anyways). Songs like Living With The Big Lie and The Lap Of Luxury showcase Hogarth's voice at it's best, most emotional and powerful. In songs like this the man can shake you right to your core. Other impressive outputs on the album include the somewhat out of place, but still beautifully fragile Hollow Man with it's haunting melodies and Hard As Love - one of the few pumping rockers on the album, along with the equally charging Paper Lies.

While this review may seem to be trying to take the piss out of the album a little more than it needs to, there's no doubt that this is a very good album from a classic band. Anyone keeping their expectations in check who happens to enjoy the later era of Marillion will find a lot to like in this album. People who expect either extreme end of the Mariilion sound spectrum are going to be in for something of a surprise. Certainly an album to be listened to with patience, although if after a year or so it still doesn't catch on then the album may just not be for you. May I recommend a game of Marbles to ease your mind? 3 stars out of 5 for a very good, but ultimately inaccessible album that may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Report this review (#219214)
Posted Monday, June 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars They made it again!

This conceptual album is so very emotional, moving and simply touching and one that has grown on me to become one of my favourite Marillion albums of all time. It is not the masterpiece that Seasons End is for me, but it is certainly much better than the disappointing Holidays In Eden. Indeed, Brave proved that Holidays In Eden was just a momentary lapse and not the end of band's greatness. Musically, Brave has very little to do with the Fish-era of the band, and as such it is a brave attempt of the band to expand their sound and adopt for a new time. I would say that this album is both backward-looking and forward-looking in the sense that they gathered their influences both from the 60's, 70's and 90's this time and they are no longer stuck in the sounds of the 80's. Brave does have a more contemporary sound than previous Marillion albums, but there are still plenty of the aspects that makes Prog into Prog and that made Marillion into a great band in the first place. It might not satisfy all of the fans of the old Marillion, but it sure satisfies me, and it seems, countless others. This is indeed an excellent piece of modern progressive Rock full of passion and meaning.

Both vocally, lyrically and instrumentally every single note and every single word is put forward in a way that makes the listener believe that they really mean it - and they do, of course! There are great guitar and keyboard work throughout and the vocals are full of emotion. Several of the songs sound like classics already on the very first listen which is a sure mark of a great band.

After Seasons End, Brave is one of Hogarth-era Marillion's very best albums (and in my personal opinion, both of these albums outshine anything from the Fish-era!)

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#224162)
Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Why this album is so special? I don't know... Maybe becouse of atmosphere? interesting concept? great lyrics? deep sound? I had to spend many hours with "Brave" to "understand" that album but... I'm not dissapointed! After two years I need to say that "Brave" it's my favourite album! Amzaizing "The Great Escape", "Living with the Big Lie", "Goodbye to All That", "Runaway" and "Bridge"... Great "Hollow Man", "Hard As Love" and very pleasent "Made Again"... Only "In the Lap of Luxury" and "Paper Lies" is not as good as then other songs (IMHO "Paper Lies" on this album is misunderstending).

"The Great Escape" is a watershed on Brave, it's one of my favourite tracks (what a incredible Rothery's solos! what an emotions!)... "A bridge is not a high place The fifty-second floor Icarus would know A mountain isn't far to fall

When you've fallen When you've fallen from the moon..."

...are you strarted to crying?

"Brave" - absolutely amaizing album! You really have to give a chance to thirth Marillion's album with Hogarth. IMO "Brave" is his best prduction (better even than Marbles)!

Report this review (#240550)
Posted Sunday, September 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Brave is a turning point in the Marillion's catalogue. The change doesn't come from a sudden increase of compositional quality though, Brave is a good album overall but hardly outstanding. No, the turning point is that they finally learned how to bring Hogarth's voice into play.

At its best moments, Brave finds the answer to the question that had been nagging Marillion for two albums: "Where do we go from here?" Well, they finally use Hogarth's voice for what it's good at: emotional and atmospheric rock songs, sometimes epic sometimes poppy, and supported by music that is more laidback and spontaneous then the bouncy prog they did with Fish. Good examples are the slowly developing Living With The Big Lie and the elegant Runaway.

It follows the same pattern of Clutching at Straws, meaning it's a number of mostly individual songs that are patched together to form some kind of conceptual unity. Unfortunately the experience is not consistentently good. Some of the tracks seem to wander around without much of a point. Goodbye To All That for example brings 12 minutes of harmless prog muzak with some occasional outbursts that are hasty rather then purposeful. But the most awkward moments come when Marillion still considers a career as an arena pop act, Hard As Love, The Lap of Luxury and Paper Lies especially, veer off in contrived pop directions that I won't go along with.

But there is magic as well. The three closing tracks are absolutely stunning. Especially the brooding Celtic beauty of Brave is a most outstanding track in the Marillion catalogue. It introduces that repetitive guitar picking, an element from post-rock and indie that would become an important influence in their sound. The Great Escape is a big and dramatic gesture full of echoing pathos. The over-reverbed production makes it sound rather dated now but it remains an emotive highlight. Made Again as a fine semi-acoustic closer and provides a bit of sonic variation to the generally big sound.

On the next album, Marillion would perfect most of what they tried to achieve here. But that doesn't seem to be the general point of view. As it stands, Brave is a competent and ambitious album, but too uneven for excellence. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#266557)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Brave was the album that once again showed the fans that Marillion were still capable of producing new original music and that the spark was still glowing ever bright!

This album is a comeback to the familiar territory of moody concept albums that the band pleased their audiences with so much in the '80s. The new spin added to this particular storyline is its extremely dark subject matter and no real moments that lighten the atmosphere. I think that this approach probably didn't win Marillion any new fans due to the lack of any single-oriented material but at least it satisfied the existing fans tremendously.

Since it was one of the first Hogarth-era albums that I heard it was met with mixed feelings on my part and once that first impression settled in it was difficult for me to ever really give this material a proper chance ever again. I realize that this is highly unfair but the main problems for me are the album's length and highly depressive tone. Still, I have full empathy for everyone who enjoys this material since there is enough subtle beauty here if it's given the chance to grow.

It's clear that the band didn't want to make another melodically-driven album and instead it's the atmosphere that has taken the pilot seat this time around. I would like to recommend seeing the accompanied Brave: The Film that highlights some of the story elements much better than the music. Originally I saw it on a bootlegged VHS but now that it has been released on a proper DVD there's just not excuse to pick it up!

The movie version, together with the unexpected change of music direction, makes the album version of Brave slightly less important item compared to other Marillion releases for anyone interested only in the most essential material. As much as I like The Great Escape it still doesn't come near the perfect ending of Misplaced Childhood nor is the overall quality of the material qualifies for any comparison to Clutching At Straws. I miss those really memorable moments that would make me want to play this album just out of the blue without starting to think about the concept and direction of this material.

***** star songs: The Great Escape (6:30)

**** star songs: Bridge (2:56) Living With The Big Lie (6:46) Godbye To All That (12:27) The Hollow Man (4:08) Alone Again Into The Lap Of Luxury (8:13) Paper Lies (5:48) Brave (7:56) Made Again (5:02)

*** star songs: Runaway (4:41) Hard As Love (6:42)

Report this review (#277052)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars After a long time of listening Fish's MARILLION and considering them a "B" class Prog band, I caught the flavour and started to respect more an more the band, but when I had converted into a fan, "Fish" left and the ghosts of the past (GENESIS) came floating around them.

From the first instant I suspected they would follow the path of GENESIS, but still hoped they would have a couple good albums like the Charterhouse School boys when Peter left, but I was wrong, in MARILLION the change was almost radical.

After the very decent "Season's End", everything was downhill, not that the guys became bad musicians, because you can't change from one album to another, but the music of "Holidays in Eden" was an absolutely dull mixture of AOR, Rock and Adult Contemporary.

At that moment I decided not to buy more "MARILLION" releases, but read so many good reviews of "Brave", that had to give it a chance, something I still regret.

"Bridge" works as an overture, it's almost an instrumental (the vocals really don't count), a bit experimental, but totally lack of appeal for me, seems that they had a good idea to start the track, but never were able to develop it and it's frustrating to notice how they don't know where to go. But when you believe can't get worst, the new singer "Steve Hogarth's" with a touch of late Phil Collins joins the disorder that leads nowhere.

"Living with a Big Lie" starts soft and boring, with a long intro that invites to sleep, but suddenly they the music goes in crescendo and leads to a strong but anodyne explosion of strength, just to fall again into the initial oblivion and explode again, but without any coherence or structure. All what they had achieved during the "Fish" years seems lost.

"Run Away" offers nothing new, the same feeling of emptiness invades me...Are this guys trying to play Prog, Pop or AOR? I simply don't know, for God's sake, when Mark Kelly and Steve Rothery add some power, "Hogarth" enters and takes it back to that tedious mood, at least the instrumental breaks are quite decent.

"Goodbye to all That" begins as a dull and anodyne ballad boring to an extreme, but hey, a radical change surprised me, while "Kelly", Trewavas", Rothery" and "Mosley" give their best, "Rothery" doesn't ruin it, it was about time this guys gave some signs of life. The quality is there but it's obvious "MARILLION" needs a leader capable of taking them at least near to what they did in their early years and "Hogarth" isn't him.

Hey is it "Hogarth" or a "Bon Jovi" wannabe trying to make th8is guys Rock? For God's sake, what a lack of originality, if it wasn't for the excellent organ this would sound like the music of "Young Guns II" (Blaze of Glory) but without the charisma of Bon Jovi. Even when not original, it sounds good, but Hogarth manages to pull back the band towards that depressive mood that by this point tempts the listener to blow his brains, a mood that becomes even darker and sad with the forgettable "Hollow Man", not recommended for Prozac patients, they make Kurt Cobain sound as the image of optimism.

"Lap of Luxury" again reminds me of "Bon Jovi", I'm sure the song pleases the crowd in each concert, but it's one of the most in transcendental songs I ever heard by this once great band. At least "Paper Lies" shows a band frying to Rock (if there's not a bit of Prog, they really need to Rock), but again they become predictable and boring

Well, it's time for "Brave", so we can expect for the best song to take the title of the album...But what? another anaesthetic song with absolutely no changes or interesting moments, hardly ever head a more soporiferous piece of music.

Well at last one good song, "The Great Escape" is not a masterpiece but at least "Hogarth" manages to add drama and emotion as never before, but the best is the instrumentation, this is the band that used to play with "Derek William Dick", the guitar solo by "Rothery is breathtaking, "The Great Escape" is the only song that saves the album from one star rating, because "Made Again" is decent but not enough to boost a rating.

The copy that I bought recently has a second CD of bonus tracks, but as usual I review an album as it was released originally.....................Two stars is the higher I can go.

Report this review (#289871)
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars I really don't get this band. Early on in their career, the keyboardist in my band would rave about these guys. We even played a cover of one of their songs. But to me they were, at the time, an imitation of the lesser moments of the best years of Genesis. I suppose you could have worse aspirations. Then thier singer left. I'm surprised their drummer didn't move into the role.

The music, for the most part, went downhill after the departure of Fish. But not so far down as Genesis. The majority of the songs on this album I would not classify as prog. It's more like arena rock. Well done arena rock, with some fair keyboard sections occasionally, but really nothing more. And Steve Hogarth's voice is oddly reminiscent of Supertramp's Roger Hodgson. Not that that's a bad thing.

The only exception is Goodbye To All That. At twelve and a half minutes, this piece actually has some inventive and interesting sections. But it doesn't save the album.

Report this review (#291341)
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't believe it's been 16 years since the release of "Brave". Marillion have always been to me exactly the same as any prog fan I suppose: one of the best prog band in the 80's and the leaders of the neo-prog movement. I have to admit I am a "Fish-type-of-fan", although it was with Hogarth when the Marillion sound evolved to a greater extent. No heretic opinion here: "Brave" is their best album with Hogarth and maybe one of the best 90's albums. The concept is solid and the emotional fluctuations throughout the album are magnificent. After the rather weak and directionless "Holidays In Eden", "Brave" came out of nowhere. The turning of style towards more esoteric and personal lyrics and music (which sometimes serves as a film soundtrack) are since identical elements of Marillion, which influenced great bands of today (Gazpacho immediately come to mind). "Brave" is a prog rock milestone. Favourite tracks: "Living With The Big Lie", "Runaway", "The Great Escape".
Report this review (#299466)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While the sound of this album is very good--very lush--and I very much prefer Steve Hogarth's voice to Fish's, but the story is lost on me (cuz I'm not a lyrics guy) and the music does not represent, to my mind, the emotional impact that the story is supposed to convey. I love the idea, but I don't feel it delivers. Still, this is probably my favorite Marillion album.

Favorite songs: "Bridge" (2:55) (10/10); "Brave" (7:56) (10/10); "The Great Escape" (6:30) (9/10); the first half of "Living the Big Lie" (6:46) (8/10); and "The Hollow Man" (4:10) (8/10). (I guess I like the slower, more melancholy side of Marillion and Hogarth.)

3.5 stars rated up for wonderful production and effort.

Report this review (#330958)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brave is a concept album that represents a return to a more proggy sound for Marillion (following the more rock-oriented Holidays in Eden). There are many reviews in these Archives that discuss the concept subject matter of alienation and suicide but this is not an "in your face" concept. The album can stand alone as a collection of thematically linked songs and I am certain many listeners would not know what the concept was.

In general the tracks have a more varied pace compared to previous outings with a lot of atmospheric interludes that allow some keyboard exploration (missing in Holidays in Eden) that build to faster crescendos. There are some great harder edge moments with great guitar solos and even some guitar/organ interplay which gives a 70's sound to some of the pieces for those of us who remember being there.

One disappointment is that the sound lacks some of the clarity of earlier releases although this may be corrected in the remastered CD (which I do not have) but this is also a production from the 90s when distorted sounds were common place.

50% of Progarchive reviewers have given Brave a 5 star rating. Although good I would not consider this as a 5 star masterpiece and it is definitely not essential. But it has enough good moments to make it an "Excellent addition".

4 stars.

Report this review (#358947)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The only other Marillion albums I've heard are Script For A Jester's Tear and Misplaced Childhood, their two most acclaimed on this website. Recently, I bought Brave and Clutching at Straws, and I've managed to listen to both several times. Of the two, one of the Fish-era and one H-era, this one takes the cake; in fact, this one trumps Script as well, and ties with Misplaced Childhood as my favorite album of theirs thus far. This album is wonderfully beautiful. It manages to captivate me, providing me with ethereal imagery of the concept itself. The music relates to the story, and Hogarth's vocals are very emotional, quite possibly as much as Fish's. I quite honestly prefer Hogarth's voice, but I still need some more of the band's 90s albums. The songs flow seamlessly, and they go rather quickly despite the length of some of them. Of course, when a 12 minute song goes by in what seems like 7 minutes, the material must be at the very least engrossing. In this case, it's exquisite.
Report this review (#379700)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm beginning to think that I like Marillion with Hogarth than Fish (please do not Thrash fans of Fish). This concept album, "Brave" is a thousand times better than "Script for a jester tear" and is along with "Misplaced childhood". The story of the album is dark, and its music in general also.The sound here is more symphonic and less neo-prog.

Best tracks here are the mini-epic "Goodbye to all that ", "Hard to Love " and "Alone again into the lap of luxury" (this is perhaps my favorite of all I've ever heard of Marillion), as they stand on the other (which are also good).

Overall this is a positive effort of the band, the reward for 18 months (!) labor to produce them.

Report this review (#396380)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars I had controversial feelings about Brave since when it was released. I 've been very conservative respect to CDs, but this was the first Marillion album with a length that made impossible a vinyl release, I think, so I had to buy it on CD and it has been one of my first CDs.

The previous two albums were transitional, collection of songs instead of concept albums like Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws (the second just based on a concept). Brave signs the return of Marillion to a full concept album.

The problem that I have with this album even after 17 years is that even if I like any single song I've been rarely able to listen to the whole album in one shot. "Living With The Big Lie" is an excellent song, for my tastes "Runaway" is even better, but since "Goodbye to All That" i start getting bored. The light-dark atmosphere is almost the same on all the songs and this is one of the problems.

Also Goodbye to All That is a good song taken alone. From a musical point of view it's fully in Marillion's style, I can imagine Fish singing it, but when it comes I'm already tired.

So what's the reason of my feelings? Probably exactly this. Those songs seems to have been written thinking to Fish and don't fit well with Hogarth's voice. If you think to the two previous albums, the best songs are those that seem written for/by Hogarth. It's like Marillion, maily Rothary and Trewavas have taken inspiration from Fugazi and Misplaced Childhood as can be clearly heard in the slow instrumental part in the middle of Goodbye to all that, even after Hogarth has whispered some phrases (that's why I consider this part instrumental).

Going ahead, the first album's song that I don't like is "Hard As Love". The chorus is nice and this song is good for Hogarth, but the stanzas are uselessly hard. So it's not question of singer, here. It's only a song not good as the previous, even in the slow part.

I find "The Hollow Man" a bit boring, even if also this song has some good moments. "The Lap Of Luxury" is totally borrowed from "The Last Straw", "Paper Lies" is nothing special to me, but in this case it may be my problem: getting bored before it's a song that I've listened to less times.

Well, the title track is fantastic, instead. I really like the pipes at the beginning, however also this song is good alone but when it arrives, close to the end of the album, it's too late for me.

The last two songs aren't bad but they don't give me any particular feeling.

I've been thinking to this album for a long time trying to decide if I like it or not. Basing on how often I listen to it I think the answer is the second. I'd like to round up its 2.5 stars to 3, but I want to be honest with myself. It's not poor, but you have to be a fan of this lineup to really appreciate it.

Report this review (#451739)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars I think that once Fish left, they should have changed their name to Ambien, because Steve Hogarth puts me to sleep. This album is SOOOO incredibly boring and dull and I can not get into to it, and its supposed to be best of the H albums. Today I tried, for the third time to get this album to click, but turned it off in the middle of the 7th song. I can not make it from beginning to end, no matter how hard I try.

You would think the whole band left when Fish did, since this sounds nothing like Fish-era. There's no energy, or charisma or balls. Its so bland, passive and wimpy. I seriously think I hate this album, but that is just my personal opinion. I know a lot of people love this album and I respect that. I just wish I could be one of them. I love Fish-era Marillion passionately and its a true Prog crime that he only had 4 albums with the band.

Report this review (#459219)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars About half a decade ago this website not only rejuvenated my dormant love for progressive rock but it also introduced bands unknown to me that were courageously carrying the prog banner proudly despite a total snubbing of their craft by the popular and effete media. One of the first groups that caught my eye (due to their high ranking) was Marillion but when I finally got and absorbed their heralded debut, 'Script for a Jester's Tear,' the album's amateurish drumming was, frankly, a turn-off. However, I didn't give up on them and I'm glad I didn't. 'Fugazi' (mainly due to Ian Mosley taking over on the tubs) was an improvement but both 'Misplaced Childhood' and 'Clutching at Straws' were 5-star records that knocked me completely out. I knew that if I went forward in their discography that I'd have to deal with Fish, their charismatic singer who played a major part in making those two albums extraordinary, being long gone and I therefore resisted collecting more of the band's catalogue due to fear that it would be a let down so I explored other groups instead. Recently I came into possession of 'Brave' and decided it was time at last to hear how the band had fared after the big man went solo. Seven years and two albums after Fish's departure seemed a long enough span for Marillion to have redefined themselves so I spun this disc from '94 with an unbiased, open mind. I suspected that, since four core members were still intact, they hadn't foolishly disowned nor abandoned their prog upbringing so the real test was whether or not Steve Hogarth could hold a candle to his predecessor.

The ominous opening to 'Bridge' gives the impression of approaching doom but then Mark Kelly's beautiful keyboards enter and all is well with the world. On 'Living With the Big Lie' I got my first taste of Steve's voice and his initial soft approach reassured me that they hadn't gone wildly radical when choosing a new front man. The band constructs a delicate background before Ian Mosley's drums burst in to make damn sure that I know without a doubt that it is, indeed, the mighty Marillion I'm listening to whether I miss Fish or not. Steve Rothery's guitar work is suitably menacing and it was good to hear that the group still paid attention to the crucial importance of a song's dynamics. Being a concept album I expected the lyric content to be vital and, while I consider the record's 'teen-in-trouble' premise to be anything but novel, I do find randomly scattered lines like 'The beauty of your mothers eyes/the pain when you fall/you drink it in and marvel at it all/but you never really figure it out/you get used to it,' above average. 'Runaway' is next and its subtle intro leads you into a very dramatic atmosphere that ebbs and flows. I appreciate the dense depth of field they erect behind Hogarth but the tune lacks that magic moment that could've pushed it over the top. Things get better on 'Goodbye to All That.' It's a more complex number that presents several intriguing musical aspects to be pondered. I'm particularly impressed with the excellent blend of keyboards, synths and guitars. The number's drifting, ethereal movement is wholly satisfying and they show true patience in letting the song build up gradually before dissolving to just vocal and piano and then climaxing with a grand finale.

'Hard as Love' is a bullish rocker fueled by Ian's punchy drums and an aggressive, almost Spinal Tap-ish countenance. The weak verses and chorus aren't that memorable and the latter going gets a little too frantic for my tastes but the lovely bridge section saves the track from overkill by providing a few seconds of needed perspective. I detect a heavy Peter Gabriel influence running through 'The Hollow Man' yet in this case it's a positive tint. I especially like that they kept the tune's arrangement simple and didn't try to make it more than what it is. A strong rock beat drives the beginning of 'Lap of Luxury' confidently but the slick Phil Collins vibe that Steve's singing drenches it with so dominates the tune's personality that it becomes too familiar in a negative way. The 2nd half of the song is a predictable, noisy descending chord pattern with a lot of fierce guitar riffs but I do like how it eventually levels out into a dream-like coda. 'Paper Lies' is another straight-ahead steamroller that causes me to ask aloud, 'Whatever happened to their penchant for odd time signatures?' The tune's best moments come when they veer from the formula crossover mindset and let their collective imagination steer things in more engaging directions. A cosmic segue takes you into 'Brave' and the remainder of the record is well worth the up and down journey involved in getting to this point.

An extended drone precedes Hogarth's penetrating vocal, preparing you for a song that transcends the norm. He delivers his best singing performance thus far; bolstered by the fact that here he doesn't remind me of anyone else at all. The track evolves gracefully, transporting me upward into a higher, hypnotic stratosphere and it reminds me of what I adored about this group. 'The Great Escape' is large-scale, towering symphonic prog rock that's deliciously cavernous and captivatingly massive. This is what I can't get from any other genre and when I hear it I relish it with fervor. My hat's off to Steve here because his voice meets with aplomb the challenge this demanding kind of material presents. It's the apex of the album due in no small part to its melodic structure and the exciting peaks and valleys they tightly traverse with ease. Rothery's Spanish guitar gives the closer, 'Made Again,' a fluid opening that I didn't anticipate. It's a pretty tune with a quiet, pensive aura and the words imply that the female protagonist has somehow gone to heaven or achieved enlightenment. 'Like a bright new morning/like a bright new day/I woke up from a deep sleep/I woke up from a bad dream/to a brand new morning/to a brand new day/like the whole world has been made again,' Hogarth croons. A crisp 12-string guitar then enters and takes over, filling up the spaces as the group expertly adds layer upon layer of rich sounds to fasten a classy ending on the project.

While 'Brave' didn't change how I feel about their Fish-era instances of brilliance that thrill me to this day, I will confirm my deeply-felt relief that Marillion proved themselves quite capable of maintaining their poise during the difficult post-Fish transition and reestablishing themselves as viable and worthy 21st century representatives of the progressive traditions they'd so valiantly upheld during the dark ages of the 80s and early 90s when prog was considered an out-dated pariah. Their dogged persistence has been an inspiration to proggers all over the planet and they deserve recognition accordingly. Plainly, 'Brave' is a fine record. Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#606500)
Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The monument...

Before I say anything more about this album, just let me say this: "Brave" is one of the best albums in the entire history of rock-music, a shimmering, disturbing, heart-wrenching dark diamond digging deep into the precipices of human existance, a "monster" screaming for empathy and, instead of it, merely finding walls on which to beat its head until it's red from its own blood, walls of society, walls of civilization, walls of religion and morality having long lost any purpose by not serving the human being as it is anymore, walls of sheer violence and ANGST, walls holding a family-facade that hides away the unbelievable, but, maybe most important, walls at the inside of a singled-out individual person in all its desperation and loneliness... into which it was thrown from its birth.... getting lies back for honesty given, getting abuse in return for faith and, though it's such a beast full of pain and desolation, it's an absolutely beautiful, stunning, breathtaking monument of faith... "Brave" is nothing less than a milestone that could not be equaled before and can't be equaled afterwards, and the band that gave it to us went out to their very edges of ability in order to complete it.

"It all began with the bright lights, the bright lights and the noise..."

Well, a lot has been said about it, so what am I supposed to add trying to give you a decent picture of the album ? I could re-write the story behind the album and its production... or copy & paste the words out of the concert-program I have purchased at the show in 1994... or take the liner-notes of the remastered limited edition for help. But I'm afraid that this wouldn't serve anybody cause best you can do is make up your own mind by simply listening... playing it loud ( in one go ), with the lights turned off... as the booklet says. But you should free yourself first. Free yourself of pre-conceptions and expectations though you can be damn sure that what you're going to hear is ( and sounds like ) Marillion and no one else.

No one else ? Well, to be fair, just like "Holidays in Eden" suffered from the "wrong producer" for most of the record, "Brave" benefits from a man who to 100% is the right one for this role, Dave Meegan. If you love it - and you're supposed to except you are deaf - you can only wonder how this man managed to make all those pieces fit so well without having gone completely crazy... cause every little bit he's done is just as important as the writing ( H with the aid of John Helmer once more ), composing, arranging, rehearsing and performing done by the musicians was. In order to get this monument together Meegan had to listen over and over again to enormous loads of material that had been recorded... and in compiling all the countless bits to this great, big whole he successfully followed the vision of their creators cause... he grew one with them emotionally. It's one thing to have a conceptional theme and the songs in an order that helps to make the point, but it's another to make the final result become as impressive as "Brave" is a statement of sheer musicality and potency. I'm sure that the making of this album soaked out the very last drop of energy its creators were able to give - just like "well, with Holidays we made an effort at serving the record-company's wishes and though we think it was worth the while it couldn't really satisfy us and our fans, now we'll be taking the other way, we'll have to give our all in order to create the best piece of art we are able to and we won't make any compromise for chart-buyers, it's all about the quality in the end and with quality we'll even convince the deaf that THIS is Marillion NOW and there's no need to wish back for a past no matter how good and successful it was !" And so the five guys and their best pick as a producer went out to rather kill themselves than deliver an album that does not prove it all... but damn, what went wrong when the CD went on sale ?

I remember 1994, working in that music store and selling loads and loads of the Pink Floyd's "Division Bell" while "Brave", no matter how much I've played it through our speakers or recommended it to the record-buyers, did not sell 5 percent of it. "This world is nuts... well, apart from me to never have been a big Floyd-Fan and apart from my new found passion for Marillion, it's still an injustice hard to face cause people ought to compare these albums... and anyone who needs and likes the Floyd's Bell should be happy that those masters of old were beaten on every degree by a band that has been more or less written off after their first leadsinger went solo !" You can't deny, "Brave" is progressive in the true sense of the word. It may even be too progressive to please conservative "prog-fans" cause it's blowing up dimensions - or, as a disappointed Genesis and Saga-Fan told me in his confusion ( after I had gifted him an MC ),: "It's all there... but it's not the same !" That's right. It's not the same... cause, be honest, why repeat the same and then call it progressive ? With "Brave", Marillion had found and defined a huge part of their very own identity, love it or hate it, but this is what PROG should be about and so my rating can't go anywhere below the 5 stars for an "essential masterpiece of progressive rock music", no, if there was a sixth star I'd give it immediately and tell anyone who calls this "dull" to go home and try German Schlager instead before ever demanding progression again. It's an insult, really, but not mine. I'm breathing "Brave", it's a part of my soul and ever since the first time I've heard it it became an essential part of my life. Pity on those who aren't able to share the experience. Pity on the record-buyers who in 1994 did not give the artists what they deserved. Pity on everyone who honestly prefers "The Division Bell". And hope for the future cause not so long ago there was a teenager coming up to me who saw my Brave-T-shirt and said: "You may not expect me to but I have heard this album and from everything I have heard of the past it belongs to the very best... nice to see someone with that T-Shirt". Given time... no matter how long it takes... this monument will be up where it belongs and the five guys of Marillion will be forever respected as masters of their art by a majority of music-lovers. But if you don't know it, I'm begging you for your own sake to not wait and add it to your collection. If you don't like it immediately just give it time then. It's better. Better than you can imagine and better than you think. It's unbeatable. It's an album for forever. It' s this world that is dull as long as it don't recognize... dull and guilty for human beings who see no other solution than this:

"Heading for the great escape, heading for the rave, heading for the permanent holiday...'

Take care to not become one of the hollow men... 'nuff said.

Report this review (#610444)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars With Brave, Hogarth-era Marillion finally hit its stride, producing its first masterpiece which is easily the peer of the very best Fish-era releases. Taking the iconic concept of exploring the pressures and trauma which lead a teenage girl to mutely contemplate suicide on the Severn Bridge, the band adopt what I would consider to be a true crossover prog sound, combining their progressive approach with a wider range of mainstream genres than the light indie pop which informed Holidays In Eden.

From the dance music rhythms which worm their way into the twisting, turning bad acid trip of Goodbye To All That, to Mark Kelly's organ line hidden within Hard as Love which lends a certain 60s vibe to the piece, to the mingling of New Age and mild folk influences on the title track, the album sees Marillion finally hit on their H-era sound: emotional in a confessional way as opposed to emotional in a theatrical way (which was the Fish-era approach), not afraid to include sounds from the retro to the utterly modern, and drawing on rock, pop, and other musical traditions to enrich and embellish the sound.

It's also structured remarkably well, with the somewhat lighter songs Hard As Love and Paper Lies helping the pacing by allowing the listener to take a breather after the emotionally raw material that precedes them. Lyrically, H and John Helmer pull no punches, masterfully evoking the confusion and hurt attendant with being a teenager and hinting at the abuses and mistreatment which makes it all too much for the story's protagonist. And it all comes together with the album's magical, moving, incredible closing movement - the rage-filled confrontation of The Last of You, the surrender of Falling From the Moon, and the blissful catharsis of Made Again.

It's down to the listener to decide exactly how the story has ended - on the vinyl version, the band included a clever double-track trick which meant that the album could end with just a bunch of water noises or play the redemptive Made Again, but I actually think there's plenty of intriguing room for interpretation in the regular CD track listing. Our heroine has been "made again" and feels able to face the world anew, but what form did this take? Did she find religion, a political cause, a new favourite band? Did she meet a new friend, a new lover, a sympathetic therapist, or a kind mentor who helped her work through her issues? Is she essentially singing to herself in praise of the inner strength she found to choose life? Has she in fact died and entered a better state of being, or been reincarnated into a new life wiser for the lessons of her previous one? Was she saved by someone's intervention on the bridge, or was it the recollection of some kindness in her past which helped her see the world in a new way?

You could, conceivably, come up with a different answer every time you listen to the album, which is the beauty of it: the narrative structure is strong enough to figure out in general terms what the deal is, but there are enough ambiguities (what stops her jumping, does she in fact jump after all, who's this bastard who's caused her so much misery and what exactly did he do, etc.) that each listen-through opens up new possibilities in the story - just as each repeated listen reveals new secrets and influences and embellishments in the music.

I think it's one of the greatest achievements in progressive rock.

Report this review (#613085)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I labored over the star rating for "Brave" for a while, because I can't consider it the masterpiece that many of the other reviewers on this site do. It takes a whole lot to earn your five stars in my opinion, and Marillion is not one of the few bands who does if for me. I do agree that "Brave" is one of Marillion's finest, so my rating for it is four stars.

The concept for this concept album has been covered by other reviewers, so I don't think I need to describe it. I do think that it is a good idea for an album. I assume that Hogarth, being the vocalist, is primarily responsible for the idea. He has taken a small news item, and imagined interesting songs using it as a starting point. I prefer Hogarth's lyrics over Fish's. Hogarth's lyrics seem less self-referential and allegorical than Fish's. And I studied English in college!

Now some words about the songs themselves. My favorites come primarily from the middle of the album - Hard as Love, The Hollow Men, Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury, etc. These songs all have strong melodies, which is why Marillion is a better band than most of the groups in the genre. Goodbye to All That is just a little too long for my tastes.

I really like the way the orchestral instruments - the cellos, flutes, and Uillean pipes - are used on this album. My biggest complaint about "Brave" is a lack of emotional variety. The story, which is melancholic by nature, is partially responsible. If the songwriting and variety aren't quite up to the level of a few of Marillion's releases, this is still a fine album.

Report this review (#985567)
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the "pop" music flavored previous album released by Marillion (Holidays in Eden) I really didn't know whether this album would impress me much. The fact that this is a concept album drew me to it and I hoped that it would be a return to form for the band regarding their progressive side.

The music starts off almost ominously and immediately I'm drawn in. By the end of the second track - "Living with the Big Lie" - I'm impressed. Thus far the music has been an emotional ride vectoring on the depressive and has an incredibly sad undertone to it. "Runaway" continues the mood nicely although it is a little more lighthearted in structure compared to the previous two tracks. The keyboards seem a little more dominant on this album than on previous albums and I'm impressed with Trewavas on bass. "Goodbye to all That" livens proceedings up to start with before taking the music back into emotive, depressive, territory - it does go on a little too long in its meandering. At this point I'm looking for a track to lighten the mood a little and I get it in the form of "Hard as Love" which is a rocking track until it mellows out towards the third of the track mark. It does flesh out once again, thankfully as the next track leads back into sad, depressive, territory. "The Hollow Man" is the album highlight thus far of the album, for me. "Alone again into the The Lap of Luxury" brightens the musical mood although it does go on longer than it should in my opinion. "Paper Lies" keeps the mood brighter in "rock out" territory. "Brave" is an anguished, mood, track. "The Great Escape" continues the anguished mood. That for me is becoming a problem with the album thus far - it doesn't damn well let up. It's like forcedly running a long way where there are second wind breathers for a time but then the run has to go go on. The Rothery lead toward the end of the track serves as a drink of cool water along the way. "Made Again" is a gentle lighthearted closer to the album and to the story.

The bonus tracks on the bonus CD (1998 release) as a whole, to me, are better than the album so I would say that the 1998 release is a must. Perhaps my reasoning for that is that the bonus cd is more lighthearted than the main body of the album itself which I found to be a trip into heavy depression country. The album is very dark and if one is suicidal to start with and is on the point of committing the ultimate end act then I would say do not listen to it under any circumstances. I'm torn on how to rate the album as although I liked it for the main part it isn't an album that I would want to spend a lot of time with aside for the occasional listen. I would have given this a three rating however because of the bonus cd which I enjoy a great deal I feel comfortable with a four.

Report this review (#1005095)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars More of an exercise in hypnosis than an album. Possibly the most boring, unrewarding, tiresome album ever to be called a classic.

Once the closest thing to the "bad-boys" of prog, I always greatly appreciated Fish-era Marillion for their brutal portrayal of indulgences, unashamed poetry, and hugely colorful neo-prog sound. All that is gone with this album.

This is album is the auditory equivalent of being chloroformed. Instead of the Fish-era edginess, we get dialed back new-age music that tries to be mature or adult, but falls flat due to H's mediocre lyrics. You will actually have to twist your stereo's volume knob to the maximum just to hear most this album, only to have to race over and turn it down when the band actually plays a loud part. And these "loud" parts are not any less boring, because the band refuses to play anything above 60 beats per minute here and can't seem to write a hook to save their lives.

While early Marillion was classified by awesome new-age production, a crazy assortment of synthesizers, punchy bass and live-sounding drums, this album is classified by lacking all of those elements. The music here simply never does anything interesting. Slow, monotonous, washed out, quiet, while never actually being actively terrible. In fact, the only thing saving from a one-star review is that its to boring to even offend me. Just completely unstimulating.

Too slow and quiet to rock, too devoid of hooks to be memorable, too long to endure. The music here is not the least bit progressive or fun. At best it might make background music, if you can actually hear the blasted thing, quiet as it is. Not recommended for anything other than a sleeping aid.

However, if you're the kind of person who enjoys overlong, melancholy, unvarying drones of pure drabness (see: Night by GAZPACHO), you'll love this one!


Report this review (#1168595)
Posted Thursday, May 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brave is an album that I've come to love over time. My first experience with Marillion after Fish's departure, this album was certainly quite an experience when I first got it, but it took several listens and quite a bit of time to actually sink itself in.

A concept album, Brave has a brilliant cohesiveness to it; however, that's not to say that the songwriting is not diverse or interesting. While some may find the album to be somewhat boring and directionless, I've come to appreciate nearly every song on here, and some of them are simply breathtaking and beautiful. Highlights, to me, are the songs Runaway, Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury, the beautiful title track, and The Great Escape. The rest of the album holds its weight as well, though.

Brave is a beautiful album and a great addition to Marillion's discography.

Report this review (#1285922)
Posted Monday, September 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am/was a huge fan of Fish-era Marillion and Brave was the first post-Fish Marillian purchase I made shortly after its release. Although I quite enjoy a lot of Hogarth-era Marillion, despite some twenty years of trying I've never managed to get into this album. For me 'Runaway' is the stand-out track, with the brooding Rothery guitar motif capturing the melancholy desperation of the album's central character coupled with the best Hogarth vocal/lyric of the album. Other songs have their moments, but on the whole this is an album that fails to grip. The album has a kind of 'play for today' feel as cliches about troubled kids are trotted out one by one. Check out Bowie's 'Because You're Young' for how these themes can be tackled with real depth and nuance.
Report this review (#1386015)
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2015 | Review Permalink
2 stars Being such a Genesis fan, I decided to give several Marillion albums a listen after reading all the comparisons with the former band. I know those comparisons mostly extend to the Fish-era albums, but after leaving those albums disappointed, I figured I'd give H a chance. I decided to stick to his two highest rated albums which includes this album and Marbles. I gotta say, what a disappointment and believe me, I tried. I first listened to this album about a year ago when I was listening to Marillion for about a month. I gave them such a chance because 1) they are inspired by Genesis 2) they have a serious following who will pre-purchase their albums before they're made, travel around the world to spend a weekend with their group, and fund their tours and still pay for the tickets. Anyways, onto the actual album. Well, I decided to give this album one last chance today, as well as the band. The only thing prog about this album seems to be the concept. This is a story about a girl who has all these issues and gradually becomes more suicidal until she ends it (or not, depending on how you interpret it). Anyways, Marillion has always been one downer of a band. I mean, just look at all their album cover art. I mean it is all dark. I don't particularly like dark music, but hey, I enjoy my VDGG every now and then so why not Marillion. Well, this album is plain boring. Apparently the band thinks it is best to listen to this in a room with the lights off and headphones on? Sheesh, how can I stay awake? Hogarth is a competent singer, he certainly isn't bad but his vocals aren't very striking either. Sometimes I tune his vocals out without even trying and I still haven't quite followed the story either because it is a struggle to say focused on the album and the lyrics Hogarth sings. I'll listen to this and start doing something and then I'm on the 5th track and I wonder what happened to the three in between. The band switches between soft moments with minimalistic guitar noises and ambience to hard rocking tunes and then back to soft then hard. I forget about the soft moments and then the hard rocking moments help remind that the album is still on like the track "Hard as Love." The problem is that even these hard bits still bore and do nothing for me. Hogarth also sounds rather depressed throughout the album. Their is very little changes in anything and I can't tell when a song ends and the other begins. While Fish-era albums relied on complex time signatures, Hogarth-era albums have gone the "less is more" route. Most of these songs are simple pop songs and little changes, and none of the songs are truly catchy or memorable. This is just the same old, life can suck that this bands seems to like to stress. And that is the biggest problem I have with this album and the band, I have very little fun listening to them, and I sometimes wonder if it can be all that fun singing about such dark topics? for every single song.
Report this review (#1588400)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2016 | Review Permalink

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