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AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT

Marillion

Neo-Prog


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maani
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4 stars Although Brave is Marillion's tour-de-force, Afraid of Sunlight has some of its most fabulous compositions and arrangements, and some of Hogarth's best vocal work. Gazpacho opens the album in grand style, moving quickly into the Beach-Boys-on-acid Cannibal Surf Babe. Beautiful is just that: one of the most moving ballads in prog-rock, and an easy match for any of Genesis' ballads. Both versions of Afraid of Sunrise are haunting, with the rockier one being slightly better. In all senses, this is one of Marillion's best overall, and a must-have for prog-rock fans.

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#12323)
Posted Tuesday, January 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
lemmens.paul@
4 stars What can you do after a brilliant project like the BRAVE album? Well, Afraid of Sunlight is a solid album with numerous highlights. Beautiful, Afraid of Sunlights, Out of this world and Beyond you are very listenable and relaxing songs with create a pleasant atmosphere while listening. King is also a brilliant Marillion song, which ends the album with a really rocking. Personnaly KING is my favourite on this album. After BRAVE the best of the rest in the Hogarth period at Marillion. If you like SEASONS END, than you should buy this album/cd as well.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#12324)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
2 stars Did I miss something here? As I read the other reviews on this album we must not have heard the same album . For me only the King track stops this from sinking as I could hardly listen to the rest . I will give another listen to this if someday my busy schedule allows it. Needless to say that according to my memories from it , this is not a priority, though!

Best avoided.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#12326)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars For me, "Afraid of sunlight" is probably the best of the post Fish Marillion releases.

All the tracks here are melodic, well written, and beautifully produced. The sound is much softer than the Fish era, and even that of the early Hogarth era albums. The title track is the best of the lot being a soft verse, loud chorus song with an awesome keyboards section, including bass notes to shiver your timbers . The song finds the band back on their ecological bandwagon, along the lines of "Season's end", with which the track has a fair bit in common.

"Cannibal surf babe" is a Beach Boys inspired (almost) pop song, which endeavours to show that Marillion do in fact have a sense of humour. It's certainly a well constructed parody, complete with subtle vocal harmonies. "Beautiful" is descriptive both of itself and of the following "Afraid of sunrise". The latter is a fragile piece with a similar theme and structure to the title track, for which it is virtually a guide vocal.

Two of the tracks are about people who died before they should have. "Out of this world" pays tribute to Donald Campbell who died attempting to beat the world water speed record, while "King" is (obviously) about Elvis. Both are sympathetically written, and musically superb, with Hogarth in particular contributing heartfelt vocals.

An inspired album which deserved a far greater audience than it ultimately gained.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#12330)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is the kind of album you will get to love and yet you will get to hate too. Through "Afraid of Sunlight" we can perceive that at the time Steve HOGARTH wrote most of the lyrics for this album (John HELMER wrote some of them too), he could've been in the middle of a feelings crossroad and got himself caught in the eye of the hurricane, and that we can confirm in such cheesy yet irreverent lyrics in songs such as "Beautiful", "Beyond You" and "Afraid of Sunlight" itself. That you can explain, but I think the rest of this record is plagued of vague "cutting edge" musical experiments beyond what we could've expected from Steve back then when he gave the prog world fine, polished works like "Season's End" or "Holidays In Eden".

This is one of a kind album, one of those MARILLION records you can completely dedicate to a chick you're endlessly in love with or it could be useful to give it to listen to a friend that's got nothing to do with prog rock and stereotype this genre whatsoever and never want to listen to anything related to it again.

To sum it up, listen to this album at your own risk whether you're a MARILLION fan so you can understand the real meaning and intention of its creation in the depths of it, or not, so you can realize that progressive rock could be ungrateful and inexplicable sometimes but you never gotta give up listening to it. Corny, outrageous, unpredictable, boring, outstanding, French speaking preludes to "Beautiful" and last but not least important, cover photography by Paul COX.

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Send comments to The Prognaut (BETA) | Report this review (#12331)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was the best record of Marillion... until Marbles appeared. This is a very strong effort, considering EMI was about to drop them and been threatened to create a commercial album (that didn't happened, but they created a very good single), however, the album features very deep ambient sound with great straight-forward rhythms. They're right to mention that producer Dave Meegan forced them to compose and jam a lot, leaving him the job of choosing the songs to the final stage, beacuse they trusted his 6th sense, and his great ear. So, the record shows a matturity never achieved by the band, with a very tight and impressive timing, with continous music from start to end. Actually, they crafted their most famous pop song in here: BEAUTIFUL, and the most complex of all: KING, leading the listener into a rollercoaster of emotions. Ths best song without a doubt is AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT, with so many textures and colors. This is a record to be aware of how a great band can create a marvellous album when everything else looked lost.

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Send comments to arqwave (BETA) | Report this review (#12333)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
marty adshead
4 stars I found there was a huge gap between this album and the release of Marbles,meaning since Marbles appeared,Afraid of sunlight was (to me) the last great Marillion album. I remember first ever hearing it when it was released back in 1995,and to be honest,at first i couldn't really get on with it,though after certain parts of certain songs,i knew deep down that this would be an album worth playng again,so i did,and began to enjoy,really enjoy,apart from the track "Cannibal surf babe",though i will forgive them for that!!!. Anyway,this album is one that contains music and lyrics that could easily make me want to cry,and for something that can move me so emmotionaly is going to take some beating.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#12315)
Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
vladimir.leks
4 stars Let me make some philosophy which occurs to me as I was listening to this album. I like life and all living beings. And some Music is also alive even after centuries. And I like as well some rock Music of groups who are changing, differentiating, evolving, maturing, simply living. You can see it in Yes, who has made the great saga of great music with musicians parting and departing; you can see it in Genesis, who in ten years had made enormous opuses of absolute art, but later on they had developed in the other direction, not bad at all; you can see it in Rush, who just in three are still doing the magnificient works after one another of the profound musical and philosophical depth; you can follow it in the unbelieveble history of the artist Peter Hammill; and of course many others. As well as Marillion. I realized such the story of this group on listening this album. When they started as a young very talented group, they were full of naughty angry emotions as all young people are. Then the crisis had come, two instead of one journeys had come and they started to mature. They had lost their wrath and found sorrow. As all people who have just matured and become adult. And afterwards they have followed faith and happiness in it as all people should do to be really happy. And allways along this journey they have made great Music (as well as Fish has done in parallel). And I think that this album is the beginning of their happy adult period full of faith that we must be beautiful. And the serie from Beautiful through Afraid of sunrise and Out of this world to the Afraid of sunlight is in fact beautiful.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#12316)
Posted Friday, April 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Marillion - Afraid of Sunlight

This album more or less consists of leftovers from their previous masterpiece Brave. In that way, that the album was knocked out and only released within a few months after Brave. It's a bit conceptual, as is Brave, and it deals with fame and the demise that follows upon that fame.

The album's first track is the song Gazpacho, the song is about a boxer (forgot his name right now) who supposed to hurt his wife. The name of the song refers to domestic violence and the fact that Hogarth (marillion's singer) connects spilt gazpacho soup (which is red) with blood on the woman's clothing from the wounds caused by the beating by her husband. The song starts with an announcement at the beginning of a boxing match, this really sets the mood for me. The song takes us through various moods. It starts of quite happy but during the song the atmosphere kind of changes and at the end it's all very dark with sound samples of helicopters and comments by a reporter on a car chasing. There isn't a single outstanding member of the band on this song (neither is on the whole album) but I always found that Hogarth's vocals are very good.

The album's second song is called Cannibal Surf Babe and is actually a parody on the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. When I first heard the song I really found it very annoying, but after hearing it a couple of times I really began enjoying listening to it. It's a nice upbeat song with some typical Beach Boys-like synthesizer sounds. The connection between the music and Beach Boys front man Brian Wilson is even made more clearly in the lyrics where Hogarth sings about him in the chorus. The song has nice groovy bass lines and the spooky sounding keyboards are something I'm very fond of.

Beautiful is a wonderful ballad about the fact that everyone is beautiful etc etc. I know not so original since almost every pop artist has about the same lyrics, but still it's a nice tune, a bit too long at more than 5 minutes, but not bad.

Afraid of Sunrise is an acoustic piece which I quite like, but hardly ever listen to. Halfway through there's a nice change of atmosphere for about half a minute, it gets 'darker' than. I really dig that part of the track.

Out of this World is one of my favourite Marillion songs. It's about Donald Campbell, a man who tried to break the world speed record on water, but sadly crashed while making an attempt and died because of that. The song is very dark and definitely one of the darkest Marillion songs up to this moment. The song's intro is superb. It starts with very low and dramatic keyboard sounds accompanied by effected guitar licks. Hogarth's vocals really blend in with this dark atmosphere. After about 2 minutes in there is a bit of a breakdown, but not such a breakdown that tends to lose your attention. Then an amazing, but very slow, guitar solo kicks off, which is one of my favourites. After the solo finishes, it is directly followed by a beautiful part which has the dark atmosphere but also has very nice piano on the foreground. Hogarth sings one of his best parts in Marillion history I think. "What did she say? I know the pain. etc, etc". After 5 minutes the song's first half ends and the second half starts. This half consists of mainly very dark synthesizer sounds together with radio samples of Donald Campbell's last words before he crashed. Hogarth sings another part with a very nice but haunting voice.

Afraid of Sunrise's twin Afraid of Sunlight has a couple of lyrics which are identical to Afraid of Sunrise. The chorus is almost identical, but it's sung in a totally different way and features two extra lines. Where its counterpart was a quite acoustic piece, this is a up-tempo rock ballad. Hogarth - again - is well present and that's a positive thing on this cd. There's a bit a lack of Steven Rothery's guitar, but he fills this lack up towards the end of the song with a nice, but very brief, guitar solo. My favourite part of the song is where the vocal melody is taken over by Mark Kelly's keyboard.

The next song is Beyond you. This is a very romantic and emotional song. It took me a while to actually like it, but when the song really touched me, I really loved it to pieces. This isn't a song I can tell much about, it's more an experience.

The closing track King is - I guess - about Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley. It's one of Marillion's most agressive songs and a real killer when played live. It starts with an amazing guitarlicks which only last about 5 seconds and then we hear a lot of radio samples about the death of Elvis the KING and other well known persons that in a while became a victim of their own succes. The verses in this song are all very quiet and accompanied by a very subtile and simple guitar chord. But when the verses end there are these amazingly heavy outbursts. The first one consists of a very nice synthesizer parts with in the background heavy guitar riffs. The second one consists of a highly energetic and aggressive sounding guitarsolo. 3/4 in the song the song stops and quietly begins to build-up again with all instruments quietly coming in to the picture again, resulting in an amazingly heavy climax to this already amazing album. When hearing this song live the amps are definitely wide open. The abrupt ending of the song really gives you shivers.

The Afraid of Sunlight album as a whole is maybe Marillion's most coherent album up to now. It has it all, the emotions, the complexity, the great lyrics, nice instrumentation and nice ambiences. I always like to recommend it to people who are new to Marillion, since it's quite easy accessible, but is also very representative for their music.

I'm giving it 4 stars because it is not as good as Brave -which I gave a 5 stars rating - but really, believe me, buying this one won't disappoint.

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Send comments to Tristan Mulders (BETA) | Report this review (#37767)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "How long can you stand? Living under the lens. The kiss of success The ensuing, all consuming, mess ." - Marillion "King"

Thanks God for showing me the hill and helping me widen my mind to fully enjoy the music of Marillion regardless who is the singer. Oh yes, the fact is that the band has already in my life since their "So here I am once more" thing was first released in 1983 and since then they had influenced me in my personal as well as professional life. Yes, they are my hero. Their music has sparked the lights and energy for my day-to-day activities. Credits should also go to my prog mates George Surjopurnomo and Adler Siahaan (Icann). Why? George helped open the gate in my mind in accepting any forms of music marillion is offering. I know that George was a die-hard fan of early Marillion and he is also member of the Front-Row Club (Marillion fans club). He simply said to me (during our prog dinner in Bakmi Kuningan two years ago, approx.) : "Put it this way, Gatot. We have already been "in" with their music. So, why not stay? Let's support the band.". Icann gave me advise: "Don't let your ego drive the musicians, let the musicians' ego drive you and enjoy the music!". What a wise word man!

So, let's talk our business now: to review this album. I purchased this CD sometime in 2000 because there was a small CD store that was about to close. So they put their CDs on sale. I paid only USD 6 for the single CD version. It was just for memorabilia for me because I did not open the plastic cover for a long time. I started enjoying their music by a new paradigm: just enjoy the music and don' compare it with others first. How do I feel. It's a good stuff. Hogarth's singing is terrific for this kind of music. Sometime in 2003, my prog-mate Rikon advised me that I should by the remaster version with 2 CD and 24-bit recording technology because there is an excellent track "Mirages" at disc two. I did. So my review is based on the remaster version.

The Album

The album opener "Gazpacho" (7:28) is medium tempo music with a straight forward structure. The combination of guitar work and inventive bass lines is excellent. This opening part is, I think, Pete Trewavas and Hogarth territory. Oh yes, Hogarth's voice is powerful here. Similarity-wise, this track is comparable with IQ music only that the vocal timbre between Hogarth and Peter Nicholls is really different. Title wise, this track has inspired the name of Marillion-influenced band from Norway: GAZPACHO. The other noticeable work is Ian Mosley dynamic drumming and symphonic keyboard work by Mark Kelly. "Cannibal Surf Babe" (5:46) is a happier track in terms of tempo compared to opening track. Again, Mr. Trewavas plays his bass guitar excellently here combined with keyboard. The song flows smoothly with relatively no tempo changes or with little variations. But it's still a good track.

"Beautiful" (5:13) is a very melancholic tune with touchy melody in a tempo which much slower than previous two tracks. The opening simple guitar work and its accompanying music sets an excellent entrance of Hogarth voice: "Everybody knows we live in a world where they give bad names to beautiful things .". Oh man . what a great entry here! The song moves nicely with excellent melody and the climax is when the lyrical part says "And the leaves turn from red to brown .". The next track "Afraid of Sunrise" (5:02) is to me like a ballad with an acoustic guitar based music in an unplugged style. The guitar and keyboard work in the middle of the track is very good. "Out of This World" (7:55) is a mellow track with an excellent melody. Hogarth seems really enjoy singing this track because it sounds like he sings through his heart. I also enjoy the guitar solo by Steve Rothery - it's so stunning!

"Afraid of Sunlight" (6:50) is in the same vein with the other "Afraid" but it's a bit different and again, I can see the voice quality delivered by Mr. Hogarth. "Beyond You" (6:11) continues the music in similar style. Individually, it's a good song, but as this track is positioned here - I can feel a sense of boring when it reaches this point. Lucky that at the end of the album the band offers a really excellent track that has become my favorite, i.e. "King" (7:04). It starts melodically with a combination of keyboard and guitar followed with a sudden break exploring people crowd. Hogarth voice enters softly: "How long can you stand. Tightening up. Avoiding the fight". It's a wonderful opening. At the end of first lyrical verse when Hogarth sings "I hope for your sake . Something gets in the way " and the music blasts in a rocking style with great keyboard and drumming. The melody of this song is really excellent. The song combines high and low points with tempo changes and transition in quieter passages. It's a wonderfully crafted composition that I have to admit.

Overall, even though I prefer "Brave" but this album deserves four stars rating: an excellent addition to any prog music collection. I recommend you to purchase the remaster edition as disc two contains previously unreleased tracks including an excellent one: "Mirages". Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#40763)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
marillionlive
5 stars This album is one of the most underrated ever recorded! It is almost criminal that it was not a big seller.

By Marillion's standard, this was a rush release! EMI were so disapointed by the sales of Brave that the band were under a lot of pressure not to spend years and money making this one. It turned out to be a real surprise. Better than Brave IMO, this album seems to be the most rounded of all Marillions releases.

Containing beautiful sounscapes, the songs just seem to flow naturally into each other. The only song on here that seems to buck the trend is Cannibal Surf Babe (which many fans hate!) but it is a lot of fun with a dark lyric and has become a great live song!

The rest is just excellent vintage Marillion- Gazpacho, Beautifuil, Afraid of Sunrise, Out of this World, Afraid of Sunlight, Beyond You and King. I can't recommend it highly enough!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#41379)
Posted Wednesday, August 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
Fishy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Back in 1995, this album surprised me as being a decent and very enjoyable Marillion- album released only a year after the release of the previous album. "Brave" was a good attempt to re-visit musical adventurous territories but the album surely had some flaws as some parts clearly lacked inspiration. "Afraid of sunlight" is better, the melodies are more enjoyable, the compositions are solid and the keyboard parts have regained their substantial part in the sound of the band. This is a bit of a concept album but not in the traditional sense. There's some general idea's throughout the whole album and the lyric on every track shows another aspect of life that has something to do with the consequences of being a star like Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain or Brian Wilson but the songs stand pretty much on their own. On several points there seems to be excerpts from news bulletins which should give you a clue about the main characters who found themselves in the situation which the lyrics of this album try to describe. From a lyrical point of view there seems to be some references to an album like "Clutching at straws" where Fish also sings about the miserable lives of some great stars. Lyrically the opening track "Gazpacho" is the perfect opener. This is a traditional Marillion track that musically could also have been included on an album like "Seasons end". Same thing 'bout "Beautiful", a calm song with a simple, yet enjoyable, melody. No wonder this was released as a single. "Cannibal surf babe" must be the strangest song the band ever recorded. Kind of a mixture of prog, surf and grunge. This is quite an original song which I personally like a lot but it sounds totally different when compared to the rest of the tracks and I know some fans hate it. If this was an lp format I would especially recommend the B side. From "out of this world" on, musical greatness is beginning to show. Not much uplifting stuff tough and maybe this is the reason why I rarely give the album a spin during the last couple of years. The mood of the music must have been affected by the way Steve Hogarth felt at the time : miserable and confused after being used by the business. "Out of this world" is a great song, really old school Marillion stuff : paralysing keyboard driven atmospheres, delicate percussion, the traditional guitar solo interrupting on the right moment and a sad sounding Hogarth on top of all this. Especially the ending part is reminiscent to "Misplaced childhood but the atmosphere also has some new age elements. The chorus of "Afraid of sunlight" sounds dramatic. The music is highly symphonic, the arrangements delicate and once again, the vocal lines and lyrics are sounding sad but very romantic. A brilliant, moving track which deserves to be the title track. When you thought you had the most depressing track, the mood turns out to be even more sombre in "Beyond you". A very beautiful track with multi-coloured keyboard sounds. Here the band sounds a bit like TalkTalk mainly due to the wonderful vocal parts but on the whole "Marbles" comes to mind the most. "King" is the absolute highlight of the album. Here the influences of grunge are obvious which is noticeable by the meaty and rough guitar sounds. Soon this turns out to be another sad song. The quiet intimacy of Hogarths voice on top of a piano parts are combined to majestic outbursts including violent guitar riffs and timeless organ sounds. The musical climax at the end seems somewhat reminiscent to the instrumental part at the end of "Starship Trooper" from Yes but only more heavy.

Musically this album re-established the band as one of the leading bands of progressive rock in the first half of the nineties. I always have the feeling this album wasn't promoted proper when it was released otherwise it would have sold a lot better than it actually did. This album has everything a prog lover needs. Ten years after this has been released it doesn't sound dated at all, only timeless. No wonder the band still played this album as a whole on a gig which took place not very long ago. Although both music and arrangements are most interesting, the vocals are definitely dominant and you won't find any real instrumental excerpt without vocals. Especially the second part of the album is only suitable for playing when the listener is not feeling very well emotionally. For other occasions the complaining vocals full of sorrow may just be too much.

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Send comments to Fishy (BETA) | Report this review (#52684)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For me, Marillion is one of the more powerful bands in not only the progressive genre, but in music as a whole. All 5 members are so brilliant in their craft, that when it comes together what you have is a truly special blend of pure sonic energy, beauty, and music on a much higher plain than most music out there.

Afraid Of Sunlight is a prime example how Marillion can tightrope between pure sonic power, and shear beauty. Even the more subdued songs have an underlying element that hits you at your core just as much (if not more) as their more up tempo songs. The title track not only has some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard, but arguably Hogarth's best vocal performances (and this disc is a vocal clinic put on by H). These factors and the stunning performances of Kelly, Trewavas, Rothery, and Mosley combined gives me gooseflesh from "Gazpacho" to the explosive finale of "King".

Brave barely edges AoS as my favorite Marillion album. Like it's predecessor, AoS constantly stirs the soul and whisks you away on a journey of the spirit. It's music like this that makes me feel sorry for those who either don't "get it", or haven't been introduced to it. My the music of Marillion endure. Brilliant job, Boys.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#69973)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars My favourite album from one of my favourite bands...

"Afraid of Sunlight" is a two faced album... Here we can find songs with a great charge of melancholy, like Out of This World, KIng and Beyond You. And another songs, like Gazpacho, Beautiful and Cannibal Surf Babe are more possitive songs, with a happy feeling. This thing gives a great variety and contrasts to this album. In this aspect is similar to "Brave", but short songs oriented... Most of Marillion albums don't have so strong diversity (although all albums from the Hogarth era are very variated), and this is one of the things I like most of "Afraid of Sunlight"...

But the most important thing: of course, the songs...

Gazpacho: the best Pete Trewava's bass lines I've heard. The lyrics are really good too, with a passionate vision of the boxer Jake LaMotta. Catchy and beautiful chorus, great instrumental developement in the bridge with an adecuated change of mood, good guitar solo... Yes, this is the perfect Marillion's song.

Cannibal Surf Babe: the strangest song from the album. A Beach Boys oriented tune. Maybe doesn't fit very well with the rest of the songs, but It's a funny track with funny lyrics. And its quality can't not be denied too... Not a bad song, but a little out of place. Nevertheless, this strange ending in french strangely remerbers my to "Brave"...

Beautiful: the best Marillion's ballad. Very commercial, but great. Maybe the most beautiful lyrics by Mr.H. And his singing here comes directly from the heart... I can't understand why a song like this didn't became a hit in the radio stations... Awesome guitar tune at the beginning too.

Afraid of Sunrise: soft track, with a good variation fo the Afraid of Sunlight's melody... Pretty good, and a nice interlude between Beautiful and Out of this World. Not the best of the album, but still a good transition song.

Out of this World: a Marillion's live classic. Very interesting song, with a kind of depressive feeling that fits very well with the lyrics. The dissonant guitar chords of the beginning are a strange beginning, but when you hear the whole song and understand the lyrics, they make sense... Very good Mark Kelly work in this song, and a typical Marillion's trademark ending.

Afraid of Sunlight: very, very beautiful. The beginning, united with the end of Out of This World is just anthologic. Great Chorus, marvellous instrumental interlude... One of the highlights of the album.

Beyond You: I just love this song. The lyrics are sad and romantic at the same time. When the verses break in the part of... "I'm not much of a Man, but I know how a man..." is just incredible. Awesome track, but underrated.

King: one of the most powerful Marillion's song. Epic feeling, great piano interlude, desperate lyrics... Another killer track from this album and one of the best from Marillion too.

What more can I say? Although I love Marillion, I consider that they are a little irregular in their albums... For that, "Afraid of Sunlight" is the best Marillion album in my opinion from the Steve Hogarth's era, because I like every track included here. And Gazpacho, Beautiful, Out of this World, Afraid of Sunlight, Beyond You and King are just amazing songs. 8 songs, 6 of which are great, and the other 2 are pretty enjoyable too. Conclusion... Masterpiece.

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#73605)
Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Among progressive bands out there, there is a high percentage who have made good or even great progressive albums. There is a smaller percentage who have made an album so good that it is considered their seminal work, it defines their sound as a band. And there is a real small percentage who have made an album that the progressive community considers to be a masterpiece of the genre.

But there is a much tinier percentage of progressive bands who have made an album of such quality that it goes beyond anything they've done before or after, a work where they truly transcend themselves and even the progressive genre. It may not rank as their most popular or most classic work, but it is, by definition, their best.

For Marillion, that album is Afraid of Sunlight.

Everything about the album, speaking in musical, lyrical and sonic terms, surpassed all of their previous work, and they have not reached that far or that high on any album since (though they came very very close with This Strange Engine's "Estonia"). Some people complain that the album doesn't sound like them, which isn't a complete misperception. But to me, it's more like they've taken their sound and style and extended and expanded it, to the point where it's become a new entity entirely. Hogarth stated in the liner notes for the remastered edition that at some point in the process of creating the album, it took on an American character- which surely no other Marillion album has ever had.

The album has a strong concept throughout: the ways fame and stardom can be a destroying force in the lives of those who experience it. Through that framework, the whole album hangs together well as a cohesive whole- including the upbeat and bizarre "Cannibal Surf Babe" placed second in the running order. All the other songs have a melancholy and even depressing lyrical and musical "image" to them. It's hard not to with "Gazpacho", about a Hollywood-type celebrity self-destructing, then "Beautiful", about people who suffer from society's prejudices just because they don't conform, and "Out of this World", about a man, Donald Campbell, who died attempting to set the world speed record on water.

Then comes the eyewall of the emotional storm of this album, "Afraid of Sunlight". It was preluded at the end of Side 1 in "Afraid of Sunrise", a soft and bittersweet version of nearly the same lyric. "Sunlight", however, is devastatingly dark, with Hogarth sounding like a man who has given up on a relationship with someone he's been hurting for a long time, and in the process, is giving up on himself and on life. In the middle-8 he sings "I'm already dead, it's just a matter of time", and then a powerful string section restates the main chorus melody- and you feel like the sky has crashed down and destroyed the world.

And you still aren't off the hook, as you still have "Beyond You", which may be a little of an epilogue to "Sunlight", masterfully produced and mixed in mono for a full "wall of sound" effect a la Phil Spector- which Marillion has explicitly stated they were trying to do. The album finally ends with forboding warning in the form of "King", where the lyrics get very specific about how things can go wrong for artists and creative types who get chewed up and spit out by popular media, celebrity culture, and especially by the companies who "help" them create their work. "They call you a genius, because you're easy to sell- is that what you want?" rants Hogarth, "then the fire in your belly that gave you the songs, is suddenly gone." They're obviously referencing themselves, and their turbulent relationship with EMI, which ended with this album. "I hope for your sake you've got what it takes to be spoiled to death." And with that the album ends on a huge tidal wave-like crescendo building up to... nothing. It just drops off. And you're left feeling nothing but emotionally drained.

Throughout the album everything fits perfectly in with everything else, there's nothing extraneous or unnecessary. The instrumentation and sounds do an incredible job of expressing the emotions of the album as clearly as the lyrics do. Taken together, the album is greater than the sum of its parts.

In epilogue, Afraid of Sunlight forms a perfect pairing with its predecessor Brave, an undeniably expansive and epic work. It's subject matter also recalls the Fish-era pinnacle Clutching At Straws, and since CAS is a heavily-thematic follow-on to Misplaced Childhood, those four albums create a fascinating "double binary" system that has, to this day, defined Marillion. Marillion tried, very hard, to once again mine that vein in 2004 with Marbles. They may have succeeded with that one, only time will tell. But for this reviewer and many, many other Marillion fans, the perfect storm of circumstances that led to the creation of this album simply won't be repeatable within Marillion's remaining career, which for their sake, is probably a good thing. In 1999, with two more albums after Afraid of Sunlight under his belt, Hogarth's notes in the remaster's liner notes basically concurred: "I think it's the best record we've made."

Fletch Brendan Good

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Send comments to netboy-netgirl (BETA) | Report this review (#77129)
Posted Thursday, May 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marillion's 1995 release came out in the wake of their modern masterpiece Brave. While this album isn't as good or as inspired as Brave, there are certainly many great things going for the band at this point in their career. Afraid of Sunlight feels more like a loose concept based around discarded pieces from Brave than anything else, but the quality of these "throwaways" and the craft put into each individual song is fantastic, with every individual member of the group giving 100% of their effort on every song. The most notable thing about this album musically is that all the songs have little complexities and intricacies that make the album all the more unique.

The album opens with Gazpacho, a rather brooding tale about spousal abuse augmented by a slightly upbeat 6/4 guitar motif and an interesting and engaging 7/8 chorus. It's one of the stronger pieces on the album (usually Marillion's album openers are top notch anyway) and a nice example of how even after all these years Rothery can come up with interesting guitar riffs and heartwrenching guitar solos. Cannibal Surf Babe is a catchy throwaway number that has a very obvious Beach Boys influence in the intro and outro. It's got a groovy and snappy main riff and the chorus is even catchier with slurred lines from Hogarth (that don't bring down the song at all).

Beautiful had single potential written all over it (and the accompanying music video for it would also be their last and one of their best, Marillion were not a good music video band). It's a very beautiful (no pun intended) ballad with some more solid riffing from Rothery and an excellent vocal performance from Hogarth. Afraid of Sunrise is a gentle acoustic piece with an interesting 7/4 guitar theme and some wonderful fretless bass from Trewavas. This song is the first of two pieces on this album that have the lyrical theme of being "Afraid of Sunlight". Out of this World, along with Beyond You, are in my opinion the two weakest songs on the album. This song tends to feel forced a bit in length and tends to drag because of the excessive length.

Afraid of Sunlight is essentially the heavier version of Afraid of Sunrise. Rothery's solo on this track is spinechilling and brings back memories of his great guitar solos from the past. Beyond You is another overly long piece that doesn't travel at a smooth pace or even go anywhere at a decent speed. The weakest on this album, in my opinion. King ends the album (like most Marillion album closers) very well with some intense work from Rothery as well as some great floating synths from Kelly and some dynamic drumming from Mosley.

In the end, Afraid of Sunlight is the last truly great Marillion album of the 90s. Their future efforts had some truly sublime moments here and there, but they don't match this album in terms of quality and overall balance. This album, on the other hand, has a perfect blend of blend, tension, and relaxation. One of the better Hogarth albums in my humble opinion. 4/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#82763)
Posted Tuesday, July 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is tied with Misplaced Childhood as my favourite Marillion album, and it is head and shoulders above any of the other H-era albums. It's ironic, considering they apparently spent much less time and money on this album than on Brave (another fine album). This may be the best prog album of the 90s, although I suppose its "progginess" may be questionable- call it the best of "neo" if you like, although IQ's best is in a similar league. Afraid of Sunlight is a coherent album with a glossy, summery sheen to it, and each song has wonderful production touches, fine lyrics and great guitar/keyboard textures. A loose theme of the tenous nature of celebrity and the madness that can accompany it helps to create that sense of coherency. Gazpacho evokes the ghost of John Lennon and the crimes of OJ Simpson in a catchy, driving pop song. Cannibal Surf Babe is a bizarre tribute to Brian Wilson. Beautiful is a ballad that verges on schmaltziness, but its sincerity and great melody pulls it back from the edge. Afraid of Sunlight is an expansive, spacy ballad that is almost dream-pop. The band pays homage to Phil Spector's wall of sound on Beyond You, and King and Out of this World are longer, proggy soundscapes that build up to great, roaring crescendos. This is a confident album with sunny keyboards, delay-drenched electric guitars and dense mixes, but with dark themes lurking under the glistening surface. As a whole, it may be Marillion's strongest album from the first tune to the last. Since Marillion is considered such an important band in modern prog, I have no problem calling this CD a masterpiece. A final word- Marillion made the questionable choice of remastering albums that were not very old and offering them as only two disk sets at a high price. I can understand that treatment for 80s albums, but it seem silly to have remastered a three year old album. The second CD is demos and outtakes and is only really of interest to raving Freaks. Nonetheless, despite the inflated price of the remaster, this one's actually worth it.

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#100121)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not a Marillion fan. I own almost every album and this blows every other apart! I preffer this new voice of Marillion. The songs are fantastic, the concept is interessant, the songs are very well constructed and harmonized. Afraid of sunlight may runnaway from the wellknown style of Marillion, but in my opinion,is a more lucid album. The sounds are in their own place, making us dream or cry... Steve Hogarth's voice is very sweet when it as to be and very screamy when he want to "cry" something. I'm must talk also about Pete Trewavas exellent work in bass: he holds very well the harmony and fills spaces with conter-melodys. The drums and guitar are also very well (in the right palce). The production is a little strange, but it's ok!

This not happen many times but this album entered in my private top ten prog album!

I would rate it with 4.9! Almost five stars!

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Send comments to João Francisco (BETA) | Report this review (#100472)
Posted Sunday, November 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
evenless
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Pretty decent follow-up to Marillion's Magnum Opus Brave

Let's face it: Afraid of Sunlight isn't nearly as good as its predecessor concept album Brave . Nevertheless we are treated by some great songs like the beautiful neo progressive rock ballad Beautiful and the title track Afraid Of Sunlight is another highlight of this album. The last (but bot least) track worth mentioning, is the wonderful track King. This track is also superbly played live on the 2nd disc of the Marbles on the Road dvd

Conclusion: pretty brave follow-up by Steve Hogarth and band. 3.5 stars

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Send comments to evenless (BETA) | Report this review (#111509)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I stopped liking this group when Fish departed. I have many Cds of them but I consider most of them superfluous to say the least. My point in this recording is Where is the prog here? certainly not in the humoresque pop song "Cannibal surf babe" or in the power ballad "Beautiful" so we have to wait till the end to hear a good song "King" but the rest is just plain vanilla rock staples. And do not even get me started on the second CD. (bogus Cd) so I have a liking for the total but not enough to give them a 4 star review.

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Send comments to steelyhead (BETA) | Report this review (#114008)
Posted Thursday, March 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Team
2 stars I have been a Marillion fan since "Script for a Jester's Tear" was released in 1983. However, when Fish left the band, I thought that was it. A few years later, I discovered they had continued with a new singer. Because I was such a fan of Mr. Dick, I never bothered to check out the new stuff. I am always very wary of such drastic personnel changes. Several years ago I finally decided to give it a try. The few songs I heard did not make me want to explore any further. More recently, some friends have been saying very good things about Marillion with Steve Hogarth. So, not wanting to dismiss them out of hand, I decided to really dive in. "Afraid of Sunlight" is not the first album I had heard all of the way through, but it's as good a place to start as any.

"Gazpacho" starts the album off with a pleasant, hooky bounce. It's a nice, upbeat tune (if a bit sugary at times), with a little surprise mood swing in the middle. It goes back to the bounce, and then finishes with a more somber jam (the last part has sound bites of a police chase).

"Cannibal Surf Babe" is the most interesting, and most likeable song of the set. This is where I perked up, and thought this album might hold quite a bit of promise. It's a quirky homage to the '60s, with one heck of a groove. You can tell they had a lot of fun with this one.

"Beautiful" is a song that is often talked about. I kind of forgot about it when first listening to the disc. When it shows up right after "Cannibal Surf Babe," it comes as a huge letdown. It's actually a very nice song. The lyrical content has much that I can identify with. Musically, it's just so cheesy. Something that has always bothered me is Hogarth's tendency to sound like an '80s rock singer. This is 100% pop ballad.

"Afraid of Sunrise" brings some redemption. It is a cool, almost smooth jazz inspired number. Hogarth pulls back a bit to give the vocals some needed subtlety.

"Out of This World" continues in the now established slow down mood (from which the album will not return until the very end). This one is spacey, somber, moody, and not very interesting.

The title track has the marks of an anthem, and has Hogarth in full on '80s balladeer mode (think Bryan Adams, or someone else of that ilk). It's actually one of the better songs on the album, but it won't knock you socks off.

"Beyond You" is yet another nice little slice of cheese. There are some nice atmospheric moments, but too few to counter the ill effects.

"King" is quite good, and my second favorite track. This is prog grandeur, with mood changes, and epic sounds, and a fitting ending to a fine prog album. It's just too bad it doesn't represent what came before.

This isn't a bad album, nor is it all that good. There are some very pleasing moments, but overall I find it very average. Hogarth is a very talented vocalist, but his pop tendencies just get on my nerves. Another disappointing factor is in knowing how talented the musicians are. They never show the extent of their chops. These guys used to jam. Why hold back? Because there is some quality work here, I can't bash it too much. However, I also can't recommend it that highly. For that reason, it gets two stars.

H.T. Riekels

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Send comments to bhikkhu (BETA) | Report this review (#114382)
Posted Wednesday, March 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This really is one of their best, and remains an exceptional listen from start to finish with amazing playing and song writing throughout.

Opening with the very catchy "Gazpacho" and "Beautiful", the album completely changes gears in the second half, the compositions becoming slow and sweeping epics of tremendous emotional power. Songs transition into each other with organic soundscapes and textures, taking the listener on a musical ride which eventually erupts with a emotional intensity. Rothery gives some tremendous solos while h's voice blasts to the very core, especially with amazing title track. Prepare to be moved.

Taken as a whole, this is Marillion's most mature and artistic album (minus "Brave") up to this point, and features a lot to fall in love with.

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

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#116752)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album examines different people from the sports and entertainment world who had famously self-destructed. Steve Hogarth said that after the "Brave" tour and the lack of commercial success that album had he felt himself becoming unstitched as he put it. He said he felt like a..." lost soul, racked by self doubt and emotional turmoil." So the title of the album certainly takes on significance considering the subject matter doesn't it. The music itself has a darkness permeating through it (especially the last 5 songs) like the "Brave" album, while there are some real uplifting moments as on "Seasons End".

"Gazpacho" is about a boxer and it opens with someone (him?) speaking before we get this guitar melody that really reminds me of THE CURE. The bass is really prominant throughout this track. It ends with a spacey atmosphere. "Cannibal Surf Babe" is about Brian Wilson and has some BEACH BOYS moments musically. Some crazy synths in this one. I like the line "And I watched her as she walked across the coals." "Beautiful" is just an uplifting, emotional song with meaningful lyrics. Hard to put into words how good this song is. Hogarth has such a heart-breaking voice when he sings at times and the words match the vocals on this tune. "Afraid Of Sunrise" is another truly amazing song that is reserved and melancholic in nature.

"Out Of This World" is about speed king Donald Campell who died trying to set a speed record on water. They used the actual audio from Campbell's last moments just before the Bluebird disintegrated. The song itself is another laid back, sad song. Some beautiful soaring guitar as drums pound away. I love the vocals and piano 3 1/2 minutes in. Hogarth is incredible. I like the line "But only love will turn you round". "Afraid Of Sunlight" is much like "Afraid Of Sunrise" with some of the same lyrics with different music. Each section begins in a pastoral, calm way and builds to a full and uplifting sound. Nice. "Beyond You" is about Phil Spector and is in a similar style as the previous song the way it starts out sad and quiet rising to an emotional soundscape with passionate vocals. "King" is about Elvis Presley and has those crazy synths again and samples as guitar plays on. Hogarth starts to sing as organ joins in. Rothery lays down a blistering solo 3 minutes in.The song then becomes so quiet as it starts to rise from a whisper to such an emotional high. Hogarth is incredible ! Did I already mention that ? The song ends with an organ / drum melody.

This is my favourite Hogarth era disc. I find it hard not to agree with Hogarth's statement from 1998. "I think it's the best record we've made". 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#128145)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I'M AFRAID THAT THE SUNLIGHT IS NOT SHINING ANY LONGER

This must be the most soporific Marillion Mark II so far. I was almost desperate while listening / reviewing "Brave", but with this album, I guess that the worse has been achieved. The same boring tone is omni-present. I have never understood how a guy like Hogarth was appointed as lead singer to replace Fish. He is so insipid, emotionless, voiceless : you name it.

Some of their earlier work was saved by the bonus CD available in the remastered version, but needless to say that this won't be the case here. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... all the way through. If ever you need pills to get asleep, play this one : it will be better for your health and cheaper on the long run.

You can make your own choice while listening to this "work" : the absolutely sleepy ones like "Gazpacho", both "Afraid" ones etc. You can opt for the pseudo rocking and useless one like "Cannibal surfbabe" as well to get some diversification...

In this maelstroem of insignificant songs, I am glad to have been able to discover "Beautiful". This is indeed a wonderful song. Full of subtlety and with a great melody. But it is really the only bearable number of this set. You'll be quickly reverted to the most dull experience with "Afraid Of Sunrise". Zzzzzzzzzzz. The same sleeping mood prevails during the title track. Has Marillion Mark II discovered the ultimate sleeping fashion ? If so, they are very, very effective. "Beyond You" only adds another sleepy chunk to your experience.

All those tracks seem to be part of the same one. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Actually, I am the only one to be blamed. When I started my review process on PA some months ago, I decided to browse almost the entire catalogue of the bands I wanted to review. This meant serious headaches, believe me. It is far much complicated to go through the whole repertoire of some bands (you name it) than picking up some of their greatest achievements.

From time to time, it is rewarding, because here and there a jewel will still come out ("Rajaz" for Camel, "Somewhere To Elsewhere" for Kansas, "Keys To Ascension I" from Yes to name a few). But Marillion Mark II, seems hopeless (but who knows...).

"King" will not change my mind. IMHHO (in my humble and HONEST opinion) this is the weakest Marillion Mark II album so far. One star.

The bonus CD could not save the album this time. Sorry guys, but you did record this, not me.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#130633)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Marillion's follow-up the amazing Brave album was called Afraid of Sunlight and although not a concept album, the songs generally cover the theme of celebrity self-destruction. The lyrics are often satirical and often hint at various contemporary celebrities (for instance King refers to Elvis Presley). Musically, this album is much more melodic than Brave and shows some signs of returning to their mainstream sound prior to Brave. It has more of the feel of a hybrid of the two. Again, no earlier influences are evident. Many of the songs have a strong "wall of sound" feel to them, giving them a really powerful delivery. Hogarth's vocals are again strongly delivered and emotionally charged. Beautiful and King are powerful songs. Even the Beach Boys-inspired Cannibal Surf Babe is an enjoyable listen.

Although not as good as Brave, Afraid of Sunlight is still an exceptional release and one of the best from the Hogarth era. Far from being anything like their early neo-progressive days, Afraid of Sunlight is an intelligently constructed art rock album easily worth four stars. An excellent addition to a prog rock collection and definitely worth your time if you're into more accessible, song-oriented progressive rock.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#141750)
Posted Wednesday, October 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars An album that proves Marillion don't necessarily have to produce long songs to be brilliant. None of the songs here top 8 minutes, but the album as a whole has a collective feel of progression, and the end result is truly epic! Obviously this record often lives in the shadow of its predecessor, Brave, and whilst their 1994 effort is probably the stronger of the two, at least to me who prefers the band's darker edge, it is a true testament to the band's abilities that they could knock out such a great record just one year later.

'Gazpacho' is a strong opener, driven by Marillion's trademark dark but melodic sound. 'Cannibal Surf Babe' is a strange song, but none the less wonderful for its bizarre lyrics and Beach Boys riffing. This is the sound of a band having fun, and with truly catchy results. Although frequently dividing fans, it received a great reception on the recent pre-Christmas tour. 'Out of This World' sees a wonderfully passionate solo courtesy of Steve Rothery, whilst the title track builds to a magically capturing crescendo.

Overall though, this is an album to be listened to as a whole, not broken down into tracks. It works like one long theme progressing over 8 tracks, not a single note out of place, and all band members on top form. Definitely in my personal top 5!

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Send comments to Wickerman (BETA) | Report this review (#158239)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is one of the most uninspired and uninspiring I've run across.

Okay, so it's not horrible. That's not what I'm saying. I'm just pointing out that, as far as a progressive album goes, there is so very little creativity poured into this record as to make it somewhat depressing. I haven't made up my mind on the Fish and H debate, but I must add that while H is a much better singer, the Fish period seems to have much stronger and more interesting music on the whole. By this point, Marillion is easing itself of the neo-prog genre and into the mainstream pop or rock sort of field. Sure, the songs are longer than on most commercial albums, but even still they are more like drawn out simple tunes. It ends up placing Marillion much closer to the shoegaze genre than to any particular progressive category. Now, an album doesn't have to be progressive to be great, but something is seriously lacking on this release to give it the punch it needs to pull of the length it has.

There are two songs on here that are exceptions to the problems above. The first, Cannibal Surf Babe, is an odd song that draws influence from surfer music. It's not a terribly well written song, but at least the band was trying something a bit different from the rest of their songs. The other song is, in fact, a wonderful song. The title track has one of the best chorus melodies that the band ever wrote, no matter the era. H's voice sounds absolutely perfect on the track, proving that the band really could be creating much more impressive music than they did for this album. It is, I believe, the presence of this song that ever gets me to listen to the album any longer. It's not enough to fix the remaining 45 minutes, but it is enough to make this album not a complete waste of money.

Fan of H? Jump on here. Fan of neo-prog? Maybe. Check it out before you buy it, I'd say. It's a rather lacking effort, but I am sure that plenty of Marillion fans would enjoy it. If you want something soft and not demanding, this might be a good release for you.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#184473)
Posted Thursday, October 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 out of 5, a fantastic LP which cemented this reviewers love affair with the band post Brave.

The album begins with a wall of sound on Gazpacho, with Kelly providing fine keyboards, and then continues in frenetic fashion with Cannibal Surf Babe, a fine example of a band breaking free of its shackles and producing something genuinely different. What were they taking?

Beautiful is a great ballad single, and you still have the hairs on the back of your neck listening to Rothery's opening chords to Hogarth's emotive singing.

Afraid of Sunrise is a pleasant, quite, reflective piece, whilst Out of this World is a fine, slow moving tribute to Donald Campbell - the family asked for this to be played when his vehicle was discovered.

The tempo is upped on Afraid of Sunlight, whilst Beyond You builds the listener up to the LP's tour de force, King. If there has ever been a more glorious noise than the ending to this, I would like to hear it - King Crimson, eat your chords out!

Again, Rothery makes a vital contribution to this LP, as he does to all the best works. That is not, however, to denigrate the rest of the band's contribution. As with Brave, this is a collective effort, and all pull together.

The sleeve notes state that this album was knocked out - what would it have been with a slow recording process?

This was the end of the band's first stint with EMI, and remains a fine work. Strongly recommended to all of you who cannot see beyond Fugazi.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#196755)
Posted Thursday, January 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My second Hogarth album was bound to suffer from comparisons to my first, the stellar "Brave" album. "Afraid of Sunlight" is quite different to be sure. The album covers aspects of celebrity culture beyond the vanity, looking into the psyche of people who have experienced fame, success, and yet eventual destruction of one kind or another. Coming off an album that was very atmospheric and dark, they seem to be shooting for a more accessible style here, though there is still plenty of heavy darkness for the gloomy to enjoy. "Afraid of Sunlight" is a perfect title for an album that at the end of the day is asking us why we can't manage to be happy, even those who supposedly "have it all." Ironic because at the time, Marillion were feeling down due to the relative lack of commercial success of "Brave." They went so far as to buck their usual slow-paced songwriting process and bring in someone (Dave Meegan) to crack the whip and make autonomous decisions about what material would be pursued. The intention was to speed things up and no doubt experiment outside of their comfort zone. Some members were happier than others about this: Hogarth called it the best album they ever made while Kelly seemed concerned that something inherently "Marillion" may be lost by doing this. Kelly was correct.

The musical results leave much to be desired. The amazing atmospheres of "Brave" are gone and replaced by a constricted collection of "too many goals" to be anything that is truly exciting to me. This is an album that makes "The Final Cut" seem spontaneous. By the time the guitar solo in "Out of this World" kicks in I actually heave a sigh of relief, as it takes half the album to pop the tension bubble I have, the feeling like being in a suit too long and ripping it off for the t-shirt and jeans. It is only the middle third of the album that rescues things and allows a decent rating here. "Afraid of Sunrise" is lovely acoustic introspection, "Out of this World" is a stunner with an epic, dramatic feel akin to a later period Floyd track, and the title track is an emotional rocker that showcases the passionate vocals Hogarth is capable of. But the other five tracks are just DOA. "Beautiful" will please lovers of sappy balladry though Hogarth handles it much better than say, Labrie does. "Cannibal Surf Babe" is a silly contrivance meant to spoof the Beach Boys sound but without any of the charm of "Back in the USSR." "Gazpacho" and the last two tracks are the most labored for me to hear, lacking soul and simply laying out there flat. It's a 2 ½ star album for me that I'm rounding up based on the quality of the playing and nice packaging-the version I have comes with a nice 2nd disc of extra goodies that will please Marillion fans very much. They also document the recording session in detail which I appreciate very much. I look forward to hearing more of the Hogarth era albums, which excite me more than the Fish stuff these days. But this one just didn't have the sunlight I expected.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#228987)
Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Afraid of Sunlight is Marillion's first real creative peak since Misplaced Childhood. Do I need to mention how epic, melodic and emotional this music is? How varied and fulfilling the song writing is? How gorgeous and neat the guitar leads are? I don't think so. Marillion have fully reinvented and re-established themselves with this album.

I actually think this album had the potential to get them a whole new fan base, but due to their history with Fish most of the music press and fans stuck to the prejudice that Marillion was just one of those 'wrong' and 'old' symphonic bands from the 80's.

While this music had the potential to really break out of the self-absorbed prog sub-culture, few people from outside prog circles ever did the effort to give this band a fair new chance. Their loss? 4.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#236896)
Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Not brave, I'm afraid

After the excellent Brave, Marillion released Afraid Of Sunlight. While there are individual tracks here that are good or even very good, the album is a whole is not as consistent as the conceptual and moving Brave. Opener Gazpacho is one of the good tracks that almost sounds like it could have come from Clutching At Straws, but the silly Cannibal Surf Babe quickly diminishes the listener value of this album for me. I know this is supposed to be funny, but humor is very difficult to combine with Prog Rock in my opinion. I much preferred the dark mood of Brave. Beautiful is indeed a beautiful song even if not at all a progressive one, but the jazzy two-part title track does little for me and the other tracks are not very memorable.

This not being a conceptual album like the previous one, allowed Marillion to have a little fun and go into several different directions. But having fun and creating great music are very different things. The conclusion can only be that Afraid Of Sunlight is not as good as Brave and neither does it include anything as great as the title track of the next album, This Strange Engine.

For me this is good, but not essential

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#241424)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I just recently thought of an interesting statement listening to yet another "Hogarth era Marillion" album being this very Afraid of Sunlight. This Marillion isn't actually neo prog but crossover prog. Well, maybe it has been said a hundred times before, in that case I subscribe it. And in fact it's just about all I have to say about this album.

I listened to it at least five times last week trying to find an interesting song or even moment but I didn't succeed (the only passage that came close was the middle part of final song King but that lasted just a few seconds). Probably I'm still too much waiting for something that sounds remotely like Fish era Marillion and that could be my mistake. These two bands just don't have anything in common and play a 100% different style of music. I remember I heard Seasons End for the first time and I was in shock. The first shock was that Fish was no longer there where he should have been and the other was the poor songwriting. And then Seasons End is one of the bearable albums by "new Marillion"'. This album Afraid of Sunlight shows how bad it has become by now.

It's so disappointing to hear great musicians like Mark Kelly and Steven Rothery let themselves be abused and are forced to play this boring music. And if they play music like this out of free will I'm even more disappointed ! I mean, are they aged or something, ready for the old people's home ? This sounds like music for when they've become 60 years old and have grown tired of playing energetic and inspired prog rock. But they aren't old yet, are they ?

Last 20 years I intuitively stayed away from new Marillion. After Seasons End I knew enough. This isn't my band anymore by any means. The only positive I can say about it is that the music is well executed. I detected two 30 seconds Rothery solos (Out of this World and Afraid of Sunlight) and even these were dull and uninspiring. But because this band knows how to execute I will add a star to my initial idea of giving one to this.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#260190)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After showing the existing fans that they still could create some original and interesting music Marillion took this idea a step further. The results of this progression are present on Afraid Of Sunlight and should probably not only please the fans but also introduce new audiences to the band's music.

Anyone expecting another Brave would be slightly disappointed by this release although I doubt that there are all that many people like that considering the transitions that the band had undergone over the years. The moody atmospheric style is still here but it's complemented by much clearer melodies and a few lighter music moments as well. I guess that it was important for Marillion to show that they could still have fun which generally results bands taking this idea way too far. Luckily this is not the case with the material featured on this particular release although Marillion will be guilty of this on their later albums.

I've heard that Afraid Of Sunlight features a loose concept but I honestly never noticed it until only recently and it doesn't really make much of a diffidence in this case considering that the individual tracks work well as stand-alone pieces of music. Considering that there are a total of eight different compositions here, the album features quite a few excellent moments to choose from. Everything from the quirky Cannibal Surf Babe, wonderful ballad rightly titled Beautiful, brilliant album title-track and the somewhat overproduced Beyond You make this also the most versatile Hogarth-era Marillion release. The band was going in many different directions and, most importantly, succeeding in most of these experiments.

Afraid of Sunlight is so far my favorite Hogarth-era release marking another creative peak in Marillion's career.

***** star songs: Cannibal Surf Babe (5:46) Afraid Of Sunlight (6:50)

**** star songs: Gazpacho (7:28) Beautiful (5:13) Afraid Of Sunrise (5:02) Beyond You (6:11) King (7:04)

*** star songs: Out Of This World (7:55)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#277218)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
2 stars I've been a Marillion fan of the first time having received a copy of a promo containing Grendel, Garden Party and Three boats down borrowed by a friend before Script was published. I didn't dislike Hogarth initially. They were just something different from the Fish era but not bad. I still have to decide if I like Brave or not, but Afraid of Sunlight is the album which made me quit with Marillion. The first track, Gazpacho, is not that bad. Just a bit too long and repetitive for what it effectively contains. The problems started with Cannibal Surf Baby. I wasn't meaning to purchase a Beach Boys album.

And if it wasn't enough, the following track has the title and the athmosphere of a soap- opera. Soap-orific.

This is when I picked it off from the CD reader.

Now, 15 years after, I have decided to retry. Just to discover that because of the first three tracks I didn't pay enough attention to the rest of the album.

Afraid of sunrise is nothing special but it doesn't cause me to use the CD as a frisbee. Out of this world is the surprise. I really like this song that I had missed at the first try.

Unfortunately it can't save the whole album alone, and Afraid of sunlight doesn't help at all. I skip it after 3 minutes as the chorus doesn't tell me anything.

Beyond you is beyond the minimum. Another good aid against insomnia.

"King" is the surprise. A good track in the end. The guitar sounds like on some passages of the previous albums. Hogarth appears more inspired. Well is very similar in the structure (and also in tempo and chords) to Clutching at straws. This is probably the reason why I have found it enjoyable.

I have the original issue, so I can't say anything about the bonus disc, and I'm not intentioned to buy it twice.

2 stars - one for each decent song.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#285992)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars challenge: let's review the best MARiLLiON album of the lot without sounding overtly fanboyish. tough one. everyone who knows me also knows that i worship this band. ah well, it had to happen sometime. making some sort of confident "best album" statement requires years of critical listening. i remember well when this one was released in 1995, one short year after the relative commercial failure of "brave" (their grand artistic statement by design), apparently knocked out on record company orders to finally finish up their long running association with EMI. it was slipped out onto the market rather indifferently, there was little or no marketing and a general feeling prevailed that band and business had slowly lost interest in it all, with brit pop on the doorstep and time being too early yet for an 80's revival to help things further, although potentially ruinous for the type of band MARiLLiON had become. i also have some memories of the concert on the tour, which, although well attended, boasted a somewhat bleak atmosphere before showtime ? in contrast to fans on earlier tours, even with the odd painted face here and there, who would spontaneously break into one of the band's much loved cult classics, there was a general feeling that this may well be the last time to see these five oxfordshire lads do what they do best. needless to say that the boys went on to little or no fanfare at all, played an absolute blinder for over two hours, performed the odd exorcism along the way, brought their new material to life and once and for all proved, that their time in the sun was not quite up yet.

enough of that. let's talk about "afraid of sunlight". yes, it's their finest effort to date. why the superlative? after the relative hodgepodge of steve hogarth's debut with band "season's end" (albeit good! h however came in late during the creative process it only yielded two fully collaborated songs), the overtly commercial "holidays in eden" (probably on record company order), another swing into the opposite direction on "brave" (forever stalling their relationship with record labels), which has 'masterpiece' stamped all over it but at times sounds like they were trying too hard for their own good, we have this one, which finally has the steve hogarth-fronted MARiLLiON sounding like themselves. and this facing an uncertain future, their contract with EMI about to run out and relatively unsure of their place in modern music (read the liner notes on the remaster version). it probably must have amazed the band themselves how much staying power these songs would prove to have and in turn become true concert staples for them. there is nothing comparable to seeing MARiLLiON end a concert with that orgasmic wall of sound in "king" and attempting not to be moved to tears by the sheer emotiveness of the title track. and "cannibal surf babe" was a long overdue middle finger to all the naysayers, that started to scream abuse at any nod into uncharted territory as if their favourite toy had been confiscated. apart from the ballad-type "beautiful" which ended up a tad too saccharine, there is not a single weak track on this one. fifty minutes of sheer bliss without a note too many or too little. meisterwerk, desert island disc, call it what you will ? it's their best and in a way every one of the many albums that followed is somehow a derivative. i rest my case.

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Send comments to iguana (BETA) | Report this review (#297808)
Posted Tuesday, September 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
2 stars This is the only Marillion album I have ever owned. I got this at a used CD store. I only wanted it to hear "Cannibal Surf Babe", a song I read was "A cross between the Beach Boys and Motorhead". Oh Yeah! This was in the late '90s before I had internet access. If I wanted to hear a song I read about, I would have to buy the CD. It was the only song on the album that did anything for me. I later bought a 2-CD 'best of' compilation hoping to get into these guys more. Apart from "Cannibal" and the song "King"(both from Afraid Of Sunlight), the only other song I liked was "He Knows You Know" from the Fish era.

Fish-era Marillion sounds too Genesis derived for my taste. I thought that the Hogarth era, although wimpy, had more of a sound of it's own. Because of these guys I never really attempted to get into Neo-Prog. But who knows, maybe there is a Neo-Prog album out there that can can kick me in the balls with it's perfection. I just haven't heard it yet. "Gazpacho" is the only other song here that I even remotely like. The rest sounds like ever so slightly proggy soft- rock. I like the samples of John Lennon talking.

3 good songs on a very mediocre album from a band I never really cared for. I thank the internet for saving me thousands of dollars. If I bought albums by every group that was ever hyped to me as somehow important: a)I would miss a whole lot of good music, and b)I would have starved to death years ago. If you like this kind of music, it's okay, you're not a bad person. You just have different tastes in music than me. 2 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#305629)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Afraid of Sunlight is an excellent follow-up to Brave and has Hogarth's best vocals to date. All the songs are well composed and arranged with nice instrumental passages and time changes. The songs generally build in intensity to a crescendo and have a positive feel compared to the bleakness of Brave. Interestingly John Helmer, who contributes occasional lyrics to the band, is credited with 6 of the 8 songs.

It is hard to pick a best track since there are so many good moments but certainly the title track "Afraid of Sunlight" is superb with its climatic ending with great vocals and guitar and keyboard solos. "Afraid of Sunrise" is an almost acoustic version of "Afraid of Sunlight" which is an interesting idea releasing similarly themed songs played in a completely different manner on the same album. It works.

All the other tracks are also great, in particular "King", "Out of this World" and the ballad "Beautiful". Cannibal Surf Babe is an up-tempo send-up of a Beach Boys style song that has some really nice synthesizer sounds.

At the time of its release this would possibly be Marillion's best effort since Hogarth joined and, although different, matches the quality of the Fish years.

Highly recommended. 4.4 stars

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Send comments to KeepItDark (BETA) | Report this review (#358948)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars the burnout...

I know that this album nowadays is ranking as the most popular amongst hardcore-fans of the Hogarth-Era, and several times it has been cited as band member's personal favorite ( including Hogie himself ), too. And though it's full of beautiful sounding music again - to me, it definitely cannot be... so my personal opinion ( and taste ) may be one of the ( minor ) reasons that led to "Afraid of Sunlight" being "underrated" - as I have read that it would be several times. Sorry. It's fine with me if you like it - I never said it was bad. Some say it's underrated because it's been overshadowed by its predecessor - and I'm sure that "Brave" really is a main reason for AOS to have become the far lesser album that, at least to me, it really is ( and has remained from 1995 to this day ). Why ?

It's not really a bad album, but I have to struggle with myself to call it a good one. It's probably the best album the band was able to do in 1995 - so I gladly grace it with a third star - but in 1995 they were so exhausted from having made ( and toured ) their absolute masterpiece that, giving AOS one more spin ( I'm doing it far more often than you may think, if only to get a grip on why anybody can truly say it was better than "Brave" ), all I can say is they should have taken a breather, cause they needed time to recover, gather new power and refocus themselves before making another album... they were sort of burned out and this is what is coming through on AOS, from the first note to the last. Well, a "burnt out Marillion" is still better than lots of other bands at their peak, but it's still a disappointment cause they have to live up to the quality of... well, not Brave, this I did not expect, but let's say "Seasons end", okay ? They had set the stake that high. And they surely can reach it - if only they are in good shape, not at the end of their nerves. But that's what they were - and, if you read the booklet of the remastered double-disc, they don't deny.

They can be proud of that album because they managed to come up with it in spite of that - but I don't exactly know why they decided to, cause it would have been wiser to wait and not "knock it out" in that short amount of time ( "short", here, is a relative thing concerning Marillion, yep, I have read that, too ). But they did it as their final output for EMI, who, after the rather disappointing sales of "Brave", would not renew their contract. We're all glad that AOS did only become Marillion's swansong for that label and not for themselves... and I'm sure that what saved it from being a complete disaster was the assistance of Dave Meegan, who, by this time, had been handed over more and more control over the final product ( well, that's more like a producer then ) than anyone ever got from this band, because they themselves were simply... ahem... a little indisposed if not unable. No wonder when you're as powered-out as can be and walking on your own nerve-endings, innit ? And nothing to be ashamed of. As Dave Meegan had proved to be the perfect partner with "Brave" this faithful act surely helped to make AOS a bearable affair, cause he managed to make it sound. And, good chap he is, he did not take the soul out of it. What you hear is where they were. And how they must felt. Emotional indeed... with what's left of whatever emotions there were and what the musicians were able to wrench ( squeeze ? ) out of themselves. Fragments the most. Nice fragments. Beautiful fragments. Fragments linked together. And a few ones that made the grade and really became songs.

But only a few ones. It works best with the title-track. Standing alone - it's a killer, it really is. Even the feel of exhaustion fits to it perfectly, as Hogie bears his wounded soul out to great effect and with - for once - a great melody. It's followed by "Out of this World". Actually, "Out of this World" is no coherent song at all. It's 4 of the most beautiful fragments they had linked together. And because they are so beautiful - and complement each other very well without making it a song - "Out of this world" is another outstanding piece on this album. Other tunes, which are rather songs to me, sadly sound a bit unfinished in their arrangement ( "Beautiful" - less would have been more, as its gorgeous "unplugged"-versions so delictately demonstrate ) or as a composition ( "Cannibal Surf Babe" - great arrangement ! ), or simply could have needed a bit more power in their execution ( "Gazpacho" - i quite like all its basic ideas, but even Mark Kelly's trademark-keyboards do not save it from sounding tired - a typical example for a song that just wasn't recorded at the right time ). The others ( fragments again ) deal with repetitive singing-lines under-layed by changing chord-structures without developing a melody ( "Beyond you", "King" ) and, in charge of the same melodical absence, "Afraid of Sunrise" has its chord-structure remaining the same ( and very simple ) one from start to finish, so it must get a mention for being the very low point of the album, a bore ( sorry ).

No, that's not enough... and, sorry Steve H, you've been outvoted for good with "Icon", though... okay, it's a little more interesting than "Afraid of Sunrise". It's a nice pastiche, no more. I'm still surprised how great finally "King" came to be on "Anorak in the UK", full of tension and power, while here it sounds like a whimsical cry ending in useless, empty thunder ( cacophony as a solution when inspiration is absent ), but on the other hand it proves that, in good shape, those guys are able to turn even lesser musical ideas into blistering strokes of music, so I'm waiting for the versions of "Beyond you" and "Afraid of Sunrise" that can make me change my mind about their originals. "Cannibal Surf Babe", ashamedly hidden on "Less is more", has already been executed to my full satisfaction. Here you can hear those great musicians struggle to give and give and give but the way it's coming out is below par. You may even get caught by where they wanted to go with the music ( and, on the way, mistake loudness for power, sparkless soundscapes for beauty etc. ) but this does not change the audible truth that, by then, they had not arrived yet.

There can be no doubt that "Afraid of Sunlight" could have been as great as some fans claim it to be, but "Brave" had to take its toll by then. It's to their credit that, afterwards, Marillion have reinvented themselves and started anew with fresh and powerful material, but in 1995 their previous achievements had taken the best out of them and I was afraid that soon they'll have to call it a day ! Thank god they did not. I somehow envy everyone who is able to enjoy AOS so much they cite it as their favorite, it could as well have been the end, a blind alley with no way out. But for me, the title track and "Out of this world" are not enough to ever call it an essential album. But those two are the best moments to be heard - and, as I said, other tracks came into full bloom later. It's no more than a bare three stars, at times it's only two again, you make the choice and I honestly hope that the guys can forgive me, I'm a big fan but to rate this record any higher is a ( self- ) deceptive thing... imho.

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Send comments to rupert (BETA) | Report this review (#610445)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The second masterpiece in a row for Hogarth-era Marillion finds the band musing on the subject of fame and its corrosive effects on the psyche, as well as continuing their indulgence of a wide range of musical spheres. Having dabbled in incorporating New Age and psychedelic ideas in to their music on Brave, the band were emboldened to create pieces such as the sinister party anthem Cannibal Surf Babe or the tranquil Out of This World, a calming and soothing meditation on death in the pursuit of greatness.

On top of this, from the celebrity gossip samples at the start of Gazpacho to the shotgun blast of a crescendo at the end of King, the band manage to take a devastatingly critical look at celebrity culture of the mid-1990s (which hasn't really changed that much up to today - only the faces are different), challenging any listeners who might crave for fame themselves to consider what happens to those who are unable to handle its consequences. Right now I'd say it's a shade less interesting than Brave, but ask me again next week and I might have a different answer - the two pieces both have such interesting and divergent strengths that to pick one out would be impossible.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#621884)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without any doubt BRAVE is considered the best album by MARILLION fans in the era Hogarth, yet AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT is considered by the band as one of the best works they have ever worked on, and after you listening to it you discover why. The opening GAZPACHO is an invitation to what you might expect from the album, full of contrasts, a carnival of sounds which is followed by the mini tribute to the Beach Boys called CANNIBAL SURF BABE. From this point and to the end it is a revolution of sounds, and beautiful lyrics. BEAUTIFUL contains one of the most "beautiful" messages of life. AFRAID OF SUNRISE is a good introduction to the album, and of course to the powerful and melancholic AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT which happens two songs later, passing first through OUT OF THIS WORLD, dedicated to Donald Campbell, who died in an accident after trying to break the speed record in water. Then, you are about to listen one of the best songs of MARILLION ever, my all time favorite AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT. Finally, BEYOND YOU and KING give the adequate outro to the album. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to Memo_anathemo (BETA) | Report this review (#1004285)
Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Brave" was a musically depressing trip in that the album was filled with angst and sadness - a powerful album but not one that will remain in my player for long stretches at a time. Thus far no Hogarth Marillion album has resonated with me as strongly as did "Seasons End". Could this change that?

"Gazpacho" - Bouncy, good track which I do enjoy. A wife beating boxer of a track. The band play this well as a cohesive musical unit. This isn't anything like the "Season's End" album, Marillion's music has changed direction and not for the better in my opinion however there is nothing wrong here.

"Cannibal Surf Babe" - A take on the Beach Boys. Lively rocker of a track which I despised when I first heard it. My initial dislike of it has eased over time though - this is nothing like the Marillion that I knew and loved (especially the Fish incarnation of the band). Fun little number.

"Beautiful" - Like the name of the track this is simply beautiful. When I first heard this it played on one of the local radio stations and the DJ was in tears when it was over and he came on air to discuss the track. One of the Marillion highlights.

"Afraid of Sunrise" - I do not like this track at all - to me it is pointless and it drones on and on.

"Out of this World" - Like the sun rising on the horison of the previous track. This is a powerful track punctuated by some very nice Rothery lead and some really strong vocals. Love it. "Only Love will turn you around.................."

"Afraid of Sunlight" - Nice slower track to start. Becomes powerful musically further on into the track.

"Beyond You" - More brilliant stuff from the band. I love this track. Very emotional. Not being able to break out of the emotional bubble of a failed relationship.

"King" - Starts off bombastically before heading into emotional territory. Nice but not brilliant album closer.

How do I rate this danged album? Not an easy thing to do. It has some simply stunning tracks which are musical beauty however it has two dogs and one simply ok track. Where is that darned half a star rating to bring this to three and a half? I'm going to go with three and a half pulled down to three. Two or three tracks are essential but pastry doesn't make a pie on its own.

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Send comments to sukmytoe (BETA) | Report this review (#1005102)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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