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4 stars Not a fan favourite but I really like the direction on this one. Marillion have never sounded more noisy on some tracks and more delicate on others, granted the drums sound a bit ropey and the guitar uncharacteristically abrasive but that adds to the edginess of the overall release. Superficially a bold move the content is still pure Marillion.
Report this review (#12383)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2003 | Review Permalink
1 stars I have been a fan for more than 15 years. Bought all albums without any doubt, but RADIATION is in my opinion a failure. Especially after the BRAVE album, I was thinking about another ERA wit Hogart instead of FISH. The release of STRANGE ENGINE was perhaps the first idication that BRAVE was an accidental achievement. Radiation unfortunately confirmed that.
Report this review (#12384)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars A very good album that showed the band in the clear nineties... these was along with the next effort, the transitional time for the band, the point where they were focusing their music and their hearts to the true fans and the internet. Not a bad choice, if we remember that the fans raised a "trust fund" for the afraid of sunlight tour becasue of an ad of the band in the internet. In here we hear more square structures and blues influences, however, after hearing these record, is the obvious foundation for what has been their greatest record: Marbles. But we must be careful when commenting Marillion, beacuse these band has one of the most "famous" trademark sounds of the record industry to date.
Report this review (#12391)
Posted Sunday, June 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
2 stars "What??? You've gotta be kidding me!!! $18 bucks for this CD!!! I can't even recognize the essence of the band, I mean, judging by the cover I'd say it has nothing to do with MARILLION. but what the hell, I've been faithful to the band all this years, I have put up with HOGARTH's crap so long to cave in at this point. I even sidetracked my repulsiveness for "This Strange Engine". hmmm." thought I, as I came forward the cashier at the music store. I even had the time to have second thoughts about purchasing the CD or not while I was standing in line, but still, I bought the damn thing. O.K. My mistake. Getting this CD is one of the most regretful things I've ever done in my short life. Now that I have unloaded that weight off my shoulders, I can peacefully breathe and carry on with this review my fellow proggers.

When purchasing this album I noticed that a couple of songs from "This Strange Engine" where included, "Estonia" and "Memory of Water" respectively; each one preceded by a couple of legends: Acoustic Studio Version and Big Beat Mix. There I got lost. Then, when listening to them, and especially when lending my ears to the "Memory of Water" mix version, there I got pissed off. Unbelievable, I just couldn't believe such abomination perpetrated not only against the good name of the band, but against the music industry altogether. That specific "song" fits perfectly with the techno, trance, house or whatever you wanna call it genre, not prog rock de-fi-ni-te-ly.

The other thing that caught my attention right away, was the front cover to this meaningless album. Hideous. I understand the Mark WILKINSON era with MARILLION was clearly over years ago, but going through Paul COX ("Afraid of Sunlight") and in this case, Carl GLOVER, was way off limits. The artwork was one of the things that used to distinct, to tell MARILLION from some other prog bands, and it gave that special touch the album intertwined perfectly with the music contained inside the album. This is an outrage.

Now, I know I may sound off very strict and severe and you may think I am overreacting for no reason, but in that specific order and to avoid the finger pointing in my direction, I will bring out the positive details I discovered in between this musical mayhem. I found "Now She'll Never Know" and "These Chains" as the pieces standing up for this sunken ship and the reasons I'm giving it two stars (one a piece); I perceive some corniness in their lyrics and in the musical composition as well but you won't let me lie that sometimes the well canalized cheesiness gives us a good reason to stand listening to such things as "Radiation".

I hold no grudges to this recording, I'm not even resentful with the final result when released. I am disappointed somehow, the mixture of musical essences and the blending of sounds put together in here confuse me. I'd say buy this album only if it's strictly necessary for you to believe what I'm saying and to prove me wrong.

Report this review (#12392)
Posted Thursday, July 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Today, while checking my prog collection, found this forgotten album (as you can imagine not a fav at all). I am now quite happy about this situation. After listening to it a couple of times today, I can not understand why it is not part of my Golden or Silver selection. It is a very decent album. Do not perceive it as a commercial album or absolutely non prog album. It is only different considering who is performing. I think there are some interesting tracks here, like Cathedral Wall (my fav), A few words for the dead and the original and catchy Answering Machine. I think this Marillions experimental album. They tried to update their Prog elements, no Mark Kellys inspired keyboard work here, more guitar presence, no long solos, but the rythm variations are present, heavier guitar appears frequently for the first time in a Marillion album (Seasons end not as much as here). I think this experimental process affected all of us Marillion fans, who love marillions key elements that are not strongly present in this album. Anyway, I liked it after giving it a third, fourth opportunity. Maybe I am now more comfortable with this new Marillion sound.
Report this review (#42893)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I had a specific experience with this album. Sometime in 1999 my firend who studied in the USA took a holiday back to Jakarta and brought me two CDs: Kettle of Fish and Marillion "Radiation". I tried to spin "Radiation" and failed to continue listening after half- way through the CD and I returned the CD back to my friend because I didn't think that I can enjoy the music produced from the CD. Time went by and there was time (I think sometime in 2004) I thought that I needed to collect all Marillion's albums Hogarth era because I already got into deep in loving the band during their early years (Fish era). And last year I got the "Radiation" CD with a bargain price (US$ 6) and did not spin it right away and let the CD being wrapped with its plastic. I spun the CD back after I could enjoy the band's pre-ordered "Marbles" CD. Marbles gave me a new horizon in accepting Marillion's direction nowadays. It's probably due to massive investment (GBP- wise) to acquire Marbles, I forced myself to enjoy album and I succeeded with this effort. So I did open the plastic strap that wrap "Radiation" CD, and here we go my views .

For sure, this is not a good album to start with Hogarth era's Marillion. One should try enjoying Marillion "Brave" before moving forward into other albums of Marillion's Hogarth era. By putting Marbles and Brave into perspective, I could see the other angle to enjoy "Radiation". First off, forget about expecting the band would play any symphonic kind of prog music nor neo prog. Not at all. This is totally different style that if you "unlearn" everything you know about early Marillion, you might be able to enjoy it.

The album kicks off with a short musical loop "Costa del Slough" (1:24) which features neat acoustic guitar work accompanying distant vocal singing style. It flows nicely to "Under the Sun" (4:13) which is a rocker with a good combination of keyboard and rocking guitar sounds. I can see through this track either Hogarth or Steve Rothery (guitar) have forced themselves beyond their boundaries. Yes, Hogarth tries to perform in rocking style while Steve tries to produce guitar work that blends howling sounds and classic rock style reminiscent of 70s hard rock scheme with bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or Ten Years After. It's a good track overall. "The Answering Machine" (3:48) continues with a rock spirit even though it has an unclear composition and it lacks cohesiveness as a song. "Three Minute Boy" (5:59) is a pop outfit like Bee Gees. Good guitar solo.

"Now She'll Never Know" (4:59) is a nice song which starts with acoustic guitar rhythm accompanying Hogarth's floating singing style. The keyboard work that enters later has enriched the song textures. It's a relaxing and cool music with completely floating style especially with Hogarth's singing style. "These Chains" (4:49) is a ballad with acoustic guitar as main rhythm section punctuated by a piano work. The songs gradually increase into high points to chorus. Those who have been longing for Steve Rothery's guitar solo, this track gives you with cool guitar solo and nice ballad music.

For blues mania, "Born to Run" (5:12) can be a good thread as this track is heavily influenced by the blues. With floating singing style, the guitar fills sound very smooth. I have never imagined before that Marillion would have ever played blues music even though the tempo is really mellow. "Cathedral Wall" (7:19) remarks the band's revitalization of his mostly mellow style before. The album concludes with "A Few Words for the Dead" which moves the music really slow and quiet with some ambient / spacey style.

It's a good album. Keep on proggin'

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#46184)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I own this album, but to be honest theres nothing to get excited about. As a collector of marillion albums and memorabilia I have to have everything, so I think two stars is fair, collevtors only. These Chains and A few words for the dead are reasonable tracks, but apart from that it is pretty low standard stuff ( by Marillion Standards anyway). There weakest effort to date. However, better was to come with Anorakophobia and thegreat Marbles so all is not lost here. As fish once sang in one of their songs (I think it was Childhoods end) when he was the singer, the only thing misplaced was direction, exactly right.
Report this review (#49551)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Marillion's Radiation is middle of the road disc for me--not my favorite, but I don't loathe it, either. This disc was during their mid to late 90's period, which saw greatness in spots ("This Strange Engine"), but inconsistency, as well ( Radiation, you could say, is the middle child that lacks direction and really doesn't have an identity.

The disc starts off with a scratchy old vinyl sounding diddy which highlights Marillion's humor in "Costa del Slough". Funny lyrics, but an odd tune that is a tongue in cheek song about the environment and the depletion of the ozone layer. A minute and a half of that gives way to the crunching guitars of Steve Rothery for the song "Under The Sun". Very intense song with some nice vocals by H and keyboard work by Kelly.

"The Answering Machine" is a fine song, but not a favorite of mine. The same goes for "Three Minute Boy", which is quite lazy in spots until the ending, which sees the pace picked up a bit.

Radiation isn't all bad. "These Chains", "Cathedral Wall", and "A Few Words For The Dead" are excellent Marillion songs. "These Chains" could be one of Hogarth's finest vocal performances, accompanying very lush melodies. The discs showcase song, however, is "A Few Words For The Dead". An absolute stunner! The first half is very soft, very bleak in sound; however, the mood changes from pessimism to optimism with Hogarth suggesting "Or you could love," and the band just unleashes in that usual Marillion-esque power that makes me shake my head in amazement. Excellent song!

As a footnote: I think I prefer the version of "The Memory Of Water" as a bonus track than the more acoustic version on This Strange Engine. The second version is extremely powerful that's anchored by Trewavas' thumping bass, and kicked up the arse guitar solo by Rothers. This band can totally rock at times.

Like I said, Radiation isn't bad...just not great. And greatness would soon come in the form of Anoraknophobia and (especially) Marbles. We just had to be patient for a couple of albums.

Report this review (#72935)
Posted Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
The Crow
2 stars Yes, maybe this is the worst Marillon's album... But still have some good moments!

After the excellent and different "This Strange Engine", Marillion made another different album, a step further in the rupture of Marillion with its past. Almost anything of the Fish's era is here... "Radiation" is just a rock album, maybe alternative rock album, with some prog elements. The evidence of Radiohead is pretty evident here, but of course, we have to admit that Marillion itself influenced the brit pop and rock with "Brave" and "Afraid of Sunlight"...

But the experiment failed in my opinion... Really, songs like Under the Sun and The Answering Machine is not the thing I hope from a band like Marillion. Rough production and Hogarth's singing, a steril attempt to achieve a more agressive sound... In my opinion, the pure rock tracks by Marillion are not very good, so this album fails in so many moments in my opinion... And the blues experiment of Born to Run is another strange track that doesn't fit with the Marillion's career, and obviously this was not the way to follow... Now she'll never know is beautiful, but a little boring, although Hogarth sings with a lot of passion here.

Best songs: Three Minute Boy (good verses, and great breaking and guitar solo at the end...), These Chains (maybe the best song of the album, with another good guitar solo, but not a classic, of course...), Cathedral Wall (weird track with good keyboard work, with some feeling of desperation, a good one...) and A Few Words for the Dead (not great, but the oriental feeling of the song is pretty original for Marillion, and the final verses are pretty nice too... Maybe not a memorable suite, but a good ending).

Conclusion: a very irregular album, only indicated for fans of the Marillion's Hogarth era... Nevertheless, if you like the alternative rock in the way of Radiohead, maybe you will enjoy this album too.

My rating: **1/2

Report this review (#74352)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Where a superb band fails to deliver a good album, that's what Radiation is. With the great Brave album the band had set an extremely high standard and with This strange engine, Radiation and they never came close to that desired quality. But where 'Engine' and .com certainly had their magic moments, Radiation altogether fails. The songs are remarkbly poor in melody and production, they show a significant lack of ideas and they show for sure that Marillion should never play a real blues song (Born to run is só dreadful!). There are some nice moments though: 'These chains is good', as well as 'Three minute boy' and, especially, 'Now she never knows' which really sends me shivers down the spine. Apart from the aforementioned, horrible 'Born to run' I really dislike 'Answering machine' (Marillion goes pop!) and 'Cathedral wall' (just a dreadful chunk of noise). Fortunately the album closes with the fine 'A few words for the dead' in which the band proves that it still had the ability to write real great songs. And they proved again with albums like Anoraknophobia and Marbles. For a good introduction to this absolutely great band choose one of these albums and just skip Radiation. It's really for collectors only.
Report this review (#79739)
Posted Monday, May 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Marillion - Radiation

After the overly acoustic "This strange Engine" album, Marillion decided to come back with a more rock-orientated album: "Radiation". Despised by half of their fanbase, loved by the others. I can understand both perspectives, because the album is indeed one of a kind. The influences for the songs presented here are obvious: The Beatles and Radiohead.

I myself am part of the pro-Radiation movement and really love the album. Especially the raw production, which is really a contradiction compared to the previous "This strange Engine" album, is remarkable. The sound perfectly fits the songs, but sometimes it is a bit difficult to notice individual instruments in the overall mix, mainly the drumming.

There's absolutely no filler included here, according to my taste, each song is good on its own. The album consists of three different 'movements'. The first four songs are all uplifting rock songs, whereas Now she'll never know, These Chains and Born to run are slightly more emotional songs than the first set of songs. These songs are also 'darker' and more moody.

The final set of songs are the prog rock songs. Cathedral Wall is a metal prog song which includes some ethereal keyboard playing and heavy guitar work. Hogarth's vocals also sound very eerie and he even screams during some parts of the song. The title of the track fits the song perfectly, it sounds as if you indeed are inside a cathedral and there's a wall of noise coming at you.

Closing the album is the 10+ minute beauty that is A few Words for the Dead. Basically discussing the poetic significance of good and evil, the song's lyrics work as a clear division between the two parts of the songs. The first half of the song is very ambient and atmospheric and makes the listener wonder if he or she is in the middle of the jungle. The lyrics are a bit 'disturbing' and portrait the role of 'evil,' but they surely fit the dark mood of the music.

Halfway through, the song changes into something joyful and uplifting. Hogarth's voice certainly sounds more beautiful now and he really shines. The music switches to a higher pitch of sound, which accompanies the positive lyrics superbly.

The song is definitely prog, but not in a show-of kind of way. The various instruments do not fill any solo spots within the composition, but the overall changes in tempo combined with the weird keyboards and samples make it a worthy piece of music for any prog rock collection. Funny thing to mention is that in the CD's booklet the lyrics for the final song have different colours regarding whether it is from the perspective of good or evil :-)

Report this review (#80220)
Posted Saturday, June 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Marillion's final album of the millennium is more or less a weak spot in the career of such a great group. I consider this to be the weakest Marillion album, but I wouldn't consider it to be a total waste of your money, but more of a purchase that you will either love or hate. Now, this album is drastically different than anything Marillion had done thus far. It's a very guitar oriented album, and the keyboards never truly get a chance to shine in the spotlight. This album is in no way a progressive album, save for quasi-progressive songs Cathedral Walls and A Few Words for the Dead, which save the album from being a total abomination. The musicianship, as with every Marillion album, is creative and top notch, but I just can't get into the songs on the album, and I find it hard to keep my attention focused on this album. It's not bad, it's just not terribly good. I don't hate this album, I just think that there are a lot better Marillion albums out there.

Costa del Slough opens the album with a chaotic, almost dissonant blaze of every instrument as well as an atmospheric vocal performance in the very beginning. It doesn't really do anything to make the album any better and it acts more as noise than actual music (except for the little acoustic ditty in the middle). Once Under the Sun one can immediately see that Marillion's sound is different. It isn't progressive in the least bit, but it's well produced pop. This song is very guitar oriented, and the only keyboard thats really prominent are these little spacey ascending riffs. The Answering Machine is brings back memories of Holidays in Eden, only it's more modern sounding. This song is probably one of the poppiest things Marillion had ever written. It's not bad pop, but it's not a terribly inventive or creative song. Three Minute Boy is a mellow piano based piece. It's one of the better songs on the album, in my opinion, with a big Beatles influence in the chord progression and choruses. Now She'll Never Know is an acoustic based piece with some emotional vocals from Hogarth. It's an interesting piece for the most part, but I feel despite it only being 5 minutes that it drags on a bit.

These Chains is a bit of a forgettable tune. It brings a bit of a blues influence into the group. Rothery's solo in the middle really saves the song, as it's dynamic and interesting. The Beatles influence can be heard here with the orchestrations that occur after the solo. Born to Run is also a bluesy tune, not terribly interesting, though. No instrument really gets a chance to shine, and there's nothing particular strong about this song. Cathedral Wall is a 7 minute wall of sound. Nothing can escape this wall of soaring synthesizers and muddy guitar chords. The harmony vocals and the chorus riff are catchy and concise. This song is a bit of a sampler of what would come in the future for the group with albums like and to a lesser extent Anoraknophobia. A Few Words for the Dead is the most progressive song on the album. It has a very ethereal and ambient introduction and towards the middle it turns into a different affair with more rocking sections. It ends the album well, but it wouldn't take that much to end this album well.

In the end, Marillion's last studio album of the millennium is a love/hate affair. While I like some of the songs on this album, I feel underwhelmed and disappointed by this release. Like Holidays in Eden, you should look for this release towards the end of your Marillion collecting spree. 2.5/5.

Report this review (#82137)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars.This record must be really bad, i mean it's the lowest rated of all Marillion's studio albums on Prog Archives as well as on another music rating site. And that wouldn't be so bad if it was the lowest rated at say 3.5 on average, but 2.67 as i write this ? Ouch !

After repeated listens i was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. I found the middle of the record really dragged for me though, especially the song "Born To Run", songs 5-7 just seem uninspired. On the other hand i loved "Cathedral Wall" and "A Few Words For The Dead". They are very atmospheric and a real change for the band, and I applaud them for it, and for doing it so well. "3 Minute Boy" is a blast ! One of the few songs that i can ever remember actually singing along with during the chorus THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT ! Great song ! I also really like "Under The Sun" another good sing-along chorus.

Overall this may be an experimental album for the band .Which i think being progressive is all about changing and trying new things. Which obviously didn't go over to well with their fans. The other thing that i noticed about this recording is the humour and the the wit. I think they had a good time making this one.

Report this review (#88708)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
4 stars Radiation is probably Marillion's most contraversial album simply because it's totally different from any previous works. But this is one reason why I love this album the first listen. Actually I was a bit shocked and disappointed that so many people dislike or reject this album; the album is varied and there is a lot to enjoy for any prog listener IMHO. There are new, surprising songs - the acoustic Now She'll never Know (amazing song, nice atmosphere), the bluesy Born to Run (great guitar work),, the heavy, darker Cathedral Wall (brilliant song IMO). The opening acoustic song flaws amazingly into the rocker Under the Sun (I love the keyboards and the guitar here); The Answering Machine is a lot of fun, having some nice keyboards. Three Minute Boy is one of my favourite Marillion songs - great vocals from Hogarth (as usual) and great guitar work and some nice piano. These Chains is also made in the manner of Three Minute Boy, with a great guitar solo. And last but not least A Few Words for the Dead is an amazing, atmospheric epic.

Therefore I think no prog listener should miss this album: you got great musicianship and very good lyrics . I agree to the idea that Marillion had a lot of fun creating this album.


Report this review (#89019)
Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars As a fan of Marillion since the early 80's I'm not really sure how to rate this album. (yes I still call them albums). I was warned when it came out that it was not worth the time to take it to the register let alone the money to buy it. Needless to say I passed on the purchase and stoicly waited for the next release, which,as we all know, could have been years. What a dreadful mistake! How I wish I hadn't listened to those insane prog purists. A rather dramatic departure from the accustomed Marrilion fare,more rock than progressive, Radiation may not be a masterpiece but it's still an excellent album. As a musician, this album is very easy to appreciate. Anyway....a lesson is so personal I now take the time to listen myself instead of letting others make up my mind for listen away my friends...listen away...
Report this review (#94475)
Posted Saturday, October 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
1 stars A big misfire when compared to the excellence of the band's previous 4 releases. "Radiaiton" features very few new ideas and very little to warrant repeated listens save to remind oneself how much better their other albums are.

The biggest problem is its song writing, which is bland and unoriginal. "Three Minute Boy", the song everyone remembers from this one, is comparable with the mediocrity of "Holiday's in Eden"... "These Chains" is even worse. Where is Rothery's beautiful guitar work? Where is h's meaningful writing?

Unfortunately there isn't anything to redeem this album of it's stumbles; "A Few Words for the Dead" tries, but by the time the closing track gets up to speed one is likely going to be too jaded to care. Fortunately things getter better with successive albums... eventually.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

Report this review (#116753)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars This album starts like a nightmare. The opener is just a bunch of noise while "Under Son" offers an awful sound. Drumming is extremely weak and the solo guitar break sounds almost heavy metal. Only the chorus is bearable. The last one of this infernal trio is "The Answering Machine". Weird rhythmic guitar (noisy, exaggerately trash). Surprisingly enough, vocals are the most pleasant part of this song. While you know my extremely limited enthusiasm for Hogarth, it should give you an indication of how this album sounds so far.

The first good moment available is "Three Minute Boy". A strong rock song with loads of great guitar (finally). The accent so far is definitely on the rocking side. It breaks the dull mood that Marillion Mark II has shown since 1989 but this drastic change was rather unpredictable. The following song "Now She'll Never Know" is 100% in the style of their most boring numbers. The "palme d'or" of dullness and insipidity. Difficult to remain awake during these five minutes. Excessively useless as "These Chains". Another pure Marillion Mark II typical song : lifeless, flat, inconsistent. The melody of the chorus saves it a little bit. Rothery will perform a good (but too short) guitar solo. Did you say poor ?

The only difference with the next "Born to Run" is the bluesy mood. It is the first one of the genre for this band. It is extremely boring as well. Still, a very nice guitar break comes again to the rescue. Hogarth shows all the limitations of his vocal style (how can this guy be the Marillion II singer, will remain a mystery for ever). I hope I should have been born to run to do so while listening to this track.

"Cathedral Wall" is more interesting. A great intro, a strange mood with some powerful passages (almost grunge at times). It is the most complex of the album so far. Several theme changes (from slow and almost decadent to weird and strong). This song is difficult to approach but is my fave of the album so far. At times, this track reminds me of the band "Suicide" (late mid-seventies). Somewhat scary and disturbing.

The closing numner "A Few Words for the Dead" starts with a very Crimsonesque mood ("Islands") for about two minutes. This long song (over ten minutes) is rather experimental with almost no structure. Incoherent backing band, displaying here and there some "sounds". These ten minutes sound pretty long and the Oriental influence that can be heard at half time won't keep you interested, I'm afraid. The last section features a good melody and nice vocals, but to be honest it won't change my opinion about it : weak.

Rating of this "work" is pretty easy. Two average songs, some good but too short guitar breaks as well as two or three nice vocal passages : one little star for this little piece of music. Avoid it by all means.

Report this review (#131394)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars After the masterpiece Brave, the excellent Afraid of Sunlight, and the mixed bag This Strange Engine (but a hopeful return to their prog roots with the title track), Marillion continued to spiral down into mediocrity with their 1998 release called Radiation. On this album, Marillion took a more AOR/alternate rock approach and it shows, but not in a positive sense. Hogarth seems to strain his voice to fit this style of music and would have been better off using his wonderful approach used on Brave and other better albums. I can't blame a guy for experimenting with new styles, but when it comes off as a failure, why release it? I guess something has to pay for those recording studio bills and endless boxes of macaroni and cheese (yummm!).

The production on Radiation seems to have slipped a bit in quality compared to earlier albums and that may be due to time constraints the band had at the time. Lyrically, it's about on par with other average songs of the Hogarth era. The only song that stands out for me musically is Cathedral Wall. It has some nice keyboard lines and kind of hearkens back the the Afraid of Sunlight album. Overall, this was a disappointment for me. It's not bad, but it's miles away from the greatness of Brave and Afraid of Sunlight. If you're interested in the Hogarth era, start with those. This one is only for collectors and die-hard fans of the band. Two stars.

Report this review (#142291)
Posted Friday, October 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Massively underrated! Ok, the sound and production may not be great, but there are many hidden gems here. 'Under the Sun' is the sound of a grittier, rockier band, a theme continued into 'The Answering Machine'. 'Three Minute Boy' has developed a reputation as something of a live favourite over the years, and it is a truly wonderful song, certain sections of which harking back to Fish-era Marillion, whilst the lyrics wouldn't have been out of place on 'Clutching at Straws'. The single, 'These Chains' is a dark pop track, obviously influenced by band's like Radiohead and with a great solo from Mr. Rothery. Closer, 'A Few Words For the Dead', is a forgotten Marillion classic, building from a dark and brooding beginning and exploding into a beautiful climax.

The lyrics this time are much darker, Hogarth seemingly tackling his personal life head on, the sound is grittier, and whilst the production lets 'Radiation' down, this one has developed a cult following as a forgotten classic. Give it another try!

Report this review (#158244)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Other than the deficient sonic quality of this album I have never quite understood the heavy criticism thrown at this release. Radiation contains a rather eccentric and somtimes psychedelic mix of what Marillion does best...pop/prog/rock with beautiful haunting vocal melodies.

Under The Sun is superb organ and guitar led rocker that is reminiscent of Accidental Man or Paper Lies.

Answering Machine contains a rather intriguing vocal that sounds like it was actually recorded on an answering machine. This track is probably Marillion's most psychedelic moment (although Drilling Holes gives it a run for it's money). These Chains and Three Minute Boy are two of those Marillion/Beatle-esque numbers that they do so well. While 'Cathedral Walls' has tinges of 'King' within it.

However it is the remaining tracks that cover new ground. 'Born To Run' has one of the most soulful vocal and guitar takes ever to grace a Marillion album. With it's slow, soft blusey shuffle it can only be summed up as gorgeous.

'Now She'll Never Know' is the album's acoustic number that is strikingly similar to a late era Talk Talk track, particularly with Steve Hogarth's understated falsetto mimicking the enigmatic Mark Hollis.

'A Few Words For The Dead' is a track of two halves. The first half being a brooding and bubbling ambient soundscape not so different from the works of David Sylvian or Barbeiri/Jansen. The second half finally embraces the trippy technicolor message of love that appealed to so many in the 60's (yes, psychedelia again!....what were these guys doing during studio downtime????)

Marillion stopped trying to sound like the early 70's many many years ago and on Radiation they embraced the late 60's. Listen to it again and bear that in mind. Think of it as Marillions answer to XTC's 'Dukes Of Stratosphear'...go on....lighten up.

Report this review (#169874)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars It may not be the best Marillion record to date, but it's not half bad. The songwriting is tight, and there is no Hope for the future catastrophe here - it may be a tad less progressive, but it's neo prog alright. Fans of Marillion will thoroughly enjoy it, while those who are unsure whether they like the band should try one of their more acclaimed works first instead.
Report this review (#175418)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars We might be wrong

Marillion's tenth album (on the sleeve the 10 is reflected in the letters IO in the album title and the band name) "Radiation" finds the band making a conscious and concerted effort to change their style and sound. Denying at the time of its release that they had ever really been a "prog" band, they seem here to have deliberately tried to ensure that there is as little as possible which might qualify for that tag.

Cited by fans and critics as borrowing heavily from the music of Radiohead, while the band themselves deny any such overt influences, they do admit that Radiohead albums were on their playlist around the time the album was recorded. The brief introductory track "Costa del Slough" is certainly off-beat enough to put long terms fans on their guard. "Under the sun" though offers a level of reassurance, lyrically at least, as the theme mirrors that of the title track of "Season's end". The off key lead vocals and harsher overall sound though are more difficult to digest.

"The answering machine" is more in line with the type of music which appeared on the previous "This strange engine" album, although the vocals here are deliberately distorted (as if heard on an answering machine). "Three minute boy" is apparently a nod lyrically towards Oasis (the band). Musically, it comes much closer to songs on former Hogarth Marillion albums, while building to an anthemic chorus with hints of "Don't look back in anger". The track introduces a softer core section for the album, with "Now she'll never know" and "These chains" being more traditional Marillion songs.

"Born to run" (not the Springsteen song) is a melancholy dirge, rather spoilt in my opinion by a clumsy drum beat. The two longest tracks are saved till last. The 7 minute "Cathedral wall" has a wonderful blast of synth upfront, then settles into a Porcupine Tree like mid-paced piece. A sinister cacophony builds midway before suddenly giving way to an almost inaudible conclusion. This track alone would make the album worthwhile. From here we merge seamlessly into the 10+ minute closing track "A few words for the dead". This is one of those growers, a song which at first appears lacking in substance, but which gets under the skin and imposes itself after repeated listening.

In all, a decent album by Marillion which is not quite as radical as the band and some others would have you believe. If you enjoy the music of Hogarth era Marillion, chances are you will find something here to enjoy too.

The bonus track on the Japanese release "Fake plastic trees" is a cover of the Radiohead song. It was also included on the CD single version of "These chains".

Report this review (#186557)
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I cannot understand for the life of me why the ratings are so low for this LP. Recorded in my old home town of Oswestry, I think this is a very underrated piece of work.

Costa Del Slough is a rather amusing opener, followed by a rocking rant against global warming in Under The Sun, featuring some fine Mark Kelly keyboard work.

The Answering Machine is a very good single which gallops along at a fair old pace.

Now She'll never Know & These Chains are the tracks which link this LP together - they are fine, moving ballads with Hogarth particularly plaintive in his vocal treatment - again, Kelly is on fine form. I find the These Chains ghostly chant to be particularly effective and moving.

Born To Run is a rather throwaway track, but the LP comes to a forceful conclusion with Cathedral Wall & A Few Words for the Dead. Again, Kelly's keyboards are very much to the fore, and Hogarth is in fine vocal form as he belts out the conclusion. The end track sees the band complement Kelly & Hogarth in some beautiful chord and drum work. This really is Mark Kelly's finest moment as the band's keyboardist.

This is not an album you will give anything over three stars on the first few listens. It is a definite grower, but if you give it a chance, you will be amply rewarded. As for the Radiohead comparisons, Hogarth himself did not help matters much when he compared the band to Yorke et al. I think that he meant that the music they were producing was no longer traditional prog rock and had more in common with Radiohead - I agree. It is truly progressive and not stuck in the past - no bad thing? Having said that, if you like Radiohead, you will like this. Also, if, as I do, you love Yes, Genesis, Fish era & etc., then you will still find a lot to like in this LP.


Report this review (#196771)
Posted Thursday, January 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the first of a long line of Hogarth-era Marillion albums I'm going to review from now on. And to be fair and warn in advance: I'm not a fan of this Marillion to say the least despite my huge love for the neo progressive subgenre. In my view Marillion became a borderline progband when Steve Hogarth entered the band. On itself a good thing he did because if there wouldn't have been a follow up for Fish it could have meant the end for the band and there would only have been 5 years of history for this band and they wouldn't have been as prolific as they are now. All true but still I stick to my statement because it dominates my feel for the band.

With this album from 1998 we might have a good example of what I mean. And it could also be one of the lesser albums in their career. It already becomes clear with the useless short opener of 1,5 minutes that has no substance at all. Next track Under the Sun isn't really giving much hope as first real song and neither is third The answering Machine. Some nice elements like Kelly's keys perhaps but like I said, it's hardly prog, even neo prog (not just an opinion by me by the way, I heard this statement more often about Hogarth-Marillion is in between pop music and neo prog). And this is besides the songs themselves mainly caused by the sort of voice of Steve Hogarth. He has a very good voice, no problem but it all sounds too mainstream, a prog voice has to be a bit out of the ordinary I have the feeling after listening to more than hundred of these voices. Three minute boy sounds like a Black Crowes song for some reason, not bad but it simply proves my opinion. Now she'll never know is a common ballad also here nothing special. These Chains is another nice song but this is hardly meant positively. There is simply nothing going on here, again no progressive elements, a 20 second guitar solo by Rothery being the highlight. Born to Run is the third easy listening song in a row making the whole thing somewhat dull by now. Again some fine guitar tries to save the song but it's too little I'm afraid. It's as if they heard me because next up Cathedral Wall starts almost heavy to quiet down after a few seconds already. These heavy and quiet moments will keep alternating on this track. One of the better, this one but that has also to do with the disappointing level of the other tracks. The only (short) epic on this album is the closing track A few Words for the Dead. This one starts a bit strange, pretty progressive for sure so they are making up for the poppy first 7 songs with the last two but I'm afraid it can't save my judgment for the overall score anymore.

This could well be their least album ever, I'm curious how that will turn out with all the other reviews of Hogarth-era Marillion. I predict a lot of three star ratings, maybe even all of them. Because that's the feeling I have with the band's efforts in the last 20 years. I will be as fair as possible on this of course because that's my duty and I have no reason to bash them all the time. It's just that it has turned out one of my least favourite neo bands through the years. Can't help it, fortunately for them overall most progfans still think they are the best neoband ever so that means I'm probably a minority. It's how it is, this one will have to settle for two I'm afraid (2,4).

Report this review (#251113)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Radiation is an album that lacks identity. There are some good songs but it misses the coherence and personality of the preceding and following albums. My guess is that it mostly consists of unused material from the previous releases.

It also feels a bit rushed. The Answering Machine for instance is the most folksy kind of Fish-era prog they had done in a while but the muddy production doesn't do it much justice. Also Under The Sun could have benefited from a more prominent drum presence and less reverb, but it's Hogarth's voice that takes the spotlight.

Radiation doesn't conceal Marillion's flirtations with the current indie-rock of Radiohead. Three Minute Boy and Now She'll Never Know are good Radiohead-studies. Unfortunately, These Chains indulges in the type of sentimental 80's pop that they had done on Holidays In Eden. The best is kept till the end. Cathedral Wall is an adequate modern prog song of the kind they would further explore on the subsequent albums. A Few Words for the Dead takes some time to develop but it turns out quite lush and melodious after a couple of listens. Again a more modern indie-edge can be perceived.

Radiation is a transitional albums that falls inbetween a number of older Hogarth-era albums that were generally much appreciated and the two subsequent albums that would be less popular with fans. Given my preference for the latter, I can appreciate this album for introducing some of the elements that made me appreciate and Anoraknophobia so much.

Report this review (#266671)
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Oh dear, something went really wrong with this one!

After steadily growing with every new release in the '90s Marillion lost some of their momentum with the release of This Strange Engine in 1997 followed by this release only a mere year later. Maybe it was the newly obtained Internet community that made the band feel obligated to produce their albums a bit faster than what they did earlier but that's what I think is the main problem with their late '90's output. If only the band could combine the best bits of This Strange Engine, Radiation and on one cohesive release then it would have easily become one of their best albums. As it stands today these releases all fall short in the quality of their material.

You might object by saying that Brave was succeeded by Afraid Of Sunlight within the same time span or even mention the early days where the band did an album each year. This is all very true but that's actually the right thing to do as long as a band is on a creative streak. This is definitely not the case with Radiation where Marillion basically rehashed the same formula that they gave us on both Afraid Of Sunlight and This Strange Engine. This means that the album doesn't really offer any real worth a while material and instead just gives the already established fans base something to hold them over until the next album.

It all starts quite promising with the two lighter tunes Under The Sun and The Answering Machine but towards Three Minute Boy I started to feel that Marillion was trying too hard to show how much fun they were having here and it didn't come off as a genuine reaction. I realize that this type of criticism comes down to personal opinion and there isn't really a way to prove whether the band was genuine or not but this still doesn't take away from the fact that the music here us completely void of any stand-out moments. The material on Radiation might not be completely terrible since Marillion does play it safe most of the time but this just gives the naysayers that criticize the band for not being progressive enough all the more proof to strengthen their argument.

I don't know if it's the timespan, uninspired performance or the loose direction that makes it a weaker release but ultimately that's exactly what Radiation represents. A perfect example of collectors/fans only material.

**** star songs: Under The Sun (4:13) The Answering Machine (3:48)

*** star songs: Costa Del Slough (1:24) Three Minute Boy (5:59) Now She'll Never Know (4:59) These Chains (4:49) Born To Run (5:12) Cathedral Wall (7:19) A Few Words For The Dead (10:31)

Report this review (#277232)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars Oh Dear! After the majestic run of the previous three albums this was an absolute slap in the face. As a huge fan of strange engine i was looking forward to this album so much. It opens with a bizarre ditty and its pretty much downhill all the way. Only the answering machine and these chains rise above the tuneless mess this album creates. Almost completely devoid of memorable moments it lurches from one flat, bland dirge to the next. Finding it incredibly hard work listening to this album as i'm typing.

I have to give this the minimum 1 star. An absolute low point for the band.

Report this review (#348483)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Non-Essential.

I picked up the trilogy of This Strange Engine, Radiation, and sometime after purchasing, Anoraknophobia. Partly because the Sanctuary label imports were low cost and partly because I am a completionist and found some good moments on the earlier Hogarth releases. Radiation is a CD for completionists. There are some interesting moments and very occasionally some good guitar and keyboard solos but there is a need to wait for these.

The CD starts with "Costa del Slough" which is essentially a waste of space. A short ditty about effects of UV radiation and ozone holes. "Under the Sun" is an up-tempo/rock song that does have some good guitar and keyboard solos.

"The Answering Machine" has some good 70-s style synth work.

"Three Minute Boy" (5:59) starts slowly but after about two minutes it becomes heavier and worthwhile.

"Now She'll Never Know" is very slow, largely Hogarth voice only with soft guitar and keyboards. Forgettable.

"These Chains" also starts slowly but builds into an interesting song with Rothery guitar solos.

"Born to Run" is another mellow song with sparse instrumentation.

"Cathedral Wall" is a song of varying tempo but does have some good prog moments.

"A Few Words For The Dead"(10:31) is the longest and best song that proves that Marillion can still deliver.

Are the good moments worth the wait? For those who would not consider themselves as Marillion fans the answer is almost certainly no. Even Marillion fans might have some doubt.

2.8 Stars

Report this review (#358950)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars After having had controversial feelings about Hogarth, I think that the reason of the low rating of this album stays just in his voice. Let's forget "Costa Del Slough" even with the nice ragtime guitar, and I didn't imagine that Rothary was a finger-picker, too. Under the Sun is not a bad song but it misses something.

It's with "The Answering Machine" that the reason becomes clear. Try to imagine Fish whispering instead of Hogart crying on the same chorus and you'll discover that the band is playing old style, this song could stay on Clutching at Straws, and maybe for this reason Hogarth appears to be misplaced.

Things change with "Three Minute Boy" that seems to be built for Hogarth. A good melodic song on which Hogarth's voice sounds appropriate. Not the same on "Now She'll Never Know". The initial high-pitched singing makes me think to a sort of dry-throat version of Demis Roussous. The keyboard sound seems stolen from Beatles and the song is a bit boring. One waits for a crescendo or a vocal explosion but it doesn't happen. Too long.

"These Chains" isn't much better. At least there's some rhythm brought in by the acoustic guitar. This country-rock flavor is interrupted by the chorus that's not so nice. "Born To Run" (very slowly let's say) seems a R&B slow song of the 60s. Think to Percy Sledge, this kind of things. Is this what we look for in a Marillion album?

"Cathedral Wall" is more rocking. Not a masterpiece, but at least it keeps me awaken, except for the interlude with Hogarth singing like he was drunk.

Said so, when it comes to "A Few Words For the Dead", one hopes that they are really few. What comes is something that one doesn't expect from Marillion. Please let Edgar Froese make this kind of things. They're not playing Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, and even if, it shouldn't feature Hogarth's vocals. Listening to it better the sitar in the background and the repetitive guitar plus the electronic are not absolutely bad, but a track of this kind shouldn't have a so melodic singing. The possible oriental flavor gets lost.

I can save just a couple of songs of this album so I'm sorry but I put myself together with its low-raters. I can't give it more than 2 stars

Report this review (#501329)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The test...

i was tempted to alter my "headline" into "the stresstest" - because "stresstest" has been chosen to be the official German "word of the year 2011"... AND because - apart from Steve Hogarth who had to undergo his very personal "stresstest" during that time, suffering from insomnia - a superficial listen to "Radiation" indeed may be a "stresstest" for the average prog-fan as well... but that's not the point I really wanted to make. I think this album is a test for Marillion-Fans. Cause if you are, you may miss a lot of what you love about the band first. You may find it a transitional if not confusing piece in their output. Some may even dismiss it for the band to have gone wrong, lost track, or simply acted ill-advised. Others may dislike its shape and the way it sounds, think it was a failure of production while they appear to like the songs. Concerning the long track at the end, you may shake your head in embarrassment if you expected it to be "prog-rock" - but you may as well be ready to pass that "test" in spite of it all. Cause, whatever you think, remember this: With this band you were always in danger to be misled by your expectations, at least since the arrival of Steve Hogarth had taken place. And each new album somewhat had supposedly become a bag of surprises, good or bad ones, depending on your taste. They dislike to repeat themselves. Considering this, "Radiation" is no less than a typical Marillion-album. It's not that odd at all !

So free yourself from expectations, please, and for once more have a listen without prejudice... but please give the album more than just a few, cause in the very first place it's a grower ( my first "headline" had been "the grower" but I thought that "the test" was even better ). It's needing time to finally get to you. And at the moment when it finally does, you will gladly find you have passed the test - cause you're worthy. You've just proven to be a real fan of this band. And they thank you for it with a huge amount of pleasure. You'll stop wondering about how strange this album first sounded to you, you'll start wondering why other people don't seem to like it. And, my personal tip: before you listen to any other new Marillion-album, put on this one, cause it helps you to get ready for and exited about the next marvelous bag of surprises. "Radiation" can always free you of misconceptions and false expectations - and if it serves you to, you just have dug into the deeper truth of what this band is really about. As such a delighted and devoted fan, you won't want them to do another "Seasons end" or "Brave" ( or, for those who prefer it, AOS ) anymore. You already own those albums, don't you ? You'll want a new bag of surprises cause you can play those well known ones to death if you like, no problem at all. Every fan can pick his very own favorite. Blessed we are. And blessed I am.

"Radiation" is a grower and, like every Marillion-Album ( with, perhaps, the exception of the final shape that "Holidays in Eden" had taken ), it's a honest piece of music. It doesn't pretend to be anything else than what it is, and it doesn't pretend the band were anybody else but Marillion with a ) their very own tastes and influences and b ) their very own, admirable skills. But it's the music ( and lyrics ) standing in the foreground, the music that keeps melting all those things into one, capturing the moments of its creation, representing the state of progression at the time it was made. As a reader of PA. you may now ask yourself what's so special or "progressive" about that, cause this should be a regular thing with every band, but although you're absolutely right you better recognize that in many ( too many... ) cases it is not, and Marillion remain an example of how it should be !

Phew. What a long introduction without having said much about the music on this disc, sorry, but I obviously needed to say this and I think that a review for "Radiation" is such a seductive place to do it, because I love that Album, but it took me some time. The rating has been lowered by myself especially for this site, cause I don't want you to think I was cheating - but at the same time it's hurting me personally to not see a fourth star gracing it combined with my name. Perhaps I desperately seek to make up for that with the words that, as highly recommended, should say more than the rating - and ought not be limited.

With "This strange Engine", Marillion just had re-invented themselves, and perhaps the most important thing about its successor is that ( and how ) they managed to keep that spark of new found freshness alive. Dave Meegan was not involved in this project, which may have led to the final result not sounding as perfect as it could, but with Stewart Every's assistance it sounded as alive and authentic as it could. He and the band seemed to avoid every unnecessary bit of paint or polish in order to capture the spirit of the moment. And this is what the spirit of that moments says: "We are a ROCKband. Let's give ourselves and our fans a reminder and let's have fun altogether. There's a myriad of things we love about Rockmusic, especially - but not exclusively - British Rockmusic, and we're sure our fans do the same. We got that "prog"-tag but being progressive means being and staying open-minded and that's what we are. Let's progress in making some noise the way we love to do it right now, the way it's coming out. We got nothing else to prove than the simple fact that we are alive as a band can be and in our music we'll continue to hold that spark - the only way to escape false expectations and preconceptions is by not meeting them and going our own way, going further one more cause there ain't no need to go back to where we've already been. We're proud of where we've been and what we did, but we want to be proud of what we're doing right now just as much when one day we're supposed to look back at this one, too... and for us, this means: the journey isn't over yet, and we don't know where we will arrive but for sure we won't arrive in a place that's dull or boring just because we became self-indulgently repetitive !"

I do not really know if they thought ( exactly ) so but "Radiation" feels that way, and, lord, it feels so good. It's a pretty good attitude for making an album. An album that came in an unexpected quick succession to TSE and had to deal with its singer suffering from insomnia. Steve Hogarth was going through a personal hell, struggling to get over and find a way out, and though the Album sounds far from being so depressive there's an impressive document of that struggle on it, the unusual heavy "Cathedral Wall". Catharsis from desperation to release - perfectly expressed in song, and, linked with "These Chains" ( good one but false pick for a single ), a disturbing emotional journey that does make the darker side of this album. You can take this darker side without being over-strained cause on the album as a whole you still get the impression of the whole band having enjoyed themselves quite a lot, though Hogie may have only been able to do so in parts. I guess that making "Radiation" was an essential part of the healing-process... cause I'm sure it must have helped. But no matter how impressive this personal "center-piece" became, it's the first 4 songs ( if you don't count the intro as a single one ) that I like the most about this album.

Those four songs finally make it for one of the best song-sequences on any of their albums. I honestly love "Under the Sun" ( it somehow reminds me of Deep Purple, while the intro is a funny hint at the Beach Boys ), "The answering machine" ( It's taking off... blowing your ears out with a somewhat Scottish folk-flair taken into heavier dimensions ), "Three minute Boy" ( lyrically, it's a companion of "King", but the music is as Beatles as Marillion can be - their "Hey Jude", if you like ) and "Now she'll never know" ( goosebumps all over my skin - such a marvelous expression of a broken heart by your own guilt, silently killing the listener with one of Hogie's very best singing-performances... making perfectly clear what it means when he laments: "she told me to go to hell... and here I am !" OMG... what an emotional moment, special regards to Pete Trewavas for sensitively strumming the acoustic guitar once more,I love it when he does ). 5 stars for this, no less, no matter how average it may sound to anybody wanting Marillion to re-do "Close to the Edge". And thumbs up with 4 stars for the experiment at the end, where Marillion meet world-music and ambient for the first time after "Tales from the engine room" had pointed out a way of how they themselves could approach it: "A few words for the dead".

What to say to anybody who won't listen ? It's a dream just to think that anyone who's about to bring destruction with a violent act of terror ever would. But trying to find the words that eventually would not only be ignored but punished was quite worth the attempt. Hogie has a heart - and he's not ashamed to show it by drenching it out to us. Wonderful it is but just as painful to know that "the dead" won't hear, cause "the dead" can't listen. Thank you - say the living.

That's about the most of this. But it has to be said that, just like "Hope for the Future" on "This strange Engine", there's a miss on "Radiation" as well... and the miss is ( Hey ! I'm a Springsteen-Fan ! You can't do that, dare you ??? ) named "Born to Run". That's a tedious attempt at a "Blues"-Song that, it has to be said, is not even Blues - neither is it really a song. It's just superfluous for an elseway very good album that may bring the average prog-fan so close to the edge that I'm not allowed to give it more than a 3 star-rating here. I'm expecting to be rewarded with your praises, folks ! ( No, don't do it, it was only a test. Better pass THIS one ).

Report this review (#610454)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars I've warmed to Radiation over the years and now regard it, like Holidays In Eden, as a rather underrated album, but at the same time I can definitely see where the critics are coming from: it's not so much that it's a good album that gets passed over as merely average so much as it's a lukewarm album with some quite good bits that gets passed over as being outright rubbish.

Part of the problem is the album's worst songs are all crowded to the front of the running order, so if you want to give the album a listen from start to finish you have to sit through a clutch of poppy indie-rock numbers with some pretty rough and raw production which the band seem to have knocked off in the vague hope of getting some sales from the indie rock crowd who were going gaga for Radiohead at the time.

The bad first impression these songs give certainly isn't help by the band's efforts at the time to distance themselves from the "prog" moniker. However, whilst there really isn't much on this album which is capital-P Proggy in the sense of recapturing the great prog bands of the past or Marillion's own neo-prog sound of the 1980s, they hadn't really been about that for years at this point. There is, however, some really intriguing and genuinely small-p progressive music to be found on the album if you can get over the opening numbers - or, indeed, just skip 'em.

The middle tracks of the album - from Three Minute Boy to These Chains in particular - present an intriguing sort of melodic rock tinged with classic psychedelia, mashing together the harmonies and song structures of the Beatles with the modern Radiohead indie rock sound to produce some genuinely interesting experiments. On top of that, the album closes off with two of Marillion's most progressive tracks, which between them deliver 17 minutes of top-notch crossover prog. Cathedral Wall is a hard rocking number with some really aggressive keyboard playing from Mark Kelly, whilst the album's masterpiece is A Few Words For the Dead, which travels from spacey ambient melancholia via a mildly Indo-prog tinged psychedelic midsection to arrive at a deliriously happy crescendo in which the classic sound of albums like Brave or Afraid of Sunlight is found alive and well.

I certainly wouldn't put Radiation in the top rank of Marillion albums on a whole, because some of those poppier numbers do the band no credit at all, but at the same time I wouldn't say you should necessarily dismiss it because there is some really fine material on here. Overall, I'd say it's fair to give it three stars - I'd never call it an outright excellent album, but some of the individual songs are so strong that it's at least worth a listen unless you are a die-hard hater of the band. That said, unless you are a collector or an uncritical fan of the band you may find that the finer features of the album constitute "too little too late".

Report this review (#633886)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars A big frustration!

With great enthusiasm I bought this album when it was released. I knew nothing of the content. Marillion has undergone innovations usually from an album to another, something positive. This time the results are almost nefarious. Really, I can not find a song that I settled into a good grade.

Three Minute Boy and songs These Chains are acceptable, but they are a bit repetitive and a clear commercial tilt. Now She'll Never Know it is not terrible, but too derivative of Radiohead. The last two tracks and larger compositions are relatively good, but with very bad arrangement and production. Under The Sun and The Answering Machine are best achieved.

In the case of one of the most important bands of the progressive, and one of the most loved by me, I expected much more than this lackluster musical offerings. Fortunately, these phenomenal musicians began to recover good musical direction from the next decade with good Anoraknofobia, and then the excellent Marbles.

Report this review (#1002515)
Posted Saturday, July 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Radiation 2013" or "Radiation Remixed", as it's come to be known, is never a welcoming salvo for a rock music fan. But it gets us to the heart of the matter. Radiation, first released in it's original sound mix album form in 1998, despite it's incendiary cover art, was not a Marillion album that set the world on fire. The album, like the band, were going independent. Well, at least as far as record labels were concerned after splitting from the massive EMI label after Afraid Of Sunlight.

The band soon began trying to find their feet, first with excellent but heavily acoustic album This Strange Engine before trying again with Radiation. This Strange Engine featured some excellent prog songs, with different song presentations and style, and was given a pass as being Marillion's "This Strange Album." Something akin to a prog group doing the unplugged thing, but not taking the music that far into the world of acoustic. That would happen on the group's album Less Is More some ten years later.

However, Radiation definitely showed growing pains as the songs were less progressively epic and seemed to lack drama, which is saying quite a lot for a Marillion album. Of course, excellent songs like The Three Minute Boy, These Chains, and A Few Words For The Dead have drama in spades, but somehow seemed incapable of conveying it. The problem? The sound mix, naturally, as as the band could not possibly do any wrong, so they thought. "It's the mix! Let's fix it!"

Well, it's not that simple as the original mix, a bit cluttered and noisy, was not a disaster. The 2013 remix, for the sake of simplicity, generally adds greater clarity and detail, especially to the rhythm section. With the removal of "backing vocals probably by H, Pete and Mark" as well as removing Hogarth's ghost vocals and overdubs, this helps the instruments to come more to the fore and become the backing voices of the songs, and places Hogarth as more of a single narrator of the songs. A simple trick, but not really the cure. But as I said, it's an admission that the group somehow dropped the ball. And that's sad as Radiation, both the original and remixed versions have their virtues and fine moments, with Cathedral Wall and A Few Words For The Dead (with it's lush middle eastern vibe that seems to predate the song Gaza from Sounds That Can't Be Made) are wonderfully heavy keyboard and guitar based songs that display a rare interplay between Mark Kelly and Steve Rothery. Steve Hogarth's vocals are as always earnest, if not as precious this time around, and the usual call and response bass and drum playing by Pete Trewavas and Ian Mosley are in full display.

So what was wrong? Perhaps people just expected too much. Radiation is not Marillion's best album nor their worst. It's good and deserves a listen without any preconceptions or unreasonable expectations. Personally, I love all the members of Marillion for giving me a wealth of music to enjoy for the last 30 years. I just never considered them to be infallible, which is probably why I can enjoy this album on it's own terms. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1611759)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2016 | Review Permalink

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