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5 stars It's been six years since '13th Star' first appeared. For a while another Fish album seemed in some doubt due to him requiring two operations on cysts on his vocal chords. There followed yet more domestic upheaval from a short-lived second marriage.

He regained confidence in his voice through extensive touring of an acoustic set in 2010/11 and finally, in 2012,he was ready to start work on 'A Feast of Consequences'. Important at an early stage was the return to the fold of '13th Star's' principal writing partner and bass player Steve Vantsis who had left the touring band in 2008, and here he co-writes seven of the eleven tracks, together with input from returning guitarist Robin Boult . Keyboard player Foss Paterson co-writes the other four tracks , Gavin Griffiths stays on the drumkit and Calum Malcolm produces again.

Given the near-complete continuity in personnel from the last album the unsuspecting listener might be surprised to find that this work is quite different- gone are the snarling guitars of tracks like 'Circle Line & 'Square Go'. In its place come songs intentionally built up from an acoustic base, with a rich, warm production from Malcolm. The subject matter has changed too- conscious of not wanting to get bogged down with another album about relationships Fish here covers a myriad of both introspective and observational subjects. Different too is Fish's voice, which has a clarity within its current range that is quite remarkable given the troubles he's had.

Before going through the songs though ,the other major component to this project is the artwork, especially in the 100-bage book which comes as part of the deluxe package. This time both Mark and Julie Wilkinson have produced the artwork, and a quite stunning collection it is too. Mark has done a major illustration for almost all the songs, any one of which would grace a gatefold sleeve. For any fan of Fish and of Mark's artwork the deluxe package is well worth the extra cost.

So to the music. First up is 'Perfume River'. It starts with haunting sampled bagpipes, then Fish sets off on an atmospheric journey along the Vietnamese river, lost in personal reflection " a discarded fading flower on the soporific sensual Perfume River " as he describes it. After almost 6 minutes his anger finally breaks through in a burst of guitar which subsides before the song takes off in a totally different direction, driven by acoustic guitar. Here, Fish has had the wake-up at what surrounds him in the still war-scarred country and he reels off the observations. All-in the track runs to almost 11 minutes and is a very strong opener and ,for me, one of the best tracks he's done.

Next comes 'All Loved Up', a bouncing pacy pop-rocker taking a sideswipe at today's 'get famous quick' culture ,it's almost to this album what 'Incommunicado' was to 'Clutching at Straws'. It's quite good but I prefer to play it later in the album rather than second track, as the album is at this point still taking its form and this track is different to the rest of the mood.

'Blind to the Beautiful' is an aching ballad looking partly at climate change. It's acoustic , with a violin joining the guitar and piano as Fish sings "hurricanes with children's names write our history".

The title track sees Fish address a failed relationship in a great rock track with more fine lyrics "I tear a page from the book of faces, throw your letters in an open fire" he starts. He goes on to draw parallels between the crumbling relationship and the world running out of resources.

Then comes the 'High Wood ' suite of five songs, almost half-an-hour in total. It follows a trip Fish made to the cemetery at the 'High Wood' in 2011 , scene of one of the most horrific prolonged battles in WW1, and where his grandfathers served. The words throughout this suite are emotional, at times graphic but, most importantly, respectful to the subject matter . The music features strings ('High Wood' / 'Leaving') a brass band ('Gathering') and a wall of guitars ('Thistle Alley'). It is bold and a remarkable piece of work covering a current-day visit to the site (High Wood), the initial cavalry charge ('Crucifix Corner'), the recruitment of the so- called 'Pals' battalions (Gathering) , the horror of the trench warfare as the battle stagnated ('Thistle Alley') and closes with a reflection on the devastation ('The Leaving'). Paterson co-wrote four of the songs here, with Vantsis adding the heavy 'Thistle Alley'. This suite is why for me this album is elevated to a 5* album, a reflection the work that has gone into crafting a genuinely significant body of songs.

After 'High Wood' the album might be expected to drop off but there is the introspective, emotional 'Other Side of Me', where Fish rediscovers himself after coming out a relationship. An organ note of optimism rides a wave of sunshine after a lovely understated guitar solo. Backing vocals throughout the album come from Elizabeth Antwi ( worked with Fish on 'Raingods album) and she really shines both here and on the closer, the complex 'Great Unravelling' , which features another fine guitar solo while Fish delivers a lyric looking at the threads of life .

I come at this review admittedly as a big fan of the work of Fish and am conscious that I also gave the last album 5 stars (which I also stand by) . 'Feast' benefits from repeated listening, revealing itself in layers, but the way this album has been crafted with such intelligent lyrics leaves me convinced that this work will stand as one of Fish's very finest efforts. If you like your music challenging and thought-provoking take the time to fully appreciate this.

Report this review (#1033594)
Posted Thursday, September 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is excellent stuff!

I've been a fan of Fish and Marillion and everything in between for more than 20 years now.

This new record sounds as a combination between "Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors" from 1989 and "Sunsets on Empire" from 1996.

This website categorizes this record as Neo-Prog and that's exactly what you get! This is Neo-Prog at it's best. Fish sounds great, his voice is more personal and dramatic than ever.

The other star on this new record is Robin Boult. Fish always had great guitarists on his records or on stage (Steve Vantsis, Frank Usher, John Wesley and even Steven Wilson) but I really like Robin Boult.

I like him the best when he teams up with Frank Usher, but he's not on the record.

The rest of the band are all veterans aswell. Foss Patterson already played with Fish and Gavin Griffiths is the drummer of Mostly Autumn and Karnataka. Steve Vantsis on bassguitar.

Steve was in the Fish-band since 1997 and left in 2008, but apparently he never left at all! :)

So what you get is a tight band playing a mixture of folkprog and neoprog.

I really hope that Fish hires Frank Usher as a second guitarist for the livedates.

Report this review (#1038398)
Posted Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like many writing on here I have been a fan of Fish since his days in Marillion. I have to admit though after his first two solo albums I lost my way with his music. After many years I had the good fortune to hear the 13th Star album & I re-discovered my love of Fish & his music. I love 13th Star & didn't think he would be able to top it, however I was very wrong indeed. A Feast of Consequences is a fantastic album & easily one of the best from his long career. The sound is fantastic & has a more organic feel than 13th Star. It's almost like the band are playing in your front-room, every instrument & vocal is crisp & clear. The songs are powerful & moving in the same breath. I have to say the album is a must for any neo-prog fan, & could even attract new fans to the big mans cause. Superb & a pleasure from start to finish.
Report this review (#1056625)
Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Outstanding stuff! This album is not only on par with Fish's early work, but also with several of Marillion's early works. I too am well aware of the new album syndrome, but found most of his works since Vigil to be somewhat disorganized and at times even cacophonic, with the exception of a few songs such as "Plague of Ghosts" and "Zoe 25". Not so this! It's in the tradition of old Marillion with a little bit of a "Raw Meat" sound to it.

Most notable is the haunting mid-album sequence of songs about a long, costly World War I battle that seems to have overtones and admonitions aimed at the current generation.

I say 4.25!

Report this review (#1057812)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fish's solo career after leaving Marillion has had many high points - indeed, just about every studio album of his since Sunsets On Empire has been a credit to his name - but it's never shone quite as brightly as Marillion's.

Part of this is that Fish seemed to take a little longer than Marillion to adjust to the new circumstances - whilst Marillion were able to maintain a lot of momentum with the solid Seasons' End, Fish's early studio albums were decidedly hit and miss affairs, with Fish and his various musical collaborators taking a while to settle on Fish's solo sound (which I'd argue was only finally teased out by the great Steven Wilson on Sunsets On Empire). Although Fish would eventually start producing albums that were every bit as special - even if they did have a different artistic emphasis - than the material his old cohorts in Marillion were producing, it took a good long time for him to start doing that, and by 1997 too many listeners had already written him off. (Sunsets On Empire performed miserably on its initial commercial release.)

But that's not the whole story, of course - you also need to consider that Fish has suffered more than his fair share of bouts of ill fortune and chaotic circumstances in his personal life over the years. Has some of it been self-inflicted? I'm sure the man who gave us the booze- soaked confessional of Clutching At Straws would be the first to admit that. Fish, however, has proved to be a true survivor with a knack for taking his personal experiences and turning them into fuel for his artistic fire - knock him down and he'll just write a song about the experience.

A Feast of Consequences is the perfect example of this. Emerging a full six years after the premier of 13th Star, its predecessor, it comes after a truly rollercoaster half-decade for Fish. 13th Star was a solid effort, and the fifth of an unbroken streak of high quality solo albums (I wouldn't rate a single Fish release after Sunsets On Empire at less than four stars myself), and Fish's career was looking brighter than it had for quite some time. As well as undertaking a successful US tour, he also landed a DJing spot on the UK's Planet Rock - putting him in the company of rock legends such as Alice Cooper - and his solo career finally seemed to be creeping towards the sort of prestige and high profile it deserved.

Then came a devastating rush of ill-fortune. A marriage forged and broken in the space of mere months would be a dramatic incident in anyone's life, but it was put into the shade by a health scare in which doctors had to investigate a growth on Fish's throat. Thankfully, it didn't prove to be cancer and surgery dealt with the problem, but these incidents combined to yet again put a dark cloud over Fish's solo career. This is a release which had to answer big, big questions: namely, could Fish still sing, is he in an emotional state to deliver a high- quality album, and are his musical collaborators up to the task of supporting him?

The answer to all of these is a resounding "Yes"! Anyone expecting the high notes of Script For a Jester's Tear will be disappointed, but they'd be fools to expect such a treat in any case - age happens, after all, but Fish's age-mellowed voice is a delight to listen to this time around. Musically, he's reunited in the studio for the first time since Raingods With Zippos (that I'm aware of) with Robin Boult, a long-time collaborator, and most of the band from 13th Star make a welcome return here. And lyrically, Fish's wit - never exactly dull - is as sharp as I can ever remember it being - take, for instance, All Loved Up, a second look at the themes of Incommunicado for the present generation of celebrity; Fish's lyrics cleverly evoke the naivety and self-deception of the song's narrator, a wannabe celebrity in well over his head.

Fans of Fish's prog past will not be disappointed either, since the album features a multi- part epic - tracks 5 to 9 form the five-part High Wood suite, a meditation on the costs of war. Fish has always had a good relationship with the armed forces, I suspect at least partly because despite his brash reputation he's actually a very thoughtful and considerate lyricist who is one of the few people out there who can write an anti-war song which expresses thorough horror and revulsion at the atrocities of war whilst also shedding a tear for those who've been tasked with fighting it and the emotional, moral, and physical cost war exerts on them - and he's been writing such songs ever since Forgotten Sons on Script. Here, his long-form rumination on fallen soldiers weaves in aspects of the traditional martial music of the British armed forces to create a piece which is at once recognisable as part of the progressive rock epic tradition but equally draws on influences that aren't usually heard in a prog context.

Fish and Marillion aren't ever likely to have a full-blown reunion - Steve Hogarth and Marillion are too tightly bonded as a unit for H to be ejected this late in the game for starters - but with this excellent album coming out a year after Marillion issued their own late career masterpiece in the form of Songs That Can't Be Made, I think it's fair to say that Fish and Marillion are now neck-and-neck in terms of the quality of their output and the power of their artistic vision. We don't know how many five-star albums either party has left in them, but I'm glad Fish was able to get this one out. It's a career peak on a par with and possibly even eclipsing Sunsets On Empire, and proof positive that over two decades after his solo debut Fish is maturing like a fine wine - certainly, there aren't many fish of this vintage who smell this good!

Report this review (#1057935)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's been a long time since I have posted a review. Credit Fish for bringing me back.

No suspense here. I will tell you ahead of time that this is getting 4 stars. Now, if anybody cares, let me explain why.

Fish is great. I've followed his career, highs and lows, since the beginning. Just to let you konw, this album misses his highs. Those heartthrobbing moments on Vigil, or Raingods, or 13th Star, are not there. On the other hand, the low points that I refuse to name out of charity are not there either. This is a very slick professional production (as was 13th Star.) The only flaw is that this album lacks a bit of the inspiration that inflated the previous one.

I would be remiss in mentioning that Fish has amazingly recovered from his throat surgeries. There was a time when we all feared he would never sing again. Thank God that never happened.

I leave it to others to explicate how Fish's ancestors fighting in WWI inspired this album. Do justice to this, please.

4 stars.

Report this review (#1059940)
Posted Monday, October 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Scottish singer Fish has released his eleventh studio record since he left Marillion and here he proves a lot of his strength. It has gone six years since "Thirteenth star", his last album and now we see an artistic cover with a burning tree and a nice Fish sign in the dark above. On this album participate Fish(vocals), Robin Bould(guitars), Foss Paterson(keyboards), Steve Vantsis(bass) and Gavin Griffiths(drums) with Liz Antwi(backing vocals) and Aidan O'Rourke(violin, string and brass sections).

For me this could have sounded better with a shorter format. First to the good ingredients. Fish has an amazing voice that is wonderful to listen to. Sometimes he sounds like Peter Gabriel but still he has his own style. I like when he speaks because he seems to have a nice accent. The musicians do a great job and some compositions are progressive in style. Though have a lot of the songs not the special aura I am searching for. It's something too correct for my ears. I want more breaking news.

The first and longest track is very good, "Perfume River" is especially good in the second half, with power and speed. "All loved up" is even better with more power and speed, a sweat rock song. "Blind to the beautiful" has a lot of feeling, the vocal comes to its right mood and the title track "A feast of consequences" is melodical and quite of catchy but not a masterpiece. Then is "High Wood" much better, he reads and sings in a beautiful way with a great melody. Even better(best on the record) is "Crucifix Corner"(9/10) which partially is calm and powerful. He shows his feelings and the song is varied. "The Gathering" is also worth mentioning as a good track but "Thistle Alley" is inferior, too much metal for my taste and "The Leaving" doesn't interesting me, neither does "The Other side of me". A little improvement is "The Great Unravelling".

As you can see this record both have pleasant, sweet and uninteresting tracks and the balance between them is rather even. Then, unfortunately this is not more than a three star record for me, but it's in no way bad. I would recommend a lot from it, but not the whole album.

Report this review (#1069357)
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog Team
4 stars On this new release Fish displays a broad palette of musical styles while throughout showing his extraordinary skill as singer-storyteller. What I find myself liking throughout is how Fish's singing has strongly carried a torch started by Peter Gabriel. In fact, he may be better now than Gabriel ever was. The album has a lot of the same feel as Gabe's first solo album. My beef with this album is that there is a lot of music here that really wouldn't fall into a prog category, more like classic rock. I count four songs that are proggy (5, 8, 9, 11), three that are pseudo-proggy (1, 6, 7) and four that are not proggy at all (2, 3, 4, 10), and no real standout masterpieces, IMHO. Also, Fish seems pretty stuck on two themes in particular: environmental disaster and war, though his lyrical compositions are incredibly poetic. As a matter of fact, that is another feature that distinguishes Fish's music from almost all others on PA this year: the mature, sophisticated poetic quality of his words, delivery and images is so far beyond anyone else (at least those speaking in English, my most familiar language).

01. "Perfume River" (10:58) is notable for its three parts, beginning with bagpipes, some wonderful singing, and an energetic strumming acoustic guitar-driven section in the second half. (8/10)

02. "All Loved Up" (5:07) sounds like a TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS or JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP song, pure rural bluesy rock. (6/10)

03. "Blind To The Beautiful" (5:12) continues the MELLENCAMP/TOM PETTY trend on the softer end of the spectrum. A beautiful, heartfelt vocal performance. (7/10)

04. "A Feast Of Consequences" (4:29) is the third and probably most obvious of the MELLENCAMP/TOM PETTY genre. The female and background vocal supports are nice touches but fail to make this song a winner for me. (5/10)

05. "High Wood" (5:26) starts out as a sensitive, beautiful IAMTHEMORNING-like song up to the 2:10 mark when it kicks into PETER GABRIEL sound and style. It's eery-powerful in the chorus section, especially "the circle is unbroken." Like the use of spoken German at the end. Definitely one of the three best songs on the album. (9/10)

06. "Crucifix Corner" (7:25) opens very delicately with another stunning vocal performance. Again it kicks into drive with its 80s classic rock B and C parts. (7/10)

07. "The Gathering" (4:30) opens with a festive county fair sound and feel to it before turning into a kind of Celtic folk anti-war song. I hear a lot of ROBERT WYATT in this song-- especially in the way the horns are used. Also some J TULL. Unfortunately, this song has probably the least effective vocal on the album. (7/10)

08. "Thistle Alley" (6:08) sounds just like it came off of PETER GABRIEL's first solo album. Great delicacy in the instrumental play is offset with the raw and powerful insistence of the vocal performance. Great effect of the drums and bass with sparse guitar interplay. Another of the three best songs on the album. (9/10)

09. "The Leaving" (4:59). By the time you get to this song you start to realize that Fish is using one formula in the construction of his songs on this album: delicate, soft two-minute sparsely intstrumentalized intros shifting into a more standard pulsing rock formats for the remainder of the song (with sometimes a return to the delicacy of the intro for the final 15 or 30 seconds). An interesting guitar solo in the fourth minute. Another familiar PETER GABRIEL-like song and vocal in this one. The use of chamber strings is a highlight of this one for me. (8/10)

10. "The Other Side Of Me" (6:09) opens with some very familiar GENESIS-like guitar and piano. Deep, breathy-voiced Fish soon joins in with what I feel is the most powerful lyric and vocal performance on the album. I love the effect of the double-lined vocal from the 1:50 mark on and the excellent background voices in the "First person singular" chorus. The rise an octave at the 2:50 mark is also masterfully effective. Unfortunately, this is not a prog song but more of a country rock piece, again in the form used so effectively by JOHN MELLENCAMP, ROBBIE ROBERTSON, GUY MANNING and VAN MORRISON. (8/10)

11. "The Great Unravelling (6:32) begins with the riff from EMINEM's well-known "Lose Yourself" song. The riff is soon joined by a great and varied PETER GABRIEL-esque vocal performance. Another awesome lyric. Also great use of female vocalist (whom I assume to be Liz Antwi) as a foil/partner and CLARE TORREY-like vocal "instrument." Great instrumental performances throughout. This is the last of the three good truly prog songs on the album. (9/10)

A 3.5 star album, really, that is probably best defined by the "Good, but not essential" category but I am awarding four stars due to the outstanding vocal and poetic lyrics.

Report this review (#1074970)
Posted Sunday, November 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars After six years of absence from the studio, Scottish progressive rock singer Fish has returned with a startling level of inspiration in the form of 2013's A Feast of Consequences. Fish's first album since 2007's Thirteenth Star was released after experiencing events that would be nothing less than traumatic for most people - going through both the end of a marriage and a throat cancer scare in a narrow window of time can't be easy, but as we saw on Marillion's Clutching at Straws, Fish's personal struggles often inspire some of his strongest work. A Feast of Consequences once again demonstrates this to be true.

The album shows Fish continuing to mature the sound that he has been toying with for most of his solo career. Sophisticated art rock characterized by melodic songwriting, witty lyricism, and influences from folk music is the name of the game on A Feast of Consequences, and although most listeners will probably label this as a prog album, the lengthy "High Wood" suite is the only segment here that feels progressive to me in any traditional sense. It's not important, though, as even the ballads here are well-delivered and musically engaging. "Blind to the Beautiful" and "Other Side of Me" may not be the most bombastic tracks in Fish's catalogue, but their pervading feeling of introspection make for fine examples of what ballads are truly capable of.

Fish's voice has mellowed over the years, and although he doesn't possess the soaring range that he once did, his performance on A Feast of Consequences has a soothing timbre that suits his musical explorations well. There really isn't much to complain about when talking about an album of this quality, and if you're a fan of Fish's solo career, you'll have no trouble appreciating what he has to offer this time around. It's good to have you back, Derek!

Report this review (#1085515)
Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review #10 I am one of thousands who are following Fish's career after his departure from Marillion. I am also one of those who were hoping that at some point Marillion and Fish will unite their forces again. Well, not any more! All of us must accept the fact that Fish left his past with Marillion for good (and/or vice versa), and he is continuing his career as a solo artist.

After the terrible news of the throat surgeries and cancer rumous which were spread, I feared the worst. (And I was not the only one). But all of these stories are a thing of the past now since Fish is here once more, with a new album, and actually a good one.

After leaving Marillion in the late '80's all of us (the Marillion fans) left wondering what's gonna happen next. Luckily, almost a year later we had two good albums to choose from. Marillion's 'Season's End', and Fish's 'Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirror'. It was the best start for both Marillion and Fish, but as it turned out it was just a good spark which never became a fire...

Fish's career was going downhill, with every new album being a little bit worse than the previous one. But fortunately there was a turning point. And the turning point was the collaboration with Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield etc) in the album 'Sunsets on Empire' in 1997. This album was Fish's first really good album after 'Vigil'. Two years later Fish released another good album, (Raingods with Zippos - 1999) again with Steven Wilson being present, but this time with less responsibilities. Two more albums followed before '13th Star', and at the point which everybody believed Fish is regaining his old self, we learned the news of the throat surgeries and the fear of cancer.

The good thing with Fish is that he is inspired from his personal tragedies (and he has some), and he comes back every time even stronger! So, after the problems with his health and his divorce as well, he returned with this album, which is one of his best works in my opinion.

The album itself can't be characterized as the "definition of Progressive Rock", but it has many good moments, including a 5-piece epic, starting with the wonderfull 'High Wood' (track 5) and ending with 'The Leaving' (track 9). In these songs Fish remembers his "Prog roots" and he does it well!

Further than that, we have a very decent album, with Fish describing many of his personal moments which are "dressed" with beautiful melodies.

The album includes 11 songs, and has a total running time of almost 67 minutes. It's highly recommened of all the fans of Marillion's early days, and to all those who can enjoy a beautiful melodic album, filled with personal stories and/or nightmares... My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.00.

Report this review (#1110124)
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Feast Of Consequences is the first album by the great Big Fellow in six years now, this owing to a combination of well documented personal and health issues. Thankfully, the throat problems that threatened to scupper his career appear to have been sorted out completely, and the only real thing you notice listening to this, as compared to earlier works, is the fact that his range has narrowed somewhat, although this, of course, could equally be due to advancing years. This is most noticeable on Other Side of Me, which is delivered in almost a monotone for much of the track.

Does it render this work a disappointment? Not a bit of it. This is a mature album, showcasing a unique talent, so much so that the disappointment of horrors such as Songs From The Mirror are now all but a distant memory. This is the continuation of a run of form that started with Sunsets on Empire, and included the exceptional Raingods With Zippos and the immediate predecessor, the hugely enjoyable 13th Star.

The subject matter is familiar to all those who, like me, have followed Fish from the very early days, this being war, the futility of war, the political issues behind such tragedy, but, of course, never forgetting the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The music itself ranges from the thoughtful and subdued, as witnessed by the opening epic Perfume River, to the type of pop/prog which he almost made his own in All Loved Up, and the epic suite, this witnessed by High Wood, a five part musing on the sheer futility of it all. Amongst all of this are two quite sumptuous ballads, my favourite being the astoundingly gorgeous Blind To The Beautiful, a paeon to the heart wrenching loss of faith in life and beauty itself. The lyrical point of the whole work is best represented by the powerful title track.

Another noticeable thing about this album, to me, is just how much better Fish is when he is surrounded by cohorts he trusts and likes in what would, anywhere else, pass as a regular band. Robin Boult returns, very well indeed, on guitar, to join Steve Vantis on bass, Foss Patterson on keys, and the wonderful Gavin Griffiths on drums. Together, this bunch make a tightly knit troupe, and the well produced album is completed by the extremely powerful backing vocals of Elisabeth Troy Antwi, whose performance on the evocative Great Unravelling is simply brilliant. And we also have a wonderful set of artwork by the legendary Mark Wilkinson. Happy days!

Fish has, here, produced a powerful, and wide ranging, album, one that definitely appeals strongly to old boys such as I, but would, I feel, also be a decent introduction to those reading this review who might want to explore what a good, intelligent, modern rock album, with a range of tone and depth, might sound like. The aforementioned High Wood suite is the best example of how a progressive rock epic should sound, ranging from hush to toe-tapping, tub-thumping rock, from pastoral, Celtic fused folk, to lush keyboard led symphonic sounds. It has it all.

It should also, by the way, really now scotch all the nonsense I still read from those who wish for a return to Marillion. They are doing nicely without him, thank you, and, you know what? So is he without them.

Four stars for this, an excellent album, and very strongly recommended.

Report this review (#1112339)
Posted Saturday, January 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fish Swansong - a Feast of lyrics and creativity

If this is Fish's final studio effort it surely is a great way to bow out. The acoustic element is given prominence and the well-crafted lyrics are music to the ears - well written and provide an extra dimension to the delivery of the songs and the intended messages.

Prog lovers will enjoy Perfume River and the adventurous High Wood Suite - the songs are appreciated more and more by repeated listenings.

Lovers of melody would prefer All Loved Up and the title track A Feast Of Consequences.

The high piece is the very original The Great Unravelling - lyrics and song writing just blend in together perfectly to deliver a highly emotive and expressive original composition.

The band is tight and delivers well - whilst the female voice balances well with Fish's original vocal delivery. He knows his voice is no longer what it used to be and thus uses it intelligently to guaratee good song delivery.

His lyric writing skill is exceptional and very original. I have never come across anyone who can put together his thoughts in such an intense manner. Why has he not yet ventured into the world of book writing? What is he waiting for?

I wouldn't compare this album to Sunsets On Empire however - it's very different. Together with 13th Star i place this up there with his best creative efforts. Great artwork from Mark Wilkinson and sharp production by Calum Malcolm.

An excellent package.

Report this review (#1194836)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Fish is a strong character, not surprising in view of his taciturn Scottish heritage as well as the tortuous tribulations that seemingly spare no one, such as love, health and money troubles that many suffer through at one moment or another in their lives' journey. Suffice to say , his previous work, 'The 13th Star' was a fine return to form, after a series of good but not really exceptional albums, proving once again that heartache is a 'perfect nightmare' , a grand source of inspiration and a liquid fuel for the pen. The big man was always a great lyricist and exceptional live showman, so hearing him still writing and composing thrilling music is a bonus for any prog fan to admire. He has a sharp mind and sharper sense of motivating configurations such as irony, sarcasm, bitter truth and a hint of bile.

This release gets off the ground with the longest piece, a nearly 11 minute epic that proves his audacity as well as rejoining with a proggier sensibility that bodes well for the rest of the album as well as for the future. The odorous 'Perfume River' rolls along majestically, little hints of Paradise City from Guns & Roses ('take me down to the Perfume River' !?), sweeping synthesized keys add the necessary doom and gloom, ably handled by Foss Patterson a Fish veteran. Speaking of past cronies, Robin Boult is back manning the guitars and he must be the most underrated axe slinger in music by a country mile. Steve Vantsis handles the fluid bass and the marvelous Gavin Griffiths thumps the drums, he being among the best the UK has to offer as proved by his contributions to Mostly Autumn and Panic Room, among many others. A perfect entrance into matters that shed light on impressive words and astounding sounds. Fish is a tremendous bellower, armed with a voice that went through some recent deep throat surgery and all sounds fine. One of his best performances ever. Brrrrrilliant!

The balls to the walls approach on 'All Loved Up' is not my favorite style but, hey its only rock 'n roll after all, so let bygones be bygones and enjoy the ride, as it has a little punky style (nasty little clavinet in the background) that is ready to sign any contract and damn the torpedoes, a characteristic of this impulsive yet sensitive man, who lives and dies by his sword. The slithering mid-section has its 'own destiny', self-deprecating comments on fame and fortune. He sardonically mocks the 'in crowd' and 'the beautiful people', tossing in some F words to boot.

After the storm, the sun, as a ballad is needed to soothe the frizzled fur and segue additional commentary about that notion of beauty. 'I just can't see the beautiful anymore' he intones in his usual expert delivery. Aidan O'Rourke's violin only amplifies the sad lament. The lyrics again reveal what many fans know already, the man can write devastatingly effective yet simple poetry. Lovely!

The title track exemplifies his current 'state of mind' (slick, Thomas, slick) , a man who just does not feel inclined to give up and hide, boldly standing back up after every knock down, the lyrics here address these harrowing vicissitudes and his resolve to defend his sanity. As a fellow romantic, I take solace in his incredible strength and a source of inspiration to constantly thrive emanates from his work.

A five-song anti-war suite is next, once again stamping 'prog' credentials all over his song writing, as exemplified by the John Bonham-like thud on 'High Wood', propelled by some fiery guitar riffs and bombastic contours , Fish and Liz Antwi intertwining their lungs to better evoke the inflamed words. Boult shows some colossal grit and restraint, while Fish tosses in some German commentary (like he did with 'Manchmal'). The booming 'Crucifix Corner' just takes the mood to another level, a variation on the previous flow, a rambling discourse on the futility of endless conflict, a classic theme that he has approached many times before with great success. The orchestrations are truly grandiose, the beat relentless and the melodic passion is kicked around with strategic flair. This is great music from a resourceful poet and musician. The military marching band carousel revives old patriotic manipulations on 'the Gathering' , rallying the poor bastards to willingly give their lives for some form of King and Country and the 'promise of a Brave New World' that we all know will never happen. Armor, glory, surrender and family, all blended together by the sausage churning military-industrial complex propaganda. Goodbye youth and innocence, promises broken. 'Thistle Alley' conveys more forbidding afterthoughts, wounded corpses dancing under the Florence Nightingale candles, more hefty drumming (war and ballistic drums, hmmmm) and Fish really involving himself into the revolting 'danse macabre' carnage. This brutal onslaught takes no prisoners, the darkness is omnipresent and sensationally executed. Yeah, it's heavy! Orchestral confines marshal the battlefield, with more angry musings about thrust and counter-thrust, as 'the generals count the casualties', Fish has managed to address the futility of war in a convincing, lyrically enthralling manner that, unfortunately after 'Je suis Charlie', we all know it will never go away, humans are just not advanced yet to coexist in peace, the world will never be either 'Brave' nor 'New'. Just the usual cycle of evil and love. A perfect finale.

The sincerity drips on 'Other Side of Me', a ballad that shows another side of our Wedgeman, a heartwarming inner vision that opens up his soul for perusal, which is what any true fan would want! Still dealing with the pain of his near marriage to Heather Findlay, he remains a romantic giant, a bolder Bryan Ferry (the two have actually a lot of common virtues but we won't get into that today), not surprising then that they are my top two vocalists/lyricists. A simply gorgeous song.

'The Great Unravelling' serves as the ideal finale to a near perfect album, another dream laid bare, a modern percussive sheen, a sorrowful veneer and all drenched in evocative yet muscular music. A wailing Antwi performs amazingly in tandem with Monsieur Poisson, the passion overt and mercurial, 'ushered into the light' and a phenomenal ending, suave guitar solo and a confident , unbroken and courageous artist ready to face the next challenge ahead.

You are a hero, Mr Derek Dick.

4.75 victims of expectations

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Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015 | Review Permalink

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