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HAIL TO THE THIEF

Radiohead

Crossover Prog


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FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Before I go further, I want to say that I do consider RADIOHEAD prog in the overall view. While I despise the "next Pink Floyd" comparisons I used to hear, I do think that's the element the two bands have in common.

My two-star rating is not an attack against RADIOHEAD's status as a prog band. It's just that I think their strongest work is behind them, as things currently stand.

When I heard a new RADIOHEAD album was about to come out, and that it was not intended to be in the same vein as the patchy Amnesiac, I developed high hopes for this album--even with its unnecessarily political title. I rushed out to buy it on its release day, and for those first few days I was enthralled. Sadly, the excitement of a new Radiohead album wore off fast, and I am left with doubts about this band's future. After 2 weak releases in a row (Amnesiac and this), plus having heard about their weak debut (Pablo Honey), I am hoping they haven't reached the end of the line. While this one had some very nice efforts, it simply lacked in consistency.

With that said--I will say what is always consistently excellent: the quality of PHIL SELWAY's drumming. I can't understand why this man is so ignored. Even in the cases of songs that I don't think are all that good, his work always stands out as a real asset. In fact, I will go so far as to say that he is among the drummers I most respect, and this album definitely provided further evidence. Tracks like "Where I End and You Begin" and "There There" show him off at his best. Another item I was pleased with almost all the way throughout was the inclusion of the piano, perhaps one of the few good things to come out of Amnesiac. "Sail to the Moon" follows in the tradition of the gorgeous "Pyramid Song", with almost a "Great Gig in the Sky" feel to it, and is definitely one of the standouts on the album. "A Punchup at a Wedding" also features the piano to excellent effect, as well as being the one true lyrical standout of the album (its lyrics about vengeful, bitter people certainly ring true). "Where I End and You Begin" is the most successful "rock" number on the album and is guaranteed to get you tapping your foot--in fact, that moment at 2:06 where the electric guitar comes in is one of the very best on the entire album. "There There", the other rocker, although it takes a little while for it to really build up, works pretty well, also. "Sit Down. Stand Up.", "Backdrifts", and "The Gloaming" are successful in a manner reminiscent of Kid A. "Scatterbrain" makes a nice mellow track without seeming to drag its feet, and in my opinion should have been the album's closer.

Unfortunately, my problem with Hail to the Thief is the fact that in spite of these stronger tracks, there are some weaker ones that really drag it down. Radiohead is capable of better than this, and it's even obvious from their B-sides. "2 + 2 = 5"...while musically not too bad,seems like an attempt to cash in on some people's political opinions (consider it came out in 2003 as the controversial 2004 U.S. election was getting underway), or to try to "look cool" (because it is "not cool" for stars to be politically neutral--which I prefer by far--or, God forbid, conservative!). That and the album's title do make me wonder sometimes, and I cannot say I am too pleased. "Go to Sleep", while not a bad acoustic guitar number, is a bit too close to the more successful "Paranoid Android" for comfort. As for "We Suck Young Blood"...I hate to knock a piano-oriented track, but aside from the explosive middle section, this one drags and drones right alongside the worst from Amnesiac. But as far as Amnesiac syndrome, the absolute worst for that is "I Will". I simply cannot comprehend how that one even got on the album...it sounds like a reject from the rejects (Amnesiac). And "Myxomatosis"...maybe I'm missing something, but to my ear, this is literally painful noise. The only good thing at all (when I can manage to listen to a little bit to find it) is the drumming. Otherwise, I can't find anything likeable about it at all. And..."Wolf at the Door", while I may well be underrating it, it's a bit dull. Plus, since when does RADIOHEAD feel the need to resort to strong obscenities like that? Yes, sometimes there's a place for cursing but when bands use it gratuitously, it gets on my nerves. I admit it might well be better than I'm giving it credit for, but by the time I get to this song, I am just tired.

This album just goes on far too long with too little reward for me to rate it anywhere above 2 stars. This 14-song tracklist would have been winnowed down to 10 at the most if I had had my way with it, perhaps even 8 if I decided to be as discriminating as possible with it. I'm afraid I'm only prepared to give RADIOHEAD one more chance before I decide to keep the three masterpieces they did (The Bends, OK Computer, and Kid A) and part ways with them. I used to think that RADIOHEAD was one of the best bands ever to come out of the 1990s, but I'm starting to think they may instead have been a temporary phenomenon.

Only time will tell.

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Send comments to FloydWright (BETA) | Report this review (#33967)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
slipperman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Since Radiohead's inclusion into the Archives, some people have either jokingly or seriously nominated NOFX, Nirvana, Green Day, Bee Gees and Jimi Hendrix as nominees into the Archives. Though it's all a matter of how you perceive progressive rock, I think some people probably just aren't familiar enough with what Radiohead have done since "Creep" to make a fair comment. Apparently there are enough members of this site who feel Radiohead warrants consideration as a prog band. I do, and ever since 'OK Computer' I've felt they have just as much right to be considered amongst the prog family as Tool, Porcupine Tree, Voivod and Opeth. If the opening vibe of "Go To Sleep" were on a Jethro Tull or Strawbs album, it wouldn't be out of place. Call me nuts, but I hear something of Radiohead in bands as varied as Klaatu, Amon Duul II, Supertramp, The Mars Volta and Osanna. If those bands deserve a place here, then so does Radiohead.

I see 'Hail To The Thief' as a perfect meeting point between the grandiosity of 'OK Computer' and the nerdy speak-n-spell bizarreness of the 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' albums. Where "Backdrifts" floats along like one of the colder moments from 'Kid A', "Where I End And You Begin" goes in a completely different direction, echoing the exhausting emotional content of older songs like "Exit Music (For A Film)" and "You And Whose Army?" The album is quite long, and while that is usually detrimental to creating impact, 'Hail To The Thief' cooks along with enough song variety for it not to matter much. The first half of the album sits on a slow simmer, bouncing between digital freakouts like "Backdrifts" and "Sit Down, Stand Up" into earthier, more organic rhythms and textures like "Sail To The Moon". Once "Where I End And You Begin" works its bass- led hypnosis, you get hit with song after song representing their strongest and most enjoyable material since 'OK Computer'.

Thom Yorke seems to be enjoying singing with a little more force again. He seemed to be muting himself a little on the previous two albums, but here he opens up in many moments, and "We Suck Young Blood" is a great example of his capabilities as an emotionally riveting performer. It's a slow, depressive chant comprised of piano, hand- claps, and what sounds like a fretless bass (all slinky and watery). Beautiful. No use going into every remaining song (it's a 14-song album), but highlights include "Myxomatosis", a Moog-fueled paranoia trip, all squishy and disturbed (if that's not a Moog, I'm the ghost of Andy Gibb). "A Punchup At A Wedding" is a spiteful tune, Yorke at his fiery best, with great synergy between the musicians, layers building upon layers in time with Yorke's admonishments. 'Hail To The Thief' ends with 'A Wolf At The Door', a kind of collision between shuffle and psychedelia, which sees Ed O'Brien sharing vocals with Yorke. A haunting undertow is laid down underneath, making for an unsettling tune and an odd way to leave the album hanging.

Please don't hold the "alternative-rock" tag over this band's head. Not anymore. No one has ever argued against Rush's inclusion into the progarchives (not to my knowledge, anyway), and even if someone tried, they wouldn't be taken seriously if they claimed that "Rush is nothing but a Zeppelin clone!" Yeah, they were for one album--31 freakin' years ago. Radiohead is artistically as far away from the days of "Creep" and 'Pablo Honey' as Rush are from their humble origins. 'Hail To The Thief' is the fourth in a string of albums that stretch the rock boundaries by offering tons of wonderful ear-candy, interesting arrangements, headphone-friendly escapes, wild instrumentation and a pioneering sense of always going somewhere new with each song. A healthy dose of challenging and rewarding listening.

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Send comments to slipperman (BETA) | Report this review (#33968)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I don't know why a band as RADIOHEAD is considerated progressive. From my point of view, this is an alternative-pop band (more pop than alternative), absolutely commercial and lack of creativity. OK, if you compare them with another terrible MTV crap "musicians", it's quite better, but... is this enough to speak about a "prog" group?

Many times, I think that prog community has some panic about the death of our beloved music. So, desperately try to find, in the new movements, progressive hints or "hidden" prog.

Anyway, "Hail to the Thief" IS NOT a progressive or an "almost progressive" cd. I only heard the same basic guitars and drums along the whole album. The melodies are the same, rythms are the same, there are not changes, surprises, beauty... Summarizing, there are not interesting elements here. Boring! Totally.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#33969)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars I was curious, so I gave it a spin. I got exactly what I expected - this stuff is totally devoid of any creativity, imagination or songwriting talent. Absolute zero in emotional content as well - it's all flat, boring, grey and whiny. Sounds like soundtrack music to a coma. That pretty much sums up this album, as it does hundreds of other "alternative" rubbish all over the radio these days.

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Send comments to EMinkovitch (BETA) | Report this review (#33970)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
USPostalServi
5 stars The only reason I would refrain from rating this as 5 stars is that this isn't considered progressive rock. To me, that is a broad definition, and if something comes close, who the hell cares? If you want ignore an entire creative work becuase of a definition, that just seems silly to me. But regarding its "progressiveness," listen to the first track- in 4 minutes it puts forth 4 developing themes, the last and explosion of sound and emotion. Anyways, I'm glad Radiohead was added because I bothered to actually listen to this album, and right now I'm absolutely cuaght up in its addictive qualities and emotional impact. There is no reason to review it song by song, because that is just an analysis of the technical and compositional abilities of the band. They are certainly there, becuase nearly every track is incredibly intricate and appropriate. Some of the music presented is absolutely beautiful, and contrastingly, some is hiedously melancholic. Many times, it is alluring, appealing, scary, restrained, and ethereal. Ethereal happens several times, due to the amaizng soundscapes the band creates with electronic effects. Most importantly, to me, is the thoguht and emotion in this album. Much of it is apparent in Thom Yorke's vocals, which are incredibly expressive, but they only work so well with such well composed supporting music. In fact, many times his vocals are suppressed by the music, a style that I love because it puts the vocals on the same level as the insturments. Nearly everysong gives me a reaction, just like nearly every song gets caught in my head. I need to read the lyrics where I can delve into the content more, but I think without that there is still a great connection to be had with this album. Right now, I just can't stop listening to it. I really urge anyone to drop their bias and just try their music out, because it is truly outstanding.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#33974)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Edited 10/5/2005!

I used to listen to RADIOHEAD for a while in the 90s and the music they did, at least on the albums "Bends" and "OKC" was quite OK for me at that time and I had the impression that they were sure much better than other bands from the genre, whether it's Oasis, Nirvana or who ever. But after they started to include a lot of electronics in their music I lost interest in the band although funnily this is the only reason why they finally been included on this site. Ok let's try to concentrate on this album.

Track 1 is starting quite nice actually and Yorke's vocs are still tolerable,though quite weeny then it suddenly develops to a very common Post-Punk Alternative song heard already in a similar way many times from numerous bands.

Track 2 starts again in a very mellow and melancholic way (and this is in fact one reason why I don't like such kind of music that much, the music is either very sad and depressive or very noisy and aggressive). The music played here I find in fact quite monotonous,after a while a very repititive part is starting with lots of electronics and a sudden end. That's it and actually I cannot detectany complexity here and therefore I have to agree to many co-reviewers.

Track 3 again starting melancholic, slowly it becomes to be tedious and I'm seduced to press the skip-button. Okay let's still suffer a little bit with Thom Yorke. The way this guy is singing he must be depressive like hell. The positive thing is that the songs are very short.

Track 4 is starting in a different way (WOW surprise), the usual electronic sound we're used to since Kid A. Again melody and rhythm very simple but even not nice to listen (at least for my quite old and trained ears). This is definitively not my kind of music and reminds to some electronic stuff done in the 80's (Kraftwerk and whatever). Moreover Yorke's weeny vocalss together with this plastic sound is really a torture.Thanks God it's over.

Track 5 sounds rather nice with acoustic guitar and the vocs are somehow tolerable on here. It's almost in the style they did on "Bends".I would say nice but as well nothing special. The song is developing quite well to a faster speed but again somehow the impresssion: "You had heard something like this before!".

Track 6 starts quite fast and altogether it seems it's a quite nice song, although lots of electronics being used, but in a nice way. I don't want to discuss its progressiveness, it's just nice,nothing more.

Track 7 starts with piano and is obviously a very melancholic song again, the slow mood together with the weeny vocals are almost sufficient to commit suicide. Definitinely No - skip-button!

Track 8 the title track is using again exclusively electronics and quite monotonous and boring I have to say.

Track 9 has at least almost no electronics, nice but not very exciting as well, although it's probably the best song so far. People who favor distorted guitar would call it excellent I guess. Not completely my stuff but I can tolerate. Whereas on Track 10 again Yorke's weeny voice is going into its extreme and again a reason for suicide - skip-button!

Track 11 is a very boring song as well let's go to Track 12 which is probably the "toughest" one on the album, containing quite a lot of electronics and distortion (cool for most "youngsters" I guess, not for me).

Track 13 is once again a nice song with Yorke singing in a tolerable way. Finally the last one is okay to listen as well..

CONCLUSION: I would not call "Hail to the thief" the worst RADIOHEAD album ever (their first one was probably worse), but for sure it's not as good as "Bends" and "OKC", it's containing some nice, but as well not exciting songs, but a considerable amount of (at least for me) non-tolerable songs. In fact I received this album soon after its release, listened to it once, then it disappeared in the rearmost corner and only listened it today again for reviewing. But I think it will disappear again. I would say 2 stars is a fair rating.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#33975)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
olimparadis@h
5 stars 5 stars. But I would change the end of this definition... This is not a masterpiece of progressive rock. This is simply a masterpiece of music. A masterpiece of music for every one who is able to appreciate a song even if there is any thecnical structure in it. Radiohead have been making in the beginning of there career some too commercial songs. But on Hail to thief all tracks are beautiful and the album is making me hide in my head. These guys makes simple music with deep melody and I love them. I also like very complicated prog rock for others reasons but im not trying to be insensitive to the music of Radiohead, Modest Mouse and R.E.M., because they are not revolutioning the world of music. Hail to Thief have'nt be make to be comparate with Dark side of the moon or Close to the edge. It just have to be listen with an open mind and open heart.

To you all who put zero star to this wonderful album.

Forgive my english.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#33976)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
theinfiltrate
4 stars There are song good songs here: "2+2=5" is a great opener, but the best songs are the "hit" "There There" (the combination of the drumming, the guitar lines and Yorke's melody works perfectly for my tastes!), and "Go To Sleep". However, the rest goes from "interesting" ("I Will", "A Punchup...", "A Wolf At The Door"), to average ("Sit Down Stand Up", "Backdrifts", "We Suck Young Blood"). A good album which mixes the styles they developed in their previous 4 albums. But not exactly a classic, since the most "electronic" songs are not very interesting or inspired.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#33977)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
relayer66@yah
4 stars The music takes another step forward from Kid A and Amnesiac. In fact it is brilliant, and I say that without reservation. Yorke pushes further with his vocal explorations here as well. The music is more driving then anything since OK Computer. The only problem I have here is that there is a lot of political crap in the lyrics. I just have a personal problem with that, I guess. Whether it's this, the latest IQ album, Area's communist ranting, later Jefferson Airplane's hippie politicizing, or patriotic BS like Toby Keith (popular theme nowadays in county music), it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I guess artists like to feel important, like they are saying something relevant to their time and place, justifying themselves as "hip" activists. But to me, it just profanes the music, which is the real art, and dates the music which should be timeless. (rant mode off)... But the music here really does sound good (especially if you liked the last two), and hell, my girlfriend even likes it...and how often does that happen?!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#33978)
Posted Friday, January 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
arcer
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A curate's egg. Hail to the Thief finds Radiohead at a tricky juncture. Having fully explored the pared back style of Kid A and Amesiac, the band seems to find itself slightly at a loss. So, they opt for a blend of OK Computer songwriting and Kid A exploration. It's hugely successful in parts but in other areas has the distinct sound a band treading water - or perhaps more correctly fence sitting while they figure themselves out. The good stuff though is great. 2+2=5 blending into the crunching synths of Sit Down, Stand Up (they feel like one track) is an awesome opener - bold, flashing, immediately involving. It gets better as they slow it down and wander through the piano balladry of Yorke's song for his child 'Sail to the Moon'. But then it seems to lose focus and direction slumping into a somewhat amorphopus mid- section where its hard to differentiate between the tracks. Is Backdrifts the one with the voices or is it Go To Sleep. Is the Gloaming the electronica one or is that We Suck Young Blood? Who knows, it just sounds undefined, unresolved, under-worked. Equilibrium is restored by the awesome Punch Up at a Wedding, Looping around a circular piano riff and a bass line reminiscent of the Beatles I am the Walrus, the band prowl through Yorke's vicious little fable. Outstanding. As is the electro-clash meets krautrock of Myxamtosis and finally the deeply paranoid A Wolf at the Door. In all, good but not great, though it's worth it for the opening three and closing four.

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Send comments to arcer (BETA) | Report this review (#33979)
Posted Sunday, January 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is as prog as any prog band that I know. Radiohead isn't prog music at all, it's just music... Music at its best... On the album: Very good, but i think it's the "less good" they've made since "The Bends"... "2+2=5" is a real crazy rocker while "Scatterbrain" is a calm and lovely ballad..." A Wolf at the Door" is the best here... It is a simple track, but really beautiful... "I Will" and "There There" are quite impressive too! "Sail to the Moon" could've been better (for what i did read about this song), still is a very, VERY good tune... The other tracks are good, except "Backdrifts" (just don't like it)... Not Radiohead at their best, but better than many bands called "progressive" ... Oh! I'm working on my english... No good, sorry for that...

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Send comments to Fantômas (BETA) | Report this review (#33981)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I'm sure a lot of Radiohead fans liked the fact that this album is less experimental and louder than their last three albums. My inclination is to give it 4 stars since there are a number of great songs, but the direction taken by the group is a bit unsettling. I think that the decision to spend less time making the album was a natural one, but the results do not justify making that decision. For instance, there is some distortion on an otherwise beautiful guitar part in the middle of "Sail to the Moon" that is obviously not intentional. I already mentioned that the album seemed louder. Maybe I expected these guys to mellow like some of my other favorite bands (XTC, anyone?). I guess the political overtones meant that an angry, brash, in-your-face loudness was a foregone conclusion. My ears are a lot older than those of most of my fellow contributors, and they don't care for that typical "alternative" guitar sound, which gets more airtime on this album. I hope this was a sidestep, not the future path.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#33982)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars My head hurts. the problem with Radiohead being on this site is that it is so hard to review their albums in the light of prog because they completely lack any prog direction, only the minor elements. I will review this album anyway, as the piece of music it is, not as a prog album.

This is a brilliant piece of music, i think Radiohead still very much have the ability to put out albums which could be described as far as stunning. They have moved on from the weirdly ambient experiments on "Kid A" and "Amnesiac", i think this was a good move so that they could provide something new, and it worked. Hail to the thief is a majestic piece of art laced with powerful messages in its album artwork and title, even if it doesn't generally display this in the music itself. "2+2=5" is an incredible opener, the "you have not been paying attention" shows so much power which is a theme that the album implies. This track works so well and is very strong, gripping and rocking. it has the familiar deppressing vocals, strange lyrics, odd structures and experimental touches to make the casual Radiohead listener feel right at home.

"Stand up. Sit Down" is a brilliant piece, bringing the experimentation to the surface of the song, it fits in so well. I think the repetition of "the raindrops" works really well, the build up to its epic climax is immense. Another great example of how to build up to a stunning close on this album is "There There". This is blatently the best track on the album, its superb build up is broken as it goes into the "why so green and lonely" section. From there on it is heaven. One of my favourite parts of the album is the piano explosion in the middle "We Suck Young Blood", again built up superbly. Radiohead sure now how to pull of gripping pieces of music and still prove to be one of the most consistent and evolving bands out there. They have the nack to make good music last which can be very rare.

Some of the weaker parts of this album are some of the more electronica based moments such as "Scatterbrain", "The Gloaming" and "Backdrifts". These tracks sound like outcasts from "Kid A" and i don't think they fit in with the direction that "Hail to the Thief" is going in. "Myxomatosis" and "Punch Up at a Wedding" sound a little weak but manage to pass as being good pieces on the album as they are consistent and listenable. There is less of a decent flow on this album like there was on "Kid A" and "Ok Computer", it feels more like a collection of songs rather than one whole moving piece. Though a change is always welcome and it makes up for this in other areas. One good thing i did notice is that this seems to favour elements from all their previous works (except maybe "Pablo Honey"), yet has its own unique touch to them. Its definetly something new made out of something old, recycled perhaps. This is definetly their most artistic moment.

I see no reason why this album shouldn't recieve five stars for it is incredible, it is a new chapter in Radioheads career and is damn good throughout. The standout tracks on here, in my opinion, are "2+2=5", "We Suck Young Blood", "Sail to the Moon", "Stand Up. Sit Down", "There There" and "A Wolf at the Door". This album should not be missing from your Radiohead collection.

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Send comments to frenchie (BETA) | Report this review (#33984)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Having matured as a listener of progressive rock, I can't really say that I think this band is a "progressive rock" band. I still hold that this band's music is progressive, but its not prog rock. At one time I was of the naïve opinion that progressive rock was rock that was progressive, but thats clearly not the case... unfortunately. Similar to jazz, prog rock is a genre that has become a family of musicians, and a band cannot be part of that family unless it sounds 99% like their predecessor prog bands... in this manner, prog rock seeks to choke itself to death in a similar fashion that jazz has done in many ways already. Regardless, Radiohead is not a progressive rock band.

Although this album is not necessarily an "excellent addition to any prog music collection", it is indeed very creative music. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Radiohead continues to push the boundaries of rock in ways unseen before. I love the band's incorporation of electronics and sequencers into their music, particularly with their mellower pieces. Beginning with OK Computer, Radiohead started this trend and has only continued to perfect it with each successive release. One must also commend this band for taking large risks- certainly, Kid A and Amnesia were not as commercially successful as OK Computer, and took the band in a slightly different direction. In any case, Tom Yorke has Radiohead returning in many ways to the theme of OK Computer- meaningless and confusion in modern society and the futility of daily life. This is made particularly clear in the album's artwork. George Orwell's famous novel 1984 seeps into Yorke's crazy writing as well, made clear by the album's opener, 2+2=5 (the Lukewarm). Again, not a progressive rock album, but a great addition to any good MUSIC collection.

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Send comments to Sweetnighter (BETA) | Report this review (#33985)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars The album is mediocre at best. Unless you're a Radiohead fan (like me) you might as well skip it, and try listening to their early music.

The album sounds uninspired, and thrown together just to make a quick buck. Sure, there are some solid songs on here (Wolf at the Door, Backdrifts, There There, 1 or 2 others) but the majority of the album is filler.

Skip it unless you're a diehard radiohead fan, then you might like it a lot.

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Send comments to gok22us (BETA) | Report this review (#33987)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
cataphyll@gma
5 stars - So what if it isn't 100% prog? This album is a masterpiece, despite the fact that several tracks fall flat. After all, who REALLY likes more than 6 songs off of OK Computer? This album isn't Prog-Rock, it's true. But it is *progressive*.

Some tracks feature morose, Largo claps, others frantic tappings and others massive, orchestral drumming. There are some (1 or 2) standard drumming moments, but Rock is rock. The lead single off of Hail To The Thief even features 4 of the 5 members of the band playing on percussion when played live. The greatness of this album lies in that, despite incoherence, every song has brilliant moments that can only be noted given further listenings. I find Dream Theater's more mainstream works to grow tedious, despite fancy production, after more than 15 listens. Not so here.

If you want to buy ONE album a year, buy one RADIOHEAD album a year. Man, they grow on you. Last but not least Radiohead are not BRITPOP? Radiohead resembles Sigur Ross more closely than it does Robbie Williams BY FAR.

It's a great album. It's every bit as textural as Amnesiac, as chaotically overwhelming as Kid A, as eerie and thought out as OK Computer, and it's better than The Bends and Pablo Honey combined. Who cares if they don't roll dice to determine time signiatures? (I gave this a 5/5, because out of any given 50 albums, this would be the best)

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#33988)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
smelliottheat
4 stars original: its inconsistant, some parts r quite original (sit down stand up, the gloaming, there there, myxamatosis, a wolf at the door) other parts r fairly traditional rock (2+2=5, sail to the moon, go to sleep, where i end and u begin, scatterbrain) theres even some traditional electro in there (backdrifts, a punch-up at a wedding) and then theres a couple of weaker tracks (we suck young blood, i will)

overall, its a very decent electro-rock album!! its not prog, its not very original and its not the best radiohead album (there is no best radiohead album, tho i do think amnesiac is an overlooked masterpiece which will one day get the recognision it deserves, hopefully)

hail to the thief is one epic short of a masterpiece, but at the same time a million times better than most music from 2003!! its just a very good rock album, nothing more or less than that!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#33991)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
hifimonkeykon
4 stars The one thing that separates this album from all their others is that it is both accessible and experimental. it creates that joining point which all others fail to do. FACT. this album is both cool and proggy. i wont go through every single song but every time i listen to the album i simply lose myself in it. if OK computer was 'Brave new world' then this would be Orwell's '1984'. it relates to modern political and domestic fears and anxieties while still retaining an experimental vibe.

PS. Yorke has got a wonderfull unique voice with a great range and thats not mentioning the lyrics he comes up with.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#35434)
Posted Monday, June 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
frebre@web.de
1 stars This is not Prog-rock. This is not played well. Bad production. One of the worst CD's I ever listened to. Completely meaningless lyrics. Why they do record such non-music? Because they are trying to be different and cool. Well, maybe this is cool for some prematures and teens. But trying to play music without the technical abilities is a difficult task. This guys can't play they can't sing, poor arrangements no knowledge about texture of finesse. But they are succesful - Britney Spears also.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#40898)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
burnpigsburn@
4 stars Hail the The 8or The Gloaming). At first it might sound like a combination of Amnesiac's mild electronic experimental jazz and The Bends"s catchy pop hooks, but once you get past that you'll see that Hail to The Thief is unlike any previous Radiohead album in a good way. The music is simple in it's own right but the song structures are very experimental. Everything from "2+2=5",s energetic chorus to "Sit Down.Stand Up.",s trance rock build- up to the angst-ridden anti-bush anthem "I Will" to the barked rapping of Thom Yorke on "A Wolf At The Door", Hail to Thief is a brand new sound for Radiohead and another step in their evolution. I can't ing wait for the next album if there is one. While this is album is great, it's not quite a classic as Ok Computer and Kid A were but it's still a must-have for any fan of prog, rock, or techno.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#41783)
Posted Friday, August 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
store@aquariu
4 stars What needs to be said about Radiohead? One of the few bands that manages to captivate the avant garde as well as having massive pop/MTV appeal. Most of you already want this anyway. Or already have it. And you should. Because it's great.

Seems like now that Radiohead have gone through all the different 'rock' stages, typical angst filled rock band, experimental critical darlings, electronic/rock avantgarde hybrid whatever, they're now ready to settle down and make music simply because they love making music. And write songs. Songs that can be played by a rock band and that don't need a million dollars and a bank of computers to sound the way they're supposed to. Allan thinks it sounds like a mix of the "new" electric Radiohead and the old rock Radiohead which pretty much sums it up. I think it's pretty much unanimous around here. A great new record from one of our favorite bands, with enough experimental bits to keep it interesting, but enough good songwriting to even lure back some of you folks who jumped ship in search of less challenging fare after The Bends.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#44801)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
thatsfngood@g
4 stars Musically (regardless of taste), the order of Radiohead from best to worst (of their mainstream albums) goes as thus:

OK Computer/Kid A The Bends Hail to the Thief Amnesiac Pablo Honey

You can argue all you want with me, but unless you can name me every single mode in existence and sing an Ab harmonic minor scale using solfeg, then you will be wrong. That said, you can see where Hail to the Thief stands. It is probably one of the most diverse Radiohead albums, which is saying a lot, and draws a lot of influence from a jazzy contemporary sound rather than the technoie progression fround on Kid A. At the same time, it is very similar to Kid A, but with more "singable" songs rather than instrumental or moodlike qualities. It also may take a bit to get used to... a few listens perhaps, but the content and quality is there. And it's even more inspiring and genius considering that it DOES take so long to realize how great it is. That's called depth people.

I would love to go through every song and explain why it's great (minus about four tracks which seem more like fillers than anything), but I'm too lazy. Simply put, you should find a way to get your hands on this because you won't regret. This album is simply amazing and though it may go unnoticed, kind of like Pink Floyd's Animals, true fans of GOOD music will forever remember this as a culminating achievement in the Radiohead, and musical, world.

BTW - I only use five star stuff for purely genius albums (ie, elliot smith). This is probably in the 97% of best albums out there, regardless of the fact I give it four stars.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#46040)
Posted Thursday, September 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This Album is a combination of early kind of works. Many people have argue about what it is progressive and non-progressive. This album is not progressive, so why it is here? The reason is the fact that Kid A and Ok Computer are really prog albums. So if one or two albums are progressive then you can´t omit the others on this site. This is a good album but not an essential. It has very beautiful moments ( Sail to the moon, There There etc) but some songs are just kind of weird filles. Other reason is the excesive 58 minutes of the album, if they excluded some weird and useless tracks if will be an excellent alt rock album (not prog) and i would rate it with 4 stars, if you want prog and concept albums listen to Kid A and Ok Computer. Any way there are very good songs here. My rate is 4 Stars and a half. -----7.5/10

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Send comments to tailsme (BETA) | Report this review (#52033)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
davidlevinson
3 stars Not a real masterpiece of prog, however, a decent album. It is less experimental, the songs are more soild tunes. I would not reccomend it to prog fans but to people who are into contemporary music. The song that stands out for me is "Backdrifts". It has a cool feel and beat. A song that comes close to prog is the song "Sale To The Moon." That is the type of song that a true Prog musician might compose.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#63730)
Posted Sunday, January 08, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
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4 stars Radiohead - Hail to the Thief

This is the latest album of this great ptog/alternative/undergound band, and again this is different to the other ones, again a very experimental sound and with electronic tones.

After "Amnesiac", "Hail to the Thief" was released in 2003, the wait was good, because it is another great album for Radiohead`s fans. It starts with "2+2=5" a great opening track, here returned to the alternative and guitar oriented sound, with some electronic effects, this song has a strange beggining, and then ,it becomes so powerful, despite being the first track of the album, it was the third single, i think this album is the strongest and more powerful of this album, so after listen to it you can relax a bit and wait for softer music and less noise, experimental and great music.

"Sit Down , Stand Up" is the first of a melancholic and mellow tracks, this desperate song is special, is totally different to the first track,maybe this is the way of the album, different by different track, this song is repetitive, and at the end of it, a strange electronic beat appears.

"Sail to the Moon", is maybe similar to the last song, but i think this is better, with a "lullaby" mood and sound, a special fact in this kind fo songs, is the well - known deppresive way of sing of Thom Yorke, in fact the music and lyrics are a bit deppressive in this album (again), but thats a unique style of the band, and its good.

"Backdrifts", maybe my less favorite track, and i think is probably the weakest song, is so simple, and maybe boring and could desperate you, but anyway, is a nice track.

"Go to Sleep" begins with a superb acoustic guitar, i really think it is superb, Jonny Greenwood is a guitar monster, he playes very well, this song was the second single of the album, if you havent seen the video, its time to do it, its great, and the song is pretty nice too.

"Where I End and You Begin" , this song is very special for me,im in love with this, it has been envolving me every tiome i listen to it, it has a slow beggining, some spatial sound, then great bass lines making the rythm of the song, its a bit atmospheric and sad , lyrics are so great, and the voice beautiful like always, this tracj is my favorite of the album, it of course is not a strong song, but its beautiful, this is a prelude to the most exasperating song of the album, another weird change.

So, "We Suck Young Blood", maybe you will listen to it once, and then you wont listen again, it has a tremendous power of madness ,its so slow, with a frightening piano, and a scare vocals, between some claps, it so weird this song, but i like it, maybe if are not tolerant, you better push the skip button.

"The Gloaming" is another of my favorite themes, it is almost a experimental and electronic track, obviously with vocals and great atmosphere, this is definitively the most obscure track of the album, you will enjoy it, im sure this track could call your attention.

"There There", wow, it was my expression when i listen to it for the first time, it was on the radio, and this was the first single of the album, good choice i think, maybe this song is not a clear example of what the album is, but thatis not important, listen to this song with excellent harmony in the band, a nice and creative sound, and extraordinary lyrics, the drums are specially great, more guitar oriented and without electronic elements.

"I Will" is maybe another repetitive and melancholic track, if you really enjoy Yorke`s voice, this track could be so good for me, i like it, and this original version is for me better than the Com Lag version.

"A Punch at the Wedding" is some Beatle influenced track, its boring i dont like it so much, nice bass lines, but repetitive.

"Myxomatosis" is another excellent song, it has a very pleasant and again powerful sound, distorted bass make great this song, weird lyrics and some coll changes, (Re- Myxomatosis which is included in Com Lag, compared with this, is absolutely horrible), so maybe this track could be one of your favorites.

"Scatter Brain", nice guitar sound, so many good passages, but not the best song, i like it, but its not so creative as others, and the last song is.

"A Wolf at the Door", this is another great song, excellent to finish the album, again very weird and inventive lyrics, and beautiful guitar sound, with some difficult pronuntiation, but its so enjoyable.

Well talking about progressive rock, im sure this album is not what you are looking for, it`s songs lenght is something between 3. 30 and 4 minutes, of course it has some good changes, some atmospheric and with great electronic sound which make it some progressive. I like it so much, its not my favorite album but give it a try, i reccomend it to all of you. 4 Stars!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#76186)
Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars After the really depressing Amnesiac, could Thom (and more importantly the group's fans) take another shot of depression he had imposed on everyone? Well, no need to jump on the rest of your codeine pills (but keep them handy, you never know ;-): this album is somewhat "cheerier" or not as suicidal (and accessorily more accessible) and it represents a sort of return to form bringing us back a bit more towards the OK Computer days.

Yet Hail to The Thief is again not that easily digestible, remaining a hard bit to swallow and come out unscathed. Still "plagued" with semi post-rock and trip-hop ambiances, Yorke's bleak and gloomy world is still deeply depressive, vindictive (almost spiteful), reclusive and lonely. Somehow, I am still wondering how the Greenwood manage to stick around with having so few to say, crushed by Yorke manic songwriting totalitarianism. There are the usual traps that Thom & Co loves to sprinkle throughout the album (double song title, refusal to number their tracks, no: I personally think those are intentionally sprayed around to give the music a little more depth therefore hiding a bit its hollowness.

While this album is much more successful (artistically speaking anyway), this remains rather impenetrable quickly and personally I do not think most of Radiohead's later albums are worth the time investment unless you want to become an "emo" as Thom seems so happy to be pleased to stagnate in. But then again, since he finds a way to remain in the spotlight and do what he likes, who am I to disagree?

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#92040)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dear fan of progressive rock, here is an album that far too many have overlooked, and far too few have given a proper chance. Not since the 1970's has a band compilled a more diverse and engaging piece of work. For any who were the types to smoke and turn out the lights while listening to your favorite songs, here you go. This is the work of a band that has had three deffinitive works preceding this one to mature along with theirs, the best producer in the music industry, Nigel Godrich. Textures collide, harmonies sweep around you in circles and drums pulsate in perfect clarity. Among these colliding textures is a grand piano over heart-beat stereo electronics of Backdrifts. Acoustic guitars meet digitized voices and crunchy bass lines in Go to sleep. One song, Myxamatosis, gives you the distinct impression that your speakers can barely hold it in. Each provides somthing intersting and fresh. Many are scary. NOthing here compares to some of pink floyds longer sound effect freakouts with maniacal laughter and all that, but the album on whole is quite disarming. The lyrics of this are just a pollitically thoughtful and claustophibic as Thoms others. The deepest political music since bands of the 70's. A simple "Fuck the govornment" just wont suffice. The songs are about propaganda, feeling as if you're being watched and that somthing is not quite right about the mechanized world in which you live. Wonderful. The guitarwork is somtimes so seemlessly integrated that you can barely tell where it ends and the rest of the song begins. It sounds sonic, similar to some of steve howes work, though less in your face awesome. The melodies are amazing and haunting. The album is long long long. Worth every penny. Must....go....listen.....now.

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Send comments to Semias (BETA) | Report this review (#99155)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Radiohead are one of my favourite bands but this album... its okay. This album just sounds a bit to planned, all their previous albums flow naturally, they seem like a true expression of the band at each time, whereas this, sounds a little forced, like an album made for the sake of making an album rather than recording something that they had been needing to express. To make an unfortunatly floydian analogy, this is a 'division bell' album, its like they've tried to instil and mix together what was good from previous albums and to me they've produced a lot of songs that I wish they'd done more with. This album feels like a compromise was made between okay computer and kid A , which means it doesn't really live up to either. All of the songs on this album are short by prog standards and are not really interrealated in any way, I listened to the 1st song on this album and thought 'this is pretty good' but then it basically carries on in the same way for another 13 songs. Picked out on their own, in a playlist this songs are good but theres not enough variation and not enough songs have been fully explored or broken into any major experimentation. for a fan its pretty essential to get this album and its pretty good but for a newcomer I would recommend Ok-computer as an album roughly in the middle of RH's stylistic range.

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Send comments to bod gorrel (BETA) | Report this review (#100331)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Radiohead? Hard to define - Pseudoprog? Undeniably a highly talented band from the UK and clearly, as an individual, I must be missing something. Most everybody else likes them! I do like Hail To The Thief however. This is an album I can sink my teeth into and it has enough twists and turns to captivate the listener.The album starts with the moody '2+2=5' and gets the album off to a fine start.My personal favourites on this album are ' Where I end You Begin' a realy creeping spine tingler and the brilliant ' Punch Up At A Wedding'. Other great tracks are ' Backdrifts' and ' Myxamatosis'. You have to love Thom Yorkes voice to like Radiohead and I can just about tolerate it on Hail To The Thief. That does not mean they are a mediocre band though, far from it. Their album sales and international success speaks volumes. A good album.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#103882)
Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hail to the thief is a great dissapointment and a really mediocre album for a band like Radiohead, first the neglect of careful tracklisting and the length of the album are negative aspects and i think the band with Hail to the thief prove that they just have reached the highest point in their creativity. But in a matter of fact i still dont consider the album bad, or just for the fans because there are a couple good songs, a few decent ones, so for me it is just a unsatisfactory album. 3 *

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Send comments to Quba (BETA) | Report this review (#104705)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since "OK Computer", Radiohead spent several years fiddling with their Powerbooks and producing some of the best innovative music of these times with "Kid A" and "Amnesiac". But these albums were full of restless experimentation, and never stood still. With "Hail to the Thief" we get a sense that they've finally arrived where they wanted to be - with a sound that they're confident with. The itchy, bubbling layers of contemporary electronics are now a vital part of their music, while their more conventional chiming guitars and pianos are given equal importance here. But it's still innovative, and highly satisfying, even if it does take several listens to get under its skin.

"2+2=5" is a great opener, bursting out in the middle with an unrestrained punkish thrash. "Sit Down, Stand Up" is built on hypnotic layers of metallic sounds which crescendo up to a brilliant climax. Thom Yorke gives fans of his melancholy crooning exactly what they want with "Sail to the Moon" - an almost operatic aria with some wonderful harmonies. Another stand-out track is "Where I End And You Begin" - with some rich multi-layered drumming and a screeching electronic backdrop.

The more straightforward guitar-rock tracks include "Go to Sleep", which wouldn't have been out of place on The Bends. However its superior brother is "There There" - whose insistent riff, chorus and drumming are close to perfection. The intimate little song "I Will" recalls "You and Whose Army". Another great simpler number is "Scatterbrain", built on their familiar chiming guitar and soaring vocal line.

"We Suck Young Blood" has a sneering and sarcastic feel with some rather scary behind-the beat clapping. "A Punch Up at a Wedding" starts with a mellow bassline, which reminds me of David Sylvian. It has a good tune, but doesn't go anywhere. "Myxomatosis" is dominated by an old-fashioned techno synth sound and Thom's savage ranting. The less interesting tracks are the purer electronic ones, including the slippery "Backdrifts", and "The Gloaming", which could have ended up on Amnesiac. If it wasn't for these, this might have deserved full marks. But Radiohead always end albums with a gem, and this one is no exception. On "A Wolf at the Door" Thom's paranoid raps and rants are unrelenting, and its anthemic chorus is full of bitterness.

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Send comments to Open-Mind (BETA) | Report this review (#108072)
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclipse
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Another interesting album by RADIOHEAD, full with good new ideas, combining the rock side of OKC and the experimental daring found on the last two albums. It's not very enjoyable though, and i feel a bit tired after the end of the album, as it last too long and could have been explored better by the band. "2+2=5" and "Sit Down Stand Up" could work very well as one long song, since they have a similar feel. Both are amazing, and introduce the album very well. "Sail To The Moon" is another highlight, but from now on things get quite weaker. Not essential, but a good addition for YORKE's fans. Too depressive and tiring for my taste, though.

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Send comments to Eclipse (BETA) | Report this review (#108078)
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been exposed to Radiohead a long long time, when I was 11 years old Mtv was playing Karma Police and Paranoid Android all the time. I like the songs in some way but always thought they were too depressive to listen to. When I was about 14 years old I walked around my dads room and saw Ok Computer laying on a shelf. I borrowed it and never gave it back, not that I liked it initially, again it was too depressed, but I simply forgot about the entire thing. Some 2 years later a friend of mine claimed that Ok Computer was voted the best rock album of all time and my interest in the record grew. I never even knew that Radiohead were such a big band let alone have released the best record of all time let alone that That particular album was laying at home almost untouched except for when I wanted to listen to that wonderful song Paranoid Android again. So I putted it on and began listening to it very intensely and so began my love for Radiohead which has only increased since then.

Some time later when I already was a big fan of both "the Bends" and "Ok Computer" that same friend told me that Radiohead's new record (which at the time had come out a year before that time I'm speaking of) was amazing and might be his favourite album. So I, the Radiohead fan that I was, got back from school, putted on my computer and started downloading, and so began my adventure with the album I'm now writing this review for. The newbie Radiohead lover is was didn't know this side of the band and was completely surprised. What the hell was this? was this even the same band? I must be because I hear Thom Yorke singing on here but how come, uh? Well I didn't really like it as you might suggest but as my musical taste grew further I had then figured out that you should always give albums more than 1 listen. So I did, and the album started growing, slowly. I don't remember well but I think it costs me about 8 months to actually really like this album.

In September 2005 when I had just turned 18 I went to an Opeth concert, which I still consider the best concert I have ever been to but nevermind that. Just before I went there I went into our Capital's biggest record store and saw this laying there for just 6,66 Euros! Of course I bought it and yet another big step in my relation with the album had been overcome. I liked the album but I never loved it so far. My musical direction had gone in every direction possible and both Kid A and Amnesiac were safe in my top 100 albums. I loved and still love experimental music and love it more than any other kind of music but Hail to the Thief remained a weird album for me. But some day in 2006 I got it, I simply got it and loved this album. Het kwartje viel, like we say in Dutch. And now on this day of writing I am still discovering the beauty of this album which somehow has so many stuff hidden inside of it that every when I will listen to it I will discover a new sound, a new noise which fits the pieces better together again.

Written for Rateyourmusic

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Send comments to Jochem (BETA) | Report this review (#111558)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Radiohead. You either love them or hate them. I happen to love them.

I see a lot of bias against Radiohead on this site, seemingly because they're not necessarily "progressive," and they're extremely commercially successful. I, however, do not think their success in any way negates their creativity, and I truly believe that Radiohead is by far the most inventive band on a major record label right now. I think Hail To The Thief is absolutely brilliant, whether or not it's progressive, though I believe it possesses many progressive elements.

I really see this album as Radiohead's response to popular music today. They take songs that had the potential to be exclusively pop, and then completely transformed them into something unique. That sounds progressive to me. Anyway, there is extraordinary keyboard use all the way through this album. Thom Yorke's voice continues to be God. Radiohead rocks out, chills out, and produces a truly fantastic record.

I can't quite bring myself to give it five stars on this particular site, as it is debatable whether or not it's really prog. But it's certainly a vital album to me, and even if it isn't prog, it's a darn good record.

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Send comments to Momentary Lapse (BETA) | Report this review (#121211)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Back to the early days....

After a strong change suffered by Radiohead's style with Kid A and Amnesiac, here in Hail to the Thief, the band tries to go on making electronic/ambient pieces, but, at the same time, coming back to the early stuff (OKputer, The Bends... even Pablo Honey). As a result of this blend, here is a long album (14 tracks), in which you can find some tracks in the vein of his predecessors (Myxomatosis, The Gloaming, Backdrifts) and rather poppish numbers, as Sail to the Moon, Scatterbrain, and the opening track, one of the best songs here. As this album is pretty good but not at all, there are fillers like Sit Down, Stand Up and Where I End..., which sound repetitive and lack of inspiration. The lyrics of the songs speak about political bussiness, mainly.

Outstanding tracks:

- 2 + 2 = 5: Starting with a soft and depressing riff, then breaking into a harder beat and a more agressive guitar attack; finally ending with a poppish riff and Yorke's falsettos... Awesome, the best track by far!

- Sail to the Moon: Beggining with a very relaxing intro with piano and soft guitar (that blows mi mind everytime I hear it), but quickly turning into a much more depressing (as usual) melody; very nice song.

- Scatterbrain: Wow... There are few songs that turn me depressed when I hear it... and one of these is this song. The guitar riff speaks for itself.

- A Wolf at the Door: Another extremely depressing tune, with slow guitar arpeggios and abundant vocals by Thom... intrincate lyrics, but superb closing song.

Not the best Radiohead's album from his second era (from Kid A until this release), but interesting... Four stars, no more or less.

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Send comments to sircosick (BETA) | Report this review (#124690)
Posted Monday, June 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just 'cause you feel it doesn't mean it's there

After gaining a reputation for being one of the world's premier rock groups, a cloud of mystery surrounded the possible directions that Radiohead's sixth studio album would take. The band has dabbled, and found success, in styles ranging from brit-pop to post rock and even progressive rock. After becoming recognized as being not just a popular band, but one that is highly acclaimed by critics, the pressure was on for this group of musicians to deliver with something memorable and creative. What Hail to the Thief brought listeners were glimpses of past styles that the band had taken and a successful fusion of the bands electronic-based post-rock and guitar-driven progressive rock. The result was a fantastic collection of songs which is sadly overshadowed by the immense works of the band's past, but is still absolutely worth looking in to.

With the opener, "2+2=5", the listener realizes that the band has evolved, again. Guitars are much more present than they had been on Kid A/Amnesiac, but the chaotic energy of those albums are still there, even amplified. The second half of the song, is almost like psychotic ramblings and is very well exectuted and absolutely sucks in your attention. What follows are two very well crafted, melodic songs. "Sail to the Moon" is a sure highlight with its lush atmosphere paired with soaring vocals courtesy of Thom Yorke. "Backdrifts" takes the electronic aspects presented in Radiohead's last 2 albums and applies it differently by incorporating more instruments and more structure. "Go To Sleep" sounds like it would be fitting on The Bends or OK Computer, and it works as a fitting single. However, the next song, "Where I End and You Begin" is easily one of the bands finest performances. Drawing power from its pulsating bass line, the song evolves in to a well-orchestrated piece of work showcasing both the band's post-rock elements and progressive/alternative capabilities. The result is phenominal and would be enjoyed by the vast majority of vistors to this particular website.

"We Suck Young Blood" is a bit of a low point on the album, except for an interesting piano passage in the middle of the song. It starts building up, but then reverts to the looming piano and vocals combinationthat it started out as. At that songs end, the listener encounters the electronic beat that leads to "The Gloaming" (which also serves as the album's alternate title) Similar to Backdrifts, it blends electronic backgrounds with typical progressive flair and is a memorable song. "There There" could be one of the most universally pleasant songs on the album, but it is far beyond what one might except of the band after hearing only their earliest works. The rhythm section gets to really shine on this song. One of the few songs that really has a "riff", this track shows things working for the band in their natural state, with very minimal electronic experimentation. Excellent track for fans of OK Computer who want to see an even more progressive side of the band. Fans might recognize "I Will" as the reverse of "Like Spinning Plates" off Amnesiac. It works as a short interlude type song and the vocals are top notch. Excellent use of vocal layering because the lead and backing vocals work really well. Both "A Punch Up at a Wedding" and "Myxomatosis" work well as songs drawing influence from both eras of the band. "Punch Up" is successful in drawing a good deal of its force from the bass line while "Myxomatosis" is more electronically based. "Scatterbrain" showcases the vocals above all powefully and it seems to mellow things down for the album's close, but this is undone by "A Wolf At The Door." This is arguably one of the band's most aggressive songs with... interesting lyrics... to say the least. It seems to be drawing from the paranoid and misanthropic themes from Kid A/Amnesiac but is still a successful close to Radiohead's longest album.

Another highlight of the album is the album art. Yes I may be a little biased towards this album art considering that it hangs right above my bed, but it's a series of really interesting paintings which depict the Los Angeles coast as bricks of words and phrases and it really captures the somber and critical mood of this album. It's not as conceptual as their previous albums, and the song to song flow isn't what it was on Kid A or Amnesiac, but it is, at heart, a collection of really great songs. Maybe traditional prog enthusiasts may have trouble with this album, but I feel that most people will find some songs on this album worth hearing several times. Post-rock fans may want to give this a listen, preferably after Kid A or Amnesiac. I believe that due to the fact that Radiohead are still pushing boundaries and not sacrificing quality of songs in addition to the album being well crafted makes it an excellent addtion to any prog music collection.

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Send comments to moreitsythanyou (BETA) | Report this review (#126877)
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This was supposed to be a return of the guitar and thankfully it is back, just not as much as I would like. Overall this album still has a lot of electronics to it but they have tried to balance the songs that are songs, and the songs that focus on soundscapes. I like half this album quite a bit, while the other half I could take it or leave it.

"2+2=5" a title taken from the George Orwell book "1984" takes 2 minutes before it kicks in and the wait was worth it ! Nice opening track. Yes, there is some good guitar too. "Sit Down Stand Up" like the first song takes some time to develope. 3 minutes in we get some fast paced percussion,and the vocals also pick up the pace. Synths are shooting all over the place. "Sail To The Moon" is a dreamy tune with mournful vocals. Piano leads the way on this great song. "Backdrifts" features electronics, vocals and percussion. Piano comes in late.

"Go To Sleep" is one of my favourites with strummed guitar and more upbeat vocals. "Where I End And You Begin" has a good beat to it and instrumentally reminds me of the STONE ROSES. "We Suck Young Blood" has weak, fragile vocals and I don't really like this one. We do get an outburst 3 minutes in. "The Gloaming" is another one i'm not too fond of,too experimental. "There There" is another favourite with some good guitar 4 minutes in. This one is simple yet catchy. "I Will" is a mournful sounding song that could have fit well on "Ok Computer". "A Punchup At A Wedding" has a good groove to it with vocal melodies to open and close it. "Myxomatosis" actually has some energy ! It reminds me of Gary Numan at times. "Scatterbrain" might be the best song on the album. Guitars and drums are great. "A Wolf At The Door" is ok, the vocal melodies before 2 minutes are good.

Good but not essential.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#133320)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars 1. 2+2=5 (3:26) 2. Sit Down. Stand Up (4:17) 3. Sail to the Moon (4:30) 4. Backdrifts (5:33) 5. Go to Sleep (3:32) 6. Where I End and You Begin (4:35) 7. We Suck Young Blood (5:00) 8. The Gloaming (4:24) 9. There There (5:26) 10. I Will (2:26) 11. A Punch-up at a Wedding (4:57) 12. Myxamatosis (3:59) 13. Scatterbrain (3:25) 14. A Wolf at the Door (3:26)

Hail to the Thief was a dissapointment to me. When i heard 2 + 2 = 5 on the radio i was surprised to hear them returning to a more rock driven sound and less keyboard driven. This album is a lot heavier than Kid A and Amnesiac, but i was dissapointed. The songs start to sound the same about half-way through and I lost interest very quickly.

Thom Yorke's vocals are very good on this album but the material is weak and generic, even for Radiohead. 2 + 2 = 5, There There, and Sail to the Moon are excellent tracks, all with beautiful, exciting, and memorable aspects that make them some Radiohead's better songs.

As a whole, however, Hail to the Theif was a big step down from amazing albums such as Ok Comptuer and Kid A. This definately isn't the end of Radiohead, but i hope they have more to offer on their new album, In Rainbows.

Overwhealming, but necessary when observing how Radiohead has changed over the years. Sail to the Moon, alone, makes this album easier to listen to.

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Send comments to therevelator (BETA) | Report this review (#142139)
Posted Thursday, October 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars My preferred albums from "Radiohead" so far were their debut "Pablo Honey" and their more famous "OK Computer". I'm afraid that "Hail To The Thief" doesn't reach these levels.

As a source of inspiration, the great "Echo & the Bunnymen" have always pleased me a lot more and as a follower, "Muse" produced much better stuff than "Radiohead" IMHHO.

Although there are some good songs featured here ("2+2= 5"), there are other painful ones like "Backdrifts" which reminds me too much of "Kid A" and its ambient/electro boring mood.

On the contrary of several reviewers, I don't have any problem with Yorke's voice; the problem resides more in the quality / feeling of the songs.

My favourite moment from this work is probably "Where I End and You Begin" although it sounds a bit as déjà vu (hi "Echo"). At least it rocks a bit and its melody is pretty fine. But to stand the whole of "Suck Young Blood" is very difficult. It really sucks.press next to avoid total boredom. But it won't help you a lot, since you will have to face the extremely poor "The Gloaming". You know the story: press next again.

When the band reverts to a more straightforward rock, it is instantly better. Another one of my fave is "There There". Not extremely original, but a pleasant piece of rock music. No experimentation, just raw guitar and harmony. And convincing vocals.

The same year "Radiohead" released this album, "Muse" produced the great "Absolution". The latter band might well be compared as a clone of the former, but there are absolutely no comparison between both albums. This one is far to reach the brilliance, the grandeur of "Absolution". So, get the latter one instead.

This album holds too few good songs to deserve the three star rating. Somewhat dull and repetitive actually, just like "Punch Up At A Wedding". An EP would have done the job. Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#179214)
Posted Friday, August 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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2 stars Yorke was never very good at math...

Hail To The Thief is a very strange album for Radiohead. After straying more into electro-prog territory with their last two albums, Kid A and Amnesiatic, they finally decided to bring the guitar back out and give it more of a rock sound. As such, this really isn't much of a prog album, not that they really wanted to be a prog band in the first place - often denying the tag. Guitar, Piano and bass dominate the album along with the usual Yorke grumble (or whine, or scream depending on what kind of mood he's in). The album itself is very hard to rate because at times it's mindblowing, while at other times it's sickeningly boring. The song We Suck Young Blood pretty much defines the album, it's blindingly beautiful and incredible piano piece that could take on the piano from Supertramp's School sandwiched between boring, almost a-capella vocals from Yorke. Flashes of brilliance between seas of uninteresting songs.

Most of the songs here on any other album would have been called 'filler'. Not like, ''crappy song to fill time'' filler, but ''short songs to fit between the standout pieces'' filler. None of the songs on the album are a showcase of the band's abilities, and all of them end frighteningly before they should. 2+2=5 could easily have been 20-minutes if the band really wanted to make a prog masterpiece, but instead ends right when it picks up. This happens for a lot of the songs on the album, leaving many of them forgettable. Other standouts on the album include the heavy-as-hell and synth driven Mxyomatosis, which brings back memories of Idiotique from Kid A thanks to it's almost club-beat, (which actually works for them in this case) and the creepy coda A Wolf At The Door with it's offbeat delivery.

The rest of the album really doesn't stand out. There's a couple of amazing melodies used once and mistakenly discarded as the formally mentioned We Suck Young Blood and other times a sea of melody-less bass overtake the song and turn it into noise as on The Gloaming.

One thing that is kind of cool about the album is the gimmicks. Each song has two titles (a title and a parenthesis title) and the fact that all the songs are all so short work with the ADD culture of today - although that really is not the prog audience. Some of the heavier moments being back memories of the band's glory days and the first half of the album definitely overtakes the second, but all around this one is a pretty big disappointment for the prog world.

Ultimately this one is going to get 2 scattered brains out of 5. Pieces of this album could have enhanced other releases from the band but overall this one doesn't hold together too well. Hiring a lot of people who don't do much work is not better than hiring few people who really know what they're doing in this case (to use an analogy of short vs. long songs). Not a bad album and fans will definitely enjoy it, but the rest will be able to miss this one unless they really need to hear some later Radiohead.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#179411)
Posted Monday, August 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I need to give this album a little boost here. Hail to the Thief is Radiohead's most diverse and it's filled with top-notch material. That having been said, it doesn't have the groundbreaking, essential for any rock collection feats of OK Computer or Kid A, but it is still highly experimental. The songs here combine both of Radiohead's worlds, rock and electronic, with new twists. The songs tend to have thick, dark atmospheres. The songs are all under 6 minutes, but plenty happens in those few minutes, most of the time.

The opener, "2+2=5" starts with a set of clean guitar arpeggios with Thom's ethereal voice before spontaneously exploding in the back third of the song for a climactic ending. A recent review complains that this could have easily been a 20-minute prog suite if the band wanted, but they didn't want to do it. It's not their style. Sure, I'd love to hear the band write a 20-minute song, but I am completely satisfied with the result of the quick and dynamic opening track. From there we move into one of the band's best tracks, "Sit Down. Stand Up." Which starts off quite atmospheric as well, and slowly builds into a crazy, chaotic electronic breakbeat climax. It's a very cool song. From there we have a ballad, "Sail to the Moon." It's a beautiful piece with an unusual count. A slower electronic-based piece "Backdrifts." leads into another rocker, "Go to Sleep." Both are good songs, but the next highlight of the album is the song that comes next, "Where I End and You Begin." More ethereal goodness suppliments a sweet bassline and its density increases to the end of the song with the dark, scary repetition of "I will eat you alive." The creepiness continues into the next piece, "We Suck Yound Blood." As the name implies, this is a dark piece. It is very slow and brooding for 3 minutes before the tempo suddenly increases and the song goes into an uptempo, jazzy segment that is very misleading. After a few repetitions the song goes right back to how it was a few seconds ago. This move was probably not the best. I like songs taking unexpected turns and all, but this break could have been given some more breathing time. Besides, the rest of the song gets kinda boring by the end. Next, "The Gloaming." is an electronic piece, more chaotic and interesting than "Backdrifts.," but also less melodic. "There There." is a very nice, melodic piece and is another highlight that starts a series of solid tracks to bring the album to a close. The interlude "I Will." moves us into another memorable bassline which leads the way in "A Punchup at a Wedding." This one has some good vocal work also. Good track. "Myxomatosis." is a largely electronic piece, and it is easily the best of its class on the disc. "Scatterbrain" is an emotional piece, again leaning on the dark side, and "A Wolf at the Door" is a brooding, strong closer.

Any fan of Radiohead should find a lot to enjoy here. Those not familiar with the band are advised to check out OK Computer, Kid A and their recent masterpiece In Rainbows for an easier and more consistently satisfying intro to the band. I am inclined to agree that some of the songs could have been trimmed or even plain cut out, and others could have been expanded, but the good far outweighs the bad for me. Hail to the Thief is another excellent title in the band's catalog.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#180491)
Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the musical revolution that was "Kid A" and "Amnesiac", Radiohead bring "Hail To The Thief", a lot more varied than previous efforts and coming back to more conventional song-writing. A big truth about this album is that, with certain exceptions, almost every track in here could be thrown into another of their previous albums, yet, the album flows extremely well and the unpleasant moments are very rare.

The best tracks are the opener and closer, those are two fantastic songs and are amongst my favorite Radiohead songs, but it also has a great middle, "Sail To The Moon", "Where I End And You Begin" and "We Suck Young Blood" are also amazing, and even the extremely electronic tracks, which I didn't quite like in "Amnesiac" are very good, as "The Gloaming" or "Sit Down. Stand Up."

An extremely regular album, very Radiohead-ish, very pleasant, no real weak points, just more Radiohead!

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Send comments to JTP88 (BETA) | Report this review (#216230)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Hail to the Thief" is the 6th full-length studio album by UK alternative rock act Radiohead. The album was released through Parlophone in June 2013. "Hail to the Thief" was recorded from September 2002 to February 2003 at Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood and Canned Applause in Oxfordshire.

The album features 14 tracks and a full playing time of 56:35 minutes. The more experimental approach to writing music that Radiohead initiated on "OK Computer (1997)" and further explored on "Kid A (2000)" and "Amnesiac (2001)" is not continued here. The band felt exhausted by the longdrawn recording sessions for especially the two latter mentioned albums and wanted to record a more spontanious album. So while there are some slightly experimental elements on "Hail to the Thief", it´s by far Radiohead´s least experimental album since "The Bends (1995)".

The music on the album is melancholic alternative rock and graced by Thom Yorke´s emotional and distinct sounding vocal delivery. The quality and consistency of the material on the album is overall decent. It´s not an album where many tracks stick out though. The return to a more guitar driven alternative rock as opposed to the electronic experiements and sound manipulations on the direct predecessors might have something to do with it. A little more experimentation like the adventurous compositional ideas featured on "Kid A (2000)" and "Amnesiac (2001)", could definitely have made "Hail to the Thief" a bit more intriguing.

As it is, it´s still a relatively enjoyable alternative rock album, but compared to the more daring releases in Radiohead´s discography, it´s ultimately a bit to safe. If you´re going to pursue a more "regular" songwriting style and predominantly employ normal rock instrumentation, you better make sure that the material you´ve written are of a really high quality, because on an album like this one you can´t hide compositional flaws or tedious songwriting behind electronic bleeps and blops or excuse it with experimentation. "Hail to the Thief" still features a pleasant and professional sounding production, impeccable musicianship and decent songwriting, so a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted. To my ears "Hail to the Thief" is simply among their least interesting releases.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#229671)
Posted Monday, August 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an album that was initially hailed as a masterpiece by a great many critics when it was released, but seems to have suffered some critical devaluation in the ensuing years. While I expect the same thing to happen with IN RAINBOWS (I personally prefer Thom Yorke's solo album THE ERASER), this really is a fine album. The best moments on this album are highlights in the band's overall oeuvre. These include the first four tracks (wow, what a way to begin an album!), the closer "A Wolf at the Door," "The Gloaming" and "There There," and several other tracks.

Unfortunately, the album is uneven, although I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps there are just too many tracks; perhaps some songs simply don't sit comfortably next to others. Of course, the band could not possibly keep making masterpieces that transcended mere critical appreciation into something more culturally important.

What is clear, however, is that the band is still at their height when making this album.

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Send comments to jude111 (BETA) | Report this review (#247415)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Hail To The Thief is my favourite Radiohead album. It is not as groundbreaking as some of the earlier works but it is a solid album that consolidates all aspects of their sound very well. It sort of revisits the many styles they have gone through in their evolution from Britpop to progressive indie and further on to experimental electronic.

All tracks here are great or even outstanding songs, regardless whether it is rocking indie (2+2=5), drum&bass trip-hop (Sit Down Stand Up), electronic experiments (Backdrifts), anthemic stadium rockers (Go To Sleep), or the beautiful sadness of Sail To The Moon and plenty other plaintive ballads. If we're talking about top-class indie, this is it.

My amazement at this album's low reception on PA is quite huge. Of course there is the predictable negativity coming from the 'this is not prog' votes, but I'm surprised this album also seems to evoke little positive responses from the fans.

I'm obviously hearing something nobody else does. Good for me, this albums has it all, it is not merely a backwards looking album but actually improves the electronic experiments of the 2 previous albums by fusing them with some of the rocking energy of their earlier work. An excellent Radio-synthesis for me.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#287694)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars After pretty much completely ignoring the band's two previous releases, I suddenly felt a new craving for Radiohead material right around the time when Hail To The Thief was being released.

After reading a couple of very positive reviews I decided to give in and purchase this so called back-to-basics release. The only problem was that I completely neglected the fact that Radiohead was no longer the same band that they were in the '90s. Most of the members had by this time already grown out of the band's alternative rock persona that only seem appealing when you're a young adult. What I mean by that is the simple fact that Radiohead has suddenly stopped trying to push boundaries of music and began feeling content with simply recording another record for their fans. Nothing really wrong with that, but the result can't really be considered more than a fans only release.

2+2=5 kicks off the album on a very interesting note where we get a fun combination of the alternative rock and electronica styles that defined the two different eras in the band's history. Initially, it really got me excited for what new ideas Radiohead would have in store for me this time. The answer to that was quite disappointing since there was in fact very little new to be found on this release. I realize that Radiohead had pretty much spoiled me with their previous achievements that managed to be versatile and creative all at once but I'm pretty sure that I would dismiss Hail To The Thief no matter the history I have with the band.

It's a very long album that has very few interesting ideas. On top of that, most of its time is spent in compete blandness of uninteresting performances and songs that would have probably been left on the cutting room floor during any of the band's previous sessions. I've recently read a few old interviews where even the members themselves seemed to be quite disappointed with Hail To The Thief, proclaiming it to be a bit rushed due to family commitments that the participants prioritized more than the music. There's definitely nothing wrong with having other priorities, but it's unjust to actually release a product that you know is lacking only for a quick cash in.

It's obvious that I didn't find Hail To The Thief to be very enjoyable and even though I've been trying to give it a few more chances over the years, it has still remained pretty inaccessible to my ears.

**** star songs: 2+2=5 (3:26) Sit Down. Stand Up (4:17) Sail To The Moon (4:30) There There (5:26) I Will (2:26) A Wolf At The Door (3:26)

*** star songs: Backdrifts (5:33) Go To Sleep (3:32) Where I End And You Begin (4:35) We Suck Young Blood (5:00) The Gloaming (4:24) A Punch-up At A Wedding (4:57) Myxamatosis (3:59) Scatterbrain (3:25)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#305612)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars Radiohead was one of those bands that, when people heard I was a prog fan, they said I should check out. Well check them out I did. I'm not impressed.

I suppose that there is enough (just barely) on this album to qualify the band as crossover prog. There are unusual time signatures, exotic synthesizer sounds and noises, and a progressive approach to the music. The musicians are certainly capable of playing this style.

But then there's Thom Yorke. His style of moaning, and a weak tone on every track make the album almost unbearable to listen to. It almost makes me yearn for death metal growls. Almost. Like progressive death metal, I'd probably enjoy instrumental versions of the songs much more.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#387506)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Hail To The Thief' - Radiohead (7/10)

After a pair of albums that virtually reinvented Radiohead's sound into a deeply experimental sound, the band would return with an album that seemed to 'return to their roots', to some extent. With 'Hail To The Thief', largely gone are the strange, dense and challenging sounds of 'Kid A'; it instead sounds like a slightly darker and eclectic version of 'OK Computer'. The album is both their most diverse and least cohesive, although some of the band's greatest songs to date are included here.

With '2+2=5', Radiohead expands their sound to grasp an aggressive punk sound, sounding more tortured than they ever have. While 'Hail To The Thief' is a big step back for the band, they do manage to throw in some new sounds that they picked up along the way. 'Sit Down, Stand Up' then contrasts the aggression of the first track with an electronically based track with some haunting pianos that is quite minimalistic, yet eerie in the way it's performed and built over the course of the five minutes. From there on, there's a continuing revolving door of styles, with tracks being psychedelic ballads ('Sail To The Moon'), more down-to-earth acoustic tracks circa 'The Bends' ('Go To Sleep') or even as if they were snatched from the 'Kid A' sessions ('The Gloaming'). Overall, this variety does make it an interesting collection of songs to say the least, but it suffers greatly in terms of album flow. While most Radiohead albums feel as if they have an intentional flow to them, I can only spot two or three track transitions that run smoothly here.

Diverse as they are, there does seem to be a running influence of baroque pop here, such as the darker works of The Beatles. The melodies are generally well done, although the band often gets too wrapped up in their own weirdness to keep things catchy, which can be good or bad, depending on mindset. As always, the largest point of debate here are the vocals of Thom Yorke, which I find irritating at times for their whiny moroseness, but other times they work perfectly for the music.

'Hail To The Thief' is overall a pretty good art rock album, although it admittedly works much better as a collection of songs, rather than a cohesive piece of work.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#409700)
Posted Tuesday, March 01, 2011 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What stands out almost immediately upon listening to this album is the definite sense that the band's only purpose in these sessions was to make a good album. In making The Bends, it's clear to me that the band was jumping out of its skin to try and make people forget about "Creep," and to gain the reputation as one of the Great Anthemic Bands of the 90's. OK Computer focused as much on Yorke's sense of alienation from the world as it did on the music itself, and of course the majority of the Kid A/Amnesiac tracks showed that the band was focused on doing something different with its sound than before. Hail to the Thief, though, is very much a consolidation of the band's sound, and while there are some minor developments here and there, most of the album could be adequately described as OK Computer refracted through Amnesiac. Hence, anybody whose respect for the band largely tied into how much they evolved from album to album will probably be somewhat disappointed with this one. Plus, this album has nothing resembling the "epic sweep" that OK Computer and Kid A had; there's a slight political bent here and there, but this album is clearly just a collection of songs.

WHAT a collection of songs, though. The band brought back the guitars to its sound in full force, but they also make liberal use of keyboards, "modern" rhythms and various neat production effects, and these combine into one of the most intriguing sonic palettes I can think of post-70's. And, well, I really like the melodies on here. Of the fourteen tracks on the album, only two really make me drift off in any significant way. One of them, "We Suck Young Blood," has a dirgey piano atmosphere not unlike what one would find on some early Procol Harum songs, as well as amusingly morbid handclaps, but five minutes is certainly too long for a track of this nature, and I can see how it would annoy the living hell out of people. I'm also not too fond of "The Gloaming," which relies on a monotonous loop that's a little too inhumane and ugly even for my tastes.

But that's only two tracks, leaving a dozen goodies in their wake. The opening "2+2=5" is one of the band's strongest ever tracks, not just for the lyrics (like the "YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION" chorus) but for the way it builds the band's traditional dark, arpeggiated guitar lines (set to non-traditional electronic rhythms, of course) into a rocking monster the likes of which the band hadn't done since The Bends. Plus, kudos should be given to the band for shutting down the song after three minutes; they could have easily extended it to five, and it would have been ok that way, but cutting it off when they do makes it seem that much stronger and more intense.

"Sit Down Stand Up" seems to have divided fans pretty strongly over the years, particularly for the fact that Thom seemingly says the words "little raindrops" in the frantic coda at least 20 times (I didn't count), but I find it extremely strong. I do admit that it's a little suspicious of the band to have a coda that features the words "little raindrops" when they already had a song ("Paranoid Android") that had a section that centered around Thom singing "Rain down ...," but the songs are plenty different otherwise (this is basically a more up-tempo and aggressive version of an average Amnesiac track). Plus, um, the electronic bits sound more than a bit like rain pouring down anyway, so it seems like Thom's singing is a nice atmospheric touch to me.

"Sail to the Moon" kinda strikes me as a cross between "Pyramid Song" (the atmospheric, directionless piano foundation) and "Subterranean Homesick Alien" (the synth line that sounds like the upward guitar line from that song), but that only bothers me a little bit, and the atmosphere matches its title perfectly. "Backdrifts" has an excellent build from the almost white-noise synth introduction, and combines a great vocal melody with a bunch of other fantastic arrangements. "Go to Sleep" starts off as a dark acoustic guitar number, before building into an effective "normal" electric rocker, and strikes me as one of the album's standouts.

"Where I End and You Begin" takes a great quiet bassline and a hypnotic (acoustic) drum rhythm, piles a bunch of synth (and eventually guitar) sounds on top, and features yet ANOTHER great vocal melody and performance from Thom (I'll say it again; I may not care much about what he's singing about most of the time, but I sure tend to like what he's singing). After the standstill of the two weaker tracks, we come to "There There," which probably sums up the album's overall sound better than any other track here (that's probably why it was chosen as a single). It starts as yet another hypnotic percussion rhythm, adds an effective set of guitar lines, features yet another fantastic vocal melody, and rides this groove well for over five minutes (picking up intensity in the last minute or so). It passed me by the first couple of times I listened to it, but I don't really get that now.

After the quiet beauty of "I Will" (a bit of a throwaway at 1:59, but a nice track nonetheless), we come to my other favorite track of the album, "A Punchup at a Wedding." What can I say, I absolutely love the interplay of the moody piano lines with the drums and bass, and I especially love the tense vocal line. Plus, I'm absolutely fascinated by the mix of grumbly guitar pounding in the left speaker and the quiet plinky guitar (synth? I dunno) line that pops up midway through the song.

"Myxomatosis" might annoy some people, but I totally love the over-the-top distortion of the weird bassline, and it makes me like the song even if the rest of it doesn't have anything I find extremely notable. "Scatterbrain" sounds a bit like an OK Computer outtake, especially in the guitars, but I like it; I'd have been thrilled to have this track on there instead of one of that album's weaker tracks. And finally, the closing "A Wolf at the Door" features yet another fascinating Yorke delivery, with him delivering really disturbing and disorienting imagery at a very fast pace, while all the while the guitars are playing a perfect set of lines. Plus, the "chorus" melody is uplifting and heartwarming in its own way, even if the lyrics are just as disturbing as ever.

I really don't know how many people would agree with rating this higher than OK Computer, but to me it's pretty much a no-brainer. This one may borrow some ideas from that one, but I really think this has more interesting arrangements and a deeper sonic texture, and this one doesn't tightly tie itself to a concept that I never found that interesting in the first place. I know that my opinions on music from this era probably aren't worth much, but this is one of the more enjoyable albums I've heard from the 1990's onward, and I heartily recommend it.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#452527)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars This great Radiohead album has always been perceived (rather unfairly, I might add) as a low point in Radiohead's career. Many feel that the album is uninspired compared to other releases and rather boring. I never got that.

This album is a rather stone cold look at the way modern societies work (in that case, it'd almost have to sound rather bleak) and the way Radiohead presents it, too me anyway, is exceptionally brilliant. This album packs an emotional punch in a different way than most of the albums do, this is more of an emotional roundhouse kick because this is very depressing stuff. And I've always found that I enjoy music that moves me like this.

Each track is well crafted, each containing the electronic treatment that the previous two albums had while maybe going back to their earlier work in terms of song structure. The resulting sound that each track has is a bold and mechanical one, one that fills you with rage and jerks your tears at the same time. I have found myself sometimes trapped in my own thoughts, crying or being emotionally empowered after listening to this album and it's an incredible feeling that no other album can do.

Hail to the thief, my friends.

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Send comments to The Truth (BETA) | Report this review (#478285)
Posted Thursday, July 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Hail to the Thief was seen by some as a creative retreat to safer ground by Radiohead, and hailed by others as a return to guitar rock. Neither is really the case. Guitar rock had never left the Radiohead sound; even in the midst of the arid electronic wilderness of Kid A and Amnesiac, both albums included at least one really tight indie rock number. What is the case is that, having successfully branched out into the electronic arena, Radiohead eventually decided to bring the guitar rock aspect of their sound back to the fore on this album - but they blend it so expertly with electronic departures but this is clearly an evolution, not a regression.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#658735)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

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