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Steve Hackett Metamorpheus album cover
3.60 | 216 ratings | 16 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Pool of Memory and the Pool of Forgetfulness (2:14)
2. To Earth Like Rain (1:32)
3. Song to Nature (3:02)
4. One Real Flower (3:11)
5. The Dancing Ground (3:01)
6. That Vast Life (12:26)
7. Eurydice Taken (1:47)
8. Charon's Call (3:14)
9. Cerberus at Peace (2:05)
10. Under the World - Orpheus Looks Back (5:15)
11. The Broken Lyre (3:17)
12. Severance (3:04)
13. Elegy (3:17)
14. Return to the Realm of Eternal Renewal (2:56)
15. Lyra (6:35)

Total Time 56:56

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hackett / nylon guitar, orchestral arrangements

- John Hackett / flute, piccolo
- Roger King / orchestral arrangements
- Jerry Peal / addit. orchestral arrangements (5,6,8-10,15)

The Underworld Orchestra:
- Christine Townsend / 1st violin, viola
- Lucy Wilkins / violin
- Richard Steward / cello
- Sarah Wilson / cello
- Dick Driver / double bass
- Colin Clague / trumpet
- Richard Kennedy / French horn

Releases information

Artwork: Kim Poor with Harry Pearce (design)

CD Camino Records ‎- CAMCD35 (2005, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy STEVE HACKETT Metamorpheus Music

STEVE HACKETT Metamorpheus ratings distribution

(216 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

STEVE HACKETT Metamorpheus reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars More genre bending action from accomplished guitarist Steve Hackett. Some might like to think that of all of the Steve H's in the Progressive Rock world, Steve Hackett is the most accomplished classical guitarist, but this album gives Mr. Howe a run for his money. This classical album is among many of the diverse genres that Hackett has dabbled in.

The music is very pretty throughout the album. However, it all sounds too similar at times, and they can get boring in the middle. Hackett's guitar work shines throughout the similarities, though. The orchestra album plays with precision and is utterly perfect, but again, it all sounds too similar.

Overall, this isn't one of Hackett's best, it certainly is good, but not his best. Nothing I would recommend to someone just getting into Hackett, but an overall solid effort. 3/5.

Review by lor68
4 stars Actually you could erase an half star at least, if you regard of the middle -a bit repetitive- section,but nevertheless it's one of the finest albums the former Genesis guitarist has ever produced-especially since He decided to perform his solo works all over the world (do you remember his concerts played together with one of the most skilful classical guitarists, such as Maurizio Colonna,my favourite musician of this music genre?!)...well -as a matter of fact- his melodic lines are perfectly coupled with an orchestra, but also his simple but effective harmonic solutions are excellent...his execution is much inspiring, despite of being not equal to such an incredible performance like that one by M.Colonna (above all from the technical point of view).Anyway,coming back to the present issue, Hackett's Underworld Orchestra -including John Hackett on flute- is always remarkable, but it's composed by eight elements only;however these latter are able to reproduce a full symphonic orchestra and for me that's enough, in order to be astounded and gratified too!! In particular I like track #14 and #15 ("Return To The Realm Of Eternal Renewal" and "Lyra"), because the guitar work is exceptionl here and complex as well, but you can't forget all the other tracks drawing from the ideas of some Russian composers from 20th Century, by means of a small "home-made" orchestra, which is delightful!!

Check it out, even though the album cover picture reminds us of an horror movie!!

Review by chessman
4 stars Another wonderful classical effort from Mr Hackett. This time he uses the Underworld Orchestra to create, along with his distinctively atmospheric guitar, a superb musical drama that has fast and slow pieces, along with happy and eerie moments. It is an album that creates a thoughtful yet beautiful world all of its own. In many ways this is a companion piece to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', and is just as good. The packaging, as usual, is typical Hackett, with illustrations by wife Kim Poor. All the tracks merge into a smooth, sinuous whole, and I can heartily recommend this to fans of both classical guitar and fans of Mr Hackett's acoustic playing. It once again showcases his special talent for composing. His diversity seems endless and I have to say that over the passing years he has become stronger and stronger - not something that can be said about many of his contemporaries. Not pure prog, but a classical adventure of epic proportions. Music to relax with on winter nights. Lovely stuff.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As Steve Hackett mentioned, this is a musical expression of the legend of Orpheus and his passage through the Underworld. This album represents his second orchestral album and fifth classical album overall. As the musical approach is classical music, Hackett uses nylon guitar (classical guitar) as his main instrument, backed with the eight-piece orchestra. The Underworld Orchestra provides full support of Hackett's interpretation. Those of you who are classical guitar freaks would benefit much from this album as Steve Hackett blends his guitar virtuosity with orchestra arrangement. This album might not serve well for those of you who like heavy rhythm music like prog metal. The music flows seamlessly from one track to another. When I spin it I didn't realize that it's already track 4 "One Real Power" without going noticed.

"The Dancing Ground" starts off with excellent string arrangement. You might imagine yourself enjoying a honeymoon at Venice while listening to this music. Hackett's guitar insert only happens in the middle of the track. Show this music to your wife, I think she would like it and ask you to go to Venice for a second honeymoon holiday! It's quite nice, I'm telling you. "The Vast Life" is the longest song from this album and you still might consider that this is a logical continuation of previous romantic track "The Dancing Ground". This time, Hackett demonstrates his expertise in dancing his fingers at the nylon strings of his acoustic guitar. The string only serves as background to accentuate the nuance that he is trying to shape. "Under The World - Orpheus Looks Back" is a bit dark music with soft orchestration. My best favorite track is "Severance" (3:04) where the string section plays dynamically. It's a great arrangement, I believe. "Elegy" (3:17) is a nice song as well, backed with touchy orchestra melody. The concluding track "Lyra" (6:35) is an excellent outfit as well. The interaction between nylon guitar and string section happens beautifully.

Overall, this is a very good* classical and orchestral work by Steve Hackett. This album serves very well for those who want to enjoy classical-based music through acoustic instruments: guitar and string section. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

*) On a "right" mood, you might find that this album is a "masterpiece" - especially for those of you who have grown up with classical music.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Yet another classical-minded albums from Steve (I've lost count of just how many he's done) and personally I don't find this one anymore essential than the previous one he's done in that realm. So Steve is in this album alone up against a string section, which includes Brother John. So a collection of pieces amalgamated to make a story of Orpheus' trip to the underworld as stated in Greek mythology. Outside this "concept", a lot of those pieces actually follow one another rather nicely, but I don't think you would ruin the album's feeling should you push the "Random" button in your remote control.

Actually there are a few tracks which suffers from symphonic strings backing, which has a tendency to make them sound rather cheesy and in some case like a second-rate soundtrack to some of John Wayne's old movies endings. But on the other hand, tracks like Charon's Call hold a little something that is nice enough to retain for a while, some other tracks are clearly reminiscent of his previous works as well. But if you are to listen to Severance (the best track on the album), you will hear that Hackett's rock themes are pervading into his classical music more and more: is this not a bit of a subtle reworking of Clocks - The Angel Of Mons? The closing Lyra is also a strong end to the album.

Although a good album to have your quiet moments with the mistress (who will not likely be in distress after such an album), if you already own Sketches of Satie, Midsummernight's Dream, Bay Of Kings or a few others of his solo acoustic works, I doubt you will find this work really essential. But it will not appal you either, by any means. Just that more of the same feeling.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Metamorpheus is the second album where Steve Hackett has the opportunity to play with a real orchestra instead of being forced to use new-age sounding synths that make the music sound plastic. The music here is much more full of energy and is overall more orchestrated than A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is fantastic. This suite is very strong, and often darker than the previous orchestrated suite. I sometimes here elements of T. Takemitsu, but definitely not as experimental. The sound is still very much baroque/classical-inspired contemporary classical guitar, but with a profound amount of English impressionism found in the music of composers like R. Vaughan-Williams, F. Delius, or A. Bax, which is a connection that may very well be true considering Hackett's apparent love for classical music as well as being from the United Kingdom.

Another orchestrated masterpiece by the master of contemporary classical guitar.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars As suggested by the title, this particular Hackett offering (one of his classical guitar albums, featuring contributions from a chamber orchestra) is a musical interpretation of the Orpheus myth from classical mythology. I won't go into extensive detail about the story in this review; if you're not familiar with the basic story (there are some variations on it in different contexts, but the core story is pretty standard), you should take the time to become familiar with it. Suffice it to say that the story is a classic, featuring love, loss, near recovery, loss again (after an epic failure to follow instructions as given), and eventually a disembodied singing head. The Greeks were awesome.

The first half of the album is nice, with some lovely themes (some of which get reprised later in the album, most notably the main theme in "To Earth Like Rain"), but because it covers the part of Orpheus' life before he experienced pain and sadness, it's a little monotonous in its cheeriness (and it doesn't even cover his time spent with the Argonauts). The only real moment of tension is in "The Dancing Ground," which breaks up a cheery minuet with a disturbing premonition of Eurydice's; otherwise, it's all happy happy happy, culminating in the upbeat but still overlong 12:27 of "That Vast Life." At least this track moves through several ideas, but it never shifts in tone, and thus it becomes more background-ish than I'd prefer for something with its length.

Naturally, the story gets darker once Eurydice dies and Orpheus descends into the underworld to try and get her back, but I like that the music goes beyond formula in depicting these passages. Look, if you're going to make a musical depiction of the Orpheus myth, the quality of your presentation will ultimately rest on how you handle two parts: the attempted ascent from the underworld with Eurydice, and Orpheus' eventual horrible death at the hands of the Maenads. Given this, Steve's decision to write "Under the World - Orpheus Looks Back" as a clear homage to "Mars" strikes me as nothing elss than brilliant. The inecessant rhythm gives a maddening tension to the track, and the ascent portion, first moving in darkness, then briefly moving into triumphant cheer, then briefly moving into doubt, then clearly showing the moment where Orpheus screws up, gives a perfect depiction of the story. And "Severance," well, that's just fun dramatic darkness, hinting at but not fully playing up his horrible death; it might not be great by the standards of classical, but it's just fine by the standards of a rock guy writing a small amount of classical.

The album then works through the happy ending of the story: Orpheus is buried, Orpheus' spirit is reunited with Eurydice, Orpheus' head keeps on singing, and his lyre becomes a constellation (with reprises of happy themes from earlier). Overall, then, it's not an amazing experience, but it's definitely one I like more than his 80s classical guitar albums (as of this writing I haven't heard the other classically-oriented albums he'd done in between those). Steve definitely shows himself as much more adept at writing for a classical ensemble than most rock musicians would be, and the presence of a coherent (and classic) story ends up providing a beneficial framework. Plus, a lot of the music here could have been reworked for use on one his "conventional" albums without a lot of fuss. If you're into later-period Hackett, this is a worthy purchase.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Sorry Steve, but this is just dull!

I am an enormous fan of Steve Hackett's career, from the incredible albums he did with Genesis in the 70's through his illustrious solo career spanning five different decades. One of the things that I appreciate so much about Hackett is his eclectic approach fusing influences from Classical, Folk, Jazz, Blues and (progressive) Rock into new and interesting forms. When this eclectic aspect is missing and Steve concentrates on a single style only for a whole album, the result is a lot less interesting. This was the case when he did a pure Blues Rock album in the 90's called Blues With A Feeling, and it is the case with his several purely Classical outings. Metamorpheus is an example of the latter. This album is 100% Classical music throughout and it has absolutely nothing to do with progressive Rock or any kind of Rock.

Another thing that I admire and appreciate in Steve Hackett is his unique and distinctive signature guitar sound on both acoustic and electric guitar. I particularly like when he incorporates both his acoustic and his electric sides on the same album or in the same live performance, or even within the same piece of music. Of course, there are no electric guitars whatsoever on this purely Classical album, but the deeper problem is that Steve's acoustic playing here is not recognizably his own. There is nothing here that reminds me of the Steve Hackett I know and love. He has reduced himself here to just a regular Classical guitar player - a very skilled one for sure, but one without a distinctive sound and style all of his own.

Yet another thing a like about Steve Hackett's Rock albums, such as Defector, Guitar Noir, To Watch The Storms and Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth, to name a few of my favourites, is his skills as a creator of memorable instrumental music. This aspect too is missing on the present album, as this seemingly goes on endlessly without making any kind of lasting impression on me. Frankly I find it dull and find it difficult to sit through it all, and believe me I've tried on numerous occasions.

The reader should keep in mind that I am not a fan of Classical music, but a Rock fan through and through. I cannot properly judge this album for what it is, an album of Classical music. I happily concede that I lack the experience and knowledge to judge it as such. Judging it as a Prog album is however impossible as it does not contain a single trace of anything progressive or anything Rock. I can hear that it is not of low quality by any means, but it simply does very little for me.

But why be so harsh as to give only one star to one of my all time favourite artists? The answer is that I've previously given Bay Of Kings (Steve's first Classical guitar album) and Momentum (his second such album) two stars, and these earlier albums are both clearly better and more memorable for me than Metamorpheus even they are too one-dimensional to merit more than two stars and are clearly less interesting than his Rock albums. Also, even the weakest of Steve's many Rock albums (such as Till We Have Faces, for example) that I've given two stars in the past at least contain a few worthwhile moments and are much more enjoyable for me than the present album. Sorry Steve, with all respect, this just isn't my cup of tea I'm afraid.

Latest members reviews

4 stars In Metamorphous, Hackett continuous line of acoustic works in medieval tone as good Bay of Kings (poor production and sound), Momentum and also enjoyable A Midsummer Night Dream. This is the most compact and solid, at least the ones I know, I do not know Momentum. It's an album that lasts as ... (read more)

Report this review (#1106809) | Posted by sinslice | Saturday, January 4, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Metamorpheus" is transposed into music of the myth of Orpheus. Steve embraces the classical guitar, accompanied by Underworld Orchestra and John Hackett on flute, draw a mythological world of past, the pursuit of sound, prompts the author to record every instrument of the orchestra alone getting ... (read more)

Report this review (#1085551) | Posted by agla | Wednesday, December 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A stunning, magnificently beautiful work of art. Music of supreme grace and sublime lyricism. This is soundtrack to Orpheus' voyage through the underworld, and it really takes you on a musical journey. There are echoes of Gustav Holst and Vaughn-Williams, but also a lot of Hackett...and a nod ... (read more)

Report this review (#266935) | Posted by Progfan1958 | Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album was extremely well put together with some very beautiful melodies and harmonies. I play classical guitar and I find this album a very wonderful experience. The music is very serene and calm. It is quite a bit different from his works in the early years of Genesis but there are some ... (read more)

Report this review (#79840) | Posted by sulaimans1 | Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Considering that progressive music listeners are people with mind open for various music genres, and of those who know to enjoy good records of any kind, I therefore recommend this CD to them. Talking about style of music present on it, instead of term "classical" which is reserved for "dim an ... (read more)

Report this review (#78785) | Posted by cedo | Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hackett has become as mellow as his former bandmate Tony Banks has become in the recent years. And they both released two classical albums-- Banks using the full orchestra and Hackett partially using orchestra. Now this is not a true prog rock. The theme 'Metamorpheus' invoked an expectation of ... (read more)

Report this review (#52931) | Posted by Sharier | Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First of all I have to say that this classical piece is done very well and has nice themes. What you get is a black cd with a small picture by kim poor on the front. So all is made very tasty. But now to the important part of the whole thing: the music. Everything is done well. I like Steves Gu ... (read more)

Report this review (#34564) | Posted by | Monday, April 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is AMAZING!!! I received the promo (my review is online at Magazine) from the label about a month ago, and in the beginning it didn't really capture my attention. However, after a few auditions, it really caught me. In this album, Hackett plays classical guitar, acompan ... (read more)

Report this review (#34563) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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