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Marillion - This Strange Engine CD (album) cover





3.46 | 640 ratings

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3 stars Their last studio "Made Again " although acclaimed on this site, couldn't attract me. I just found it boring to death (but this was also my feeling with "Afraid of Sunlight".

The start of "This Strange Engine" is rather promising. Of course, there are no miracles : the past grandeur of the genuine Marillion is not to be expected but "Man Of A Thousand Faces" is a very catchy song, full of rhythm (somewhat "world music") and very pleasant to listen to. At least is breaks the usual boredom and uniformity that can be found in lots of their songs from 1989 onwards.

"One Fine Day" is a beautiful and melodious song, in the vein of "Beautiful". Rothery also delivers a nice guitar solo that really illuminates this track. A more poppish and commercial number comes next : "80 Days" is of course much less interesting. Very simple and basic. An average pop / mellow song (typically Marillion Mark II, I would say).

"Estonia" is a very melancholic and poignant one. Far much better than previous soporific songs from their previous two albumS. Of course, it won't break with the classic low tone and slow pace that Marillion II has produced but this song Holds so much emotion that I can just appreciate it. This is not really true with "Memory Of Water" which is just another boring tune.

A bit of rocking song (in Marillion II standards, don't except a crazy tune hey !) with "Accidental Man". At times heavy keys will be really surprising, while Hogarth shows a bit of disposition for being a bit more convincing than usual. This song being in the style of "Holidays in Eden" (the track). Not bad at all.

The next song "Hope For The Future" is rather average. A bit dull to start, it sounds too much like most of their Mark II material. The only difference being maybe those latin rhythms that can be heard in the second part of the song. Unexpected, I should say.

The title track is the longest song of this album (and one of the longest Marillion songs, both bands). Mark II, has never produced such a complex song. Several theme changes : a slow beat intro, a strong and very rhythmy keyboard passage (reminds me "One For The Vine"). The mood returns to a quieter but wonderful part. Very emotional (which was definitely a quality absent from each Mark II album) and built crescendo (you know that I like this construction a lot). A good sax solo would even be featured, which also brings some variety. And finally a short guitar break closes this nice section.

We'll be reverted into a complete quiet part before a finale featuring a good Hogarth (rare enough to be mentioned).

I was driving the first time I was listening to this album. I didn't put too much attention after the (supposed) end of the song, so I was really surprised to hear some laughs after forteen minutes of silence. Pay attention !

This album was a nice surprise for me although it broke with the Marillion tradition (both bands) to deliver special double CD sets (but these were remastered version of existing albums). Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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