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Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.28 | 1656 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars There's no denying that Steven Wilson's solo career has been on one heck of a roll. Since Porcupine Tree's The Incident was released in 2009, Wilson has focused solely on his blossoming solo efforts -- giving us 2011's Grace for Drowning and 2013's The Raven Who Refused to Sing, the latter of which was Album of the Year at the 2013 Progressive Music Awards. However, his latest studio disc, Hand. Cannot. Erase., is the best of the bunch and will continue to be lauded by progressive metal enthusiasts for decades to come. It'll also be staying in my stereo for a long time. Well done, Mr. Wilson.

The first thing listeners must understand before experiencing this disc is the unique subject matter of Hand. Cannot. Erase. For those who don't know, it's an emotional concept album inspired by the case of an English woman named Joyce Carol Vincent who passed away in December 2003, but had remained undiscovered for about three years. From what I read in old articles, Vincent's television and heat remained running during that span and half of her rent was being automatically paid by benefit agencies until the housing officials decided to repossess her home after enough unpaid rent had accumulated. That's when they finally found her corpse, which was so badly decomposed that she had to be identified through dental records, according to reports. Anyway, Wilson learned of the heartbreaking tale through the 2011 documentary, "Dreams of a Life," and he was inspired to explore how someone could become so isolated, ignored and overlooked in today's tech-heavy world. Needless to say, he brought me to tears at times and paid a terrific tribute to Ms. Vincent.

You know it's buckle-up time as soon as you hear the sound of children playing fade in on the opening track, "First Regret." It's the start of a journey that runs the gamut of musical styles over the course of 65 minutes. But we're not just talking about a collection of tunes -- there is thought-provoking artwork, a blog written through the eyes of the female character, and a special edition that has stereo and 5.1 surround-sound mixes and a 40-page booklet. You've got to respect the effort, with Wilson turning the album into a full-on artistic endeavor that covers a variety of mediums. But, at the core of it all, is the music itself. And Wilson doesn't disappoint. I hear a wide range of influences scattered throughout the tracks from Opeth to Rush, while some of the album's upbeat moments even remind me of The Who.

The disc's highlights for me include the pop-esque title track, which fits incredibly well on the eclectic record, and a female spoken-word track called "Perfect Life." The album's dynamics are dynamite too and excellent examples of this are "Routine" and "Ancestral" -- the latter of which goes from loud to soft, and soft to loud, with ease. Then, there are some impressive performances on the heavy "Home Invasion" and the instrumental "Regret #9." Kudos to guitarist Guthrie Govan, drummer Marco Minnemann and keyboardist Adam Holzman.

My only criticism is the overwhelming melancholy vibe of Hand. Cannot. Erase., which could make it a difficult listen on a frequent basis. But that's a tiny gripe. The truth is, everything Wilson touches turns to gold, and as fans all we can do is just sit back and enjoy the ride.

- Michael R. Ebert (

Mebert78 | 5/5 |


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