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Steve Hackett - Voyage Of The Acolyte CD (album) cover

VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.23 | 1218 ratings

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Ghost_of_Prog
4 stars Set between Gabriel's finale with the band and Genesis picking themselves back up (briefly) with A Trick of the Tail, Steve Hackett released his first solo album. Now Hackett was a team player, putting the band's interests above his own. His style and atmosphere (along with Tony Bank's keyboard skills) helped defined Genesis's sound, and he was even allowed to shine on his own a couple of times with pieces such as Horizons and After the Ordeal. However, Hackett's skills are truly allowed to shine when he takes the reins rather than sharing them with others, as Voyage of the Acolyte shows the world.

A popular nickname for this album is "the lost Genesis album," which was probably given because Hackett's band- mates Rutherford and Collins join him on this album. However, that title is really unfair towards Hackett. While it might be easy to lump it with the post-Gabriel album's, VotA sounds nothing like the preceding/post Gabriel albums. If anything, VotA is most reminiscent of Trespass, where Hackett was not present. It has both it's own unique energy and pastoral sound that is absent in his work with Genesis. This "lost" album is not lost because it has little connection with Genesis outside of band-members; this album is purely Hackett's child.

Ace of Wands lays the cards on the table. While Hackett's work with Genesis had him taking backstage to support everyone, he takes center stage and shows just what he can do with his skills. The song alternates between sheer energy and calming interludes all while maintaining a majestic atmosphere. Despite loving every bit of Hackett's guitar playing (both electric and acoustic), he shows that he is a musician first and guitarist second, by allowing multiple passages that feature no guitar but contribute to the wonder of the piece. Despite shining, Hackett maintains a sense of humility and does not allow his instrument to dominate at all times.

Hands of the Priestess opens with a quiet and mysterious melody on the acoustic guitar before the flutes come in to lull us into a euphoric state of mind. As a fan of the Zelda series, I noticed that the flute melody bares some resemblance to "Zelda's Lullaby." This beautiful piece lowers our guard before we are hit with A Tower Struck Down. Probably the oddest (and weakest) track on the album, it builds on a singular rhythm while bouncing back between strange sound effects which build up to a terrifying climax and then a somber conclusion. Listening to it, it tries to be the "rock" piece of the album but it both too odd and too soft to be that. An interesting piece, nonetheless, that leads us to conclude the HotP suite, which mixes the song's original melody with that of Ace of Wand's.

The similarities between the album and Trespass is seen the most in The Hermit, with its pastoral guitar, slightly distorted vocals, and beautifully somber finale. This is the first song on the album to feature vocals, and it's Hackett's no less. Star of Sirius is another treat, featuring the Trespass-like atmosphere with both jazz-tinged melodies and the opening track's unique energy. The cherry on top is Phil Collins on vocals, which works very well, unlike his first two songs with Genesis.

The Lovers acts as a prelude to the album's striking finale Shadow of the Hierophant. The song starts with alternating between a striking symphonic sound and Sally Oidfield's vocals backed up by beautiful acoustics. After a few rounds, Hackett gently crawls up with some ethereal electric guitar playing followed by a beautiful solo. While the first half is beautiful, the second half is darker and a lot more subtle. It starts off with one instrument playing a slightly off melody. As time progresses, more instruments come in to either play or support that melody before every instrument available comes in, closing the song and fading away. It took me quite a few listens to appreciate the latter half, but it was worth it. Despite how different the two parts are, one cannot exist without the other, as some later live albums prove.

A great start to one of progressive rock's (paradoxically) best and most underrated musicians. As for the rating, I feel like four stars is appropriate. While the album is fantastic, "A Tower Struck Down" is significantly weaker than the rest of the tracks and the album (with the exception of the last two songs) seems to be fixated on the melodies from Ace of Wands rather than wanting to create their own.

Still, a must have for any Genesis or 70's progressive rock fan.

Ghost_of_Prog | 4/5 |

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