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Marillion - This Strange Engine CD (album) cover





3.46 | 640 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Marillion's This Strange Engine would see them recording their first 15 minute epic, it would also show that they had a lot of world influences in their music. Released after the masterpiece of Brave and the somewhat underwhelming sequel Afraid of Sunlight, This Strange Engine was Marillion's chance to show that they could change from moody music to somewhat uplifting music within three years. Steve Hogarth remains as the vocalist for this venture, and his voice never sounded better. Steve Rothery shows why he's a terrific guitarist giving many emotional and breathtaking solos but as well providing sturdy riffs and rhythmic approaches. Mark Kelly utilizes many different keyboard effects on this one as well as gives top notch progressions and motifs. Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas are as cohesive as ever, offering dynamic and precision performances as the rhythm unit. It's a recipe built for success, but does this album come out on top?

For the most part yes, but there are a few flaws that deny it from being a true masterpiece. Anyway, Man of a Thousand Faces opens the album with Hogarth playing the role of some political figure who can have many different facets and ideals when the situation arises. The chorus is somewhat catchy and the band has a nice riff and chord progression for this song. One Fine Day's intro is the only thing I really like about this song. It's a Rothery solo intro that really shows his skills at emotive guitar stylings. The rest of the song seems a bit boring and a bit contrived at the same time. 80 Days is probably my favorite song on the album next to the behemoth epic at the end. It has probably one of the most memorable choruses I have ever heard as well as a fantastic rhythmic performance on the part of Trewavas/Mosley. Estonia is a more mellow tune that utilizes some great acoustics and keyboards. The song changes moods quite frequently, sounding depressing during the verses and more uplifting during the choruses.

Memory of Water is a short little ethereal piece that really goes nowhere fast. I don't really understand the point of this piece on this album. It gets a better reiteration on Tales from the Engine Room. An Accidental Man is a bit of a mediocre song, but I'm fond of the acoustic guitar work in the intro, mainly because of an interesting chord progression and a biting main riff. Hope for the Future shows some of the groups world influences, mainly because of a very Caribbean sounding chorus as well as some South American trumpets and tones here and there. It's an interesting piece for the most part, but it's nothing I would call groundbreaking. The finale to the album is the first 15 minute epic Marillion had ever done. The story behind the song itself is more or less a veneration to Steve Hogarth's father. Anyway, the instrumentation on this song is superb, Rothery and Kelly show mastery of their instruments giving many keyboard and guitar solos. The saxophone solo in the song also comes at the perfect moment where tension seems to climax and then the song changes directions. It's a brilliant finale to the album. If you're lucky enough to own an original copy of the album, 14 minutes after the song ends (the cd player continues to run after the song ends), you can hear Hogarth laughing at the end, the reason is because they let the recorder run for 14 minutes after the song had officially ended as a joke to the listener.

Anyway, in the end This Strange Engine Shows Marillion's diversity as well as their mastery of their instruments. On the other hand, though, there are a few uninteresting pieces that really throw the flow of the album off. Still, though, there is enough here that should interest a casual progressive rock fan. This isn't Marillion's best, it isn't their most progressive venture, but it is a very solid album. 3.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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