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Marillion - This Strange Engine CD (album) cover





3.46 | 663 ratings

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3 stars I needed many years before restarting with Marillion. I have quit after Afraid Of Sunlight that I really disliked and I had to wait for a radio to pass Marbles while I was driving. I didn't know that Marillion were still live, actually.

So going back to the albums that I have previously missed, "This Strange Engine" looks really better than its two predecessors.

"Man Of A thousand Faces" starts like it was Pearl Jam, I mean nice but pop, but in the second half it brings me back to the time of Holidays in Eden, so a quite good start.

Also "One Fine Day" opens poppy, it makes me think to Sting's after Police. Rothary's guitar sounds a bit trivial, but let me say that this a poor song, only it's not much prog.

The story doesn't change with "80 Days". It's a good song, but it's like Marillion have joined the 80s at the end of the 90s.

The first truly neo-prog song is "Estonia". It takes a couple of minutes before becoming interesting, but the chorus sounds very good and I like the arrangement with the balalaika behind.

"Memory of Water" makes me think to the opening of Camel's Harbour of Tears...Are those strings a keyboard? I'd like to know which device it is. It really sounds like cellos. A very good song.

Sting and Police are back with "An Accidental Man". An accidental message in a bottle..

"Hope for the Future" is a good title. This album is really better that its two predecessors. It's quite promising and the unplugged moments like in this song's opening are very good. The bass line and the rhythm has something of Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side, but it's just a moment. The song has a Calypso mood. Unusual and nice, even if it seems to be back to the 80s with the trumpets which sound like Matt Bianco.

But unexpectedly there's a 30 minutes epic. .I don't know if Trewavas was already in touch with Neal Morse in 1997, but this song has been a good training for him in terms of resistance... It's the first time after Grendel that Marillion make something like an epic. Effectively this song has all the characteristics of an epic, not only the length. It's all extremely pleasant and the changes are not too sudden apart the silence after about 5 minutes between an uptime and a soft section. Hogarth here is at his best. He doesn't sound as anybody else and the rest of the band puts here all the experience and the maturity of more than 15 years on the prog scene. Well, I'm not speaking of Close to the Edge or Echoes, but this is a very good track which can be intended as a summary of what Marillion did up to it. The guitar riff at minute 9 is similar to Forgotten Sons for exaple, and it's followed by guitar, cymbals and voice like Hogarth's Easter. It's at least at the level of Grendel but this one is more mature in terms of composition. Grendel was an attempt to make a sort of Supper's Ready, this is a Marillion song

Summarizing, "The Strannge Engine" (the song) would deserve 4 stars, but the rest of the album is not good enough to be defined "essential". Surely it's better than its predecessor even the "Sting's" songs.

3 full stars

octopus-4 | 3/5 |


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