I feel very privileged and honoured to review the new Marillion album An Hour Before It's Dark, seeing the fact that Marillion still belong to my all-time favourite prog rock bands. F.E.A.R. (see review), one of their best albums so far, was released in 2016, so I had to wait for six years for a new album and all that time I was wondering if Hogarth and Co. would be able to “top” that truly remarkable album. The answer to that obviously rather silly question is a definite YES, as An Hour Before It's Dark, Marillion's 20th studio album, is musically and lyrically just as excellent as F.E.A.R.. This new album is almost a blend of Marillion albums like Happiness Is The Road, F.E.A.R. and Marbles, but then again after a couple of spins, which makes this album a rather addictive one, I must say that the new songs are very upbeat indeed and lyrically speaking F.E.A.R. was much darker.
An Hour Before It's Dark opens dramatically with Be Hard On Yourself, a track which is very intense, clocks over nine minutes, and is mostly dominated - in a good way that is - by H. impressive vocals. After such a brilliant opening one might wonder how Marillion are able to maintain this exceedingly high musical level throughout the rest of the album. But Reprogram The Gene delivers the proggy goods in a more than outstanding way as it features awesome Rothery licks and powerful percussion by Mosley. Murder Machines, the second single of this album, is obviously about the corona pandemic and again it is Hogarth's voice that does the trick here, as well as Rothery's beautiful guitar picking. However, the best is yet to come as Marillion produces brilliant gems like The Crow And The Nightingale (an ode to Leonard Cohen), Sierra Leone and last but not least the absolute highlight of this album Care! The latter being the album's centre piece and an almost immaculate prog epic of 100% pure Marillion, filled with soaring guitar solos (check out Rothery's solo in part 3 Every Cell) and of course the emotional and dramatic voice of H. Trewavas shows in Care that he is still one of the best bass players on this globe and the keys passages and melodies of Kelly are second to none in this probably, almost most perfect Marillion song this band has ever composed!
An Hour Before It's Dark makes me an even more addictive and obsessive (in a good way, be assured of that...) Marillion fan than I have been for over three decades and this album truly does extensive overtime in my CD player and on my record player. I wonder if it can get any better than this? A true and utterly musical gem, Marillion at their absolute best indeed, so a MUST HAVE album without a shadow of a doubt.
***** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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