Sea Of Tranquility

The Web Source for Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal & Jazz-Fusion
  Search   in       
Main Menu

Hackett, Steve & The Underworld Orchestra: Metamorpheus

Steve Hackett has emerged as the most prolific of former Genesis members, recording no fewer than 16 studio records since his departure from the seminal prog band in 1977 - can it really be almost 30 years ago? - and in the process indulging his prog, acoustic, rock and classical tendencies. The guitarist's latest undertaking is another classical project. Metamorpheus is the natural successor to 1997's A Midsummer Night's Dream (which landed on some countries' Top 10 classical charts, mind you). This musical expression of the legend of Orpheus and his passage through the Underworld is intepretted by Hackett's peaceful nylon-string guitar and eight orchestral musicians playing violin, viola, cello, double bass, piccolo, flute, trumpet and French horn. To augment the music, the booklet for Metamorpheus extensively excerpts Rainer Maria Rilke's "Sonnets to Orpheus." This seamless, 57-minute piece of music - as alternately joyful and mournful as it is - may not be as riveting as Hackett's output with Genesis, certainly not as commercial as his mid-Eighties GTR project with fellow guitarist Steve Howe or as diverse as 2003's vocal-enhanced solo album To Watch the Storms. But Metamorpheus proves once and for all that Hackett is a modern-day musical Renaissance man, one who keeps his fans wondering just where he might go next.

Track Listing:
1) The Pool of Memory and the Pool of Forgetfulness
2) To Earth Like Rain
3) Song to Nature
4) One Real Flower
5) The Dancing Ground
6) That Vast Life
7) Eurydice Taken
8) Charon's Call
9) Cerberus At Peace
10) Under the World-Orpheus Looks Back
11) The Broken Lyre
12) Severance
13) Elegy
14) Return to the Realm of Eternal Renewal
15) Lyra

Added: April 27th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Steve Hackett Web Site
Hits: 5029
Language: english

[ Printer Friendly Page Printer Friendly Page ]
[ Send to a Friend Send to a Friend ]


[ Back to the Reviews Index | Post Comment ]

» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Hackett, Steve & The Underworld Orchestra: Metamorpheus
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-27 16:07:38
My Score:

"…Only in the dual realm will voices become eternal and pure…"

The above translation of a stanza from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke is included in the booklet of Steve Hackett's Metamorpheus, to depict the duality of existence of the semi-titular protagonist Orpheus. It could also be a metaphor for the dual nature of Steve Hackett's recording career, split between rock and classical music and the part of him that is compelled to express himself in both realms. Metamorpheus is probably the finest classical album Steve Hackett has yet composed. It retains the chamber feel of some of his other work, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Bay of Kings, but shows the composer going deeper than he ever has before in terms of writing, performing and especially orchestral arranging.

Metamorpheus is a romantic song cycle told entirely through music, portraying the tragic love between Orpheus and Eurydice. Each song has a brief synopsis in the booklet, tracing Orpheus' journey from birth to death to immortality in the constellation of Lyra. Beginning with the melancholy "The Pool of Memory and The Pool of Forgetfulness" and ending with the triumphant lullaby of "Lyra", Metamorpheus is thoroughly sad in tone, but always manages to be moving and uplifting. Perhaps that is part of the duality of existence that Rilke speaks of in his Sonnets to Orpheus.

It's difficult to list favorite compositions, but I love the way in which the nylon guitar of the main theme from "The Pool of Memory" is recapitulated in "Charon's Call" by the principle violin player Christine Townsend. "Under the World" features a fantastic Bolero-like arrangement in which the main theme is given another variation and builds to a beautifully heartfelt conclusion. The overall effect almost reminds me of a Bernard Hermann film soundtrack. "Severance" is equally dramatic and builds on the theme established by "Orpheus Looks Back". The aching "Elegy" is followed by "Lyra", in which Orpheus is finally reunited with his love Eurydice while his music is immortalized in the heavens.

Steve Hackett has clearly outdone himself on Metamorpheus. Though it won't appeal to all fans across the board-I.E. it's not a progressive rock album-it has easily won me over. I can't imagine Metamorpheus not being in my top twenty of 2005. It is one of the most beautiful and deeply poetic albums I've ever heard.

© 2004 Sea Of Tranquility
For information regarding where to send CD promos and advertising, please see our FAQ page.
If you have questions or comments, please Contact Us.
Please see our Policies Page for Site Usage, Privacy, and Copyright Policies.

All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all other content © Sea of Tranquility

SoT is Hosted by