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Marillion: An Hour Before It’s Dark

Not many bands reach their twentieth release but fewer do it in the rude health that Marillion find themselves after the success of their 2016 album Fuck Everyone And Run, which not only cemented this outfit’s reputation for uncompromising music and lyrical subject matter, it also brought Marillion right back into the public’s consciousness. For those who have followed them right across their intriguing musical journey, what was more surprising about FEAR was how it achieved all of the above while still being a quintessential Marillion album full of sweet melodies, challenging but engaging musical interplay and the utterly spellbinding vocals from Steve ‘h’ Hogarth. Thankfully An Hour Before It’s Dark picks up from exactly where its predecessor left off, as lead single from the album “Be Hard On Yourself” builds a head of steam that leaves you in no doubt as to this album’s intentions. Deep, involved, beautiful, intricate, yet still catchy and memorable, it’s a quite a breathtaking way to kick things off.

“Reprogram The Gene” carries one of those spiralling inner-cores that this band construct so well, the keys from Mark Kelly swirling round your head as h’s vocals swoop and soar as he asks “is there a cure for us…?”, but here Steve Rothery is not to be outdone, his guitar work woven keenly across this tapestry of delights as the mood builds and recedes only to build again - the piano in places taking us back to the Afraid Of Sunlight single “Beautiful” in places, and if any, it’s actually that album that I’m most often reminded of as AHBID is revealed. From there the odd, but lovable thirty-nine second interlude “Only A Kiss” leads neatly as though the incidental music in an Agatha Christie ‘whodunnit?’ into “Murder Machines”, which it has to be said is possibly this release’s most dark, enigmatic shimmer, but then it’s also one of the most immediately sing-alongable.

Destined to be a future live classic, “The Crow And The Nightingale” uses the long tried and tested Marillion trait of starting small and contained and building into something much more expansive but it’s actually the closing pairing of “Sierra Leone” and “Care”, which between them clock in at over thirty minutes, that prove the focal points of this album. The former moves through many passages to get an impassioned message across as bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Ian Mosley combine an innate subtlety with the ability to drive things on. However, it’s the latter track and its clear message for our times that angels are right here on Earth that truly and completely grabs the imagination.

I’ve been lucky enough to live with An Hour Before It’s Dark for a few good weeks now and I must admit that it has taken numerous plays to truly reveal its inner beauty. If I was going to be super-critical (and, well, that’s what I’m here for), it is possibly the one Marillion album of recent years where I keep feeling like I’m hearing snatches of Marillion songs of days gone by as these new tracks play out (there’s even a cymbal crescendo and vocal interruption that takes us right back to Clutching At Straws territory…), but it really is a minor niggle. And even with that in mind, this really is another quite remarkable release from a truly remarkable band.

Track Listing
1.Be Hard On Yourself

2.Reprogram The Gene

3.Only A Kiss (Instrumental)

4.Murder Machines

5.The Crow And The Nightingale

6.Sierra Leone


Added: March 10th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: An Hour Before It's Dark @ ear-music
Hits: 2821
Language: english

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Marillion: An Hour Before It’s Dark
Posted by Eric Porter, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-03-11 00:35:26
My Score:

Loyalty is not easy to come by, and even more difficult to nurture and maintain. Marillion fans continue to support the band through long periods of inactivity, it seems we are always in waiting mode. “An Hour Before It’s Dark” is the band’s first new studio material since 2016’s highly successful release “FEAR”. There has to be some concern that after six years fans may have moved on, or will not be so easily convinced to sign on, but it appears the band may have another success to celebrate.

Marillion create music for mood and atmosphere, they do not hold themselves to standard song structures, rather creating pieces and soundscapes that somehow all fit together. Many of the songs are connected by atmospheric keyboard transitions which create a flow and insist you listen from start to finish. Lyrically, h covers the topics of today, the destruction of the planet, the pandemic, and a few passages are a bit obscure. The opening “Be Hard On Yourself” sounds the most similar to “FEAR” musically, and is broken up into three pieces which vary from intense to somber, you know, typical Marillion. “Reprogram The Gene” packs a head of steam during “(i)Invincible” which ends all too quickly, but things don’t take long to build back up during parts “(ii) Trouble-Free Life” and “(iii) A Cure For Us?”, this could be something to behold in their live show. “Murder Machines” immediately grabbed me musically, and lyrically seems to bring together both our misuse of the planet, and Covid. “The Crow and the Nightingale” takes on the feel of a new Marillion classic, a beautiful lush piece of music. Mr. Rothery steps out often on the album, and it is always great to hear him soar above the music. The keyboards on this album really create the sound, often subtle, but never overbearing, they create the perfect sound and space for the music. Kudos to Mark Kelly, he never overplays, but always nails the feel. “Care” closes the CD, and in particular the section “Angels On Earth” seems to be a thank you to all the health care professionals who stepped up in the face of the Covid crisis. The album does not feel as dark as “FEAR”, but has the same intensity with a glimmer of hope.

The CD/DVD release includes a documentary that runs almost an hour and half, and any fan of the band will find this interesting. I really enjoy hearing the band discuss writing, recording, and how they interact with each other. A 5.1 Surround Sound version of the album is included and instrumental versions of the songs which I find quite interesting.

FEAR really connected with me after seeing the band live, and yet, “An Hour Before It’s Dark” sank in fairly quick. It sounds and feels familiar, and seems to reveal a little more with each listen. It’s hard to know what to expect after a band takes such a long break, but it feels like Marillion have found their zone, and have written another relevant album for the times. As a fan I am just happy to know they are still going for it after all these years.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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