Progressive Rock/Metal

Marillion – Marbles

The last half decade, the British prog legends of Marillion have drawn more attention with non-musical activities than with their recordings. Just think of 1999’s “Marillion.com” that served as a musical promotion campaign for the band’s at that time newly launched official website or remember how they convinced over 12,000 fans to pre-order the “Araknophobia” album almost a year before it actually came out, in 2001 that was, thus raising funds to record said album.

From a musical point of view, those efforts didn’t come close to the sheer class of classic Fish-era Marillion albums as “Script For A Jester’s Tear” or “Fugazi”, but they certainly had their moments and deserved a place in those years’ best progressive rock albums lists nevertheless.
The non-musical aspect of the band’s brand new release “Marbles” has been spotlighted as well. Another fund raise took place, but this time the money went into a massive promotion campaign of which the results start to become visible while I’m writing this. According to marillion.com the single “You’re Gone” has entered the UK and Dutch charts at number 7 and 8 respectively. Who would’ve thought a prog band could score a top 10 hit in the year 2004? Well, after having listened to the new album for a zillion times, I can only say they deserve the success and should enjoy every minute of it, as “Marbles” could well become the best Marillion album since Fish swam away and Steve ‘Mr. H’ Hogarth popped in.

No, it’s not because they crawled back to the sound of the glorious early eighties, but because they finally dared to take the exit to a proverbial road and cruise it all the way. Imagine the vehicle as it leaves the busy highway and drives up an open half-lit road flanked by endless landscapes and blooming flower fields. It took me some time to really get into the songs but from experience I’ve learnt those albums are the ones that last longer and leave a bigger impression. The four parts that form the title track might demand most of your time in that respect, but it’s the beauty of outstanding songs as lengthy opener “The Invisible Man”, the (longer) album version of the aforementioned single “You’re Gone”, “Don’t Hurt Yourself” with its strong Golden Earring feeling in the verses, the acid “Drilling Holes” and the second epic “Neverland” that will return on your invested time.

To get even more value for your money, I advise you to try and get hold of the 2CD version, which includes 4 additional tracks, amongst which the simply beautiful 18-minute “Ocean Cloud”, dedicated to the late legendary rower Don Allum. And if you’re a man or woman of patience you might want to wait a little longer until the re-pressing of the Deluxe Campaign Edition 2CD version with 128-page book is completed.
I hope it is clear by now that “Marbles” went straight to my heart. Don’t put this album away after one shallow listen, but let it grow on you instead and there’s a big chance you’ll experience the same. Musical history books usually mention ‘the recreation of a drug-like state’ when it comes to describing symphonic and progressive rock. These “Marbles” roll straight back to the roots of the genre…

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