Marillion: F.E.A.R. (The Album)

Marillion. I had heard of the band, but I know nothing about them. Strange, because this band has been around since the 1980s, and is often mentioned as one of the best contemporary progressive-rock bands. Why wasn’t I familiar with their sound?

I can thank Larry Graves and Glen Kellaway for introducing me to Marillion. They have introduced me to a few other musical artists, courtesy of their YouTube channels.

F.E.A.R. is Marillion’s 18th studio album, released in 2016. Marillion is a successful band, with a loyal following, but turned to crowdfunding to support them in preparation and recording of songs that became F.E.A.R. Using PledgeMusic, the band reached out to fans, offering various formats and extra merchandise of the resulting album.

F.E.A.R. has a melancholy urgency, a dreamlike undertow motif that appears and reappears throughout the album. The lyrics embrace some very heavy subjects, world challenges, rickety institutions, as well personal struggles; a tapestry of questions staring back at the listener as if the looking glass reveals an emptiness that is darker than a black hole. That sounds like some goth metal band, instead of a tight, smartly constructed soundscape of progressive-rock. Instead of a rock opera, F.E.A.R. is a rock symphony.

“‘Every man for himself’ philosophy. I won’t bore you with examples, they’re all over the newspapers every day. There’s a sense of foreboding that permeates much of this record. I have a feeling that we’re approaching some kind of sea-change in the world – an irreversible political, financial, humanitarian and environmental storm. I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that my FEAR of what ‘seems’ to be approaching is just that, and not FEAR of what ‘is’ actually about to happen.” – Steve Hogarth, Marillion lead singer

This album demands multiple listens, there is so much here to consume and process. You must listen entirely in a sitting. These are not random songs, rather a connected musical story that needs your full attention, but you won’t be disappointed. This is what progressive-rock always strived to be – complex, challenging and enlightening.

El Dorado – Five parts, a total of 16:46. Not the El Dorado of fables, more of a warning of reaping what we sow.

Living in FEAR – 6:25. A hope for the future, what could be instead of the path we are on.

The Leavers – Five parts, a total of 19:08. The general theme is of feeling loss and emptiness at leaving, spending time in different faraway places.

White Paper – 7:19. Wanting to live in moment, blocking out all of the extraneous warning signals and focusing on what we can control to realize happiness.

The New Kings – Four parts, a total of 16:45. A commentary on recent world events, the quest for riches and government policies that only continue the moral slide.

Tomorrow’s New Country – 1:47

From the live performance, some key moments of F.E.A.R.

What does F.E.A.R. stand for? Fuck Everyone and Run. Yes, precisely.

If you are new to Marillion, F.E.A.R. is not the album to start. Try Clutching at Straws, which was my introduction to the band.


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