Steve Hackett
Voyage of the Acolyte


4.5
superb

Review

by ProgJect USER (31 Reviews)
October 3rd, 2011 | 278 replies | 12,714 views


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The spark that left Genesis.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Steve Hackett is one of the most influential guitarists in the history of progressive rock. His technique and innovative approach in the use of a guitar are praised by many classical guitar fans; his acoustic playing style and signature finger-tapping technique that he used quite frequently was later taken by quite a few famous guitarists, including Eddie Van Halen. One cannot feel anything but awe as this musician plays his soul out...

Hackett joined Genesis in 1971, after the departure of original guitarist Anthony Phillips. In the same sense that Chris Squire’s solo album Fish Out of Water was called the lost Yes album, Voyage of the Acolyte became the missing Genesis record. Surrounded by the presence of the band’s rhythm section, namely Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, it bears many hallmarks of the classic Genesis sound, the major difference being the absence of Tony Banks’ dominant synths. While not providing the virtuosic creativity Banks gave to Genesis, John Acock delivers dreamy mellotron and warm synthesizer tones throughout the album. Hackett is also helped by his brother John, an accomplished flautist who would go on to appear on most of Steve’s solo albums.

The process of this hauntingly beautiful album started during Genesis’ hiatus following the departure of Peter Gabriel, prior to the release of A Trick of the Tail. On Voyage of the Acolyte, Hackett finally experienced the artistic freedom he was never allowed in Genesis. His fluid, melodic style of lead playing is featured well throughout; guitar has now literally moved to the front, and the keys mostly accompany the instrument, rather than the other way around. Acolyte’s trademark is the alternation between the mellower pastoral passages (evoking Harmonium), the light-hearted, loud symphonic prog, and the electrically-charged tracks, sharing the soundscape with equal comfort and confidence.

The album is largely instrumental, with only three vocal tracks featuring three different vocalists; Hackett’s first attempt The Hermit, then Phil Collins on Star of Sirius, and Mike Oldfield’ sister Sally on Shadow of the Hierophant. The titles of both the album and the songs indicate an unexpected New Age influence, as they are linked to tarot cards, and the music proves the perfect soundtrack for this theme.

The biting, powerful Ace of Wands makes an abrupt entrance, its multiple segments reminding of Yes when not downright flirting with jazz-rock. Being more down-to-earth, the two Hands of the Priestess parts are sublimely haunting, beautiful interludes, containing a delicate, ethereal and graceful mix of flute, acoustic guitar over mellotron, and a tender electric guitar. Sandwiched in between is A Tower Struck Down, a tense song with a King Crimson-esque harshness, disrupting the peaceful atmosphere; a menacing instrumental with anger-filled riffs, accompanied by peculiar and distorted bass parts and clever, nervous use of synthesizers. The Tower is one of the most destructive and negative cards in the tarot deck, and it is hard to believe that anything could grow from it again. And yet Hackett’s interpretation drifts back to the loveliness of Hands II, briefly before going into The Hermit, reservedly sang by the guitarist. The track plunges into a Trespass-like mood and carries the same subdued passion that Andrew Latimer (Camel) has, who has a lot in common with Hackett as a guitarist, composer, and singer.

Stars of Sirius is clearly reminiscent of Genesis, and would not have sounded out of place on A Trick of the Tail or Wind and Wuthering. It builds up from a dreamy mood to a powerful chorus, sung wonderfully by Collins. Hackett shines with his signature flashing electric guitar leads, his playing both delicate and adventurous.

The short acoustic piece The Lovers serves as an introduction, in line with Horizons from Foxtrot, and paves the way for the epic closer Shadow of the Hierophant, the eleven-minute masterpiece of symphonic prog that features inventive chord progressions. The mellotron perfectly complements Hackett’s thick sustain guitar tone; he is the master when it comes to that eerie, mystical sound that he has been creating since Genesis. Hierophant’s closing section features a progressing theme build, advancing from delicate xylophone to a bombastic, majestic conclusion with a full-blown orchestral sound; this accomplishment is perhaps closest instrumentally to what Genesis were doing at the time, something that Gabriel-led Genesis could have brewed.

Voyage of the Acolyte is an album firmly stationed in the upper echelon of progressive rock. It is more likely to please progressive fans than anything that Genesis recorded after Hackett’s departure following 1976’s Wind and Wuthering, precipitated by the refusal of the band to record more of his invaluable material, with especially Tony Banks growing more dominant creatively. Voyage ultimately gave Hackett the impetus he needed to break off from Genesis and strike out on his own. It only became apparent just how much he brought to the table as a musician and composer for Genesis when he left. Even with Collins’ and Rutherford’s precious contributions, few could have expected a progressive rock gem of this magnitude as Hackett’s first work. It became the beginning of a prolific and fascinating solo career, spawning three decades during which Hackett has never grown tired of producing high-quality music with his own team of musicians, and remains incredible even after 35 years after its release.



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user ratings (105)
Chart.
4.4
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
ProgJect
October 3rd 2011



37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For KILL, one of our greatest old-school prog-loving metalheads.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2011



20028 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fuck yes I've been waiting for this too.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2011



20028 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great job on the review guys, pos'd.

Nagrarok
October 3rd 2011



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Much appreciated as always Jamie.

Hm, it seems Mr. Hackett brought out a new album just last week. He really is uncommonly productive for a 60+ musician.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2011



20028 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah and the new album is really good.

Jethro42
October 3rd 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha I was to name Jamie Twort as an honourable mention since Hackett is becoming his all-time favorite guitarist.
In short, any Genesis lover is supposed to have some Hackett in his collection in order to complete his Genesis discog. Finally, to any classic prog lovers; get this asap if you didn't yet.
@Nagrarok, my ProgJect mate, once again, thank you so much to optimize the content of another review of ours. You managed once again to reduce it of half its content, and double it's quality/readability. This measurement is approximate, of course =]
Also Nag, I enjoy your summary!


Nagrarok
October 3rd 2011



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^thanks Jethro, I'd hoped you'd like the summary, I felt it would be more effective like this, short and strong.

mallen-
October 3rd 2011



1235 Comments


Great work guys, gonna check this out

Jethro42
October 3rd 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hm, it seems Mr. Hackett brought out a new album just last week. He really is uncommonly productive for a 60+ musician.

Yeah the man is really a prolific songwriter who's released an impressive amount of quality material throughout his career. His big array of styles and influences has certainly something to do with that fact. Here's a song taken from his brand new effort. Thanks Jamie for both the link and your pos =]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTLVdhPH6UU

@ Mr Allen, thanks a bunch, my friend. And yes, I could easily see you digging it.



JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2011



20028 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've listened to the new album a couple of times now and it's superb. Along with Loch Lomond, this song is one of my favourites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W40jNs3QOA

scissorlocked
October 3rd 2011



3508 Comments


review is very good, great work as always Nag and Jethro

I guess I'll have to check Hackett's solo work, I haven't listened anything by him except his work on Genesis

prog on hard!

Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

Jethro42
October 3rd 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, scissor buddy. Prog on indeed! Yeah man, get this and Spectral Mornings first, then let me know what you think. Does it sound like a deal? On the other hand, you could get his live ''Time Lapse'' if you wanna get more like the big picture.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
October 3rd 2011



7321 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

(greg sighting)

As always, this is an amazing review of the album I haven't heard. I'll check it out soon. Great job guys.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

TheNotrap
October 3rd 2011



7991 Comments


Great job ProgJect team.
Voyage of the Acolyte is now definitely on the top of my dig list.

Jethro42
October 3rd 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, much appreciated guys.
@Greg; Yes please do. I'd rec to you exactly the same stuff as I did for scissor. Being aware that you're not too familiar with Genesis, lets see if Hackett' solo stuff might be a good starting point for you to eventually get more easily in Genesis land. I hope you so, mate.
@Notrap, According to your prog taste, your love for Marillion and all, this will be an instant win for you. Enjoy, my friends.
@sonic; metal.

KILL
October 3rd 2011



70670 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

best review i've ever read

best album ive ever heard

best day in a while

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

Ire
October 3rd 2011



41749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

YES

Jethro42
October 3rd 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha Gracias KILL! So glad you liked it. Mission accomplished! I did my best to not deceive you, dude. So you are for something if this is a quality review.
@Ire YES YES YES

KILL
October 3rd 2011



70670 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

sweet bro yea the review rules hard

could 5 this soon man just so omg

Jethro42
October 3rd 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

More like 12 ratings plus an inbred retard who gave this a 2.5



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