Marillion
Brave


4.0
excellent

Review

by username345 USER (52 Reviews)
December 18th, 2008 | 33 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A dense, moody and atmospheric prog rock epic, highly recommended to fans of Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and similar bands.

When thinking of progressive rock, the images that come to mind are of the original bands such as King Crimson, Yes and Van Der Graaf Generator and the more modern 90’s and 2000’s prog rock and metal like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree and Opeth. Forming in 1979, Marillion managed to gain moderate success in the 80’s when prog rock was hated by much of the general public with their upbeat quirky early Genesis-inspired sound and lively singing of vocalist Derek Dick (better known as Fish). After the 4th album in 1987 though, tensions between Fish and the rest of the band members caused him to leave the band.

The story was not over for Marillion though, as they brought in a new singer, Steve Hogarth (aka H.). While the first album with H. was very successful, Marillion could never achieve the success they previously had, releasing a poor attempt at a pop rock album, Holidays In Eden in 1991, Brave was released in 1994 as a return to Marillion’s progressive rock origins. Unfortunately, despite critical success, Brave was largely ignored by the public.

Brave is a concept album, based on a news story H. heard on the radio about a girl taken into police custody after being found wondering across the Severn Bridge between England and Wales. The girl did not know who she was or where she came from, leading H. to write the lyrics as a fictional story of how she got there. While prog rock albums are often criticised for being emotionless, Brave stands completely against this stereotype, it’s sad lyrics and beautiful melancholic melodies creating a strong atmosphere that can easily drag you into the story.

The album is played mainly at quite a slow to mid pace with a lot of the focus placed on the bass and atmospheric keyboard sounds and a densely layered sound, creating a deep and haunting mood. To add to this, many sounds were recorded in a cave to use as background ambience (a technique later used by Radiohead in OK Computer).

Despite this complex symphonic approach, Brave is surprisingly accessible, though it still may take a few listens to fully appreciate. Producer Dave Meegen spent months going through every new tape made every day by the band, making sure that every riff and melody included would be perfect for the album. Because of this perfectionist approach, the subtle and sometimes quite sparse melodies on the album still all manage to be memorable and powerful. Most of the melodies are played on piano or guitar.

The biggest problem with Brave is that it follows this formula with little variation, and at it’s very long running length of an hour and 11 minutes, it does end up just dragging on, especially if you’re not paying attention to it fully. There are some highlights where it breaks the formula though, such as the more electric guitar-led and faster paced tracks such as ‘Hard As Love’ and ‘Paper Lies’ which add much needed bursts of energy into the music to keep it interesting, and to stop it from becoming totally depressing, which it comes close to at times. Unfortunately there are not quite enough of these moments, and the album definitely can become dull by the end.

While not as complex or cryptic as Fish’s, H’s lyrics, focusing on themes such as child abuse, drugs and depression, are still extremely well written and work better for this style of album, making the story more gripping, easier to follow and more emotional. H’s singing is also full of emotion, always singing in a bleak tone as if he knew the girl wondering alone on the bridge personally. The singing is always excellent, easily coping with many different styles from calm, mellow but never at all weak singing throughout much of the album to near shouts at the more hectic parts.

Overall, Brave is an excellent prog rock album and one of Marillion’s best, and it is a shame that it has been almost totally ignored in favour of early Marillion and more modern prog bands. With it’s dense, emotional and atmospheric sound I highly recommend Brave to fans of Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and similar bands.



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user ratings (135)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
username345
December 18th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And for anyone interested:



The Great Escape

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=C1x9vr-Mg_M



Brave

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5h8OEPUBs0UThis Message Edited On 12.18.08

Zoo
December 18th 2008


3759 Comments


That is super fucking weird. I was just about to add their newest album to my library. Also, no album info?

And your reviews are always solid dude.

username345
December 18th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really need to listen to the new album, apparently it's really great.

72haha72
December 18th 2008


486 Comments


Great review

Marillion are great, I have the "Script from a Jester's Tear" album and I love it.

Willie
Moderator
December 18th 2008


17623 Comments


Yeah, another great review. I've only heard about these guys from other bands name-dropping them as influences. This sounds like it could be pretty good, and it's not so old that it would just sound dated either.

Athom
Emeritus
December 18th 2008


17240 Comments


Love the review. I only have Misplaced Childhood and its pretty solid. Guess I'll be picking this up.

username345
December 18th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love the review. I only have Misplaced Childhood and its pretty solid. Guess I'll be picking this up.




Cool. Don't expect anything at all similar though, they've completely changed by this point.

foreverendeared
December 18th 2008


14677 Comments


awesome review. i might check this out.

Oblivioncry
December 18th 2008


602 Comments


this is the first progressive album i ever listend (and back then i didnt even know what progressiv was) and its amazing. totally captivating and really good lyrics and atmosphere.

kinda weird that it was reviewed already ...

bastard
December 18th 2008


3432 Comments


glad to see you went back to serious reviewing.

username345
December 18th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, Soulja Boy was a bit of a failure :p

robin
Emeritus
December 18th 2008


4552 Comments


this band are always getting pushed on me, but i only actually have one of their newer tracks. good review man, you should give al stewart some as i can never be bothered to myself. :p

username345
December 18th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's a good idea. I have a Mellow Candle review written, I might do Past, Present & Future next.

robin
Emeritus
December 18th 2008


4552 Comments


yeah, i expect it to be in the 4-5 region naturally. the genesis influence here interests me, might give them a try

Mendigo
December 27th 2008


2299 Comments


finally listened to them, I've meant to check Marillion out for a long time. seems to have been quite a huge influence on Steven Wilson, if I can judge that after the first listen.
I really liked it, btw

jrowa001
December 27th 2008


8752 Comments


their early ones will always be their best when Fish was the singer. Misplaced Childhood, Fugazi, Script for a Jester's Tear, and Clutching at Straws are my favs. this one is ok, ive only listened to it once. Marbles is my fav post-Fish Marillion album

you should check out this band called Pallas. their last album The Dreams of Men is really good neo-prog. This Message Edited On 12.27.08

username345
December 27th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

their early ones will always be their best when Fish was the singer. Misplaced Childhood, Fugazi, Script for a Jester's Tear, and Clutching at Straws are my favs. this one is ok, ive only listened to it once.




I agree. This one grew on me a lot though. Read the other day that Fish has quit singing though



I'll check out Pallas, I don't think I've heard of them.This Message Edited On 12.27.08

jrowa001
December 28th 2008


8752 Comments


Fish is a great frontman, his solo stuff is pretty cool. ill have to listen to Brave again soon

hope you like Pallas. IQ, Frost*, Nice Beaver, Arena, Galahad, Pendragon, Jarvis, Carptree, Magellan, Red Sand, Sylvan, Ricochet, and one of my all time favs The Tangent are all excellent neo-prog bands as well that are worth checking out

username345
December 28th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, I've only heard Pendragon. I thought I knew my prog =(



I'll definitely look into them.

13themount
February 4th 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

never able to finish this; found it boring and gave up on Marillion.



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