Marillion
An Hour Before It's Dark


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (260 Reviews)
March 8th, 2022 | 94 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The abyss giving way to hope

The last time we got a Marillion record, it displayed a band expressing sadness and despair at the state of their home country, as well as the world at large. 2016’s Fuck Everyone and Run (F E A R) was a foreboding piece of music that spoke of the “every man for himself” mindset and how it’s become more prevalent as the years have gone by. According to singer Steve Hogarth in an interview with IM Music Magazine:

"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.”

Considering everything that’s happened socially and politically since 2016, I think it’s fair to say that Hogarth was pretty spot-on. However, given that Marillion’s latest effort An Hour Before It’s Dark was recorded right in the middle of the “storm” Hogarth predicted, the final result exudes a surprising amount of confidence and hope compared to its predecessor.

On a stylistic level, An Hour Before It’s Dark is your typical Hogarth-era Marillion album: dramatic neo-prog with a contemporary slant and touches of alt-rock. Opener “Be Hard On Yourself” acts as an assurance that the melancholy and world-weariness of F E A R wouldn’t be completely absent from this project; guitarist Steve Rothery’s signature reverb-laden melodies give a haunting ambiance as Mark Kelly’s stark keyboard lines loom over the soundscape. Still, there’s a surprisingly upbeat nature about it all as well. The drums are often peppy, and Hogarth’s vocal performances are incredibly expressive and inspired, yet there aren’t any real tonal clashes. “Be Hard On Yourself” - and the album as a whole - is a delicate balancing act between despondence and hope, represented through both its lyrics and compositions. In this opening number, Hogarth is simply asking for people’s accountability in the messes they’ve created, citing how spoiled and selfish much of the population is.

It’s worth noting that the majority of the tracks on An Hour Before It’s Dark are presented in a suite-like format, much like F E A R. It’s a great way to construct these pieces, as each song is given several related movements to grow and develop over time. “Reprogram the Gene” is a wonderful example, as it allows the band the means to gradually move from a tense hard rocker to an optimistic anthem over the course of three separate pieces. But, as with Porcupine Tree’s The Incident or Haken’s Virus, you can still listen to each individual section as its own track rather than digesting the entire epic in one go. Needless to say, these suite-like tunes are the best displays of the band members’ skills as storytellers and musicians, with “Care” being the finest showing of this. This sprawling closer is the most sociopolitically-inclined track on the album, as it quite clearly details the trials and tribulations created by the COVID-19 pandemic. A compelling arc is formed, gradually switching from the perspective of the frightened, discouraged patients to the “angels” in hospital clothing caring over them. It’s a beautifully inspiring way to close out the album, and the instrumental passages carry it out incredibly well. Kelly’s keyboard work deserves a special mention, as his droning chords and colorful arrangements contribute to each tonal shift perfectly. Add to that some soaring guitar leads from Rothery, and you’ve got one of Marillion’s finest Hogarth-era pieces.

An Hour Before It’s Dark doesn’t undo any of the darkness and anxiety of F E A R, instead opting to expand upon it with cautious optimism. Truth be told, Marillion’s been in a perpetual state of instability - stylistically and quality-wise - since original vocalist Fish left the group. They’ve cycled through so many genres and influences trying to find an identity with Hogarth as their frontman; unfortunately, that’s just a testament to the large shadow that was cast by Fish when he departed. However, if the last few records are any indication, it seems as though we’re finally reaching a new creative renaissance for the group - one that returns to their more politically inclined work (Marillion do have punk roots, after all) while balancing melancholy and catharsis. An Hour Before It’s Dark currently stands as the best post-2000s Marillion album, and it’ll be one hell of a difficult record for them to top.



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user ratings (65)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2022


20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've been a little slow when it comes to posting new reviews, so I might be a little rusty. Anyway, this will probably end up being one of my favorite Marillion records over time. Excellent stuff

sonictheplumber
March 8th 2022


17533 Comments


he knows you know :D

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2022


20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh I know :D

FR33L0RD
March 8th 2022


6401 Comments


Superb review Koris.
Oh, I do remembered Marillion. Falsely judge backed in 1983 that the fun debut album was a great fluke. And forgot about them for many decades.
Now, pop this new review. To my surprise, seem very good & with very big and nice discog.
This is one of the great qualities of the internet ( ik many flaws also)
That is interesting. I will check these & dig. Fun trip ahead.
Thanx for this review.

Purpl3Spartan
March 8th 2022


8168 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great rev Div.



I just don't get this brand of prog tho

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2022


20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys :]



@FR33: I'll admit that I'm pretty new to Marillion; I only started listening to them last year, but I've been binging them a lot ever since. Inconsistent discog to be sure, but the peaks (Misplaced Childhood, Script from a Jester's Tear, Brave, etc.) are fantastic. Definitely a band I misjudged for years as well

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2022


18936 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I can't say I'm an enthusiast of anything post-Afraid of Sunlight, but I always make time to listen to these lads.



Your closing paragraph aroused my curiosity. Good job

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2022


5647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review! I jammed this a few times yesterday and dug it. I'm a big fan of early Marillion, but haven't jammed any other Hogarth era albums yet.

Pikazilla
March 8th 2022


28995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A 4.5? holy f

bgillesp
March 8th 2022


8867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. I found the closing suite of care really well-written but the earlier ones like Reprogram the Gene and Sierra Leone felt tired to me.

bgillesp
March 8th 2022


8867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If they just released the Care suite as an EP I might agree with the 4.5 though

e210013
March 8th 2022


5025 Comments


Nice review pal. You whetted my appetite. Another one to check on my list.

Titan
March 8th 2022


24916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like this album a lot, nice review Koris. Like most Hogarth era Marillion albums, it definitely needs multiple spins before it's beauty starts to poke through. Care is indeed awesome, but I think The Crow And The Nightingale might be my favorite early on...





Sunnyvale dude, if I may, please listen to the following Hogarth fronted tracks to see if you like it:



Easter

Neverland

Season's End

The Great Escape

Beautiful

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2022


5647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Titan, sounds good. Hogarth era Marillion has been on my radar for a while, just never gotten around to it.

Titan
March 8th 2022


24916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't enjoy the Hogarth era albums as a whole as much as I do the Fish era, but my goodness some of the individual songs reach the same highs, maybe even higher

Jethro42
March 8th 2022


18270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice picks, but where is ''The Space'', Titan?

Titan
March 8th 2022


24916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ahhhh yessssssssssss.....i knew you would save me

Jethro42
March 8th 2022


18270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You're right when you say there are scattered great tracks in the Hogarth era...

Titan
March 8th 2022


24916 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah man, and there's more, but Easter and Neverland are definitely my favorites

Jethro42
March 8th 2022


18270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good taste Titanbro!



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