Thursday, December 2, 2021

Steve Hackett – Surrender Of Silence

Like his previous album, Under A Mediterranean Sky, this new album was also recorded under lockdown conditions, but there the similarity ends. Whereas ‘ ..Sky’ was largely an acoustic affair, this album is full-on electric with Steve proving he can rock out with the best of them, and it includes contributions from artists and musicians, playing world instruments like the Dutar and Tar, from right across the globe.

In one respect, Steve Hackett can be compared to Neil Young, given both men refuse to be confined within boundaries, meaning you never know what the next album will bring. His albums during a lengthy solo career have crossed genres easily and, more importantly, like Neil Young, in doing so he’s taken his fanbase with him, eager to hear what comes next.

This is a ‘no holds barred’ album, with Steve addressing issues which affect us all, such as climate change and man’s inhumanity to man, and “with a monster rhythm section of Roger, Jonas and Craig, plus Rogers powerful organ, Nad and Amanda’s vocals and my guitar, we plunge full-pelt into that wild release of electricity” Hackett states.

‘The Obliterati’ begins on a flurry of guitars, with rising instrument sounds coming in behind, producing a dramatic intro. This short piece could almost be a film soundtrack. There’s an eerie ending to ‘Natalia’ before the wonderfully named ‘Relaxation Music For Sharks’ opens with soothing underwater bubbling sounds before prog drummer supreme Nick D’Virgilio enters the fray and Hackett produces some amazing guitar runs before the gentle outro.

‘Wingbeats’, with Amanda Lehman joining in on vocals, has been released as a single though it’s a strange choice as it isn’t representative of the album as a whole.

The prog infused ‘Devil’s Cathedral’ opens with a church organ from Roger King, and then mega vocalist Nad Sylvan sings for, sadly, the only time on the album. Fast and dramatic as it progresses, it’s as near to a standard rock tune as there is here. ‘Shanghai to Samarkand’ with a cameo appearance from Kansas’ Phil Ehart, is a smorgasbord of cultural influences and, with many varied moods and emotions, is an amazing piece of music, Hackett bringing out some lovely acoustic guitar work. ‘Fox’s Tango’, also now a single, and ‘Scorched Earth’ are both ‘message songs,’ with Hackett claiming “either we share the world together or we share the graveyard”.  ‘Day Of The Dead’ moves effortlessly between world music and rock before the short, gentle acoustic lilt of Esperanza closes proceedings.

Steve Hackett, forty-four years into a solo career, refuses to stand still and, despite being a prog God, is more than happy to embrace other forms of music to convey what he wants to say. This is an album fit to stand alongside anything else he’s produced in recent times.

Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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