Between A Rock And A Prog Place: MARILLION’s STEVE ROTHERY On New Album – “It Could Only Have Been Made During A Pandemic”
May 7, 2022, a week ago
What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer’s guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords' monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place.
In this month’s column, we speak to Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery, who discusses the creation of the band’s 20th studio album overall, An Hour Before It’s Dark, its album title, and which of Marillion’s many albums is the ‘proggiest.’
How would you compare An Hour Before It’s Dark to previous Marillion albums?
“It’s an album that could only have been made during a pandemic. It has a different style and energy to our previous albums. Although some of the lyrics deal with the pandemic and global warming, it’s musically uplifting and has a great energy.”
I would imagine the writing and recording of the album was different than previous Marillion albums. How so?
“There were periods of time when the five of us couldn’t work together due to the lockdown in the UK. Fortunately we could all work at home. I recorded some of the solos on the album in my studio in my garage. It probably took six months longer to write and record due to the pandemic.”
What is the meaning behind the album’s title, An Hour Before It’s Dark?
“Steve H told me that it was an interpretation was of time running out before things get really dark.”
Which tracks on An Hour Before It’s Dark are your favorite, and why?
“My favorite track is ‘The Crow and Nightingale.’ I think it’s a really great lyric with some stunning music. The addition of the choirs lift the end section to a place we’ve never been before.”
Do you consider Marillion a prog band?
“That depends on your definition of prog. For me, prog means not having to confirm to standard song structures and the freedom to mix musical styles without any commercial considerations, not sounding like you’ve been locked in your bedroom listening only to Genesis, Pink Floyd or Yes for all your life.”
Out of all of Marillion’s albums, which one do you consider the most prog-y, and why?
“I suppose [1994’s] Brave because of the concept and the fact that it’s a very dark and brooding album.”
“We’re rehearsing for the Marillion weekends that start in Poland at the beginning of April. We’re also touring Europe from September.”
Between A Rock And A Prog Place News Blast
Klaus Schulze – one of the pioneers of electronic music and the Moog synthesizer (and just mentioned in this column last month – passed away on April 26 at the age of 74. No cause of death was given, but he is survived by his wife, two adult sons, and four grandchildren. Progressive metallists Immortal Guardian recently issued a video for their new single, Ozona (which can be viewed below), and will be on tour throughout North America through May 7 with Powerglove.
Opeth recently kicked off a co-headlining tour with Mastodon which will run through May 11, and will release In Cauda Venenum (extended edition) on May 13th via Atomic Fire Records. Philosophobia (a prog metal act featuring members of Kamelot, Pain of Salvation, and Wastefall) is set to released their eponymous debut through Sensory Records in June. Described as ‘truly a dynamic and engaging listening experience for lovers of avant-garde, experimental, and progressive music of all shapes and sizes,’ the new band High Castle Teleorkestra features current or former members of Estradasphere, Secret Chiefs 3, Mr. Bungle, Farmers Market, etc., and a video for the track “Mutual Hazard” can be accessed here.
The YouTube series, Couch Riffs, recently offered a rendition of the Yes classic ‘Starship Trooper’ (played by a variety of renowned folks – Steve Stevens, Alex Skolnick, Nate Mendel, Richard Fortus, etc.), with an aim to raise funds for the not for profit organization Roadie Relief. See the video below. Baltimore-based psych/prog duo Darsombra recently issued a new video, “Call The Doctor,” which you can view in all of its odd glory. “They take these experiences and meld them together with an eclectic blend of progressive, melodic, and nu-metal along with traditional Persian music” is how Iran’s Heterochrome is described. You can now be the judge if this description is fitting, by viewing their lyric video, ‘The Bearing’.
Symphonic metallists Visions Of Atlantis return this month with the new album Pirates, and already have a new video for your viewing pleasure, ‘Melancholy Angel’. When a band lists their influences as ‘Genesis, Devin Townsend, Rush, and King’s X, to Pantera, Dream Theater and Meshuggah’ like Imminent Sonic Destruction does, then most prog fans’ interest will be piqued. The Sun Will Always Set is the name of their latest offering, and they have unveiled a drum playthrough of their ditty “Fledgling” to enjoy. Styx has teamed with artist Ioannis (who has provided album cover art for such proggers as Dream Theater, Uriah Heep, and Fates Warning, among others) to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary and tour by creating a series of limited edition signed prints of his cover artwork for the band, which can be viewed here.
Cinematic Swiss-Italian prog metallists Virtual Symmetry has signed with Sensory Records, and will be releasing their fourth album later this year. Former Yngwie Malmsteen and Journey singer (and current Sons of Apollo frontman) Jeff Scott Soto has issued a new single/video, ‘Last to Know’ from his new solo album, Complicated.
Evergrey return this month with a new album, A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament), and they have a very dramatic music video ready to present to you, entitled “Midwinter Calls,” and viewable below. If the following description of the debut album by Fortis Ventus, Vertalia (which drops June 3), doesn’t scream ‘prog,’ then I don’t know what does – ‘Sentimental, dramatic, grand, cinematic, and imaginative, Vertalia is a concept album based on a novel-fairytale written by keyboardist George Halliwell.’ In the meantime, enjoy the lyric video for the track ‘My Death Is my Devotion.’ Want another description that is right up the alley of most prog listeners? Alrighty then! Feast your eyes on this: “Day of Departure, from Washington D.C., have been working on their self-titled debut album for the last two years and their proggy, sci-fi-inspired narrative debut.” Curious to listen? Click right here.
May New Albums
May 6, 2022
Jeff Scott Soto – Complicated
May 13, 2022
Heterochrome – From the Ashes
Moon Tooth – Phototroph
Visions of Atlantis – Pirates
Zero Hour – Agenda 21
May 20, 2022
Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)
Gentle Giant – Civilian [vinyl reissue]
James LaBrie – Beautiful Shade of Gray
May 27, 2022
Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis – Act II: A Window of the Waking Mind
Various Artists – Blowing Free: Underground and Progressive Sounds of 1972 [4CD clamshell box with Emerson Lake and Palmer, Hawkwind, Yes, Nektar, Wishbone Ash, others]
You can point to The Beatles for trailblazing a variety of styles. But what about…prog rock? If you discredit this curious claim, perhaps you need to be reminded once more about the ‘medley’ on side two of Abbey Road (released in September 1969), which twists and turns for over 16 minutes.