|Steve Hackett - 'Beyond The Shrouded Horizon' (Century Media)|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Thursday, 27 October 2011 05:30|
There's no doubt that Steve Hackett is a bona fide prog legend. Having played on all the classic prog-era Genesis albums, from 1971's 'Nursery Cryme' to 1977's 'Second's Out', his subsequent solo career has seen him release an impressive 24 solo albums, including classics such as 'Voyage Of The Acolyte', 'Spectral Mornings' and 'Defector'. His acclaimed last album, 2009's 'Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth' was considered by many to be a career best, and raised Hackett's profile greatly, so the question is can his latest offering 'Beyond The Shrouded Horizon' go beyond the tunnel's mouth?
'Beyond the Shrouded Horizon' contains 13 tracks, which pretty much all weave into one another, producing an almost continuous album. The album is loosely themed around travel, and sees Hackett take a journey around the world and beyond. First stop is Scotland for opener 'Loch Lomond'. This is trademark Hackett with a powerful guitar riff and subtle vocals, incorporating a touch of bagpipes along the way. 'Two Faces Of Cairo' has, not surprisingly; a strong Egyptian flavour to it, whilst the spicy little number 'Waking To Life' has the taste of India, fusing traditional Indian instrumentation with modern electronic technology. This is one of the strongest tracks on the album and features some delightful vocals from Hackett's sidekick Amanda Lehmann.
There's a good mixture of moods and textures throughout the album. The acoustic ballad 'Til These Eyes' provides a really nice mellow moment, whereas the excellent instrumental 'Prairie Angel' injects a bit of heaviness with some pokey slide guitar, and the bluesy rocker 'Catwalk' benefits from guest appearances from Simon Phillips and Chris Squire. 'Looking For Fantasy' is the one blip on the map, suffering from some cheesy lyrics and vocals.
Having travelled to a few different places around the globe, the album finishes up with a quick trip around the universe courtesy of the 12 minute epic 'This Island Earth'. Combining moments of classical guitar, electric guitar rock-outs and moody atmospheric classical sections, it's a highly ambitious and unusual piece that provides a fitting finale to a fine album.
For me, 'Beyond The Shrouded Horizon' doesn't quite scale the heights of 'Out Of the Tunnel's Mouth', but is never the less another fine addition to the Steve Hackett catalogue, and essential for all Hackett heads.