Release Date: January 25, 2019
Label: Inside Out/Sony
Steve Hackett just released At The Edge of Light on the Inside Out (Sony) label. I was sent the CD/DVD but decided to purchase the LP for additional listening pleasure. I am glad that I did. The album is a two-LP 180-Gram set with a CD included. This is something you get from most of the Inside Out vinyl so you get the best of both worlds and it's worth the price tag.
Hackett is a legendary figure in progressive rock and has a lot of music out there to dive into. With his Genesis days (while brilliant) long behind him, he is always moving forward and creating interesting music for longtime fans and new disciples to consume. I personally have not gone too far into his catalog, although I feel it is time for that to change.
I think Mr. Hackett is extremely underrated because his music has never been mainstream or commercial in any way. That is just fine with his audience in the prog sphere.
At The Edge of Light is two platters, 3 sides of music, and the fourth side has the etching of the lighting on the cover with the man standing there looking at it with the inscription “Turn and Face Whatever You Fear Most.” Keep that in mind as you listen to the music and read the lyrics found on the inner sleeves of the album jacket (yes food for thought).
Side one opens in grand style with epic sweeping music and some fine vocals offered by Hackett. I have always looked at him as a guitar hero but the man is equally adept with the vox humana. This is a very eclectic group of songs ranging from prog rock, flat out rocking segments, blues, and world. It has it all and very well done I may add.
Side two starts off with “Underground Railroad.” Hackett’s tribute the trials and tribulations of slaves. It starts off bluesy then leads into a spiritual/gospel type sound and feeling then transforms into an all-out rocker. The changing tides of the music in a sense must have fit the all-encompassing emotions a slave had reaching freedom at last through those dangerous passages. “Shadow and Flame,” is one of the more colorful tracks with world music infused into rock featuring the Duduk, which creates a drone, and the very recognizable Sitar.
Side three opens with “Hungry Years.” The track features some great harmonies and catchy runs that sound radio ready, however, that leads to some strong stinging leads from Hackett and some sturdy bass lines to keep that train rolling down the line. After all of that, it fades out then you move on to the next two tracks, which are significant instrumentals musically and thematically.
“Descent” has the resounding and rhythmic beats of marching soldiers off to war or making the “Descent” into that literal hell. Then all of that driving force folds into the “Conflict,” which is earmarked with a whirling dervish of sounds and more masterful lead guitar by the maestro Hackett. Then the fitting curtain closer “Peace,” after the “Conflict.”
So, you see there is a definite theme here that Hackett is presenting. I think what he is saying through music and words is what we are seeing worldwide. The wars, confusion, and atrocities of man that continue to this day are thought of while reading the lyrics and listening to the music push those words to the forefront of your mind. And perhaps for those tortured souls among us, who are raging their own wars with internal emotions that nobody knows but them.
But yet we all stand At The Edge of Light, a few steps away from that dark chasm that surrounds us. The true nature of man is at the center of the light and that thought gives us all hope as we listen to the musical prophets of the world. Steve Hackett has created a beautiful album that is diverse musically and lyrically. I do not think fans could have hoped for a better album. This work speaks highly of a man with superlative talents and a message to deliver.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Prog Rock Music Talk
February 3, 2019
1. Fallen Walls and Pedestals
2. Beasts In Our Time
3. Under The Eye of the Sun
4. Underground Railroad
5. These Golden Wings
6. Shadow and Flame
7. Hungry Years
Side 4 :
Etching - “Turn and Face Whatever You Fear Most"