Surrender of Silence - the new Steve Hackett album reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

Look out! Hackett is off the leash! Yes, Steve's latest album is perhaps his fiercest yet! No longer prepared to sit back Steve now let's fly at subjects he would have shied away from only a few years ago.

The Obliterati opens the album with Hackett in fast and furious mode, laden with anger and menace.

Natalia, a homage perhaps to his own Eastern European heritage is driven along by delightful melodies incorporating Prokofiev's Dance Of The Knights from Romeo And Juliet.

Relaxation Music For Sharks (featuring Feeding Frenzy) is an out and out instrumental rocker. It has been a long time since Mr H has wielded his axe with such ferocity - I love it.

Wingbeats however, is a track I could definitely do without. Hackett meets Paul Simon's Graceland album, not to my taste at all, I'm afraid.

The Devil's Cathedral however, is an altogether different beast, is this a reference to that arch narcissist, Donald Trump? Who knows. It features some truly spine tingling keyboards from Roger King and a wonderfully sinister vocal from Nad Sylvan.

Held In The Shadows is the by now obligatory reference to Steve's wife, Jo. Not laden with sentimentality however, this one burns with raw emotion which is truly breathtaking to hear.

Shanghai To Samarkand or The Red Flower Of Taichi meets The Silk Road, a remarkable evocation of places and people which should certainly be performed live at some point. Steve always manages to conjure up something of the cinema for the ear on his albums, this one fits that bill perfectly.

Fox's Tango is a searingly angry indictment of the media and fake news and its purveyors, no punches held on this one!

Day Of The Dead is an unearthly homage to the festival of that name which takes place in Mexico every year. Zombie Apocalypse perhaps but not one that we need fear.

Scorched Earth, may be a familiar title if you remember that Sierra Quemada means exactly that in Spanish! This one however, unlike its predecessor, is a fiery (pun intended) exhortation for us to realise what we are doing to our planet before it is too late.

It isn't all doom and gloom however as the album ends with Esperanza (Hope) a delightfully delicate acoustic gem such as only Steve can create.

Steve certainly covers a lot of ground on this album. The sheer scale of the ideas on display is breathtaking. Not all of the heights are conquered, but the challenge is in the trying and no one can fault Steve for not trying on this one!

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