MARILLION – Brave (Deluxe Edition)

MARILLION – Brave (Deluxe Edition)

Living legends Marillion are without doubt one of the greatest prog rock outfits of all time. The fact that they are still out there touring, releasing brilliant albums such as "FEAR" (2016), and staying relevant speaks volumes about how dedicated these gentlemen are to their exciting and moving brand of music as well as their musical legacy. Back in the first half of the 90s, prog rock was not exactly in vogue, but Marillion did not give a fuck about that and instead did what came natural to them and embarked on a daring and wildly creative journey that eventually resulted in the unheralded masterpiece that is "Brave". Originally released in February 1994, "Brave" was recently reissued in a lavish-looking yet neat little box containing four CDs and one Blu Ray disc. Disc one contains Steven Wilson’s (Porcupine Tree) remix of the album while disc two consists of Dave Meegan’s original album mix. Discs three and four contain Michael Hunter’s sparkling remix of a mesmerizing 1994 live performance while the Blu Ray disc is a cool little gem in that you will find three different remixes of the "Brave" record by the aforementioned Wilson on it as well as a highly interesting 70-minute long documentary on the album and some old promo videos. What more could you possibly want?

"Brave" is a dark and dense piece of work that is downright unpleasant to listen to in places. It is highly intense from an emotional point of view, but it is also a gloriously introspective record that transcends all musical norms and conventions. As the band members point out in the documentary, the writing of the album was very much a band effort. There is an incredible amount of focus and discipline present on the record, but in no way does it come across as rigid or clinical. There is a concept to the album, or a storyline and theme, if you will, but the compositions are somewhat non-linear and filled with surprising twists and turns, which is partly why it is so intriguing and compelling to immerse oneself in. You are hanging on to every detail, every nuance, and every conceivable aspect of its complex pieces – that is how gripping "Brave" is. The songs range from exquisite and fragile to huge and muscular while the passionate vocals courtesy of Steve Hogarth underline and emphasize the melancholy and morose vibe of the album perfectly. It is grand in scope yet strangely intimate, and although its bleakness engulfs you and is almost overpowering at times, "Brave" is actually quite uplifting in certain places too. From majestic chords to venomous and disembodied voices, everything flows together beautifully. There are no weak performances anywhere in sight.

Even though the album was recorded back in 1993, it sounds anything but dated. If anything, it still sounds vigorous, current, and sharp. It could have been released yesterday – that is how fresh and vibrant it still comes across all these years later. Simply put, this is as sonically cohesive as an album can possibly get and it is an ambitious and progressive masterpiece that still resonates with us all these years later. Wilson’s remixes are perhaps a little more open and crisp than Meegan’s slightly more compressed and compact original album mix, but both of them sound phenomenal.

Discs three and four contain a live rendition of the entire "Brave" record as well as some fan favorites from previous releases and the way in which "Brave" has been translated into an evocative and hugely atmospheric concert setting is marvelous. An amazing energy and intensity are being shifted back and forth between the band and the appreciative crowd and the discs are a dark and riveting listening experience for sure. It also goes without saying that the insanely talented ensemble that is Marillion sounds hellbent on delivering a fantastic show. Absolutely stunning.

As crazy as this may sound, Marillion have actually managed to improve upon perfection with their fantastic deluxe edition of "Brave". This elegant release by Parlophone Records contains everything that one could possibly want and desire, and it is wonderful to see this achingly beautiful and unsung jewel get the deluxe edition treatment that it deserves. Do not miss out on this marvelous experience if moving and cinematic prog rock appeals to you.