Prog legend leaves the Genesis stuff behind and comes back with a wonderful album of two parts.
Over the past few years, Steve Hackett has shown himself to be one of the great prog archivists. He has done more than anyone to keep the flame burning for the wonderful work of early Genesis. On his tours, and his re-recordings of their music, he has both given a shot in the arm to these songs and opened them up to a whole new army of fans.
But all this selling England by the pound, well, it can only get you so far, can’t it? There’s still new songs, there’s still new things to explore and there’s much to do. Which brings us to “Wolflight.”
On his first solo outing since 2011, Hackett seemingly has decided that epic and grandiose is the way to go. It is noticeable that it begins with a plaintive instrumental, “Out Of The Body,” as if in his head the credits are rolling. The eight minute long title track follows and is a majestic work of twists and turns – including Eastern and orchestral parts, but my – like the rest of the record – it’s heavy when it wants to be.
Throughout “Wolflight” there is a gothic feel which permeates many of the pieces. Even the hauntingly beautiful “Love Song To Vampire” allows itself off the beaten track to explore the darkness in the outer regions.
“The Wheel’s Turning” appears to a descent into some bleak maelstrom, with its light and airy sections providing a jarring juxtaposition, while we are back to more Eastern mysticism on “Corycian Fire” which features an almost heavy metal riff that echoes Led Zep.
But just when you think you’ve got “Wolflight” pegged as a dark piece of genius, it veers off and does something – even for prog – pretty unexpected. Where it was bleak, suddenly it becomes shimmering and sunny. “Earthshine” is a lilting acoustic instrumental, which almost becomes a medley with the equally gorgeous “The Loving Sea.”
But things aren’t done. Not by a long way, because there’s still time for the best thing here. That may possibly be a big call, given that what has already touched magnificent, but the brilliant, bluesy “Black Thunder” manages to surpass even the rest.
“Wolflight” is a record to keep delving into and each time you do you find more excitement. The slow bassy “Dust And Dreams” is taken to another level than just another instrumental by the clever use of Orchestral arrangements, while “Heart Song” which ends things here, should be seen very much as the companion piece to the opener, as it’s easy to imagine the credits playing out over its simple message of love and peace.
With this album Hackett has again surrounded himself with some of the best musicians around. It shows, but also it appears to have lifted his game too, because honestly, there are times when it’s true to say that he’s never sounded better.
Wolflight is incredible, and so far ahead of the pack it can barely see them trailing in its wake.