Marillion of this era (mid 1990's) appear to be generally defined by the album 'Brave'. I feel very strongly that this is the album that defined them then and, in many ways, continues to define them now.
It is a supremely listenable album but one that challenges every time you do listen. 'Gazpacho' is a good, if not great, opener. 'Cannibal Surf Babe'is the one slightly disappointing track on the album and one that, in my opinion, does not gel with the other tracks. The remainder of the album is magical with three of the best tracks they have ever made in 'Beautiful' 'Afraid of Sunlight' and 'King' with the rest of the tracks not far behind. I feel that these three tracks show every side of the band with 'Beautiful' highlighting the truly melodic side; 'AoS' is an epic with musicianship and vocals of the highest quality and one of the few tracks on any album I have that I will repeat play when listening. 'King' builds superbly and highlights the tougher sound of the band.
If you are thinking of buying one Marillion album I would strongly recomemend this underrated album as a way in to an underrated band.
on 29 September 2011
8 tracks of pain and heaven. Beauty and sorrow. Success and defeat. Life and death.
An album that doffs it's cap to Lennon, OJ Simpson, Hendrix, Tyson, Cobain, Brian Wilson and Donald Campbell, is clearly not one full of laughs. But rather than languishing in misery and sorrow, this album rises like a phoenix from the flames to offer beauty, poignancy and catharsis.
The album still has influences of prog in there (influences NOT rip-offs) such as Floyd (Out Of This World), Genesis and Rush (Gazpacho). However, there are also references to The Beach Boys (Cannibal Surf Babe), REM (Beautiful), Nirvana, Hendrix and The Beatles (King), Talk Talk and Phil Spector (Beyond You) and Joni Mitchell (Afraid of Sunrise), although all of these influences are very carefully employed and not overused.
However, it's the title track that wins gold on this album. And this is a song that only Marillion could write. The epitome of all that's great about the band.
Interestingly, this album was made in a relatively short time, under great pressure from their label (after taking nearly 2 years to create it's predecessor 'Brave'.) I can only assume that pressure brings out the best in this band. They've never quite reached these heights again since leaving EMI (almost, but not quite).
If there is ever one Marillion album that you should hear, then this is it.
on 21 October 2006
After the bleak, plodding Brave, Afraid Of Sunlight sees the band right back on song.
The theme of fallen heroes/celebrities really gives the album depth and the songs, although not the most immediate in the world, get better and better with each listen.
Gazpacho and the superb title track are classic, traditional Marillion numbers. Out Of This World is probably the best track on the album and for me takes me back to Chelsea Monday. The Donald Campell theme also gives the song a real beautifully macabre undercurrent (no pun intended). Beautiful is the finest ballad the band have ever written and King is a superb show stopping finale.
There are some odd-bod tracks that the album was more memorable for at the time, the Motorhead meets the Beach Boys mess of Cannibal Surf Babe, the road moviesque Afraid Of Sunrise and the Phil Spector style Beyond You.
Despite these songs, Afraid Of Sunlight remains Marillion's most underrated album and a work of genuine beauty. First Class.
on 11 May 2014
This is a truly wonderful album, completely unaffected by the lack of consistency that affects some other Marillion releases. Every track is wonderful, from the upbeat opener "Gazpacho", the beautiful "Beautiful" and the wave of soaring epics stacked towards the end of the album. "Cannibal Surf Babe" comes in for some stick from other reviewers here, but I also love this track - it's catchy, rocky and funny (especially when Steve Hogarth's tongue-in-cheek raunchy spoken passage from the song itself is repeated in French at the end of the song by an soft-spoken erotic French female vocalist)
A lot of people here comparing this album with "Brave". These back to back releases are probably Marillion's two finest albums (though plenty of wonderful stuff before and after them too). But how can you compare them? Brave is a film of an album, you have to settle in with a bottle of wine and turn the lights off and give it your full attention. AOS is more accessible and would be more suited to putting on at a party or in the car to initiate non-Marillion fans to the band. I don't think you can answer the question which is better, it's not really relevant.
on 15 November 2000
A.O.S., on its release, was the softest sounding Marillion album to date. This is very much an album that exemplifies Marillion's painstaking musicianship and less the stadium rock sound of the past. For example, the trademark roaring guitar solos of the past are noticeably absent, but the album is still of an electric and not acoustic sound. The softer music than that of previous recordings provided Steve Hogarth with a chance to really make the most of his soulful voice, rather than the power vocals that you expect to hear from a rock singer. As usual with Marillion, there isn't a bad tune on here, with only the ridiculous, embarrassing, unnecessary and out of place Beach Boys impression Cannibal Surf Babe detracting from the "pressures of fame" theme of the other songs and the "be yourself and sod the rest" theme of Beautiful.
on 29 May 2001
After the bleak soundscapes of 'Brave', the band returned just a year later with an album still unsurpassed in their 20 year career. Here the pop sensibilities of 'Holidays in Eden' are tempered with the band's penchant for the grandiose, resulting in some of their most inventive and original tunes yet. The much derided Cannibal Surf Babe is the first curveball, an energetic parody of the Beach Boys with a stomper of a chorus, while Beautiful tugs at the heart strings with it's soaring vocal.
Bed-fellows 'Afraid of Sunrise' and 'Afraid of Sunlight' are both superbly atmospheric, with plenty of pathos to spare, while 'Out of This World' is the band at the height of their powers, featuring guitarist Steve Rothery's finest work yet. Perfection is only prevented by the ambling 'Beyond You', but otherwise this represents the best of either Fish or Hogarth-era Marillion.
on 6 October 2008
'Afraid of Sunlight' was released in the summer of 1995, quite quickly after its highly-rated predecessor 'Brave'.
I am a life-long fan of Marillion but, before the release of this album, I feared that they were losing their way a bit; I must be one of the few fans who has never been that keen on 'Brave'. However, I think that Afraid of Sunlight is brilliant, especially the 27 minute second half which is outstanding throughout.
'Beautiful' was released as a single and it was played a few times on the local radio station where I was living at the time.
'Brave' rocked preety hard. AoS has its moments but, for me, it is a very emotional album which has excellent, very poignant, quite painful lyrics. This album contains one of Hogarth's finest vocal performances. The man is in emotional turmoil and you can hear the raw emotion in his voice: 'Been in pain for so long / I can't even say what hurts anymore' he cries in the title track. 'I will pretend and be strong' he promises in 'Beyond You' the song during which he also tells us 'I reach out to hold you / But all I do is hurt you'. A fantastic vocal range, amazingly powerful, especially at the end of the closing track 'King' (what a build up!) and during parts of the tital track. Emotionally charged and pleading at other times. You cannot but feel his suffering in this record. My God; this guy knows what it is to hurt.
Rothery's guitar adds to it, especially in the track 'Out of this World' which certainly lives up to its name. A glorious guitar solo, and he is renowned for them, of course. Mark Kelly's keyboards add a certain landscape of beauty, especially in 'Out of This World' and 'Beyond You.' I feel something at the end of 'Beyond You'as Kelly's keyboard becomes almost symphonic as it faids out with Hogarth spending 'the whole day driving away'.
By the end of 'King', if you do not feel emotionally drained, with its dramatic changes in tempo, Hogarth giving it 110%, Rothery's adventurous and dramatic guitar juxtaposed with Kelly's solo 'piano', Mosely's carefully thought-out and never over-done drumming (totally and necessarily absent in some places, full-on at others), then I would be gutted for you.
on 8 April 2007
After the revelation that was Brave, it might have been expected that the follow up - especially one released less than 18 months later - would pale in comparison. Instead Afraid of Sunlight ended Marillion's creative relationship with EMI on the highest possible note and is possibly the reason so many fans joined them on their foray into a world on the edge of the mainstream.
From start to finish this album is musically intelligent, moving, mature and sometimes awe-inspiring. Lyrically it's Hogarth's best. But mostly it's got some bloody good songs on it!
Not one could be left out of this review: Gazpacho - an anti-homage to celebrity - is relentlessly driving. Cannibal Surf Babe almost out-weirds Brian Wilson. Beautiful, perhaps the most 'normal' track on this album can be described eponymously. Out of This World is brooding and masterful, entering a territory of darkness rarely visited by Marillion. Both Sunrise and Sunlight - two sides of the same lyrical coin - are by turns sultry and heartfelt, packed with emotion. And Beyond You whirls you around a couple of times to prepare you for the incredible closer, King, which builds to create a finale of all finales.
In a parallel world Afraid of Sunlight probably tops critics lists of Best Album Ever year after year. Marillion give you a glimpse of what that world might be like with this amazing set.
on 13 March 2004
How highly can I praise this album. Admittedly, I am a Marillion Fan. Funnily enough though, after Brave came out, which I thought was a bit boring, I thought several times before buying this. It took me five years to get round to it........ and oh those lost years.....
Witty, engaging, powerful, beautiful... are just four adjectives which describe this album.
The highlight has to be Out of this World, a profoundly beautiful and haunting song which leads into the powerful stadium rocker and title track.. Afraid of Sunlight.
Final track "King" is probably the most powerful end to any Marillion album. (IF you liked This Space... and 100 nights, two previous album closers, you'll love this.)
I am writing this review knowing that only an existing Marillion fan is likely to be reading it.. I can't recommend this album highly enough. Buy IT!!!
on 11 February 2002
This is by far the best of all Marillion's large catalogue of albums, from the start to its climatic finale 'KING'. Outstanding tracks include Beautiful, Beyond You... in fact it is hard to find a dodgy track. The musicanship is top-notch as are the vocals and production. THIS IS THE BEST ALBUM .....EVER