This monstrosity of a double concept album is like the similarly-styled Pink Floyd album The Wall
, in that there are things I like and things I dislike about it.
Firstly, the sound is pretty different from that of previous Genesis albums. For one, Hackett is obscured again, and Banks' keyboards are much more prominent, so - more organs, more synths, less guitar. So although the album's storyline and almost all the lyrics were conceived by Gabriel, the music is different - this is no Selling England by the Pound
, it's darkish / strange story-telling music.
I'm not saying the album is not Genesis-like. It is Genesis-like. But the aspects of Genesis shown here are not the aspects I enjoy the most. Sure, there are melodies, eccentric theatrical performances, and cool playing, but it's all kinda unfocused. And Banks is wanking everywhere - there's just too much Banks. The problem is not Banks per se, but the over-use of synthesizers and stuff.
Still, the album is pretty varied, and it's useless to make too many generalisations about it. First and foremost, it's a big concept album - almost a rock opera of sorts. Gabriel tells the story of this dude Rael, who dies for some reason, and goes on a long arduous journey to see if he belongs in Heaven or Hell. There are several tests presented to him, and most times the situations are kinda obscure and unclear, which can make the story misleading. But yes, there is a plot, and it's quite comprehensible, if a little vague. Following Gabriel's commentary in the liner notes help quite a lot.
As for the songs - well, there are plenty of those. The first portion of the album is quite darned great. The title track opens the album in a great rockin' mood, and is quite 'straightforward' for a Genesis song, but it's only the first of twenty-three songs, and the complexity lies in the album as a whole. Nonetheless, it's a Genesis classic, with a cool riff and good singing.
by Reviewer: Fernando Canto
(blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct]