Grandiose, mythical, progressive, and insightful. That is what can be expected on a Steve Hackett album, and that, perhaps to a less poetic sense, is what it’s graded on. How huge does it sound, how mythical is the scale, how progressive is it, and does it deliver a degree of insight? All of this can be discussed in his latest work: “Wolflight”
The title track immediately encapsulates many of these with a huge surging tidal wave of riff based ‘Love Song to a Vampire’ draws on the more mythical, with a great exploration into the folky/post-medieval sound that “Wolflight” is built upon. Even still this culminates in the quasi-hard rock titanic volume that dashes it’s way majestically across this album.
A change of emphasis is heard in ‘The Wheel’s Turning’ with a swing towards a folky-jig couple with a harmonica-esque guitar solo… this curious amalgam continues throughout the majority of “Wolflight“, never settled one one particular sound for too long as always radically spinning things around, but still without the overarching banner of epic, pseudo-medieval, progressive, fusion rock (Yes, it sound too good to be true).
Another point of praise would also be the instrumentals. The latter sections of ‘Corycian Fire’ are monumental, and their classical influence, cinematic feel, and guitar virtuoso are absolutely fantastic. The same virtuoso guitar and classical influence is heard on the following track ‘Earthshine’, but opting for a stripped back acoustic guitar solo performance, instead of a huge orchestral rock anthem.
‘Earthshine’ and ‘Loving Sea’ represent a seeming shift in the album, whilst the orchestral takes a back seat (but is still present), the more traditional guitar/keyboard combination comes to light, as heard in ‘Black Thunder’
Whilst it seems heaps of praise can be delivered onto this album it’s not all outright devotional love. It achieves all these things but doesn’t hit the mark explosively and whilst it does astound by a conventional musical ear it does not overly, nor radically, galvanize all exploitable resources. It does challenge the listener more than most contemporary music would, and for that credit is due.