As a die-hard Marillion fan I am afraid that this review will not be very objective... I always loved and admired the guitar skills of Steven Rothery, so I was really looking forward to this album which was - by the way - financed by means of an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. The Ghost of Pripyat is even more interesting due to the fact that Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson contributed excellent guitar solos on Morpheus and The Old Man Of the Sea. The rest of the “Steven Rothery Band” consists of Yatim Halimi (bass guitar), Riccardo Romano (keys and acoustic guitar), Leon Parr (drums) and Dave Foster (guitar). The latter being the founder of the band Mr. So&So, which regularly toured with Marillion, and Rothery played some guitar on their two last studio albums.
The CD opens very quietly in an almost cinematic style with the song Morpheus and this wonderful melodic song evolves into an amazing listening experience. After five minutes we hear piano sounds moving in and Hackett plays his solo, later on followed by Rothery's solo, eventually ending in a great guitar duet. Kendris is a completely different track as it features an African-style drum pattern and the keys of Romano play an almost dominant role. The Old Man Of The Sea is the longest and without any doubt the best song on the album. It clocks in at over 11 minutes and guest musicians Wilson and Hackett, together with Rothery of course, make this song almost soundlike Pink Floyd. This song kind of reminds me of the Marillion classic track Ocean Cloud and it gives me shivers every time I listen to it; a must for lovers of melodic guitar playing!! (play it loud if you can!!).
Another musical highlight is Summer's End, which starts very slowly but then evolves into a rather “heavy” song with a driven hard rock hook and quite a lot of great guitar solos from Rothery and Foster. The title track, the last song of the album, was inspired by the deserted city of Pripyat (Chernobyl, Russia) and also starts rather quietly with lots of acoustic guitars before it becomes a rather muscular rock track.
The Ghost of Pripyat is a masterpiece where the guitar playing of Rothery is dominant and amazing (which we already knew of course...) and it already belongs to my favourite albums of this year! It is sublime, it is melodic, it is amazing, and it is Rothery at his best. Do not miss this fantastic release!! Buy or die would be my slogan here!!
****+ Martien Koolen (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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