Wolflight - The Leader of the Pack Returns with an Epic Album - by Martin Jones

My 59th birthday fell of 18th April but the actual celebration took place three weeks earlier with the release of Steve Hackett's "Wolflight". As soon as I heard the album I mailed Steve and Jo with heartfelt congratulations I was that chuffed with what had been served up by the Master.... It's an awesome album in so many respects. Impossible to walk away from with just a couple of listenings as there is so much to revisit and enjoy, explore and discover this is an album that will stay with the listener for a very long time indeed. If the forthcoming live shows are half as good they are going to be something else.

Many other reviewers have had their say, and I'll try not to rehash too much of what they have said here, but some over lap is unavoidable. "Out of the Body"... unearthly howls of wolf and guitar, primal drumming, wild and untamed music that take one back to the dawn of time... The devastatingly effective Tar work of Malik Mansurov, so elemental and energetic in a profoundly primitive fashion that fits the feel of the music perfectly. It entices the you into the albums title track, "Wolflight".

Make no mistake, this is an epic in it's own right. A rich, colourful blend of rhythms and styles conjuring up long forgotten links between man and wolf... A song with several themes and plots, meandering but never losing its way. A feast for the aural senses, "Wolflight" sees Steve back to his creative best - pushing boundaries but pushing with great care and respect, lifting the listener out of the mundane and taking them along on a journey of discovery and time.

Chris Squire on bass for "Love song for a Vampire". Need one say more ? Dark, mean and moody. Dramatic , powerful both lyrically and musically this song would be the mainstay of many an other artists album - the one they want to talk about and have talked about by others. Not so here. Its part of a whole and needs to be seen as such - for this is no ordinary album.

"The Wheels Turning". If this is performed live (PLEASE!!!) it's going to be an instant crowd pleaser in the style of "Every day" and "Spectral Mornings". Wonderfully interwoven licks and riffs, astonishing solo clips and catchy lyrics make this the nearest thing to Prog Pop Steve has done in years. Supremely joyful and uplifting its a song that demands to be played again and again - I'm more than happy to oblige. With backing vocals from Amanda Lehmann it's always going to be special vocally but this time there is the added pleasure of hearing Jo Hackett appearing too - and a very, very nice appearance it is too. Fabulous song, fabulous performances.

An intensely personal track - "Coryian Fire". This again contains so many musical pathways and unsuspected twists and turns that it takes one by complete surprise at times. It's a fearsome assault of World Music at it's finest. Ancient rites long forgotten are conjured up here - a true trip into a world we can barely recognise or comprehend. "Corycian Fire" is all that and more. An other gem in a musical treasure chest brimming with them.

"Earth Shine". Evocative. Gentle. An acoustic dream scape. Six nylon strings have rarely sounded so good. Hackett proves, as if he needed to, that he is the Master. Wonderful piece of music... Wonderfully crafted and executed.

An other journey is undertaken in "Loving Sea". A simple, deceptive song it takes the listener by the hand to slowly walk along the shores of a tropical beach, accepting the caress of the cool ocean upon the hot sand.

What a contrast with "Black Thunder" - a genuine foot stomper of hard blues rock. Bass, drums and guitars dish up one of the "dirtiest" sounding riffs I've heard in years. This again is begging out for a live excursion. It's got the lot - thundering bass, mammoth drumming and Steve's explosive guitar playing. I defy any one not to foot tap to this - you can't help it unless you've nailed your feet to the floor (and even then I'll bet you tap your fingers at the very least). Listening to this wearing cans is the nearest thing to hard rock heaven some of us are likely to get... It's brilliant.

Calm down man. Take a ride on a camel. Head off across half hidden trade roads in "Dust and Dreams". Eastern in style and feel it isn't long before the Caravanserai, load bearing camel has crossed into the lands of the peoples of the desert... The Tuareg nomads, the great crescent dunes and searing heat. This is a highly evocative piece once again.

"Heart Song". The finale offering on the standard CD. Deeply personal, moving, it could easily have been called "Jo's Song" - and indeed Steve dedicates it to his gifted other half. Over sentimental? Nope. It comes from the heart and both the lyrics and music make that perfectly obvious. A joyful and fitting end to a quite stunning album.

This is an album that has been coming since the release of "Out of the Tunnels Mouth". Steve has emerged from a dark period in his life, both personally and I suppose creatively, and its taken time. Time to heal, time to recharge the batteries, time to reconnect with his music. Along comes "Beyond the Shrouded Horizon". Still emerging from the dark past the horizon is at last in sight.... In supremely profound step Steve revisited his Genesis days and took us with him on a 3 year journey into the heady days of the bands creative peak. And all the while, simmering away in the back ground, was "Wolflight". With the release of this album Steve has come home - well for me any way. It's a album of a deeply personal nature. He shares a lot of the song credits with his muse, his rock and loving wife, Jo. Mixed and mastered by Roger King it combines everything he has been aiming for in the last few years. Wonderful songs, great orchestration, superb musicianship from the likes of Nick Beggs, Gary O'Toole, Chris Squire, Amanda Lehmann, Rob Townsend, Malik Mansurov, Hugo Degenhardt and Christine Townend and others, this album sees Steve Hackett back to his very best.

To sum it up in a couple of words - It's Brilliant.