It took a while to overcome my initial disappointment that the Robert Fripp impersonation was kind of toned down (even the hard rock section were more classic hard rock/blues rock/metal sounding more Deep purple then the more jazzy Fripp impersonation in the previous album) and that there are less atmospheric change with the exception of the tracks bookending the album. It is more diverse if you comparing individual songs to other individual songs in the album but it is less diverse in terms of diversity within the individual song (which in my taste is the more impressive kind of diversity, diversity within songs > diversity within albums > diversity within career).
However Ken is right that melodically it is an improvement over Out Of The tunnel Mouth (probably the least melodic albums I've rated in the 14/E category even if it still good overall) at least on some objective levels (the melodies seems more conventional and more poppish although less resonant in my mind) and there are great solid pop songs in the album such as place called freedom (although I did thought it was cheesy first listen). My favorite song is probably the final track which has a great riff and I love how there was the metallic guitar was playing the riff and then later on the strings were playing the same riff and this rock song gets converted into an orchestral piece. An epic prog classic
Probably a 13 for me. It seems to me that Steve hackett is at his creative peak right now creating two consecutive classic albums. I can't think of many artist who started in the 70's reach their peak in the late noughties, early 10's .
I admit I have only listen to his early works and his later work and I haven't listen to his mid career work yet but I doubt it's as great as the last pair of albums.
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