Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase

Album Review: Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. Deluxe 2-Disc CD & Blu-Ray Edition

Originally released in 2015, Hand. Cannot. Erase was a huge hit with fans and critics alike. The new 2 disc set brings back the original album and also includes a Blu-ray disc featuring the album in hi-resolution stereo & 5.1 audio (96/24 5.1 LPCM & DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), along with seven additional tracks including alternative & radio mixes. The Lasse Hoile Studio Documentary & studio sessions photo gallery complete the Blu-ray.

Four years and another solo album after the release of Hand. Cannot. Erase. not much has changed. To put it simply, H.C.E stands right at the top of Steven Wilson’s work as the most cohesive and beautiful album he’s released. Dark, vibrant, melancholy and also uplifting, this album has everything and manages to combine it all seamlessly.

A concept album, inspired by the story of Joyce Carol Vincent who died in her London home and wasn’t found for more than two years after her death, gave Steven Wilson a lot to work with lyrically. Combine his strong songwriting skills with an extremely talented band and you have the recipe for a special album.

Steven Wilson Hands Cannot Erase 2 Disk Set

Such is the high standard throughout, it’s actually hard to single out any tracks for individual praise. The whole album is a journey and can only be assessed as a whole. And that’s exactly how an album should be. There are absolutely no fillers here, every track has a purpose and leads you along the path Steven Wilson wants to take you down to tell the story.

Being a guitar website, special mention must be made of Guthrie Govan’s playing. Most of you will be aware of what a monster guitarist he is but on H.C.E we get to hear what is, in my opinion, his best work in a band setting. His immense talents, combined with Wilson’s vision and ability to work with the best musicians in the world really brings out the best in him. His tone and playing throughout is exquisite but the real highlight for me is his intense solo on Ancestral. It could only come from the fingers of Guthrie.

Moving on to the second disk, audiophiles will love the hi-resolution stereo and 5.1 audio versions of the album. Additional tracks are always nice to hear and the documentary is great if you’re interested in seeing behind the scenes of the recording process. The real highlight for me though is the instrumental version of the album. With such a strong story you’d think removing the vocals would lessen the listening experience but it actually transforms it into something totally different but equally as good. Being able to focus solely on the music and hear the incredible talent of those involved is a beautiful experience as it takes you on a different journey to the original album.

If you are a fan of Steven Wilson, you need to own this album. If you are a general fan of prog music, you need to own this album. If you already own the original release without the additional material, you need to own this album. Special editions aren’t always special but this one certainly is. The extra content takes an already great album and makes it even better.

Rating 10/10

Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. Deluxe 2-Disc CD & Blu-Ray Edition