• Record Label: Capitol
  • Release Date: Jun 10, 2003
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 461 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 461

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  1. Jan 2, 2013
    10
    It would appear that many of the lukewarm or negative reviews of Hail to the Thief have more to do with the density of this album [rather than any sub-standard songwriting on Radiohead's part]. Compared with the sparser textures of Kid A and [to a lesser extent] Amnesiac, which made these records more accessible despite the music's experimental nature, Hail to the Thief is thick with soundIt would appear that many of the lukewarm or negative reviews of Hail to the Thief have more to do with the density of this album [rather than any sub-standard songwriting on Radiohead's part]. Compared with the sparser textures of Kid A and [to a lesser extent] Amnesiac, which made these records more accessible despite the music's experimental nature, Hail to the Thief is thick with sound and heavily layered. Not only does this mean that more plays are needed to get to grips with, and appreciate, the power of the songs and their many subtleties, but also that listening to Hail to the Thief is exhausting - a result of the dense texture combined with a sense of melancholy and heaviness that saturates the 14 tracks. The fact that O'Brien and Greenwood have picked up their guitars again as well as the band continuing to use electronic sounds means that Hail to the Thief can be likened to Radiohead around the time of The Bends/Ok Computer playing at the same time as Radiohead circa Kid A. Given this, it is no wonder there is a lot going on, sonically.
    As ever, Radiohead are breaking a lot of new ground here, as is especially apparent in tracks like A Wolf at the Door [musically pretty verses with a Yorke's drunken stream-of consciousness overlaid, and a simple, catchy, and highly effective 'The Bends'-like chorus], and the dance-like Backdrifts [with the chord progression that sounds like it should go with a piano ballad, but rhythmic elements and electronic pips that belong on the dancefloor]. However, there are plenty of nods to previous albums in Hail to Thief; Johnny Greenwood's shimmering octave-up guitar effects on Sail to the Moon are reminiscent of Subterranean Homesick Alien, and his playing on Go To Sleep could easily belong on The Bends.
    Hail to the Thief also has its share of Radiohead's signature melancholic beauty, in the piano and glockenspiel opening of Sit Down. Stand Up[before it is shattered by a storm of electronic and vocal raindrops], the soaring slowness of Sail to the Moon, and pure vocal harmonies in I Will [surely Radiohead are masters of making anger something so beautiful]. The Upshot: All these factors combine to make an album that's success is due to the right mix of original sonic experimentation and elements from their previous albums. Of all their studio albums, Hail to the Thief is likely the most difficult to digest and comprehend, but to do so is certainly worth it. Persevere in getting to know the songs intimately, and be rewarded with the emotional power and musicianship of Radiohead at their very best.
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  2. StephenB
    Jun 6, 2003
    10
    Pure genius radiohead. They haven't once recorded or released a bad record and this is no exception to that rule. A nice blend of the older, more guitar based songs with some new electro classics like the gloaming chucked in there.
  3. Jules
    Jun 9, 2003
    10
    Fantastic stuff - Dan D has it just right - this album lives and breathes much more than the headspaces of its predecessors - it even has something that so few reviewers have mentioned - a sense of humour - dark and perverse, but defintely there. There is a camp sense of its own drama throughout this album - coming to a head in the hilarious (and troubling) we suck young blood. Don't Fantastic stuff - Dan D has it just right - this album lives and breathes much more than the headspaces of its predecessors - it even has something that so few reviewers have mentioned - a sense of humour - dark and perverse, but defintely there. There is a camp sense of its own drama throughout this album - coming to a head in the hilarious (and troubling) we suck young blood. Don't be too earnest people - this is the greatest show on earth and Radiohead know it. Expand
  4. DanielN
    Mar 18, 2010
    9
    What a beautiful soundscape. What a journey within yourself. Picking apart the textures on this perfect album is on of the most pleasurable things I have ever done.
  5. j30
    Sep 21, 2011
    9
    Just another solid input to the Radiohead cannon of records. This album pretty much sums up their career to this point. The glitchy electronica, great lyrics, and guitar freak-outs. Radiohead has it all.
  6. Jul 15, 2012
    10
    there is a reason why radiohead is my favorite band. its because i cant put their albums in a specific genre and in this one especially show all the sounds and experimental abilitys of Yorke and company.
  7. BonzaC
    Jun 23, 2003
    8
    A very good album, but there are a few fillers on this album.
  8. MarcR
    May 21, 2003
    10
    An extremely strong album, as the band has managed to incorporate the best elements of their last three albums. By far one of the year's best. One question remains for arguably the best rock n roll band right now, -where to go, from here?
  9. ReidM
    Aug 15, 2009
    10
    This album has it all. The most versatile, poetic, beautiful, ugly, gritty, engaging, sick, ass-kicking piece of intelligent, thought-provoking rock-n-roll I've heard in a long time.
  10. boo
    Jan 28, 2006
    0
    pablo honey is way better. this music isn't rock like i thought it would be.
  11. DanD
    Jun 5, 2003
    10
    The problem with reviewing a Radiohead album is that it's hard to find relevant comparisons. They are the most skillful of magpie bands - taking a bit from here, a bit from there, and twisting it all together into something that generally sounds quite unique. So critics, without an easy reference point to go by, tend to evaluate each new Radiohead album by comparing to their previous The problem with reviewing a Radiohead album is that it's hard to find relevant comparisons. They are the most skillful of magpie bands - taking a bit from here, a bit from there, and twisting it all together into something that generally sounds quite unique. So critics, without an easy reference point to go by, tend to evaluate each new Radiohead album by comparing to their previous work, especially that famous third album. The NME review of Hail To The Thief, for example, could be summarized roughly as follows: "It wasn't OK Computer." The reply that comes immediately to my mind is that... well... yeah. It's not. Was anyone actually expecting that? People seem to forget that Radiohead is a band that has always survived through change. Their sound has been altered drastically for each album, and while Hail To The Thief does contain moments that remind one of various earlier work, the album as a whole sounds like nothing else in their catalog. It sounds alive, and a little raw, and definately imperfect. It's not quite as pretty as OK Computer, and it doesn't have the mood or the purity of Kid A. What it does have is life. Hail To The Thief is the sound of a band living and breathing and thoroughly enjoying themselves, and it's a little rough in places. So while the sounds may be a bit familiar, the spirit of the album is something that is very new for Radiohead. If OK Computer is a watercolor, and Kid A is an oil painting, than HTTT is a snapshot on a disposable camera. And when you evaluate it on it's own merits, rather than those of it's predecessors, it stands up almost as well as any other Radiohead album. Brilliant, then. I wonder what's next? Expand
  12. M.O.
    Aug 5, 2003
    3
    Disappointing and far the worst radiohead album yet.
  13. byDivineRight
    May 30, 2003
    5
    This album seems to have two faces. One is based on more tradition instraments such as the piano and guitar while the other based mostly on computer beats. The computer based stuff is terrible. You sit there listening for the big payload and then the song ends. Monotone is the one word i can think to sum it up best. That and rubbish. The traditional stuff however is outstanding. 2+2=5 is This album seems to have two faces. One is based on more tradition instraments such as the piano and guitar while the other based mostly on computer beats. The computer based stuff is terrible. You sit there listening for the big payload and then the song ends. Monotone is the one word i can think to sum it up best. That and rubbish. The traditional stuff however is outstanding. 2+2=5 is one of a kind, sail to moon, scatterbrain, and my faviorite go to sleep are out of this world. If they would just cut out the electronic garbage and stick to what there good at they would have in me a new number 1 fan. But since have the songs are this new age electronic garbage half of a perfect mark is all i can give them. Expand
  14. I'mSadBrandon
    Aug 7, 2003
    6
    I love's them radiohead...but I'm very dissapointed with this ablum. It's starting to sound like, I don't know, maybe they're trying to put something out that might get some radioplay again. They're running out of (good) ideas and are starting to do a little bit of the sell out business.
  15. KiheoT
    Oct 22, 2003
    4
    Dark, mediocre and downright whiny- Thom Yorke at his worst. I agree a few listens improves the album but it doesn't hang together like Kid A or Amnesiac. Painfull to listen to all the way through
  16. LeoS
    Jan 29, 2004
    5
    C'mon man! ANYBODY can evidently notice that there's SOMETHING (A LOT OF IT) missing. Turn the lights off and get ready to get depressed.
  17. Entasmiquity
    Jun 15, 2003
    4
    If Radiohead recorded feedback from their oldest amp, burned it to disc, and called it Kid B, the critics would hail the new work's sublime textures and daring use of dissonance. Kid A was an amusing diversion from the norm, but Amnesiac sounded rote, and Hail is no different. I would offer a track-by-track review, but little distinguishes the songs from one another or from the If Radiohead recorded feedback from their oldest amp, burned it to disc, and called it Kid B, the critics would hail the new work's sublime textures and daring use of dissonance. Kid A was an amusing diversion from the norm, but Amnesiac sounded rote, and Hail is no different. I would offer a track-by-track review, but little distinguishes the songs from one another or from the tracks on the past two albums. Expand
  18. adig
    Jun 17, 2004
    10
    the album is great and radiohead are the best!
  19. jamesc
    Mar 10, 2005
    2
    i have been a radiohead fan from the start, i thought there was enough good material on the previous 2 albums to justify their release but this is very poor! because it is so strange , people seem afraid to criticise, but being a fan i have tried to let it grow but to no avail. i will say however, it takes more than a bad album to ruin a great bands reputation. if ya wanna geet into i have been a radiohead fan from the start, i thought there was enough good material on the previous 2 albums to justify their release but this is very poor! because it is so strange , people seem afraid to criticise, but being a fan i have tried to let it grow but to no avail. i will say however, it takes more than a bad album to ruin a great bands reputation. if ya wanna geet into radiohead, focus on the earlier stuff, forget this one! Expand
  20. P
    Mar 2, 2006
    10
    Listin any Radiohead album on a long journey in a car, train or airplane, and you will understand how good Radiohead really is! It's beautiful....
  21. lewisc
    Apr 24, 2006
    0
    shit
  22. RonG
    May 16, 2006
    5
    A few electronic offerings, a few rock songs, a few slow ballads....the trouble is that although there is something for everyone, the album isn't really anything cohesive at all
  23. TristanA
    Jun 6, 2007
    9
    Wonderful Album, great lyrics and themes abound this album and although there are some songs that aren't as brilliant as others, overall the best songs i.e: Wolf At The Door, Myxomatosis, I Will, There There and Scatterbrain more than make up for the less impressive other songs. Very Very Impressive album.
  24. AidanK.
    Feb 29, 2008
    5
    I feel this is the weekest radiohead record. Its frustrating that the first two tracks are the best ones and it has too many songs.
  25. MarcinN.
    Oct 24, 2008
    10
    Still think it's underrated because it's too modern for the 2003 when it was released.
  26. Jun 4, 2011
    8
    Great record, there's just 1-2 tracks that take away from it's overall flow and may prompt a skip.
  27. Aug 5, 2011
    4
    I discovered radiohead with the famous piano-driven "Karma Police". I then read a lot of great reviews for them so I decided to start from the begining. The first three albums are great, especially OK computer. However, I was very surprised with Kid A. I hated it. So I decided to go for "Hail to the thief" as it was said to be a sort of return to their origins. Well, that is not true.I discovered radiohead with the famous piano-driven "Karma Police". I then read a lot of great reviews for them so I decided to start from the begining. The first three albums are great, especially OK computer. However, I was very surprised with Kid A. I hated it. So I decided to go for "Hail to the thief" as it was said to be a sort of return to their origins. Well, that is not true. Still electronic, the only good songs are the first three and the last two, maybe the third one being the only great one. It's sad to see how this band has gone down so much whilst the press still praise them and laugh at muse's debut album saying it is radiohead (now they have changed them after seeing their fame) when it only draws some inspiration from the opening tracks of the marvelous OK computer. As radiohead have stopped doing that music it is fair for muse or coldplay to expand from that style. Expand
  28. Nov 15, 2011
    5
    Unfortunately, for the longest, it's also the weakest Radiohead record. Also, the fact, after this album, that the band say they were not being political is almost laughable. This albums saving grace is track one, and then 5 of the last 6 songs, the middle just sounds hopelessly pointless. Good if you want an overview of the Radiohead 'sound,' pretty poor if you're already a fan.
  29. GomerPile
    Aug 10, 2003
    9
    Another fantastic record. I can't get enough. Man, Radiohead is just plain scary. As if this record wasn't enough to keep me comfotably numb for years to come, I get to see them live again in a couple of weeks. Can't wait to see some of the material from this record live. I have no doubt that it will be another blissful couple of hours. Go buy this record right now but as Another fantastic record. I can't get enough. Man, Radiohead is just plain scary. As if this record wasn't enough to keep me comfotably numb for years to come, I get to see them live again in a couple of weeks. Can't wait to see some of the material from this record live. I have no doubt that it will be another blissful couple of hours. Go buy this record right now but as with everything worth a damn, it will take a few listenings before it will sink it's claws into you. Expand
  30. BitBurn
    May 27, 2003
    8
    Ok well. Mmh...What is that thing? It's an album! The new one from Radiohead!! Yeah yeah right. Music for the intellectual mind. Sounds for the soul. Simplicity. Complex, confusing?!! What am I saying. You see, my review fits the picture of this record!
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. As admirable as Radiohead's quest ongoing quest to ignore expectations, tear up the manual and proudly rebel against the limitations of 4/4 time seems, some of Hail To The Thief comes dangerously close to being all experimentalism and precious little substance. [Jul 2003, p.98]
  2. Of course it's political, and of course it continues to merge electronic experimentation with more familiar rock structures; but it employs all those debate-igniting props simply to further the band's more pressing agenda: to tirelessly explore beauty's terrible fragility.
  3. Hail to the Thief is overloaded with miraculous sounds.