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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.23 | 1849 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

MJAben
4 stars This album will always have a special resonance with me; it was the first album I had heard from Porcupine Tree and, along with Dream Theater's 'Train of Thought' this album was largely responsible for getting me out of my 13-year old punk / nu-metal phase which is something that I am eternally grateful for.

Both of those albums featured everything that I liked in music, catchy riffs, strong melodies, and a singer that could come off as both harsh and tender. But they had something more, the music was noticeably more complex but there was an experimental side to things too, a willingness and readiness to stray from the common lines that intrigued and fascinated me. In the course of three months I consumed everything prog-metal that I could get my hands on and my life had forever changed; I was bitten by the prog bug.

I have long since abandoned 'Train of Thought' and, in truth, am not a fan of most of Steven Wilson's music in the 21st C. For some reason though, I keep coming back to this album, it fascinates me and holds my attention from start to end. Every single time I listen to it. This is despite the fact that as an album, the songs contained therein are perhaps greater than the whole.

As stated by countless other reviewers the songs are easy to get into, they have an immediate (almost commercial) appeal that is often far too lost in prog rock. I think however, that this commercial strength may in fact be the albums only downfall. I don't mean this to say that it's too commercial it can't be prog as though I were speaking with some kind of elitist snobbery -- this is prog and damn good prog at that.

The songs seem to be created separate from the whole and each song has its own feel, style and texture that are wholly unique from one another. In some ways this is great, the album certainly doesn't get tedious, but at a base level, they come off as disconnected. They are wonderful as a whole but it has that best-of album feel where it seems to be a collection of songs poorly strung together that (musically) have little to nothing to do with one another.

Another complaint I have is that the songs almost seem too perfect. The songs are highly edited, highly polished and glimmer so brightly that one is often left wondering how much of what you're listening to is the actual band and how much is Steven Wilson's studio room. This is a problem that I have with a great deal of Steven Wilson's music and it would be a larger complaint here if the music itself wasn't so unbelievably good (often jaw-droppingly good).

This brings me to yet another issue with the album, the lyrics. How can an album with such good music contain such banal lyrics? There are only so many depressing and melodramatic songs about substance abuse and/ or broken love before you want to tear your ears out from the adolescent directed lyrical content. (Maybe there was another reason I liked this at thirteen)?

But obviously I like the album or I wouldn't have given in 4 stars, so on with some pros: - Incredible musicianship - Fresh sound - Wonderful editing and polishing (almost to a fault perhaps) - Steven Wilson's vocals sound amazing - A nice mixture of heavy / light from a band that does good with both - Taking musical risks that pay off big time - This album changed my life

To say the least, the pros far outweigh the cons but I won't delude myself into believing that this album and I truly am reluctant to jump on the ever growing Steven Wilson bandwagon. I think this is a good album, Porcupine Tree's best in recent years and that if you want to get into the band this is a great place to start as it contains just a nice mixture of their sound over the last 20 years.

A wonderful addition to anybody's library an important album for both the band and for the genre but don't delude yourself into thinking that it's flawless it is in every way a perfect and imperfect album, Often at the exact same time.

4/5

MJAben | 4/5 |

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