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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.23 | 1813 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
4 stars Porcupine Tree reached out to a larger audience with this release. Showgoers, clad in Opeth and Metallica wear, cheer until they're hoarse. One knows a space rock band has really nailed it (or totally missed it...) when they attract metal fans. Fortunately, Porc Tree have held a firm grip on their psychedelic roots. It is different, however, than it was in previous albums. Instead of having very little but a dark keyboard line and some soft guitar, we have an eerie riff played to please a metalhead, with the most ethereal and dark keyboards on top, making a very silently sinister, and altogether subtle, space rock adventure. There are also classic explicit psychedelic moments, as well.

Overall, the album spans across many genres, but always has an experimental and ominous edge. Simple pop, modern rock, true ambient, heavy metal, punk, genuine prog, even much classical music is here. The end result is something absolutely fantastic and something altogether new.

Gavin Harrison, Porc's new drummer, is really spectacular. Not only is he adept with the twin pedals and exceptionally speedy with the hands, but he's also heroically clever on the set and one of the most creative drummers in years. His drumming fits like a piece of a puzzle with the music, and I can just imagine Steven Wilson saying, "Where have you been my whole life?!"

The new metal edge to their music, which can be seen best in Wedding Nails and Blackest Eyes is very unlike progressive metal, in the sense that it isn't extremely complex riffs tied together with mind-blowing musicianship, constant changing time signatures, heavy bass drum, and the like. In fact, it's a nice type of metal. It's mostly about feel and atmosphere, as opposed to ridiculous talent (though it unmistakably has the latter). Even folk who hate metal will find themselves head-banging away to this. Many people would think Porcupine Tree (PT) a combination of Pink Floyd (PF) and Dream Theater (DT). The formula: PT = PF + DT. However, this formula is clearly false, as Porcupine's metal edge is much more interesting than Dream Theater's.

The psychedelic moments on this album are very strong, and not at all scarce. Neither does the ambiance overpower the album, like some of Porc's earlier albums where there is very little music, but mainly effects and production tricks. It finds a healthy balance, and remains safely in that radical middle.

After the album passes through the opposite ends of the dynamics chart, from speaker-blowing metal moments, to real contemplative ambient music, it reaches its highest moment with Collapse the Light into Earth. This is unquestionably one of the most simplistic songs in progressive rock history, yet also one of the most moving and memorable songs. Lyrics are particularly strong and thought-provoking (as all of Porcupine's is). It ends this perfect album perfectly. Not only is this album without a flaw, but it is utterly whole, utterly complete, and satisfies the listener completely.

Shakespeare | 4/5 |

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