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Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.25 | 2481 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars I will start by saying that I like this album. In general, I like this band as well. I was not crazy about what I heard of the previous 2 or 3 albums, but I like Sky Moves Sideways, Signify, and Recordings and Lightbulb Sun and Stupid Dream are okay.

First off though, I don't find this band or album to be very "progressive" (I use the quotes to refer to the dictionary definition of the word as opposed to the genre, which I refer to as Prog or Progressive Rock as a whole). Their sound has evolved somewhat I suppose, but I really don't hear much in the way of musical development. The songs are all pretty basic in terms of chord progression, rhythms, and melodies. I don't hear anything I would consider innovative or particularly unique. As a whole, this band does have it own sound and approach, but I don't find it all that original or "progressive". But I like space rock, and most space rock bands are not exceptionally unique or "progressive". This doesn't, of course, mean it isn't good. So now that my overall view of this band and album is out of the way, on to the specifics.

This is apparently a concept album. I can agree with that. There is a lyrical theme that goes through the whole album, as well as an overriding atmosphere, both of which are consistent and interesting. The lyrics are not, as one reviewer pointed out previously, a judgment on the situation they describe. They merely lay out the facts so to speak, albeit in a broad and general manner. I appreciate this aspect and think Wilson has done a very good job on the lyrics (though they are terribly depressing.....but that is par for the course with his lyrics). However, the notion that this album is one long piece of music doesn't make sense to me. Each song sounds like a separate entity to me, distinct from the others (aside from lyrical similarities and overall atmosphere). But that doesn't really affect the quality of the album at all for me.

The first half I enjoy much more than the second, but it's all pretty good. The opening title track is suitably up tempo and draws you into the album and concept quite well. I like the overall blending in this album of their more space rock leaning songs with their more contemporary sounding and heavier later material (I know I said above that they haven't "progressed" much, but this isn't a contradiction as I did say their sound has evolved...........but I still don't think it has changed all that much in any substantial way). This song pretty much sums up what you can expect from the rest of the album. My Ashes is a slower paced song, but Wilson has always excelled with those and this one is no exception. Very enjoyable song for me. Anesthetize is the first real PT epic since Sky, and is my favorite song on this album. Probably because it has some variety in it and isn't focused on one or two rhythmic and melodic ideas like the other songs are. Some real heaviness in here off set with some of the most mellow parts of the whole album. This is probably one of the more "spacey" songs as well, at least in the mellow parts. Lifeson pulls off one of his usual perfect solo's, enhancing the track considerably even though it's less than a minute long. Sentimental is another softer slow song, but I think it is a nice contrast to the preceding epic. The last two songs drag a bit for me, but both have cool chorus' and Way Out Of Here emphasizes the spacey side of the band with help from Robert Fripp's guitar soundscapes. Though to be honest, I have a difficult time picking them out from the rest of the music and I'm still not entirely sure that what I think is his soundscapes really is. In any case, the album ends somewhat anticlimactically for me, but at least it's not bad either.

So overall, I don't find this to be terribly "progressive" in the sense of uniqueness or inventiveness in music. But if for nothing else than Anesthetize, it is certainly Progressive Rock in the sense of fitting the genre and this site. A very good and well presented concept, even if I do still think the songs don't make a 50 minute piece of music but seem to work only as individual pieces (and the fact that the album is 50 minutes is a plus in my view...........much more of the kind of songs that end this album and I would probably give a lower rating out of boredom). A must for the fans, and probably not a bad place to start with this band as it does seem to mix their older and newer approaches quite seamlessly. For myself, a solid 3 stars. Good, but I don't consider the album to be "excellent".

infandous | 3/5 |


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