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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.26 | 2619 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This album always leaves me a bit confused, as the sum doesn't seem to add up to more than the original parts. After the terrific opening four songs, the quality becomes very hit or miss for me, and overall In Absentia lacks a cohesiveness that I need for an album. Plenty of great songs, some average ones, and not especially well-linked. There's certainly nothing wrong with writing singles, but they need an overall diversity and quality that In Absentia doesn't quite deliver.

Blackest Eyes, Trains, Lips of Ashes, The Sound of Muzak. What a way to open an album! Plenty of heavy rock, incredible melodies, beautiful harmonies, and fresh sounds. Obviously these guys have quite a lot of talent (both playing and writing), and it's on full display with this set of tunes. Harrison on drums is particularly impressive, and Wilson shows a nice diversity of guitar tones. Unfortunately the rest of the album can't live up to this quality.

The highs: Wedding Nails, Prodigal, .3, Strip the Soul. First of all, none of these tunes are as good as the opening songs in my opinion. However, I find each enjoyable, from the heavy, unrelenting riffing of Wedding Nails, to the floating steel guitar on Prodigal to the spacey guitar and mellotron on .3. Also, once Strip the Soul gets going, and you immerse yourself in the lyrical content, you are in for one heavy, bleak ride.

The lows: Gravity Eyelids, The Creator Has a Mastertape, Heartattack in a Lay By, Collapse the Light into Earth. There's nothing really grating or bad here, but these seem to be slow (except The Creator...) and uninteresting, though Gravity Eyelids does have a nice final half if you choose to make it that far.

Given the high praise and success of this album, I'm very surprised that the Tree later made Fear of a Blank Planet, though I'm certainly glad that they gave the theme album and extended pieces a try again. Probably a good halfway point between prog and radio friendly material, In Absentia fails to really excite the progger in me.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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