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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.24 | 2387 ratings

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progrules
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This 7th official studio release by PT is the first real hard rock/heavy prog album in their discography if I may say so. I'm amazed about the high average and high praise it gets. Apparently Trains is the stand out song but even that one hardly works for me. It's kind of special but a 6 minute song can't be very memorable to me. Ok, that's not really fair, the length can't be decisive for quality but strange enough to me it often is. If I compare the song to Anesthetize or Sky moves Sideways for instance (which I do consider masterpiece tracks) you'll probably get my drift.

Trains is indeed the best song of the album, it's highly original and versatile and also very compact. To put so many different ideas in such a short amount of time is quite an effort. The album kicks off with Blackest Eyes and it's as if the band immediately wants to make a statement about the present style which is pretty different from the predecessor Lightbulb Sun. Blackest Eyes kicks ass so to speak, well at least in the first 40 seconds. One of the hardest moments in PT history no doubt. After Trains we get Lips of Ashes, a nice ambient track with a classy vein. The Sound of Muzak is just average PT I'm afraid, nothing special here. This song could easily have been on Stupid Dream where sound and style are concerned. Nice guitar around third minute. Gravity Eyelids makes a slight return to the spacy days. This one is more like what they did on Signify but it also has a lot in common with Don't hate me from Stupid Dream. With Wedding Nails they get back on the heavy track. Catchy song with nice tempo. I like this PT style much better than the slow dreamy style which is a bit boring to me. Same thing as with Riverside as far as I'm concerned. No surprise that this is one of my fav's from this release. Prodigal is an example of what I mean with slow dreamy style. Good song but it hardly moves me or warms me up in any way. It gets a different sound after two minutes where the song turns rougher and a guitar solo halfway lifts the song. 3 starts with nice bass and atmospheric sounds to turn into an orchestral instrumental. This could have been a Radiohead song (drumming!) where the first half is concerned but second half is ordinary PT again with vocals. Talking about shifts ! The Creator has a Mastertape sounds pretty original at first, finally some groundbreaking stuff on this album you would think but after 1 minute it gets more regular again. Pretty heavy after 1:40. Rest of the song is fairly standard PT. Hartattack in a Lay By is another ambient ballad, nice but I fear PT has done about a dozen songs like this. Makes me yawn a bit. Strip the Soul is again a return to Signify/Stupid Dream style with spacy elements. Come to think of it: this makes In Absentia sort of a transition album more than their first real heavy one. Slightly more heavy than spacy but no black and white case by any means. Collapse the Light into Earth sounds like a Coldplay rip off (piano !!)or who knows a tribute (!?). Or could it be Coldplay has been listening to this song and got inspired ? Anyhow, the resemblance is too striking to ignore.

The bonus tracks Drown with me and Chloroform are also nice but don't really lift the album quality. The problem with In Absentia is not that it's poor or mediocre or even average. No, it's indeed far better than that. But to call it a masterpiece or even really excellent goes too far in my opinion. Maybe it's because I'm not a true fan. Because if you are I can imagine you love this one to death. It has a classy charisma over it but for my personal taste I can't go further than three stars. Or in other words it's a good/very good album (3,3).

progrules | 3/5 |

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