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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.24 | 2390 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Before I purchased this album by British space rockers Porcupine Tree, I only knew the few songs that were available here on ProgArchives to listen to. This might be the very reason I was quite surprised when I first listened to In Absentia; the songs available here were all very atmospheric and relaxed, whereas right from the start, In Absentia is characterised by its heaviness.

Although I was quite surprised by this, it did not scare me off. Already listening to quite a few metal bands at that time, I enjoyed this new perspective of Porcupine Tree's music. In fact, I loved it all so much that I decided to check out the earlier albums and piece-by-piece I collected all available releases by this unique band.

I guess the more metal-orientated approach is a result of Wilson's collaboration as a guest-musician and producer with Swedish progressive death metal band OPETH. This album has quite a few of the trades that Opeth is famous for. For instance the heavy guitar riffs accompanied by the drum fills. But Porcupine Tree is not copying Opeth's style, they simply adapt a part of it. The music is a mixture of in-your-face metal sections altered with ambient or even acoustic interludes.

There's not one song included that I would give lesser than a three star rating, if you could rate the songs individual. Although there are of course some standout tracks. For instance the experimental The Creator has a Mastertape, which is a rock song with spaced-out keyboards and a omnipresent bass guitar. The chorus consists of bone crushing guitar fills.

But not only the heavy songs are great. There are several mellow songs included, alike the piano ballad Collapse the Light into Earth, which is the album's closing track. This song is very uplifting regarding the overall dark mood of the album. The addition of a string section is rewarding. By far the most emotional song Porcupine Tree have written is the sombre ballad Heartattack in a Layby. This song is the most quite track on the album and at the same time a warm break after the frenzy that is The Creator has a Mastertape. The multi-layered vocals are great and totally fit the fairly depressing but beautiful lyrics.

There is one song included on the bonus disc with the European Version of In Absentia, which harks back to the music Porcupine Tree used to make around the Signify-era. This is the song Chloroform. This mainly ambient song features great percussion and a well-played guitar solo.

I have read somewhere that In Absentia actually is a concept album relating to the phenomenon that is "serial killers," but I do not know what exactly is the concept. although it does explain the quite evil video clip for `Strip the Soul (which is included as an enhanced portion on the bonus disc to the European version of In Absentia).

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |

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