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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.23 | 1804 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Stupid Dream done the heavy way

Returning from albums that represented a large switch in the music Porcupine Tree [PT] had previously released from psychedelic flavor to a more commercial and almost metal route, In Absentia represents another shift which still holds the same musical styling of their newer (at the time) material. A very unique album, when looked at in hindsight sounds like the previous albums the band had recorded fused with the latter Deadwing. The songs are shorter and more accessible to wide audience but without the fun late 90s (almost satirical) feel that others such as Stupid Dream seemed to have. Instead the album takes a turn for the heavy and the dark. As evident from the first track (and indeed the cover art) this is going to be an album that shan't be taken lightly. What we have here is the construction of darker soundscapes as Mr. Wilson seems to have found further reason to find fault with the world. In any case, this will be PT's darkest and heaviest album to date.

From the evil lyrics and dark riff that starts off the excellent opener, Blackest Eyes it's clear that PT is a whole new beast. With a structure more conventional than the band is normally used to the song presses on. Not without musical merit, as Steve Wilson can never be attacked for, the song shows the band as more approachable with material that is probably what attracted the following of fans who would later be lyrically showcased on the album Fear Of A Blank Planet. This is, of course, not a bad thing, but those who are expecting a PT album ripe with long spacey instrumentals and zoned out tones had best look somewhere else. Songs like the beautiful Trains, the fast and brooding The Creator Had A Mastertape and the industry conscious rebellion of The Sound Of Muzak follow more in this conventional style while still appeal with their heaviness and lyrics. Trains especially is a beautiful song with some wonderful lyrics and a very haunting delivery.

The other songs on the album range in effectiveness. The longest song on the album (reaching a 8 minutes) is the chilled-out Gravity Eyelids which unfortunately fails to make a large number of waves with it's promising build that never turns cataclysmic as PT so often do, while the other longer track Strip The Soul takes the term ''brooding'' to a whole new level and destroys the audience's comfort with some excellently evil lyrics and dark instrumentation. .3 is a nice little pseudo-instrumental, but the real instrumental - the bombastic Wedding Nails reminds listeners of a more Signify feel of the band while taking the track faster and heavier than ever before. Meanwhile, the more toned down tracks such as Heartattack In A Lay By and the goosebump yielding closer Collapse Light Into Earth still retain a darker feel while still making sure the audience gets a lull of some kind.

Ultimately a very good album with some very worthy moments, this one is definitely an album for those who like their prog heavy as the band's current sub-genre suggests. Those who like the band's later works like Deadwing who want to hear the style mixed with their other work such as Stupid Dream will get a mondo kick out of this one. Strangely enough, the songs on this one that are worth repeated listens are actually the more conventional ones - something very strange indeed for a PT album.

Well, at this point in writing I still haven't assigned a star rating to the album yet as it's one that requires a good amount of thought. Ultimately I think that excellent addiction is the right mark. The highlights of the album are so incredibly memorable and really smooth out any minor flaws the album has. Not conventional prog as the album has a lot of commercial leanings, but a very excellent album in the end. Worth your time - Recommended!

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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