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Porcupine Tree - Signify CD (album) cover

SIGNIFY

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.80 | 879 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Born, live, die. You know the drill.

A very transitional album for Porcupine Tree, The fourth album was the first to see them head in a very heavy direction. Not so far and away from their psychedelic roots as some might think though, this is an album that blends their old style with what would later become their new style in a kind of Porcupine paste. The album is ripe with winding and mind melting instrumentals as we've been familiar with coming from them as well as a whole bunch of songs that use a more down to earth subject manner (in this case religion) as well as some shorter songs that fall more into ''rock'' territory. The album is a lot darker than we've seen from the band before, as evident likely with the cover art and the name of the introduction song (Bornlivedie) this one definitely sees Steve Wilson tuning his guitar down and letting his cynicism flow forth. The songs are generally shorter with only one two-part song even reaching the 10-minute mark, but on the whole this is a very excellently done piece of work from the band.

One of the things that stay familiar with the band is the instrumentals. As with all of their previous albums up to this point, a good chunk of the album is taken up by songs without vocals. While there certainly are a lot more vocals than an album like, say, Up The Downstair, this one is still full of great, hard rocking vocal-less, tunes. The opening Signify for example starts off the album with a heavy riff pressed forward by a pumping bass. This one is quick and dirty of course because of it's very short length, but that actually works with the song giving it that ''live fast die young'' kind of feel. Idiot Prayer is another excellently done instrumental track, this one dominated by the bass which picks up around the middle launching the song into a crazy, frantic example of guitar mastery with Wilson shredding away. Intermediate Jesus is a bit more ambient with the ramblings of what sounds like a televangelist in the background making for a very chilling song. Light Mass Prayers follows up much with the same. While the instrumentals may not often have the same kind of distinct melody or sharpness as in previous albums, these ones use their ambiance (where it's present) to it's highest potential and deliver something that really makes the audience think.

As for the songs with vocals, these ones are getting a lot heavier than we're used to from Porcupine Tree. Far away are the days of Jupiter Island and Synesthesia as evident by the screaming Sleep Of No Dreaming where Wilson delivers a sharp and cold, heavy track which can best be described as ''dark''. Sever is very similar in tone, the chorus being a bit less harsh but no less forgiving. And the closing Dark Matter is even darker, if more lo-key. The rhythm section introduces this track with the drums and bass meandering about until they're given direction from the keyboards which introduce Wilson's dark and brooding (yet somehow soft) vocals. Very well done. Every Home Is Wired is a bit more paranoid sounding than dark. This is one of the tracks where the parallels to their next album Stupid Dream can definitely be drawn with it's vocal parts and harmonizing chorus.

The highlight of this album, however, has to be the two-part Waiting. The first part of which is the only with vocals, and Wilson does them wonderfully. Part Two is entirely instrumental and remains showing how good the band is at pulling such a stunt.

While likely the end of an era, this one leans more towards Heavy than it does towards space and psych. Still very much in kin to both sides of the Porcupine Tree coin, this one should be greatly enjoyable by anyone who likes PT. Perhaps not the best place to start with the band due to it's inherent inaccessibility thanks to the ambiance of some tracks, this one is tough but very rewarding to get into. Worth a full 4 stars, this is an excellent album, but not their best. Recommended to heavy prog fans and fans for ambient, cynical music with a couple of quick punches.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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