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Porcupine Tree - Deadwing CD (album) cover

DEADWING

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.08 | 1523 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Deadwing is not only a haunting venture, it is one of Porcupine Tree's most exceptional albums. The music varies in texture from song to song, yet retains a consistent feel throughout. Every song is at least likeable, but most of them are completely brilliant. Every part of this album makes me want to know more about the supposed screenplay behind it. The lyrics are somewhat vague for Porcupine Tree's more recent work, but one thing is for certain- the music is amazing. The title track and "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" are heavy progressive rock masterpieces, and "Mellotron Scratch" and "Lazarus" are two of the loveliest (and in their own ways, two of the spookiest) songs ever written. It would be easy to praise each track here, but that's what the rest of the review is for. The album, great as it is, is not without a few minor flaws, however.

"Deadwing" Hospital sounds and a pulsating noise do nothing to prep the listener for the sudden eruption of sound that follows. Wilson employs a unique chord progression here, bridging the verses with some admirable electric guitar riffs. Whereas it would normally be a negative point, I rather enjoy the repetitive nature of the vocal melody throughout most of the song, as it paints everything with a disturbing mood and gives the impression of narration. All of the guitar work is remarkable, from the soloing to the way the electric and acoustic guitars work together. The traces of spectral Mellotron are a phenomenal touch. During the quiet moments, the clean guitar, heavy with tremolo, works alongside some enjoyable bass work before giving way to a heavier moment. Adrian Belew's shrill guitar work sounds just like something he would do out of 1980s King Crimson.

"Shallow" A rather simple song, "Shallow" alternates between sections of a heavy guitar riff and light piano. Even though it's short and has a very accessible structure, this song was one I didn't get into until much later, since I didn't care for the guitar playing much.

"Lazarus" One of the most beautiful songs in all of music, it does feel a bit strange following on the heels of the mostly heavy track that came before. Still, the acoustic guitar, the simple piano, the steel guitar, and the quiet Mellotron, not to mention Wilson's humble voice, make "Lazarus" a song that's difficult for anyone to dislike. The bridge is simply stunning, and lyrics are absolutely moving, making one desire to learn more about the context of the album on the one hand, and only wishing to take in the meek finery of the piece on the other. The sound of the train at the end only makes this somehow even more poignant.

"Halo" Driven by a funky bass and a some uncomplicated drums, this is a fairly weak track, arguably the weakest one here. Half the lyrics to the verses are spoken, and they're a tad on the insipid side.

"Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" The lengthiest song on the album is also one of the best. It relies heavily on the twelve-string and vocal melodies that range from dark to uplifting. The way that first chorus immediately launches into the first guitar solo is stellar, and one of my favorite moments on the album. The first few times I heard it, I always thought the heavy metal segment in the middle was alien given the context of the piece, but the way it jumps back into the main chords, which give way to a very quiet part with jazz guitar soloing, is well-structured and highly regarded.

"Mellotron Scratch" Despite the name, the Mellotron does not play heavily into the music. There is flute and choir from the Mellotron, but it is essentially relegated to the background. What the music does consist of is amazing: Great guitar work (both electric and acoustic), simplistic piano, intriguing lyrics, and a catchy chorus. After the main part of the song ends, in comes a more mainstream rock sound, something that is reminiscent of the grunge of the 1990s. That section doesn't last long however- a decidedly progressive segment enters soon thereafter, with weepy guitar played over an absorbing rhythm. The ending of this has a complex vocal arrangement that carries on as the music fades out.

"Open Car" With a basic guitar riff and a melody that copies it, this one doesn't really become interesting until the chorus, which, like "Shallow," involves much quieter instrumentation. As usual for Porcupine Tree, the acoustic guitar stands out, and the lyrics are mesmerizing, able to convey the listener to another time and place.

"The Start of Something Beautiful" Having an excellent groove in 9/4 makes this song stand out a bit from the rest. Once again, the lyrics reflect the ghostly imagery of the album. The song employs distorted vocals in the chorus, which is decidedly heavier than any other part of the song. The last part is more lovely piano and acoustic guitar work, with a fuzzy guitar solo laid over it, which gives way to a polished but short clean solo.

"Glass Arm Shattering" Beginning with a lot of static and the guitar riff that will be repeated all the way through the first four minutes, the final moments on Deadwing are sleepy ones, meaning that this is a track one could listen to just after having gone to bed.

Epignosis | 5/5 |

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