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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.24 | 2388 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars It surprises me how this album is many heavy progressive rock lovers' favorite album by Porcupine Tree. There are no epic tracks, few progressive arrangements, and no overall theme. Nearly all of the songs have a pop structure, and aside from a few atmospheric cases, this album is really Prog Related, not heavy progressive rock. The borderline metal aspect of recent Porcupine Tree is rather apparent throughout. For the most part, the last half of the album is not as strong as the first, but the music is still highly enjoyable. I would recommend this album to everyone new to Porcupine Tree, especially if they enjoy alternative rock.

"Blackest Eyes" The introductory guitar builds into a thrashing wall of metal, which in typical Porcupine Tree fashion, gets mellow to make room for Steven Wilson's meek but distinctive vocals. The chorus has one of the catchiest melodies Porcupine Tree ever recorded.

"Trains" Acoustic guitar and nostalgic lyrics form the foundation of one of Porcupine Tree's greatest treasures. It is easily the best song on the album. From the hard-rocking verses to the banjo-led interlude, and from the acoustic guitar solo to the melancholic lyrics, this song is full of homesickness.

"Lips of Ashes" Eerie strings and an acoustic guitar playing an odd riff for a 4/4 time signature, with electric guitar in the background, create a creepy musical effect, especially with the layers of harmonious vocals. It's a hauntingly beautiful but sadly static song, and therefore one I'm likely to pass by.

"The Sound of Muzak" One of the very first Porcupine Tree songs I ever heard, I was initially convinced by this that the band I was hearing was more conventional than progressive, perhaps like latter-day Rush. Even though the verses are in a hardly noticeable 7/4 time signature, the song retains a decidedly pop structure. Like that of "Blackest Eyes," the chorus is extremely catchy. But like "Trains," it happens to be one of my favorite songs on the album. The lyrics always make me think of how a lot of young people are not exposed to more than popular music (despite how readily available other music is these days). The trendy way to listen to music is through a personal device, an mp3 player, perhaps, and people often download only certain songs rather than full albums. So not only do they lack exposure to other (arguably more interesting) artists, they forgo many of the tracks on the album of the artist they are hearing.

"Gravity Eyelids" Opening with a Mellotron's choir and a faded out drum loop, Wilson begins singing "Gravity Eyelids" with a meek and at times falsetto voice. After the first verse and chorus, the bass and the real drums enter over the loop. While, like "Lips of Ashes," I enjoy this song a great deal, it's a bit boring, even when the thrash guitars enter. Quite honestly, a new vocal melody over the heavy section would have given life support to a somewhat dull but pleasant track.

"Wedding Nails" This is a heavy metal instrumental that honestly does little for me. Like everything on this album, it isn't bad, but it's merely something I tend to pass over.

"Prodigal" The slide guitar gives this song a southern rock feel even though it sounds more like mainstream alternative.

"3" Starting with a deep bass riff, spacey sounds fade in with mellow electric guitar and drums on this otherwise straightforward song. The ambient strings layered over the top make this one sound like something that could easily belong in the soundtrack of an action movie about urban drug lords. Wilson doesn't begin singing until three minutes in, over strings and acoustic guitar. Not bad, of course, but it is bland to a degree.

"The Creator Has a Mastertape" Distorted guitar begins this one, just before a fast-paced bass riff comes in over a beat. The vocals are distorted also. Most of the music is noisy and unpleasant; it's grating, really, making this by far the weakest track on the album.

"Heartattack in a Lay By" By far the best track on the second half of the album, this one is calm and has a definitive melody, especially in the chorus. The thick Mellotron and bass sit in the background, letting the song, and the counterpoint melodies in particular, breathe.

"Strip the Soul" Just like "3," this one begins with bass and airy noises, but soon becomes more of a metal song. Even the heavy acoustic sections are aggressive. It's an okay track, but not as strong as many of the previous ones.

"Collapse the Light into Earth" For nearly six minutes, Wilson employs the same basic chord progression, hammering it out on the piano. But it isn't just the music making this one wonderful, it's the vocal work. The strings are lovely, and the only distorted guitar creeps in toward the end. The song is beautiful, and sounds like something from Coldplay.

Epignosis | 3/5 |

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