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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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progkidjoel
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Porcupine Tree ? In Absentia

Review by ProgKidJoel

Porcupine Tree's "In Absentia" is considered to be the best the Tree has delivered to date; A great mix of rock, prog and space rock help to make this as memorable as it is enjoyable. This is the album which got me hooked on the fruit of the Porcupine Tree, and is one of my favourites the band has released to date. Offering listeners a deep venture into the many worlds Porcupine Tree has to offer, this one takes some time to sink in.

1. Blackest Eyes

Opening with one of Porcupine Tree's best riffs to date, this is an incrediblely solid opener for the album, and is a fan favourite. Incredible sonic quality and musicianship make this track special, and also make it a stand out. A metal intro and an alternative-rock chorus and verses, this track is nearly as interesting as it is addictive. The guitar section is easily the most impressive and innovative on this track, and supplies a solid base for the rhythmic section to work around. One of my favourite from the album, this track is nearly as horrifying as it is uplifting.

5 out of 5

2. Trains

My favourite track from this album, this is easily one of Porcupine Tree's best tracks. Also one of my all time favourite songs, and indeed, one of the best the Tree has to offer, this track in unforgettable. A flowing acoustic melody give this track a great life, and its solos are as refreshing as they are melodic. In my completely honest opinion, this track makes the album worth a purchase on its own. A fan favourite in Europe, its easy to see why one could fall in love with this song. An inspiringly beautiful lyric is what makes this track extraordinary. If you haven't heard this track, you haven't heard one of the best Porcupine Tree have to offer. Once again, the musicianship Steven Wilson shows in his guitar work on this track is amazing, specifically acoustically. The beautiful ambience of Richard Barbieri's synth work is another highlight, providing a brilliant contrast and overtone to this brilliant song.

5 out of 5 (I would give it 6 if I could)

3. Lips of Ashes

Another amazing track, this song reaches back a little farther into Porcupine Tree's psychedelic routes. Amazing acoustics lead this track, and layered vocals add another dimension of beauty to what I thought this track could bring after the amazing "Trains". Eventually leading into an amazing melancholic guitar solo, this is another highlight from the album, and is a track no-one can miss. Amazing musicianship is the obvious main attribute of "Lips Of Ashes", and it does not disappoint on this (Or any other) front. Melting into an eventual silence, this track truly will give you shivers down your spine. Another unmissable from IN ABSENTIA, I can't stress how much you need to check this track out.

5 out of 5

4. The Sound Of Muzak

A track about the death of true music and the commercialism of money-making scams, AKA 90% of recent pop music, this is another stunner on the album. Guitar work is on yet another high here, and once again, the heaviness works more than perfectly with the drum track and the ambience provided by the keyboards during the chorus, as do the once again overlaying melting vocals of Steven Wilson. This is a truly brilliant track, and it contains one of my all time favourite guitar solos. Once again, technical and artistic musicianship is on a high here. A truly iconic masterpiece, and another track with no PT fan or prog fan can miss.

5 out of 5

5. Gravity Eyelids

Once again, Porcupine Tree prove that they can still space out with the best of them! This is more than likely the track which inspired the somewhat shocking album art, and it's easy to see why. This track is obviously not a technical thriller, but artistically, this track will take you on a truly horrifying ride. Richard Barbieri shines here if he ever does, and even though through ambient sounds, this is what make the track special. Mr. Barbieri's piano work at the chorus is also truly beautiful, as are the overlapping vocals. The percussion in this track is incredibly rhythmic, providing an incredibly bass for a build-up which can be described as nothing less than epic. At around 3:45, this track takes a turn for what is even better than I thought was possible from this track. Reaching a much heavier rhythmic approach than originally expected, this track is somewhat similar to Porcupine Tree's 2005 track from Deadwing, "Arriving somewhere (But not here)". Gavin Harrison proves, perhaps for the first time, that he has some incredible chops as a rock drummer aswell as a light jazz player. Closing in the same way that it opened, it stands as one of the most solid and interesting tracks Porcupine Tree released up until that point, and provided a solid center for the album.

5 out of 5

6. Wedding Nails

My least favourite track from this album, Wedding Nails revolves around technical overture. Although proving that Porcupine Tree are excellent musicians, this instrumental is very repetitive and does little justice to either side of Porcupine Tree. Its six minute length also seems a little unnecessary, considering this is basically a repetition of the same riff. By no means terrible, the only reason I can't say this track is a standout like the five which preceded it is because it doesn't really do any justice for the abilities of Porcupine Tree. Closing in another ambient melt, this track isn't bad; its just not great.

3 out of 5

7. Prodigal

A great track in its own right, the chorus seems heavily reliant on Pink Floyd's obvious influence. Once again, the echoing vocals provide an excellent contrast to the somewhat poppy feel of this track. A great rock n' roll riff brings this track to life, and makes it highly replayable and interesting. "Rain keeps crawling down the glass; The good times never seem to last." Although only a small sample of the lyrics, its clear Steven Wilson put a lot of thought into this track, and indeed, into this utterly astonishing album. A nearly balladic rock song, this is another stand out on the album, which provides a lovely contrast to the two tracks which preceded it.

4.5 out of 5

8. .3

Another somewhat melancholic and psychedelic song, this track is really interesting. This is where Colin Edwin begins to shine on bass for IN ABSENTIA, and from here on in, he doesn't disappoint. Mr. Barbieri's amazingly ambient keyboards once again play a leading role in the harsh gravity of this track, which, if listened to directly after Prodigal as was intended by Porcupine Tree, provides yet another bleak and fascinating contrast. Eventually reaching an interesting vocal and acoustic guitar melody, this track always reminds me of "The Moon Touches Your Shoulders" from "The Sky moves Sideways". Similar to Gravity Eyelids, this track closes in the same way it began, albeit somewhat anti-climatic.

4.5 out of 5

9. The Creator Had A Mastertape

A very dark track, the musicianship is amazing on this track, particularly in the rhythmic section. Colin Edwin and Gavin Harrisson gel brilliantly for the first time here, and it provides an insane contrast to the use of stereophonics and great guitar work. The chorus is a bit? Shocking? More thrash than conventional metal or prog, the chorus is composed of incredibly distorted guitar chords, but not in a good way. Another quite boring track, this is hampered by a mass of repetition, much like Wedding Nails. Once again, this is not an outright bad track, but it is rather uninteresting compared to the other many greats on the album. The lyrics, however, are something to behold in this track; Telling a dark, shocking story whilst playing perfectly over the track.

4 out of 5

10. Heartattack In A Layby

Another excellent track, this is once again reminiscent of old-school space rock Porcupine Tree. A lot more quiet than the track that preceded it and the track that comes after it, I love this track to bits. The lyrics are once again amazing, giving us an interesting flow with the highly muddled guitar and keyboard work. Layered vocals are what making this track so amazing, especially in the outro. At around 2:35, this track changes to an incredibly beautiful layed vocal track, which is easily my favourite moment on the latter half of the album, and gives out an incredibly melancholic and pseudo-relatable feeling.

5 out of 5

11. Strip The Soul

Another somewhat repetitive track, this is by no means bad, but just does not really appeal to me as most of the other tracks on this album. Highly rhythmic vocals make this track interesting, as does the lead into the chorus. Eventually, you may grow bored of this track, although you will hear something different on nearly every listen of this song. I can't say this is a favourite, although it is quite interesting and provides another amazing contrast to the track which came before it. Eventually this track flows into about 4 guitar overlays, each one as amazing as the other, and the guitar solo is particularly interesting here. Although not the most interesting solo, it works nearly perfectly with the track and helps to add depth and replayability to what is an otherwise rather stale track.

4 out of 5

12. Collapse The Light Into Earth

A beautiful piano led track, this is one of the most perfect album ending tracks I've ever heard from any band. An amazing progression helps this track come to life, and provides something that is nothing other than f**king amazing. I can't stress the brilliance of this track; its just simply perfect. Vocals are on a high here, as is the ambient playing of Richard Barbieri. Entering into a more than perfect flow of symphonic violins, this track couldn't be better. I find it hard to express the perfection of this track; the vocals, lyrics, simplicity, complexity, context, emotion provoking ability, I don't truly understand what makes this track so amazing; it? Just is. The violins and vocals work in a perfect tandem, which is nothing other than pure emotion being thrown forward from the minds of prog's young shining stars. So brilliantly climatic, I don't know what else I can tell you about this track, other than you perhaps won't see what's so amazing about it unless listened to in order with every other track on this absolute masterpiece. Please, do yourself a favour, and here this track in surround; it will make you think differently about this band forever. Closing in the same piano riff which opened it, this is simply inspiring on a level above human comprehension.

5 out of 5 (Once again, 6 if I could)

Closing comments: This album is much better than its parts, although they are all amazing in their own right, the fact that they are compiled and have such an amazing flow. Possibly a concept album, Steven Wilson, as a believer of self-interpretation, gives very little hints to the inspiration and/or backing story to this masterpiece.

This one is unmissable; Porcupine Tree fans and new listeners alike will see the brilliance of this album, and I hope you do too!

Just buy it! 5 out of 5; Absolutely perfect. -Joel

progkidjoel | 5/5 |

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