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Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.26 | 2606 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A very difficult album to both rate and categorise, this is the last studio release by Porcupine tree, a band I have fallen for in a big way, ever since the UK publication Classic Rock put Lazarus on a free DVD with the magazine.

There are so many moods in this album, it's hard to start describing them. The opener is the title track, and can be best described as dark, with heavy riffs accompanying what sounds very much like Wilson being sampled on vocals. It's not my favourite track, but, as with all I've heard from the band, I think they are incapable of making bad music. It's just that they are capable of making much better. This, to me, is somewhat rushed and not at all typical of Wilson's exceptional vocal talents at all. That said, I do enjoy the last couple of minutes when the heavy riffs die away to an almost ethereal keyboard backing Wilson in more thoughtful mode.

This leads into My Ashes, which is quite fantastic. The keyboards on the start of this and the end of the title track are almost Floydian, but when Wilson launches into the chorus, backed up by wonderfully arranged strings, you know you are in the company of genius. Very much keeping with a dark, almost mournful, tone, this is a highlight of my collection.

Anesthetize is the longest track on the album, clocking in at over 17 minutes. It's nice to hear Alex Lifeson, one of my favourite guitarists, guesting on this track. His solo is a highlight of the album. I love Harrison's drumming on this track, which certainly provide a fine backdrop to the, again, almost mournful Wilson vocals and other instruments at the start, before the track explodes into a rich, heavy scene, before quietening down again. The mood changes are incredible. Thoughtful in the first segment, heavy and fast in the second, and mellow and sad in the third. At first listen, the end segment seems repetitive, then after a few listens you learn to lose yourself in the utter beauty of it all. A great track.

Sentimental is mellow, with a quiet and thoughtful piano accompanying Wilson's vocals and a stunning guitar lead, which are quite lovely. Special mention again to Harrison for some fine drum work. I really love the end keyboard and piano mood.

Way Out of Here follows. The great Mr Fripp guests on this. It starts off very quiet and thoughtful, and again quite melancholic in its mood. Then, some two minutes in, the riffs explode, and the track evolves into one of the album's heaviest, both in terms of sound and mood. Very bleak, especially the riff about halfway through leading to a repetition of the dark chorus, before the track concludes with Fripp inspired sounds, accompanied by an incredible Colin Edwin bass piece.

Sleep Together concludes the album. Again, the mood swings are very noticeable. Starting off quietly, with more Wilson vocals that verge on the introspective, again very much sampled, the track then explodes again with heavy riffs with some excellent Barbieri keyboards. These are very much to the fore as the track concludes, possibly for a couple of minutes too long, but still effective for all of that.

Porcupine Tree are sometimes described as a Wilson vehicle. I think the man is exceptionally talented, but this album absolutely demonstrates that he has a magnificent bunch of musicians accompanying him.

At times bleak, very moody, but always very good, with some fantastic production, this is a great piece of work. On a thread in the forum tonight, I stated that, despite my roots lying in the seventies "classic" era, we should celebrate and cherish the music in progressive rock we have in this decade. This album is one such reason to cherish the development of the genre. Original and inspiring, even in its darkest moments, of which there are many, this is an excellent addition to any collection.

A very strong four stars - not quite enough to get to the perfect five, but not too far off either.

lazland | 4/5 |


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