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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.26 | 2619 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars What is it? Porcupine Tree beginning to emprise heavy metal music as well as album-level musical narratives in the form of a concept album about a serial killer. This concept album is constructed while the band is going through a peak in creativity and cohesion.

Voice (4.5 stars) ? Steven Wilson's singing is confident, hitting all the right notes and melodies and still within the technical limitations of the vocalist. As mentioned in other album reviews, we may not have the most technically proficient singer, but sometimes all a song needs is an inspired singer that fits the song's intent. The vocalist may have certain limitations, range of mood is not it ? easily fitting the various styles associated with a concept album.

Sound (5 stars) ? The band sounds very inspired as well, but with the added benefit of extremely well crafted songs. While the structure of the songs do not allow as much freedom for extended displays of musicianship, the band members use a balanced approach of complex subtle layering, diverse sound palette, and the right amount of pauses and relative silence. This, with the incredible sound engineering skills of Steven Wilson, result in a record that is not only extremely coherent and free-flowing, but also simultaneously raw and polished. I believe this is what makes the album sound so organic and timeless.

Song (5 stars) Their pop elements remain as refined as ever while their prog rock and metal characteristics are utilized in a better, more balanced fashion, maintaining reasonable song lengths and restraining themselves from unnecessary experimentation. This is a confident Porcupine Tree applying everything they've learned thus far while avoiding earlier missteps. Their ear for melody and earworms is prominent, with unforgettable hooks scattered through the disc such as the main refrain of 'Blackest Eyes' or the borderline embarrassing but tremendously catchy choruses of 'Sound of Musak'. The songs are memorable also because the music is drenched in mood. The band greatly succeeds at not only arranging these masterful set of compositions, but giving them the right amount of character to keep the listener engaged.

The character could be the cognitive dissonance in 'Blackest Eyes or the simple joys in fan-favorite 'Trains'. It could be the haunting passages of .3 or Lips of Ashes sucking you into a trance-state. There's also the effectively disturbing nature of Gravity Eyelids, Wedding Nails, Creator has a Mastertape, and album climax Strip the Soul. But you also get the gorgeous soul-crushing 'Heartattack in a Layby' or 'Collapse the Light into Earth' which are both among the best melancholia ever put on tape.

Key Tracks: Blackest Eyes, Lips of Ashes, Gravity Eyelids, .3, Heart Attack in a Layby, Collapse the Light Into Earth

Zitro | 5/5 |


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