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Porcupine Tree - Deadwing CD (album) cover

DEADWING

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.08 | 1533 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Deadwing

"Deadwing" was the first Porcupine Tree album which was released after I became a fan. When it was released in 2005 I immediately bought it the day it officially was available. Funny enough only a week later I won another copy of the album, meaning I could have saved 20?, but hey it was all for a good cause, wasn't it?

"Deadwing" appears to be a concept album, i.e. "a surreal ghost story," as Steven Wilson himself has called it in the past. Too bad the CD booklet does not reveal much about the album. it states who did what and where musically seen, but most lyrics are not included, only fragments of. Then again, the artwork itself is. well. 'arty' and that's a plus!

Musically seen I've always thought that this album links back to the "Signify" era, because it's very atmospheric while still maintaining some of the more metal aspects that characterised the "In Absentia" album. Whereas on in "In Absentia" the metal sometimes required me to be in a certain mood to enjoy it (mainly the first half of "Strip the Soul" and "Wedding Nails"), here it is all well balanced and this is perhaps the first Porcupine Tree album that features elements from all their previous output, whether it's the experimentation and darkness of "On the Sunday of Life" or the vocal harmonies that trademarked "Lightbulb Sun". it's all here and that's what makes this album so damn good to listen to: it all sounds rather familiar but it still is not.

To me a good concept album has to have a good flow. That's what makes "Brave" by Marillion so good I think; you're hooked right from the start and you'll have to listen to the whole thing up to the final note of the last track. "Deadwing" is a well balanced mix of gentle quiet moments and heavier outbursts. Openingsong Deadwing starts of by setting the mood for the rest of the album with its quiet instrumentation: a series of slow keyboard melodies work as a background to audiofragments of a train station. What follows is an uptempo song with typical "Deadwing" heaviness: more alike the heavy part in the song "Russia on Ice" from the "Lightbulb Sun" album than alike "Blackest Eyes" that is, there are some exceptions though.

The album's centrepiece is the 12 minute suite Arriving somewhere (. but not here) which is a trip on itself. This constantly developing soundscape starts with typical Barbieri-esque synthesizers when Wilson and co. enter the frame. Great to hear the drums building up, first it's all only hi-heads while gradually changing to a full uptempo beat. This is also the song with both the heaviest section, i.e. the heavy metal riffing halfway through, as well as the most quiet section of the album, i.e. the part in which Mikael Äkerfeldt (OPETH) is hear playing an amazing, yet slow, guitar solo over a background that's basically a minimalist drum pattern.

Äkerfeldt is not the only guest musician on this album by the way. Alongside him is featured Adrian Belew (KING CRIMSON) on guitar. Whereas Äkerfeldt lend his (backing) vocals to the songs Deadwing, Lazarus and Arriving somewhere (. but not here and played a guitar solo as well on the latter (as I mentioned earlier on), Belew 'only' contributed two typical sounding guitar solo's to the songs Deadwing and Halo.

Some time ago when the band was still working on the album I noticed a publication somewhere stating a temporary tracklist for the album. This tracklist showed the song "Half Light" as the closing track for the album, instead of Glass Arm shattering. Those that have heard the song "Half Light" (it was included as a b-side for the "Lazarus" single) have to agree with me that it lacks the atmosphere/mood that "Glass Arm shattering" does have. I'm glad they switched the songs because with "Half Light" as the closing track I don't think the album would have had the same momentum as it has now. "Half Light" has the same energy as the song "Collapse the Light into the Earth" had on the "In Absentia" album: none that is.

Steven Wilson always stated that "Deadwing" was the product of a filmscript he wrote with a friend of his. One can only hope that this film will some day soon be filmed and released so we can stop wondering what "Deadwing" actually is about. It's been nearly 1.5 yrs after its release and I haven't gotten any further than the following regarding the concept: it includes a dead child and his death has something to do with a car crash (?????!). Oh, and I've heard Wilson state that the song Lazarus is a love song from a mother to her dead child. now that bit of information makes this sweet ballad sound a lot less sweet.

As an album I find "Deadwing" to be more enjoyable than its predecessor "In Absentia" and I hope the band will continue to expand their sound with their next album.

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |

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