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

FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET

Porcupine Tree

Heavy Prog


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5 stars the record), and can be compared to In absentia. here's a runthrough of all the songs:

Fear of a Blank Planet - The album starts off with the sounds of a keyboard as a 10 year old child logs on to the internet to download all the song, watch all the pornography, and waste his life at his computer, fitting the title "fear of a blank planet." The album goes through a slow section, then picks up steam with vocals similar to that of strip the soul. Finishes off with a mellow section that fits perfectly into the song. 8/10

My Ashes - Ballad. Very slow in the beginning, but becomes much more impressive as the song progresses. has a great verse, great chorus, great vocals in general, and uses strings perfectly. 9/10

Anesthetize - The best song on the album. starts very upbeat and then goes into a mid- section which is not only the best piece of music on the album, but maybe in PT history. After the mid-section, the song cools down into a mellow section that couldn't fit the song any better. 10/10

Sentimental - Another ballad with another great vocal performance. The chorus is very catchy but at the time time depressing repeating "Sullen and bored the kids stay, but in this way wish away each day," again referring to the theme of the album. The song ends with almost the same riff as there is at the end of Train off In Absentia. 8/10

Way out of Here - This is an interesting song. It picks up very slowly, and while the verses aren't too impressive, you can feel the buildup to the chorus where steven wilson sings out "way out of here." amazing songwriting on this song. probably the most balanced song on the album in terms of heaviness. it's sure to be a fan favorite come concert time... 9.5/10

Sleep Together - This song starts off with an eerie keyboard riff and vocals enter, and then drums. The product is a song that sounds like a blend of gothic metal and prog metal, except with something that neither genre usually has - GOOD VOCALS. another great use of string instruments and making the best out of a simple song. 9/10

54.5/60 -->90

5 stars

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Send comments to midnitehysteria (BETA) | Report this review (#118213)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well here it finally is, Fear of A Blank Planet.

I was able to procure a copy before the release, but I will be buying this as soon as it comes out. For those of us who saw the Arriving Somewhere Tour, you will have already heard the majority of material on the album. I was anxious to see how the live energy would translate to this recording, and I was not at all disappointed. Now for the review...

Fear Of A Blank Planet - A twist on Public Enemy's 1994 album, Fear of A Blank Planet, this track cleverly spins the title into a warning about the effects of the computer age on the youth of the world. The lyrics clearly condemn the mesmerizing effect of video games and the computers ("XBOX is like a god to me" etc.), a theme that revisits Steven's earlier apprehension about the internet (see "Every Home is Wired"). The music is decidedly deadwing-ish and gave me the impression that the rest of the album would follow suit. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't. Overall, an average track IMO.

My Ashes - Lazarus move over. This is a soaring ballad with amazing contributions from Mr. Barbieri on synths and Steven on piano that really give this song feeling. The lovely floating verses sweep into a chorus that will absolutely floor you. And just where I thought this couldn't get any better, Steven is joined by John Wesley to create an amazing harmony on the chorus, as well as a beautiful string arrangement. Perfect song.

Anesthesize - Ah, and now we reach "The Beast". Those who were fortunate enough to see this performed live at nearly 20 minutes will not be disappointed by this incarnation. The raw emotion is captured perfectly, Steven's vocals sound like someone struggling to break free from a thousand chains, "Shut up, be happy. Stop whining, please." The music dives in and out and through beautiful vocals, and then.... Meshuggah? Well apparently, Meshuggah's time signatures really rubbed off on Steven, and this new dimension catapults the song to a whole nother level. The middle section of this song is one of the most incredible sections I have ever witnessed, restrained guitars with eerie keys, and then techno-synths, and then back to "crush-mode". Gavin's drumming is impeccable, and perfectly fits the guitar here. At 9:17 we find a beautiful riff that leads into decidedly Opeth-sounding guitars. And then finally after a few more minutes of brutality, the song recedes from pounding against the shore to gently washing on the beach. A beautiful ending. I could describe every minute, but I'll leave the rest of the shifts for you to hear. This track is the greatest epic PT has ever written, and maybe their greatest song.

Sentimental - Beautiful piano to drumming that sounds like it came off of a Boards of Canada album opens this ballad. Accompanied by beautiful guitar and more synths, this song contains one of the most beautiful choruses Steven has ever written. The repeated "Sullen and bored the kids stay, but in this way wish away each day" is indescribably beautiful. As the previous reviewer stated, this track also contains some guitar near the end that sounds like it was directly lifted from "Trains", but it works well. The track ends in ambience.

Way Out Of Here - A very slow, building song courtesy of Robert Fripp's excellent soundscapes. The pensive verses evolve into a great chorus, and the song gradually gains momentum. The lyrics are quite disturbing at times, "Burn all your pictures, cut out your face. The shutters are down, and the curtains are closed, and I've covered my tracks. Disposed of the car, and I'm trying to forget even your name." Overall, a very good song that really benefits from Fripp's soundscapes, excellent drumming, and a heavy-but-not- too-heavy chorus.

Sleep Together - Well not exactly my cup of tea, but a great song none-the-less. If you're a Tool fan, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this. Heavy guitars, goods keys, decent vocals. But nothing that blew me away. Thankfully, this does end on a good note with a full orchestra playing a rather Jethro Tull sounding melody.

Well if you could sit through my entire review, bravo. I guess in short what I'm saying is that this is a brilliant album and yet another transformation for Porcupine Tree. If you don't mind the constant synths and the odd time-signatures, you will love this album. Steven's ability to write stunning choruses is obvious and he puts his talent to great use on this album. Not perfect, but as close as you are going to get. 4.9/5.

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Send comments to lightbulb_son (BETA) | Report this review (#118372)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was friday evening. In my hand small, blue box. On the cover - child's face. It's boy. In his eyes i see fear... Fear oh a Black Planet. The CD-Player starts. First sounds goes on. Title track. It sounds like track from "Deadwing" but is little better (4.0). Second track "My Ashes" - ballad with beautiful keyboards (string section) (4,5) Track number 3 - "Anesthetize" - The best song on album. Long track - 17 minutes - with fantastic drums, guitars. Starts slowly and still growths.(5,0!) Numebrs 5,6 and 7 are very good, but after "Anesthetize" i can't think, feel, hear....

And that is new album of Porcupine Tree. It is very good album. I think, is the best album since "The Sky Moves Sideways" age.

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Send comments to kevlar (BETA) | Report this review (#118456)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There is music. And there's music with substance. Music which, from feeling to feeling, touches our soul, even for a glimpse. Music to be loved. Art. How many artists can we say, 18 years later, to have sensibility to build, one after another, true odes to Human Feeling. And so, this is no immediate music. This can only fully be understood by a focused commitment, a strong and willed desire to understand, to seek for the inconspicuous beauty on it. The album is one of the most cohesive and intense albums Porcupine Tree have ever made, flowing, from piece to piece, to a glorious 50 minute journey of self consciousness and liberation.

10 year-old kid. "The pills that I've been taking confuse me". Pills for emptiness. Futility. Ephemeral. All the drugs that seem to take out the humanity in us, which make we forgot that the most beautiful is not what is seen, but indeed what it is felt. And in this way the title track flows, an energetic and blasting convincing rock opener, resembling the mood of "Deadwing" track: anger-climax-peace, with some psychedelic piano paintings in the middle. But the album then evolutes to a different kind of feeling, different from the overall nostalgic, sad, quasi-romantic feeling of its predecessor. Strings put "My Ashes", a sweet quasi-acoustic layered track, to an ethereal level, elevated by the kid's comprehension that part of him is empty "And my ashes find a way beyond the fog, and return to save the child that I forgot...". And then the album flows into its art peak. All the subtle feeling, all the utterly blistering sonic rock power blended in one song. Anesthetize. Memorable refrains, impressive riffs (with some touch of post-metal), disturbing soundscapes, splendid cascades of celestial backing vocals and even ethereal zen moments, all together fueled by some precious moments like "You were stolen... there's black across the Sun...". It ends. Terrifying, only 17 minutes? Next one, Sentimental. Sentimental is the moment to cry. All the emotions evoked until now explode in the piano-laid dreamy guitar tone of the track: "I've wasted my life... I'm hurting inside...". No excesses or dramas, just feeling as the way it is. Time to recover is not encountered on "Way Out of Here", another moving track, with some anger explosions, leaded by its disturbing soundscapes, marking bass lines and with the delicious original guitar solo. And then it comes the last track, "Sleep Together". Class. The band had reinvented themselves again. They did what it seemed impossible. To fuse perfectly the most bizarre and psychic electronic industrial a la Nine Inch Nails with the most majestic symphonic arrangements. The album ends in a cathartic explosion of strings. We're literally disintegrated in particles, voyaging through the cosmos infinitude. "Let's leave forever". Leave forever. Forever from this, many times, inhuman place we call Earth.

Then the album ends. We're shocked. We want more. And then we put the album from the beginning. Feel, cry and leave again. Like we were in an intense and beautiful dream. The dream of escaping from this blank society, in which we assist growingly to the terrifying indifference of pointing a gun, of causing suffering, of killing. Lives guided by destruction.

This is truly one 50-minutes piece track, divided in 6 movements. These movements seem to obey almost perfectly to the Freud's sequence of the human behavior after a shock: denial/rage -> consciousness -> depression -> motivation to change -> liberation. This understanding transform the album perception in an disturbing and dramatic voyage to a stereotyped kid's ego.

And so, this album was made to represent the manifest against the emptiness that plagues humanity. Steven Wilson has the power to touch people. Every single album of the band has its own feeling. I still can't resume what I feel in this album. But it feels a lot... Masterpiece.

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#118589)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What did we have here? New Porcupine Tree album... First of all, recent PT discography gives all fans great albums, such as Lightbulb Sun, In Absentia, Deadwing. The band is ever in progress, and every album is a step forward. However, Fear Of A Blank Planet. Amazing concept and lyrics, I've to say. They touch a very actual and interesting problem. But music... we start with the Title Track. It sounds like a Deadwing track with cold and impressive riffs. Not the best in the album, i think. My Ashes is an amazing ballad. It reminds me something from In Absentia. Wonderful and emotive lyrics, too. Anesthetize. It's simply one of best tracks i've ever listened. It's diveded in 3 chapter, a initial "almost-Toolish" part, an instrumental and very powerful central part, which gives ourselves great impressions about Gavin Harrison's drum (probably one of best drummer nowadays), and some wonderful riffs and a final, slow, brilliant final part. 17 min? It's not so much. Want more, more and more... Sentimental is another amazing track, maybe the most emotive in the whole album. In his final part we can listen to a Trains recall. Great emotions. Way Out Of Here, wonderful track again. An Heavy rock song, very emotive and powerful. Great solo by Fripp. Sleep Together, a good ending. Not amazing such as the others, but great stuff too, which accompaines us to the end, in a very good way. Impressive. So. By now it's probably the best album out in 2007. And Porcupine Tree, one of the best bands of all time. Thank you, for all.

9/10 = 5 stars

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Send comments to 3run3r (BETA) | Report this review (#118590)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not as good as my prefered Signify and The Sky Moves.....,in the quality of In Absentia and better than Deadwing.

No so much metal riffs here( Tool or Opeth like)

This one is more spacy and symphonic than Deadwing or In Absentia.

Very nice songs,compositions and very good sound.

I hope they will stay in this kind of music(more space and symphonic rock) and songs and abandon their prior-a little bit Tool Opeth- style. (D'ont misunderstand me Tool and Opeth are awesome but when I hear PT I expect somethinfg different.)

4 stars.

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Send comments to robbob (BETA) | Report this review (#118596)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This highly anticipated album from an astounding band of growing popularity sees its release today. I've had the album for two days now, and must have given it what must be close to ten listens.

What best describes this album is a combination of heavy progressive rock and beautiful, lush compositions and melodies. It is essentially a 51 minute piece split into six parts, but each track is different in its own way. The concept is the modern day's technology influencing children to the extent that they become too distracted to become productive enough and contribute to society, but a very sympathetic view is also shown from the view of a ten year old child. Issues covered are terminal boredom, video games and prescription drugs.

Definetely the most impressive track is Anesthetize, the heaviest track on the album which has many movements and complex layering. It is the most obviously inspired track on the album, with influences drawn from Meshuggah, Tool and (perhaps stretching it) Opeth show through. Other very good heavy tracks are "Way Out Of Here" and "Fear Of A Blank Planet".

And then there's the very sad but mellow "My Ashes" and "Sentimental" which are probably my favourite tracks after Anesthetize as the soundscapes are simply refreshing (and eternally depressing to the point of sounding like PT's interpretation of Radiohead.)

An essential purpose, and the first great album of 2007.

9/10 = 5 stars...

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Send comments to ProgStage (BETA) | Report this review (#118601)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Incredible album. Just got it yesterday and have already listened to it five or six times.

Have to say that I'm not a Porcupine Tree fan and this is particulary true for their later works although I really enjoyed "The Sky Moves Sideways". So what do we have here?

1. Fantastic sound production. If you play it loud (I use headphones) it sounds ethereal. Rhythm section sounds great - tight and intensive. Guitars, keyboards and effects - as usual (thank you, Mr. Wilson)

2. Great songwriting. Album highlights - title track, My Ashes (simply beautiful), Anesthetize - cannot find words to describe how great this track is, you have to listen to it by yourself, Sleep Together ends an album in a great way with orchestral type of outro. Let downs: none

3. Compared to "In Abesntia" which I thought was a bit long and inconsistent, this album is of an exact right length and does not bore at all. You even left to ask for more when it ends.

4. Nice guest appearances from Lifeson and Fripp. Lifeson solo is very impressive

In overall, a great album. Even if you did not like Porcupine Tree before, I really suggest you to grab this one. Five stars.

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Send comments to dima_olkov (BETA) | Report this review (#118622)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A bit darker than past releases with some twisted metal riffs here and there. Yet the recognisable elements of PT’s music are intact. We have a bit of everything in here. The title track sounds as an decent outtake form “Dedwing”. “My Ashes” and „Sentimental” are two typical mellow songs with memorable melodies (especially the latter with its catchy guitar part). “Way Out Here” heavy textured and has an upbeat chorus that will make the crowd jumping on concerts. “Sleep Together” is excellent with its industrial-like keyboard work and strings at the end. There is also a 17minute track that Wilson used to hate so. My only complaints are about Steven Wilson’s singing: he uses his high pitched vocals more often than he should. Lyrics are also quite obnoxious at times. Anesthetize sounds like compilation of (very good nonetheless) underdeveloped tracks, rather than one composition. And the guests’ performances are sadly forgettable, bringing very little to the music.

(These are actually my personal complaints and I’m sure most fans will scratch their heads asking “what the hell is he whining about?”. Actually, if you’re a fan already, little chances are you will not like “Fear of a Blank Planet”. Newcomers won’t be scared off neither.)

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Send comments to silentman (BETA) | Report this review (#118855)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars YES!!! Here we go:

1. Fear Of A Blank Planet: Opens like someone joining internet. Here we find heavy guitars, processed voice, keyboard layers catchy choruses. The drumming is superb.

2. My Ashes: This is a mellow track starting with keyboard and acoustic guitar, then voice enters with piano, later into the song the drum appears. Nice strings arrangements here. Beautiful track.

3. Anesthetize: Ok I'll try to describe it. Begins with "jungle drumming", xilophone, soft guitars with effect, tenuous keyboard layers and sad voice which creates a genly dark atmosphere. This becomes darker by adding distortion. At 4:06 a dark but elegant guitar solo enters courtesy of Alex Lifeson wich is carried perfectly by the drums, the keyboards and bass adding spacey feel. While the guitar fades out, begins an electronic beat and the rythm guitars plays a tricky riff between left and right channel (well done Mr. Wilson) with casual effects here and there to give atmosphere. Then a drum fill interrupt all and heavy guitars enters interplaying with drum perfectly. This is interrupted by a very Opeth-esque guitar accompannied still by the electronic beat (which has been gained strenght). When opeth-esque guitar leaves, voice enters again over this electronic beat. This is interrupted by a drum fill that leads us to a addictive chorus: All the apathy from the pills in me... with high processed voice. This section ie repeated once. A Tool-ish section apeears. At 10:00 we are transported to heaven by a series of ethereal keyboard leads acompannied by beautiful drumming. The Tool-ish section again. And it is interrupted by total heavy chaos (Reminiscent of Messhuggah? Maybe). At 11:26 again the addictive chorus and the song turns into a spacey song a la Pink Floyd with echoing voice accompanied by mellow guitars and keyboard. This repeat througout the end... Phew really hard to describe!!! This song is really a gem and is only 17:42 minutes long. Definitively a journey. Listen without prejudice!!! Hearing is believing!!!

4. Sentimental: This is a beautiful ballad with piano and drums, very spacey later accompanied by acoustic guitar the song ends just like the beginning with voice and grand piano.

5. Way Out Of Here: This begins with mysterious ambient enhanced by Robert Fripp's soundscapes, again we find processed voice and very well placed layers of keyboards. A nice guitar solo on this one. Later there is a nice interplay between guitars which get crossed each. There is a chaotic heavy section too. The song fades out with some nice percussion. Very nice song

6. Sleep Together: This is a strange song which begins very electronic and many effects. Towards the end of the song enters a powerful strings arrangement.

Verdict: This album is a compilation of good songs. Steven Wilson demonstrates once again that he is the best sound engineer at the moment and one of the best producers out there. The drumming on this record is awesome, Gavin Harrison is a really talented drummer. Richard Barbieri is really effective on the keys. Anesthetize is an absolut masterpiece. The guests do an awesome job.

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Send comments to EliasMisael (BETA) | Report this review (#119127)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since becoming acquainted with Pocupine Tree a couple of years ago (yes.....late again on yet *another* outstanding band......I really need to get around a bit more), I've heard things from Steven Wilson the likes of which - in terms of sonic uniqueness and pure musicianship - transcend the genre of what is loosely called "progressive rock" into an artform that no longer mimics its forefathers of the 70's. The progression of the recordings by the band has taken listeners through various romps through spacey drug trips full of instrumental bliss, pop-ish tunes with hooks like dull scissors under a trenchcoat, and finally to a seeming merge of melody and metal.

I prefer to look at "Fear of a Blank Planet" in terms of the body of work from Porcupine Tree as a whole, since each release has shown a clear mutation/growth of the band to what it became at last with Deadwing. Everyone has their favorite CD's by Porcupine Tree, and I can say I have mine: "Deadwing", "Signify", "In Absentia", "The Sky Moves Sideways", "Lightbulb Sun", "Stupid Dream" and "Up the Down Stair" all hold special places with me. With "Fear...", it seems Mr. Wilson has come full-circle in his musical development and appears to be swirling in mixes of what has worked best over the last 10+ years.

This does not necessarily create the most desirable end-result though. While this CD does not lack in superb musicianship, there *are* times that the musicianship is there for its own sake and not the songs. Sometimes, but (fortunately) rarely. Something in the end result that is this CD is missing in large chunks that was present to varying degrees in *all* PT releases: a certain "charm" or "quaintness". There are many moments, though, when this "charm" is re-captured; but there are too many times the "charm" ("beauty"?) is lost (seemingly), and I hope that effect is intentional. I have every reason and faith to believe that it IS intentional as a by-product of this: what I view now as a "transitional" release.

I feel the start of the CD starts as kind of a rant, and doesn't let up. The title track can both stimulate and annoy. On too many listens it has done the latter, but I still shoulder on through it and enjoy what is there to enjoy. Lyrically, the song is abyssmal. When WILL Steven get a cheerful thought back into his head again? WHY is the world seemingly just "so dark"? Does it get any better, or is it stuck this way? There is a pervading sense of hopelessness and gloom without even a moment of sardonicism or even a wordplay to make you go "Ohhhh, I get it! That's a clever metaphor."

Nonetheless, this is not intended to be a negative review. Many will say I am looking too microscopically that which needs to be taken a step back from (and I have tried that, too) to be more fully appreciated. Okay. I appreciate what they did in songs like "My Ashes", "Anesthetize" (which I will not hesitate to say is one of the CD's true gems), "Sentimental" and "Way Out of Here". There is enough to grab the listener to truly appreciate that certain other things, umm, "lacking" are made up for:

The "tribal" sounding drums early on in "Anesthetize" are mesmerizing. Wilson's vocals on "Way Out of Here" are beautiful and plaintive (even if the lyrical content is NOT). Some passages are kept simple, and this STILL WORKS....and is one of PT's endearing charms. This is what made Deadwing an ultimate winner, In Absentia more acccessible than previous releases, and Signify kept the listener more on their cerebral toes.

Compared to most bands, this album is a gem, if not completely unattainable in stature. However, Porcupine Tree have scaled the Summit in the past, and somehow on this one have fallen short. But still - for most other bands - this level would be a milestone.

Glints of pure brilliance, yes, but still there are moments when the sonic effect or the lyrical delivery are not quite up to PT standards from where I see them, but that's still ok. After all, the Beatles made only one Abbey Road, White Album, and Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This band already has those (I dare to blaspheme to some), but this one doesn't quite scale the Summit. They'll get it next time, I'm sure. It will still be in constant rotation, but not wth the same grip as the aformentioned others.

Oeverall, still worthy of 4 stars, but it could have been better. Get a little happy, Steve! Life IS worth living......and not a dirge for all of us.

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Send comments to beebs (BETA) | Report this review (#119142)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Τhis album does not exist. Its that good. With this album Porcupine Tree becomes a serious candidate for the unofficial title of "the best band in the world". In Anesthetize they offer us a 17-minute eargasm and they simply erase Tool from the map (probably exaggerating but i really dont care). To put it otherwise, Tool would wish to have written this song for their "10000 days" album. Fear of the Blank Planet has everything you expect from modern Porcupine Tree in the perfect level. In their "metallic spots" they are more metal than ever, in their melodic ones we have some of the most dreamy and inspired melodies from them, they are also spacey, they are symphonic, they are everything. Album of the year till now and a true masterpiece..

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Send comments to surrounded23 (BETA) | Report this review (#119159)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars First of all I cant understand how people can give this masterpiece status after a few days of its release. For me a masterpiece album is something thats not discovered within days of the release, it takes time to determine if its a masterpiece or not.

Fear of a Blank Planet is the ninth studio album by Porcupine Tree. The album title is based on Public Enemys "Fear of a black planet" and its a concept album about the aphaty in todays society, especially among the youth. Tv and computer games suck up more and more of their time. In other words, its a concept album about us "amusing ourselves to death" culture

On this release PT is a little bit more mellow out than the previous album and they dont have as many riffs an hard parts, but there is some. Im glad that the album is mostly atmospheric and calm.

The title track sucks us right in with a rocking groove that remind me of Deadwing and my first thought was, here we go again.....The next tracks tells me however that this is not Deadwing II. Anesthetize is the albums best track and its a whopping 17 min epic, that starts very quiet and beautiful and moves on to Tool/Opeth-like riff-o-rama with impressive drumming from Gavin Harrison and closes in a way Pink Flody would envy (think echoes). Sentimental is the most beautiful track on the album and reminds me of Trains from In Absentia, but its not so radio friendly as Trains.

"How can I be sure I'm here? The pills that I've been taking confuse me".

The production is lush, rich, clear, dynamic. As one can expect of an PT release. The band is largely covering familiar territory here but it adds something here and tweaks something there. Their best release so far!

When the album ends I want more.....

I would recommend this album to everyone who like good melodic rock music with some progressive twist to it. If your a fan of previous PT, you will like this album.

A 4 star album, but far from a masterpiece....

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Send comments to Kid.A (BETA) | Report this review (#119253)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very good album but not as good as In Absentia and Deadwing, a little darker as said before. Best song on the album are imo: Fear Of A Blank Planet, Anesthetize and Sleep Together. If you are fan, just buy, if you've never heard of them, you can aslo buy it, but I still recommende "In Absentia" first to get to know them. So not a masterpiece but definitely an Excellent addition to your prog collection

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Send comments to Winand007 (BETA) | Report this review (#119421)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I hate Porcupine Tree. Or should I say 'I hated Porcupine Tree until now'. I could never understand why their previous albums are so much anticipated. I cant't listen to In absentia, Deadwing or Signify. They bore me to death. But Fear of a blank planet is different. I must admit that it took me over from the first listening. The music is quite heavy, but not like Dream Theater, where all is about making as much noise as possible. And first of all this is very moody album. It's dark and I like it a lot. Also the orchestral parts (or how to call them) work great with the band's music. There are some nice solos and very good changes of tempo so it isn't boring at all. I waited for the new Rush album and it's a disappointment. I waited for new Marillion album and I'm disappointed even more. I didn't wait for Fear Of A Blank Planet and it's great. What an irony.

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Send comments to Crowley (BETA) | Report this review (#119485)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I must say first, I really didn't like In Absentia. When Deadwing came out, Wilson brought back some prog élements which pleased me but still wasn't as good as Signify or The Sky Moves Sideways, it was missing something. With this new album, looks like Steven found out what was missing.

The title track reminds me of the stuff we find on Deadwing but with the new album touch. Heavy riffs, catchy chorus, reminds me a bit of Deadwing title track. Definitely a good starter. Then comes My Ashes that reminds a bit of The Sky Moves Sideways. I really like the strings part. Anesthetize is the ultimate prog piece of the album and of Steven's entire career. This is the best song of PT career and I mean it. It has everything, mellow, heaviness, prog at times, catchy at others. PERFECT!

The second part of the album starts with Sentimental which is like the Trains of FOABP. As some of you noted, it has part that is the same. Good ballad. Way out Of Here is my second favorite song. Excellent song mixing older stuff with the newer. I really like Steven bringing back some psychedelic/electro stuff in his music. Then the closer Sleep Together which reminds of the Stupid Dream/Lightbulb Sun era. Excellent song. I enjoy the symphonic end. A Perfect finis for a nearly perfect album.

Steven brought back some elements and I love it, maybe he doesnt have the pressure from the record company anymore. This is by far the best album since Signify came out over 10 years ago. THIS IS ESSENTIAL!

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Send comments to vene777 (BETA) | Report this review (#119492)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's safe to say this is the most anticipated album of the year, and will probably remain that way. Just released in Canada, bought from iTunes this morning, so here we are! And darn, if it isn't really the heaviest and lightest PT album of all time, as some have said. The metal riffs on this album are even more metal than those on Deadwing, but are much better integrated into the tunes, as they were on some of the earlier albums, and the spaciness is still very much evident. It also really feels like a band album, as Gavin Harrision and Richard Barbieri perform wonderfully (note the extensive use of mellotron-like and string- synth textures. Tasty!) No "Shallow" here, thank god. Wilson has returned to some of the "Floydian" (note the "-ian". There's no Floyd cloning here) textures of yore. The long track "Anesthetize" does indeed go through some convolutions, going from mellow to heavy to an ethereal finish. Nice to hear Lifeson's usual great taste on his solo. The Beatles by way of Marillion "Sentimental" is another highlight, a nifty little ballad, as is another morose ballad, "My Ashes". Overall, this album may seem like more of the same from Wilson, but the various strands of PT's sound (metal, ambient, prog, dream pop) are pulled together better than ever on this record. The lyrics work much better for me than many of SW's more personal lyrics of the past, although I must admit that I am a sucker for a topical concept album. One more note- I had feared that "Deadwing" seemed to cater too much to the new rock market, but if Wilson was really concerned about appealing to the teens of today, I doubt he'd have written a concept album analyzing their behaviour and their future, an exercise that many kids would probably have considered patronizing. I'm a lot older though, so I dig it! Not quite a masterpiece, but definitely on a par or perhaps even better than In Absentia, Lightbulb Sun and Stupid Dream....4.4 stars!

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#119546)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm sure the dogpile is only beginning. I've given this album only two listens from start to finish. Yes, it is fresh, perhaps still too fresh for a review based on the music standing the passage of time and repeated listens, but doggone, I was hooked from the get go and am deeply, deeply impressed. This is golden in all regards. There isn't one second misplaced; no phrases botched in any fashion. Even the timing of the release is well placed, given the state of the world, its blankness, its pain and its need for healing.

Others have quickly (and accurately) assessed the music quite well. I fear I'm only capable of repeating them. For me this is a masterwork because its not only about how it strikes my ears or what meaningful statement it makes; its about the brilliance of the composition, as it is from the smallest phrasing, all the way to how it hangs together as a 21st Century prog-opera/symphony. If I had only one suggestion, a minor one indeed, it would have been to add a couple of guest back-up vocalists (maybe even female) to subtly broaden, through harmonies, the vocals, which are, already, on the edge of superb, just as they are.

I really love the "detuned guitar" effect used at about 6:30 into the song Anesthetize. I suspect this effect is done with a severe compression of the tremolo arm. But it is effective! The iTunes memory overload "tap-tap-tap" effect at about 12:12 in the same song made me stop and start iTunes a few times before I realized it was in the recording! Ha ha. Very funny Steve! You got me!

Now the U.S. release on Atlantic leaves a couple things to be desired. Atlantic is celebrating their 60th anniversary, and they've chosen to print the CD disk label with the same green & orange scheme I remember from the labels of my earliest Led Zepp vinyl records from the early 70's. Not a problem, per se, but a concept album by a premier group deserves a CD label design that is integrated with the whole album. Also the quality of the paper for the CD booklet is pure junk. It should have been printed on gloss instead of a coarse matte paper. Maybe the DVD edition is a step up, I don't have that yet.

Despite minor gripes with the packaging, I still go with a full five stars. This is a musical masterpiece from artistic concept to consumer brain-reception. If some listeners don't quite "get it," then there has to be a few synapses that have simply failed to make their connection. Put it on again, and try it from start to finish. At some point, this recording will speak to you, once you've broken free of your blank brain. I hope I can get to a US PT concert next month and watch them perform this live. Thanks boys. This was a home run. A full fiver.

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Send comments to macpurity (BETA) | Report this review (#119636)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can be said about this album? I can't think of any words that are not "Amazing", "Brilliant" or "Mind-Blowing". This is a must buy for anyone who calls themselves a music fan. Title track "Fear of a Blank Planet" is amazing. "My Ashes" is soft but also beautiful.

Then we come to "Anesthetize". This track is unbelievably good. I first heard this as a rough demo when PT played it live in Glasgow last year. Since hearing it on the album I have not been able to stop listening to it. The song begins at a slow tempo but it is hauntingly beautiful. Then there is the lead up to the section I refer to as "The Beast". This is the heaviest piece of music you will hear off of the album, complemented by a guest appearance by Alex Lifeson of Rush who plays a solo before the heaviness really starts. Then you are swept away by the bleak lyrics and up-lifted by the catchy-as-hell chorus. The ending section slows right back down and meanders for the last few minutes.

"Sentimental" is another slow song, with the guitar part at the end of the song sounding suspiciously like "Trains" from the album "In Absentia". Nonetheless, it is an uplifting, brilliant track. "Way out Here" and "Sleep together" end the album nicely, with the first being melodic and well written and the latter being bleak but memorable.

Why buy? It is a brilliant album, and I will re-iterate that is a mandatory purchase. And of course, it is well worth it just to hear Anesthetize alone.

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Send comments to Open-Mind (BETA) | Report this review (#119682)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Oh dear will anyone talk to me again when I say I find this - probably the most eagerly awaited (prog) release of the year so far - something of a disappointment?

I really enjoyed "Deadwing" and I love "Sky Moves Sideways" and the way Steve Wilson managed to move the band on from one style to another, yet still retain a distinctive sound. I think I expected another quantum leap here, but instead we get a good, highly organised, sometimes innovative album, but not one that really scales new heights or sets the pulse racing.

The album comprises six tracks, running in at around 50 minutes. It kicks off with the title track which is the weakest song here, musically and lyrically. Even after numerous listens I'm struggling to see why this track was allowed on the album. I doff my hat to Mr Wilson's numerous talents, but sometimes his lyrics let him down, and here frankly, they're abysmal, about the boring life of a slightly disturbed teenager. "A finger on the switch, my mother is a bitch.". C'mon Steve you can do better than that...I hope! "My Ashes" is better but we're still ambling along at sub-Deadwing standard here. Next though is the intended centrepiece of the album - "Anesthetize", clocking in at over 17 minutes, alternating between vocal and instrumental sections. Alex Lifeson contributes solo guitar (and very fine it is too!) Special note to Gavin Harrison for some great drumming on this track. As with all good music it benefits from repeated listening; it is probably the most ambitious track here, but still it doesn't linger in the memory like "The Sky Moves Sideways". Next up are the best two tracks on the album - "Sentimental" with an Edge like guitar riff running through it, and "Way Out of Here" which benefits from the texture given it by Fripp's "soundscapes". It reminded me in part of parts of TMV's "De-Loused" album. Finally a track about sex, "Sleep Together", conventional, solid rock and roll that left me with the feeling, er.. is that it?

Perhaps I expected too much, but compared to Deadwing, this is a disappointment.

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | Report this review (#119685)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I simply can't stop listening to this masterpiece! I HAVE BECOME ADDICTED TO IT! The first track is such an introduction of which is the concept of the whole opus, all has been said yet by other reviewers about it so I'm not going to focus in the concept but in the music. I'm only going to say they have just matched what is necessary for people to hear and feel in this times, the bloody reality of a generation in blank, and ONLY art can transmit this by the most direct and impressive way. I think this is a great move from PT in all possible ways, from the compositions, to the production and the performance of the four musicians. Let's see...

"Fear of a Blank Planet" the title track contains the intensity and power able to make you stand up and begin to respect the album inmediately (and the band if it's the first time you hear 'em). It's a combination of power chords with symphonic with 70's Led Zeppelin, so when the chorus says 'bipolar disorder, can't deal with the boredom' it sounds really felt, it seems to really came from depressing despairation and "finally breakdown" (which is a trademark in the structure of many compositions of SW), I really love the final passage of this song!! (9/10)

"My Ashes" is the still track of the album, much melancholy here. Maybe this song have some roots in 'new age' music, it's another proof of the width of the musical horizons of this guys. You will quickly note Richard Barbieri co-wrote this one with SW. Short and effective track, and he really did a really good job here. A kind of "relax and prepare yourself for what is going to come at next". (8/10)

"Anesthetize" is the highlight of the album though it starts from depressing. But when you're drowning in it, it becomes dark and mystic and Alex Lifeson solo arrives to end with the first phase of this 17:42 masterpiece. I found some Meshuggah influences in the riff that follows, but it has an amazing back atmosphere here and there, which again brings the band's trademark style to something really modern and actual. The next phase and you hear SW spreading "The dust in my soul makes me feel the weight in my legs" and finally "I'm totally bored but I can't switch off", then comes the hook part of the track, the chorus "Only apathy from the pills in me. It's all in me, all in you", it's really f***ing catching and maybe you could keep on repeating this choruses in your mind for at least one and a half hour after, even not intentionally. A really catching track in all senses. It explodes near to the ending with superb mind-blowing extreme riffs, some of the most heavy ones ever heard on a PT song. And at last all returns to stillness, and ends with emotion, obvously this WAS intentional indeed, this is the perfect climate to join the next track. (10/10)

"Sentimental" not much to say about this song, the song speaks for itself. The emotive moment of the album. Quite simply one of the most emotive song I've ever heard in my life. Perfect! It could be a single despite the fact the band decide to not include potential singles in this record. The ending part reminds of the song "Trains" from 'In Absentia' (10/10)

"Way Out Of Here" is another highlight. Along with "Anesthetize" this is my fav track. It just starts growing and growing and when you feel it's about to explode it really does with a catchy chorus that says "Way out of here. Fade out, vanish!", and of course, that's the overall sense that the main character (a 10 years old kid) bears at this point as the story unfolds. It also has some very strong and heavy moments, one of the heaviest spots of the album. And it ends with a very dark passage, what I think is part of the Robert Fripp collaboration and influence here, very interesting. (10/10)

"Sleep Together" is the final escape of this kid. "All my files erased" he says. A break-up with the tipical mellow ending of the previous records by the fact this is a really dark piece. It contains some of the best string arrangements ever written by SW. Gavin Harrison, who is really more present than ever in the whole album, does the f***ing great drumming here with an unique style he has developed trough all his career and now it's having an astonishing aspect. I really love this song 'cause this is not a usual PT song, this is for my taste a different and renewed PT. I guess it has an "industrial" feeling at some moments. The final of the song is really ectasy, I can't hear it without turning the volume loud, it's something that I can't avoid. QUITE PERFECT ENDING for this immortal masterpiece. (10/10)

As a liong time fan it MUST recommend you to buy this. For long time fans as for newcomers. DON'T WAIT, GO BUY THIS! Even if you want to enhance the experience you should buy the Special Edition that comes in digipack and a CD with 5.1 DTS mix (Surround Sound) and a 40 page booklet.

Welcome to the Blank Planet!

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Send comments to porcupine_boy (BETA) | Report this review (#119687)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.2 stars

The highly anticipated album from Porcupine Tree had not disappointed the music world and Wilson's fan base, resulting in Porcupine Tree's first step toward fame and success (album sales were surprisingly good). According to Wilson, this is the heaviest Porcupine Tree album so far, which tended to cause some concern as he is friends with Opeth's mastermind. While I agree that some sections are heavier than anything they've done, this is also perhaps their softest album in the same sense, with passages in most songs being very mellow and tranquil.

This album deals with the troubled youth in today's world. While the lyrics say that today's technology is a cause of teenage breakdowns, "Xbox is a God to me, My finger on the switch, my mother is a bitch ... " this is not necessarily an album that merely attacks technology, just the lifestyle that these kids choose to take. In my opinion, the topic is very interesting and its lyrics help make the music moody and very emotional. It is an album focusing on a single concept, but don't expect the "50 minute long song" it was claimed to be. All songs stand on their own and rarely have musical references between them.

Fear of a Blank Planet is Porcupine Tree's most sophisticated album yet. The melodies tend to be more accessible and memorable than the typical prog band though, and are as good as they've always been in the past. As done in the past, Steven uses his clean vocals and his trademark processed ones which have a distant sound to it. The bass guitar playing is professional, though it doesn't require much attention as it doesn't have the neat bass lines that were all over their "Stupid Dream" album. The guitar performance is overall excellent, having very heavy metal riffs, Deadwing style riffing, gorgeous acoustic passages, and a solo here and there, one from the guitar player of Rush. The keyboards are mainly on the background as always, and are essential in creating the atmospheres that make Porcupine Tree's music so pleasant to listen to. Finally, the drummer possibly has outdone himself here, especially in his tribal rhythms of the introduction of the long song.

All songs are at least good. The opener and title track opens in a similar manner to the band's previous studio album. It begins with an aggressive acoustic riff and the music builds into a very entertaining fast-paced rocker with desperate sounding vocals from Wilson and very catchy choruses. Later, the music changes its pace and becomes acoustic, giving way to "My Ashes", a symphonic ballad with pleasant melodies. After the lengthy song (Described in the next paragraph) finishes, the song that stirs my emotion the most, "Sentimental", is next. It has odd-time piano playing, gorgeous choruses, excellent melodies, and perfect subdued instrumentation. It is their best short song since In Absentia, and talking about that album, there is a musical reference to Trains near the end. "Way out of Here" features creepy soundscapes from Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and very depressing atmospheres, with lyrics such as "I can't take the starting, the symphathy, and I hate the questions: 'How do you feel, How is it going at school ...'" The choruses are brilliant, they change the slow song into a very fast and loud section with the vocals sounding very distant. The rest is a combination of the soft, the heavy and the desperate. Finally, Sleep Together finishes the album with a very electronic/industrial feel, driven by a synthesizer loop and gloomy musical arrangements that ends with a deep emotional climax with an orchestra or mellotron (can't tell) solo.

Anesthetize is the centerpiece of the album, being nicknamed "The Beast" due to its intensity and length. It opens with tribal drums and a very spacey atmosphere, which have one of the most chilling vocal harmonies in the choruses. The second chorus is even more effecting, using a distorted 'static' effect that gives me the chills. Afterwards, Lifeson plays a tasteful guitar solo that leads way to a more industrial rock with a guitar riff that sounds like a machine going through your speakers. After that, the music turns heavy and vocals resume. The choruses in this section are very poppy. Later, the music have tension and keep building up in odd-time signature rhythms until it explodes into a musical chaos that is one of the loudest and heaviest things I have ever heard in prog. After that, the chorus plays again and fools you into thinking the chaos will resume but instead the following five music are some of the softest sections of music the band has ever done. It sounds dreamy and focuses on vocal harmonies.

The album is not without its flaws however. I find that the title track takes a while to get started, and there is a guitar tone used on the heavy riffs that just don't sound good at all (present in Anesthetize and Way out of Here). Also, I find Way Out of Here a bit directionless in the second half, though the great music redeems that flaw a bit.

1. Fear of a Blank Planet (A-)

2. My Ashes (C+)

3. Anesthetize (A)

4. Sentimental (A+)

5. Way Out of Here (B+)

6. Sleep Together (A-)

Recommended for everyone except people who don't enjoy Porcupine Tree's music. I doubt this album will change your mind as it generally sounds like a Porcupine Tree record.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#119733)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Not another Fear of a Blank Planet review, oh no! Afraid so.

Not much I can add to what's already been said. I had the deluxe edition with audio DVD on order, but when I saw it hadn't shipped on the U.S. release date, I cancelled and went to the local record/electronics store. I got the last copy on the shelves. I was hoping to get Marillion's new one, Somewhere Else, but they didn't have any, or any Marillion at all for that matter, so I'll be getting it somewhere else. I'm afraid this one's going to overshadow it anyway so it's probably a good thing I had to put in a mail order. This one does pair up nicely with the new Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero, that came out the week before. They even have similar color schemes for the covers.

There's no groundbreaking music here, but it's basic Porcupine Tree, and therefore quite good. I've got most of their studio releases except for Lightbulb Sun (hope to see a remaster soon), since I didn't discover PT until late '04, and like everything in the catalog, even the sometimes maligned On the Sunday of Life. Fans will hear a lot of musical elements they've heard before. Thematically the lyrics are similar to a lot of Deadwing's. The opening song, Fear of a Blank Planet, is very similar to Deadwing's opener, starting out like gangbusters. You have the occasional heavy metal gunk gunk gunk guitar, but it's certainly not overdone and I think PT has actually taught me to enjoy it. I know as a musician it's fun to get loud and heavy sometimes. It's a great album to just sit down and listen to, which is the hallmark of any good progressive album. I also appreciate getting the lyrics in the package, which was missing from Deadwing.

I'm still absorbing this album, but I find it one of their best, which isn't saying much since they're ally good. The music is very rich and worthy of sitting down and listening to with your undivided attention.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#119754)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album needs many spins before you have a right picture about it. I've listened it about 40 times and i must say that this is P tree's best album to date.

While reading other reviews around the web, I noticed that people misunderstand the lyrics. Lyrics aren't about a whole generation it's just a story of a one person. I admit that i made the same mistake when hearing this album first time. Of course you can interpret the lyrics anyway you want, but most of people have put words in to Steven's mouth. Steven said on an interview that he isn't as pessimist as you could imagine based on lyrics.

Anyhow, everybody have understood the music properly - those who don't like PT won't like this album either. But those who like PT's first albums will like this album. It's weird and I have noticed this when reading customers reviews around the web.

Time will tell will this semi-masterpiece be as timeless as In Absentia is. In the meantime, I'll have it another spin.

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Send comments to keelis (BETA) | Report this review (#119776)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Excellent album ! (Listened to it many times since its release... my opinion has not changed)

Some points to guide you : - Excellent sound production, as usual with Steve Wilson. - Great songwriting : melodies & orchestrations. A mix of some differents styles Porcupine Tree passed through : sometimes energic, sometimes ethereal... allways "in the right place". - All band members work for the songs, not for demonstrating their capabilities... - Musicaly more coherent than its predecessor. (Deadwing, was (in my opinion) more "song oriented", even if all of the lyrics was about the same topic...)

Conclusion : another great album by Porcupine Tree. Five stars.

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Send comments to lostfloyd (BETA) | Report this review (#119852)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'd say this release is about on-par with Deadwing. And like that album, this album still isn't as interesting, textured, emotional and dynamic as IA or LS. It is, however, a solid release. I just wish it didn't feel so lifeless. Anesthetize is the best track here (although Lifeson's solo isn't as great as it could've been, but it was decent.) The title track is a re-hash of Deadwing's sound, My Ashes is fairly good, Sentimental is about as good as My Ashes, Way out of Here is probably better than both, and Sleep Together is pretty cool. Just another notch in PT's belt -- but don't expect anything mindblowing.

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Send comments to Fuzz (BETA) | Report this review (#119917)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not convinced that Steven Wilson knows what his target audience is anymore. Fear of a Blank Planet, lyrically, has a 'get down wiv da kidz' feel about it, yet at a recent live concert, I felt decidedly young and I'm 45! If the album has been written from the perspective of what it must be like to be a kid growing up in this modern world, then it fails to hit its mark and if it has been written for kids, then I can't imagine hordes of 15 year olds swapping their Eminems, Fifty Cents or Linkin Parks for this.

I'd say it was a shame, but I think Porcupine Tree would be wasted on most teenagers, especially those who think the height of musical genius is stealing two-thirds of someone elses song and rapping over the top.

Fear of a Blank Planet is certainly an ambitious album, comprising of only 6 tracks and is as much a concept album as Deadwing, but this time there's something tangible for the listener to grab hold of. The biggest problem with this album is it just compounds the image that they have become prog's miserabilists.

Musically, this album is as accomplished a Porcupine Tree for ten years. The production feels more layered and all-encompassing and while the monster track, Anesthetise, could do with being two tracks, you can just about forgive it for the feeling that it was mashed together.

It is well-balanced, with two slower tracks breaking up the hard rock leanings and while I don't think there's going to be anything on this album that will become particularly memorable in years to come, as an entire piece of music it works and that is what Wilson intended, I believe.

If you're into the more prog metal influences then you'll enjoy this album; if, however, you yearn for the days of The Sky Moves Sideways and Up the Downstair then this might not be for you.

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Send comments to squonkuk (BETA) | Report this review (#119933)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars hello everyone, you have to know i am not a huge fan of PT, however, i did still listen to such album in the past, and i have always reconize their personal style and their originality. that was my opinion before, but now.........my perception of porcupine tree will change , because now i become a real fan. because their last album learn people to reconize they are amazing.

my favorite song is the one with Robert Fripp. way out of here. but still all the other songs are very interestings. from the begining to the end , there is no poor moments, just pure music made by genius. even the last song , which is somehow strange, is a pure fun

why i think this album deserve 5/5, well, this is easy to answer, this album has no weak point. this album has great atmosphere. and the album remind people that PT is still at there top of creativity.

for me this album is the genesis's selling the england by the pound, an album who will become a real master piece under the fews next years.

really 5/5

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Send comments to traklarkproject (BETA) | Report this review (#119937)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars We do not listen to a Porcupine Tree album as we do for others. We have HUGE expectations.

This album, at its first listening, sounds "deja vu" to me. Nothing new there, the solid PT sound we all know and love. But as I listen to it, I just simply love that sound more and more, I got addicted to it. That's PT magic.

Steven Wilson is doing the mix and the mastering on this album. May be that explains why the sound is not SO different from time to time. Where does he take the time to compose, practice, mix and master? So creating a new sound? This is the compromise we have to make : they do not take 10 years to make new albums and go on tour.

Can we feel a deception after listening to this album? Just a bit. I love being suprised, listening to something new. This album confirms PT had found their sound. So this being known, turn up the volume and enjoy !

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Send comments to Buze (BETA) | Report this review (#119962)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Welcome to the nightmare ladies and gentlemen! It is a blue nightmare indeed, and a scary one. On the stage, we can find the members of Porcupine Tree, accompanied by the legendary guitarists Alex Lifeson of Rush and Robert Fripp of King Crimson! Welcome.. and SUFFER!"

I woke up with sweat tangling down my chin. It was early in the morning and the sun wasn't up yet. I couldn't sleep after this nigtmare because it was the day I was getting my hand on the FoaBP by Porcupine Tree. As I approached the record shop, I could feel my stomach turn upside down because I had Fear of a Nonsense Album. I put the CD in my stereo, flipped through the pages of my booklet, ad felt my journey began... It was an old model plane. I could feel it from the beginning as the first notes from the engine started humming. The riffs of the propeller was shouting "Deadwing, Deadwing, Dea.." and we took off. The captain began to speak. He said great words, but in a very monotonous way, so it began to bore me. Then he started to sing a little and his melody seemed nice, but I knew this trip from before. This wasn't a deja vu... This was the way of the Deadwing! I woke up and found that I already passed to the second song. I heard the intro and said "Damn I was going to listen to the PT album, not Led Zeppelin's "House of the Holy" album!" I stood up and checked the CD, but it was PT. What a coincidence, I said, and continued to listen. It was a sog a la Feel So Low and Heartattack in a Layby. Skip. The third song. I was shivering, because I was about to hear how Alex Lifeson contributed to this album, and it was the longest song PT ever made. The song started great, but then became a little boring, but then held itself together. Alex Lifeson really added a lot with his great guitar riffs and it was amazing to hear the beautifl melodies. 17 minutes passed quick. Fourth movement... Skipped instantly! The worst song PT has ever written. A copy-paste of Lazarus and Collapse the Light into the Earth, ended with the exact same riffs from Trains from In Absentia album, with a twist on the solo that came after it (if you can call it a twist, IF you can even call it a SOLO, just bunch of notes played) Fifth degree... Again something original in the guitar and drum solos, because Robert Fripp is in the play. Other than that, I still have this feeling that I have heard this song somewhere else before... The final... Sleep Together and Stop Swimming really remind each other by their names.. well here is the new deal: they even resemble each other by the flavor. Take one earful of Stop Swimming, increase its speed, add more repetitions, make it a little bit heavier in tune, add more synths... and Ta-daa! Your Sleep Together is ready to serve!

I started bleeding because I was pinching myself to wake up from this nightmare.. but it wasn't a nightmare, it was the reality itself. You can call this a compilation album for PT as it offers nothing new but some smooth melodies and an original idea of having two great guitar heroes accompany them. If it wasn't for them, this album could have stopped swimming and drown forever! The best thing about the album was Davin Garrison's drums: he really showed his full potential, but the album cancelled his efforts. The worst thing was the album itself, but Richard Barbieri was Way Out of Creativity himself as he added nothing but bunch of strings and some easy synth effects at the last song. Yes, this album can sound brilliant to those that just began to hear PT since it has the original soud that PT has and beautiful vocals of Steven Wilson, but it is not original at all, and you can even hate one of the songs in the album, which is unlike the previous PT albums. PT fans like me, just stay away and get it from a friend that made the mistake of buying it. Newcomers.. you will just throw the CD out of the window after you hear Deadwing and In Absentia and see what these guys can do!

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Send comments to hybreda (BETA) | Report this review (#119972)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is no In Absentia, but compared with the pish being released right now, it's best we've got. Musically, the album is impeccable, beautifully arranged, Wilson doesn't let us down on that one.

My only complaint is that thematically, this is "Four Chords.." "Stupid Dream"and "Sound of Muzak" made into an album. The anti-MTV, or rather anti-TV full-stop, disenfranchised youth ideology is getting old, even if it warrants more advancing. I've heard this too much, but the lyrics themselves are fun, and the music is so compelling that it overrides the thematic rehashing.

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Send comments to jifjosh (BETA) | Report this review (#120149)
Posted Sunday, April 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I give this album a 4 star rating, purely because a six track album needs to have no weaknesses. For me, the album is let down by the final track Sleep Together, which is a little too Radiohead in style for me. The concept of the album, covering concerns with the way modern technology seems to be detracting from creativity and negatively affecting the youth of today is a powerful one. Tracks like Way Out of Here, My Ashes and Anesthetise are stunning.

I'm not sure where Steven Wilson goes with the 'metal' sound from here. Many riffs are reminiscent of what we heard on Deadwing. Overall, not a 5 star album like In Absentia and Deadwing, but still a brilliant effort from the restless, creative workaholic that is Steven Wilson.

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Send comments to RPainter (BETA) | Report this review (#120278)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5 stars, actually.

A very, very good album from a band that I've come to have high excpectations of with each release. The only track that dragged me down was "My Ashes" but that is purely due to personal preference on my part. You can't go wrong with this disc, although if you are just getting into PT for the first time I would recommend starting with "In Absentia", then move on to "Deadwing", then grab this one. The evolution of their sound across those three albums is quite fascinating.

As with all PT albums, there is always one or two tracks that derails me...in this case, it was only "My Ashes" which I felt was out of place in the context of the rest of the album.

You can't go wrong with this one. PT are at the top of their game right now and we should all be thankful for that.

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Send comments to Disconnect (BETA) | Report this review (#120441)
Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A finely crafted masterpiece we have here!

It has been a while I have been waiting for this one and I am far from being disapointed. It has all the heavy parts from Deadwing and the mellower part of pre-In Absentia albums. Some criticize the lyrics for being uninspired and repetitive. As I read somewhere on the net, the message being vehicled is a 21st century version of Another brick in the wall. The title track sends a very urgent distress signal of today's youth. I like to see it as a call for help rather than some child bashing and rambling about everything.

Very very recommended, one of the few essential purchases of 2007!

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Send comments to April_Ethereal (BETA) | Report this review (#120461)
Posted Tuesday, May 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars After some spins my opinion didn't change: a musically uninspired work by PT but well played, especially by Garrison. Quite flat and boring at times. No innovation, most of the album is material already heard on other PT records, just a darker general feeling. Metal riffs thrown in without much sense and I am not against metal on principle, but go listen, for example, to Riverside, Opeth or Katatonia last records and you will find metal where the song needs it. In Absentia was much better in this respect. Wilson led PT in this kind of prog metal that I fear is a blind alley. Way Out of Here is the ...best... track, pity it is a bit ruined by the nonsense metal stuff, just to make the under 16 and record company happy.

Of the 8 records i have of PT this is maybe the less interesting. I can understand new fans can be excited by this cd but for old fans, of the TSMS era, it is another story.

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Send comments to rajaz (BETA) | Report this review (#120656)
Posted Thursday, May 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree has to be the biggest name in progressive rock today- or at least the most well liked by all prog fans. Fear of a Blank Planet came with high expectations from everyone. Does it hold up to the hype?

The album opens up with The self titled track. A, rocking, catchy opener, reminiscent of past songs such as "Blackest Eyes" and "Shallow" This one may be the better of the three- but still not worth of 5 stars. 3.5/5

The next track is "My Ashes" which is a step backwards towards the album gaining any kind of momentum. It seems as if too many band these days have a rocking song, followed by a ballad, back and forth, back and forth. "My Ashes" is a fairly weak and forgettable track, with most of the focus on a lazy chorus that reminds all Porcupine Tree fans of Backfield. 2.5/5

Then comes what seems to be everyone's favorite track, "Anesthetize." The track is wonderful from the beginning- Gavin Harrison with a sweet beat on the drums, followed by nice vocals by Steven. The song does a great job of foreshadowing its heaviness that lays in the not-so distant future- with great guitar work and an excellent atmosphere. My only gripe about this song is that Alex's guest solo is a bit short. (As the whole album is too short) This song is excellent- definitely one of the best ever done by the Tree. Gavin Harrison, why don't you drum like this more often? It's ok to show off!! 5/5

"Sentimental" is amazing. It's touching, soft, and beautiful. Their best ballad ever. 5/5

"Way out of Here" is next, a song that catches everyone's attention due to the guest star. (Fripp) I find that the song jumps a bit too early into the chorus- and does not really go anywhere interesting. The lyrics are a bit creepy- almost a bit cliché' It's a good song, but no GREAT. 3.5/5

"Sleep Together" is the last track, keeping the sort of "creepy" vibe that was carried throughout the album. This song does not do much for me. The chorus is a bit annoying- and the keys used in the song give it a bit if a "haven't I heard this before?" type of feeling. Perhaps it's the feeling I get when I hear this song- a very depressed, sullen feeling. I just don't wish to listen to all of it some of the time; rather, reach for a different CD from the rack. Not a very good closer/last impression.

This album is somewhere in the land between good and excellent- but FOR SURE not a masterpiece like many say.

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Send comments to Drew (BETA) | Report this review (#120693)
Posted Thursday, May 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A few years from now, whenever people name the most important progressive rock bands of each decade, the list would look something like this: Yes and Genesis in the 70's, Rush and Marillion in the 80's, Dream Theater in the 90's, and I think now it's safe to say that, from the 00's, there won't be any doubts in which band to single out as the most important for our beloved genre: Porcupine Tree. And if that analysis was correct a few months ago, after the release of FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET, now it's easy to say that it's the complete and absolute truth.

Porcupine Tree has been a band in constant movement. After the psychedelic/spacey era came a more "pop" era, when brit-pop-ready melodies where mixed with prog arrangements and obscure, depressive sounds; then, as times went, their music shifted towards a more metallic side, no wonder as the group's main mastermind, Steven Wilson, collaborated and a lot with Swedish progressive-death-metal formation Opeth. After two releases filled with heavy sounds and morbid stories, The Tree has finally joined all their influences together in what may be their most accomplished album to this date, a record where all the elements of the past are here, maybe with the exception of the dance rhythms of UP THE DOWNSTAIR: we have metal a la Tool and even heavier riffs bordering on extreme; we have beautiful melodies with those dreamy, atmospheric choruses where Wilson doubles himself in vocals and sends all of us to the lands of narcolepsy, we have soft parts that could pass as pseudo-brit-pop but with that blue, sedated flavor that Wilson injects in his music; we have psychedelic sections, and we also have true prog moments, where The Tree seems to have finally accepted their belonging to the same genre of some of their most respected figures as King Crimson's Robert Fripp (who, by the way, lends his "soundscapes" to the song "Way Out of Here"). To put it briefly, take a dose of DEADWING (specially the harder parts, don't expect a "Lazarus" moment here), a little bit of STUPID DREAM (the darker parts), a little bit of SIGNIFY (the return to some grooving bass-lines and narcotic vocal harmonies), add some new ideas and influences, and you got FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET as the result. A darker, if lighter, album than its predecessor.

I can't go into the songs without saying a few words about the playing itself. This is probably PT's best album in regards to performance and level of musicianship. Steven Wilson is, as always, right on target with his accurate playing, nothing too virtuosic, never showing-off, always doing things for the overall atmosphere's sake; Barbieri, as usual, proves a valuable right-hand to Wilson, adding to the musical ambience with enchanting sounds; Edwin, an underrated bassist, with a precision and a sense of "groove" that few bassist possess, some of his bass lines just make the listener want to, again, groove; and, finally, the best proper instrumentalist in the band, Gavin Harrison, a true master behind the drum kit, an expert in groove, in rhythm, in precise fills, phantasmagoric rolls, a connoisseur of the art of playing with the cymbals, and in this album, even a master of the double bass. If there's a performance here that deserves some extra credit, is Harrison's.

Let's review the songs:

Fear of a Blank Planet (9.5/10) If we were to divide this album by corresponding parts to earlier records, this would be the "DEADWING part". Very much like the song of the same name in that album, this one starts with a fast, grooving rhythm that seems unstoppable. Wilson sings - almost speaks - with utmost quietude, just like in "Deadwing". The movement is relentless, as is the ordeal that Wilson describes to us in the lyrics, a no-exit meaningless life. The chorus is somewhat melodic, just as a hint of morbid, sick color in an otherwise black-and-white existential nightmare. The middle section is dark, somber, atmospheric, with a fantastic fill by Harrison who, without doing much, shows, curiously, so much. Near the end we enter the final stages of the nightmare, a more slow passage, when the narcotic vocals announce us that, though the dream is nearing its end, we won't wake up, we'll be sedated, narcotized, drugged in a senseless life forever.

My Ashes (9.5/10) This song takes us back to the STUPID DREAM-LIGHTBULB SUN era, with Wilson singing/lamenting over a sleepy acoustic guitar and some touches by the piano; then the chorus, with Wilson doubling his coma-inducing voice sending us all to non-optimistic territories. The music is so sedated, it's like musical-heroin (not that I've tried the real one, nor would I advise to do so, but it HAS to be like this). Some strings cooperate in making this track a complete dream-like experience. After it's over, we are not sure if we actually heard it. Great song.

Anesthetize (10/10) The first proper 15+ minute epic by The Tree since the SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS days, it doesn't disappoint. It's sort of divided in three big sections. The first big section starts with percussion and Wilson singing with his rather simple-yet- unique nerdy voice, before growing and showing us he actually can sing. Another narcotic experience, this is not good; I don't mean it musically, as this is fantastic, but in general, feeling like this can't be good.. Incredibly atmospheric part, it evolves into a harder, distorted section with keys that make it feel even more epic than its length foretold us, or, to say the truth, that give it true EPIC status. Then a bass line in an oddly-chosen grooving, almost jazzy time with drums adding to the driving energy. Alex Lifeson of Rush provides a guitar solo in this track, and it works, but it's nothing essential as the quality of the song ultimately eats it, makes it look just like another section in a brilliant track. Harrison's drumming is inspired. Then we enter a more metallic arena, with dissonant chords that sound almost Opeth-ish in their violence. This section sounds a lot like some parts in DEADWING, yet with a groove that wasn't present as much there as it is here. Some measures sound like straight progressive-metal (I won't dare mention who they remind me off, I would be crucified). But only a FEW measures. Brilliant, Opeth's partnership with Wilson has helped in both ways, making Akerfeldt's outfit better and also enhancing The Tree's sound. An awkward double bass drum section that sounds too heavy for The Tree leads us to the final "chorus" in the second big section and serving as bridge towards the third. The tempo is slower now, meditation, analysis, constant reflexion upon one's own putrid life. But with such beauty. Telling a horribly pessimistic message while making you dream with prairies full of dark trees and rainy, grey clouds above, that's what Wilson achieves in this song. He paints an atrocious beautiful atmosphere, he creates a musical contradiction where we hear beauty that conveys ugliness, light that means darkness. Superb. One of the best songs in this bands' catalogue.

Sentimental (10/10) After such a rollercoaster what can we expect from Wilson but. more narcotic atmospheres? Some piano chords that sound like Coldplay immediately followed by a masterful vocal line by Wilson, in a song that sounds like a mix from the styles of SIGNIFY and STUPID DREAM. The chorus is just pure beauty. Perfect. And, as always, we're talking beautiful darkness in here. As the covers says: a child, the image of innocence, with eyes that announce evil, not evil embedded in his soul but in his surroundings, which eventually will reach his soul. What a piece. Wilson is really the songwriter for the End of Light, yet his pen writes with bursts of luminosity that only help to denounce the blackness of what lies around it. The end of the song is pure SIGNIFY-era PT.

Way Out of Here (8.5/10) Robert Fripp's "soundscapes" guest-star in this song, which doesn't really need them. But the homage is correct: when I first heard IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING I couldn't help but feel dazzled at how ahead-of-his-time Fripp was in 1969 when I realized he was one of the major influences behind Wilson's music. Now, Wilson has invited him and the master joins the pupil, yet for me, it's Wilson who has turned into this age's true master. Another atmospheric, dark song, with more energy but no more hope than the last ones. The song is longer than needed but it's great nevertheless.

Sleep Together (8/10) The weakest track in the album is very good anyway. My problem with this song is that it's too cold, too life-less. Whereas all the preceding tracks, though somber and disturbing, were full of emotion, this one sounds cold, mathematic, Crimson-esque. It's good narcotic music but lack the feeling of all the previous ones. But the band is so good that even their less brilliant song is a good song that could work on any other album by any other band.

I have such a big pleasure in saying that here I finally have a new album by one of my favorite bands that hasn't disappointed me and that actually, if not towers over, at least lies at the same level of their best works. Actually, even though I'm giving the album a 5/5 score, it's really a 4.75/5. Without the last track, I could've said without any hesitation that this IS Porcupine Tree's best record to date. Unlike Pain of Salvation, Spock's Beard, Threshold, and, sadly, maybe unlike Dream Theater (I don't expect that much from their future release), Porcupine Tree has delivered, Wilson has lived up to the expectations, this album finally has forced me to include Porcupine Tree among my top 5 or 6 bands. It's just fair justice.

Recommended for: every fan of good progressive rock, mostly, of course, to fans of Porcupine Tree, psychedelic prog, dark, depressive, narcotic music.

Not recommended for: I don't know whom not to recommend this album to. Maybe to people searching for soul-lifting music, optimistic music. This is not going to give you any hopes for the future of your life.

. but it surely does for the future of progressive rock and music in general. So get it anyway.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#120915)
Posted Sunday, May 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Since I discovered Porcupine Tree about 10 years ago I have eagerly looked forward to every new record they put out. I have not been disappointed until now.

Fear of a Blank Planet is not a bad record, don't get me wrong, but it lacks the creativity that their music has held in the past. Most of the record is decent, but has nothing special that makes it stand out. I have this bad feeling that since PT has become somewhat popular, they are trying to cater more to the general population (or worse, to teenagers). Unlike In Absentia, or Deadwing, where there were well placed digressions into heavy, or melodic (or otherwise different) sections of music, in Fear of a Blank Planet musical rifts seems to be more carelessly thrown in,simply to try to catch people's attention or make them feel like they are listening to something clever. In some places the music gets downright boring, not like the long quiet sections of noise that could be found in the older stuff, but more along the lines of dreary and soulless (a good candidate for the radio).

The theme of this record has sort of annoyed me as well. Confused teenagers, at odds with the world, school, their parents, pills... (Ritalin?)... It gets kind of old, and only re-enforces my thoughts that this album may be aimed at a younger (less creative minded) generation.

It's hard to pick any of the songs on this album as being truly good, because at some point I find myself thinking, this just isn't as good as their older stuff. The first track was the most interesting to me. Anesthetize had potential in places, but also had weak parts. It also should have been made into three tracks, as there really are three clearly different songs there.

I have listened to it three times now, and unfortunately it just isn't growing on me. It is not one of those albums that takes multiple listenings to appreciate. Some may say this is the case. I think it's the reverse.

For what PT is trying to do with their music now, I think there are many bands out there that do it better. They are leaving their origins behind and joining the masses of Semi-Metal, pop bands, where they no longer stand out.

I fear that this album may be to Porcupine Tree, what Train of Thought was to Dream Theater (the beggining of the end).

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Send comments to the_3d_man (BETA) | Report this review (#120928)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars One of the principal attractions of progressive rock music is the mental adventure it provides in my otherwise uneventful life. Back in the 70s I knew that when I acquired a new album from Yes they were going to take me somewhere music-wise that I had no inkling I'd ever go and they never led me to the same place twice. This also applied to Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and a host of similar groups and artists. In the 80s and 90s I got the empty feeling that that kind of exploratory spirit was gone forever but I'm pleased to say that in the 21st century, with Porcupine Tree and some others leading the way, that essence of inquisitive risk-taking and aural experimentation is alive and well. With "Fear of a Blank Planet" this talented band has once again given the world a work of art that is intricate, brilliantly stimulating and thought-provoking. It's all I could possibly ask for.

The opening title cut is primo PT in that their highly focused, intense music blatantly contradicts the unengaged subject matter of the lyrics. While the tight track cuts the sky like a vapor-trailed jet, the words describe a young person who is but a shell of a human as he proclaims "Don't try engaging me/the vaguest of shrugs/the prescription drugs/you'll never find a person inside." Modern medicine and society has somehow scooped all the life and ambition out of him to the point where "there's nothing left/I simply am not here." It's the very juxtaposition of electrifying music over depressing lyrics that elevates the song into the realm of true art. Gavin Harrison's drums in particular are forceful and direct as he continues to improve with every record and the blend of different instrumentation keeps the tune from ever becoming predictable. Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri intertwine guitars and keyboards into a tapestry so deep and rich that it's hard to distinguish one from the other. "My Ashes" is a slower ballad that mixes acoustic guitar and piano with an orchestral score that is refreshingly understated. The lyric here is much more indistinct and stream-of-conscious as the singer seems to be a disembodied personality reviewing a life full of wasted chances. Wilson's undeniable gift for melody is intact and his charismatic voice is more versatile and mature than ever before.

"Anesthetize" is a suite in three parts that engulfs the senses. Starting with Harrison's Phil Collins-like rumbling drum patterns rolling over sparse guitar, keyboards and a glockenspiel, the song describes a troubled kid who is seeking help but is being answered with an unsympathetic response of "shut up/be happy/stop whining/please." The tune then segues into a more rocking beat with guest Alex Lifeson contributing a biting guitar solo before things take a distinct metal heading as you learn more about the protagonist's confused life. The help he sought has come in the form of numbing pills instead of loving interaction. He tells us he's "watching TV/but I find it hard to stay conscious/I'm totally bored/but I can't switch off." Again the driving music contrasts the hopelessness of his existence. It's like a river that keeps twisting and turning across the land, never allowing itself to stagnate. This second part of the suite builds and builds to a ferocious explosion of double-bass drum propulsion and metallic density that would rival Dream Theater and make them proud. Dropping down into a 12-string- dominated vocal collage of cascading words, the dreamy third section is elegant in its simplicity. I get the impression that the boy in question has met an untimely death and his mourning friend is sitting by the ocean, thinking about him and his brief time on earth. "The water was warm that day/I was counting out the waves/and I followed their short life/as they broke on the shoreline/I thought of you" That is poignant poetry, my friends.

The next song, "Sentimental," expresses a universal feeling that every generation of teenagers shares. "I never wanna be old/and I don't want dependents/it's no fun to be told/that you can't blame your parents anymore." In other words, it's no easier growing up now than it was 40 or 50 years ago (and it was no piece of cake back then). Here Gavin utilizes just his toms and high hat in the beginning, creating space for Colin Edwin's underrated bass playing to act as the glue holding the song together. Toward the end the band tosses in some dynamic accents and a strange, diffused carnival-in-the-distance sound whispers hauntingly around the ethereal music. Beautiful. "Way Out of Here" follows and it is a stupendous union of Wilson and the great Robert Fripp wherein they create something so unique that it's almost indescribable. (But I'll try). It features another subliminal lyric about someone wanting to escape the guilt of a horrible deed be it real or fabricated in his spaced-out brain. Fripp is credited with "soundscapes" and on some subconscious level I actually know what that means. The tune alternately lulls you to sleep, then smashes into metal heaven profundity. Harrison's drums are phenomenal and the ending is almost spiritual as the orchestra slowly ascends into the upper reaches of the stratosphere. Wow.

Wilson has never been one to shy away from embracing the darkest corners of the psyche in his music and "Sleep Together" is no exception as it starkly bear-hugs the tragedy of suicide as a solution for all this ennui. A pulsing synthesizer pattern establishes an ominous aura before Gavin slams into the song with a power that would impress even the legendary John Bonham and Dave Stewart's string arrangement of the orchestral climax is nothing short of exhilarating. It's a perfect album ender. The couple in this tune sees no point in continuing their walk on this planet and they contemplate whether they should dramatically "switch off the future/right now/let's leave forever." Of course that doesn't work because it's my belief that you will pick up right where you left off in the next world. And so it goes.

I find it interesting that Steven writes so fluently about the apathy and torpor of today's youth, yet he is a classic introvert who refused to succumb to inaction or sloth and has never stopped in his determined effort to find and express his inner visions. He may be a tortured artist but he's a fabulously prolific artist, nonetheless. This album is another masterpiece in a string of astounding recordings by this band and the fact that they're still not universally recognized and admired is a befuddling mystery to me.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#121081)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars In early fall 1987, I was playing Rush's "Hold Your Fire" and Pink Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" over and over. At that time "Hold Your Fire" won out since "Momentary Lapse" felt like an "elaborate forgery." Fast forward to 2007 and I'm playing Rush's "Snakes and Arrows" and Porcupine Tree's "Fear of a Blank Planet" in regular rotation. And the roles are reversed in 2007. I don't really know why but I'm now listening to "Fear" over and over. Is it nostalgia, or is it faith in an almost extinct prog, I have no idea. Perhaps as we get older, we crave that familiar sound.

Porcupine Tree has hit upon a great formula. Take Pink Floyd - think "Echoes" off of "Meddle", Tangerine Dream, Led Zeppelin - "No Quarter" off of "Houses of the Holy", Metallica, King Crimson, Peter Gabriel - "Passion" and vocals inspired by Coldplay and mix 'em up. The big difference? While good artists copy, great artists steal. And that's exactly what Porcupine Tree has done. The music is uncomplicated and actually not prog at all. But it sounds like prog and that makes all the difference. With Alex Lifeson helping out with a beautiful solo on the 17 minute "Anesthetize" - and one wonders why there isn't something as good by Lifeson on Rush's "Snakes and Arrows" CD - and Robert Fripp providing Crimsonesque atmospherics on "Way out of Here", this CD is a prog junkie's wet dream.

It doesn't make sense to classify Porcupine Tree as prog actually. They are more like a cross between trance, electronica and sometimes metal. But they sound like prog. Boy, do they sound like prog!

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Send comments to anandrajan (BETA) | Report this review (#121371)
Posted Wednesday, May 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars

An Album That Stirs my Emotion!

This album came to me, right after I completed my 1,000th review at this site, altogether with Steve Hackett's "Wild Orchids" (well, I know, I'm quite late in ordering this CD). I was considering quite a long time on decision which one would go first for my CD player? After asking opinion of prog colleague Purwanto (Prog Reviewer) finally I decided to take "Fear of A Blank Planet" first because I was quite curious about rave reviews made by reviewers at this site. To be fair, I had to use a decent (not luxurious!) stereo set at home: NAD Integrated Amplifier, Phillips CD Player and B&W series 6000 bookshelf speakers. As usual, I expected something great sonic quality from any CD that Porcupine Tree has ever released, so I turned the volume LOUD to enjoy any subtlety that would be produced from the CD. Boom! Yeaaaahhhhh ..!! Man . I was totally satisfied at first spin of this CD that I enjoyed in its entirety at first listen. I even played many times and by the time I'm writing this, I have been spinning (including this time while writing) 8 times. The fourth spin was through my LifeDrive PDA because I managed to rip the CD into MP3 with 192kbps bit rate. But most of them I spin at home with LOUD volume. One thing for sure, this album stimulated my hormonal activities and stirred my emotion at first spin! It's truly awesome! Honestly, while you are reading this review, you might feel a sense of "energy" transmitted through my fingers which type this review with great enthusiasm because I have been experiencing nggeblak for many times while enjoying this album. Am I exaggerating? Of course NOT! For your information, I'm quite sensitive anything related to music, especially prog! And .. this album makes me totally paralyzed - mind-wise! Well, you should try by yourself!

"Stupid Dream" and "In Absentia" Marriage

Musically, this album is a great mix of the band's "Stupid Dream" and "In Absentia" albums, leaving off almost completely the mundane (my view, and it's very subjective!) "Deadwing" album. Why do I say so? There is basically minimum component of psychedelic ingredients in this album as in the case with "Deadwing". A very clear proof of my view is demonstrated through second track "My Ashes" which is actually a mellow track. Observe this track carefully and you will find that this music is composed with a basic structure of Stupid Dream's "Even Less". "Even Less" was initially a track that bored me (Hey, this is an opening track of Stupid Dream! What will happen if the first track is already a boring one?). After couple of spins of Stupid Dream I finally could enjoy the album in its entirety and .. not only that, I adore this album! "My Ashes" and "Even Less" are somewhat interconnected - basic structure and melody-wise. While enjoying "My Ashes" you might tend to sing along "Even Less" melody. Try it!

The mix of these two albums into "Fear of A Blank Planet" album represent soft as well as heavy side of Porcupine Tree music. Why? As you might read my review on "In Absentia" album, you might discover that this is an album that represents the heavy side of Porcupine Tree. I believe, in part, it was due to close relationship of Steven Wilson with Opeth. Yeah, I believe that there was a very close relationship, musically, between Steve Wilson and Mikhael Arkedfelt of Opeth.

The result of this marriage is an awesome music!

Dark Nuance

From the cover with bluish style, it can be expected that the music is going to be dark. In fact, the CD inlay, lyrics and the website of the band are showing something with dark nuance. Free interpretation of "blank planet" might vary from one to another. AS the lyrics convey something to do with kid who is so engaged in front of computer screen. This can be enjoyed on the opening title track which starts where a kid is typing the keyboard to log on certain site. Lyrically, the song depicts a situation where a kid is busy with his own life: x box, mother is a bitch, father never talk to him, pornography (over internet), etc. The verse also says: "My friends says he wants to die / He's in a band / They sound like Pearl Jam / The clothes are all black / The music is crap". The music in this opening track is somewhat in the vein of "In Absentia" album and a bit lighter even though the riffs are similar. The second track "My Ashes" still projects about darkness, in mellow style.

Great Guest Musicians

This album welcomes the contribution from very talented musicians: Alex Lifeson (Rush's guitar player) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson's composer and guitar layer). This represents the marriage of vintage rock and modern rock. I believe the result must be awesome! "Anesthetize" (17:42) is the song where it gives opportunity for Alex Lifeson to fill his guitar solo at minute 4:03. What makes so wonderful about this track is the distinctive guitar solo by Alex during interlude part, even though just before his solo there is a short guitar solo by Steven Wilson. The guitar solo by Alex is really stunning and I can imagine how Rush style blends beautifully into Porcupine Tree's music.

Robert Fripp is given a tough job, i.e. to create soundscape for "Way Out Here" (7:37) track. You might be wondering with this arrangement because basically Robert Fripp is an excellent guitar player. The decision to hire Fripp as soundscape creator is right because come to think of it, many Crimson album which were created with great soundscape.

Does Steve Wilson anything to do with Steve Hackett?

It might be just coincidence with the fact that "Fear of A Blank Planet" by Porcupine Tre has similar style with Steve Hackett's "To Watch The Storm" album in terms of cover artwork. Of course, Hackett's one is more scary and darker than Porcupine Tree's, but both of them are similar. It's okay actually but I'm wondering how does it happen? But of course this is only the cover artwork and there is no such music style alike.

Conclusion

I highly recommend this album because it's a true masterpiece of prog music. I dare to say that anyone who is still new to the music of Porcupine Tree can start with this album and I am sure s/he is going to be satisfied! A will spin this CD over and over as until now there is no sign of being bored with the music. In fact tonight I will play the title track in the radio program that I host regularly right here at Trijaya Network FM Station 104.6 in "Saturday Night Rock" program conducted weekly from 7:30 PM - 11:00 PM. I will discuss the topic on "The Groove Maker" and the title track of this album fits into this category: it has great groove!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

DragonForce "Inhuman Rampage World Tour" Live in Jakarta, 19 May 2007, Tennis Outdoor, Senayan. Featuring The Fastest Metal Guitar Virtuoso.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#121774)
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK, I'm finally getting to reviewing this album. I've had it since the release, but I wanted to make sure it really sunk into me before I reviewed it. Now I have listened to this Cd many many times, I've seen them play the whole thing live (which I would highly recommend you do), and I have even memorized most of the lyrics (from so many listens). I feel I am now qualified to review this album.

After my first listen to the Cd, I felt as though it sounded completely different, and at that point of time, I didn't know if that was good or bad. It turns out that it's a very good thing. I'm not saying that anything before this was bad, because I love almost all of it too. I'm saying that it's a good thing that this band is continuing to change, to progress, and each time it gets better and better.

This album took a little bit longer than their other ones to really sink into me. I feel as though it is not as accessible as their others, because it is much darker in many parts, and theres not really too many "poppy" parts that are in songs like "Lazarus" and "Collapse the Light into Earth" from their older albums. This album is one that grows on you. I did love it the first time, but since then it has just gotten better and better. Now I can get really into it, which really helped me enjoy it more when I saw them play it live. When played live, it really comes to life, as you are filled with the sounds and emotions in these songs.

Any weak points? Well I would say the weakest tracks are the first and last ones, but they are by no means weak at all. In fact, the song "Fear of a Blank Planet" is even better than the version shown in the music video for it. It has an amazing ending section and I just melt when I hear it. Strong points? All of it, but more specifically "Anesthetize" (especially live) and "Sentimental". Everything here is amazing though.

If you heard this Cd one time and didn't think it was for you, go back to it and listen to it again. There really is a lot of amazing stuff coming out of the head of Steve Wilson, and it deserves to be appreciated.

>5 Stars for Fear of a Blank Planet. Masterpiece.<

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Send comments to asimplemistake (BETA) | Report this review (#121929)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I was surprised to read a review in the Toronto Sun newspaper of this album and I want to share the short analysis with you. "For most bands, six songs is an EP. For these veteran U.K. proggers, they're a 50-minute concept disc about technology and teen escapism, complete with mathy time signatures, widescreen arrangements, swirling orchestrations, psychedelic textures and impeccable musicianship-including contributions from like-minded guitar heroes Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp." Not bad eh ? I must say this one took a lot longer than I thought it would to really like it. I wasn't wowed right away that's for sure. In fact it took seeing them play these songs in concert three different times for it to click with me. I have to mention that the band thanks in the liner notes OCEANSIZE, ANATHEMA and PAATOS. This record doesn't have the commercial sounding songs that are found on most of PORCUPINE TREE's records as the focus is more on the album as a whole (the concept) than individual songs.The subject matter is about teens who are hooked on drugs and modern technology and so are detached from reality. The overall feel is dark and melancholic.

The first song "Fear Of The Blank Planet" really lays out the story of the concept for us. Lines like "TV, yeah it's always on" and "I'm stoned in the mall again" and "X-box is a god to me" and "My father gave up ever trying to talk to me" and "The pills i've been taking confuse me" and "In school I don't concentrate".You get the picture i'm sure. As for the music of the title track ? It's an uptempo song with a great beat although it does have some spacey moments. I love the background synths.The drumming is incredible ! "My Ashes" can be described as dark, beautiful, melancholic and emotional. There is some orchestration as well. "Anesthetize" is the epic at over 17 minutes in length. The drumming is relentless and Alex Lifeson graces us with some guitar 4 minutes in. We get vocals after 7 minutes, but it's the drumming that impresses me the most on this song. We get some brief heavy riffs as period of calm settles in then the dreamy vocals slowly rise out of the tranquility. Clearly one of PT's best tracks ever. "Sentimental" opens with a piano melody as drums and vocals follow.

"Way Out Of Here" doesn't really kick in until 2 minutes. Nice guitar solo and Fripp adds his special soundscapes to the song. Some heavy riffs arrive later. This song blows my mind. So emotional. The final song "Sleep Together" is a beauty. I read where Steven Wilson said this was his favourite song off of this record.The vocals are almost mechanical sounding and it's very atmospheric and spacey.The drums kick in as the song gets intense. There is a prolonged instrumental to the end of the song.

Favourite songs are "Fear of the Blank Planet", "Anesthetize", "Way Out Of Here" and "Sleep Together". To me this is a combination of "Deadwing" and "The Sky Moves Sideways" with a blanket of darkness thrown over top of it.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#122156)
Posted Monday, May 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It seems these guys rule the 2007’s Top!

Well, I’m gonna ruin this ideal situation a bit. I was awaiting for new PT since it was announced, I tried to be in touch with all the news and updates, I didn’t load it – I bought it, but boy, I was awaiting for NEW PT…

Again I’ll use “the three notes” scheme in my review . First of all, it’s TOO gloomy. I like dark music, but FOABP seems to step over that line I can endure and it has become too dark for me. Second – I actually liked only 3 songs here: the namesake killer (guaranteed earworm!), the 17-min monster (great structure – heavy, milder and then mellow) and depressing “Way out of Here” (though heavy part irritates me a bit). Other songs are not PT ones – this is BLACKFIELD in its darkest. Good ballads (though “Sleep Together” is even more depressing than “Way out of Here” and the whole album is too sinister closer to the end) but nothing more. Third – I see no evolution since “Deadwing” was released.PT moved a bit further to metal areas, they still mix old Prog tricks (heavy mellotrons in the title track, which is, actually, a lot like “Deadwing”’s namesake opener…) with modern “indie” sound, they still sound great (though none of new songs don’t even come close to flawless “Arriving somewhere”) but they fail to amuse that much as they did to me before. Maybe I was too high with my expectations and I should haven’t compared this album to previous one(s)…but that’s how I feel after 3 weeks of heavy listening sessions. 3.5 stars – could have been more challenging and exciting. Still recommended, especially for Modern Prog newbies.

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#122419)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars To be honest, the first listen of this album disappointed me, but it grew on me very quickly. By the fourth or fifth listen now i'm positively rocking to the tunes. Another solid album by one of the best progressive bands there is out there at the moment. One thing has to be said: this album is very spacey when compared to previous albums. You won't get the in-your-face riffing of Trains or Wedding Nails here, and the synth and effects have a larger role now.

1: Fear of a Blank Planet: An intro that doesn't give you a hint of the depressed music that is to follow. The mix hits you as soon as the drums start. Beautiful mixing here. This song has some heavy riffs, like the one at around 1:40. The singing is graceful and melancholic, pulled off perfectly as usual. This is a very ambient song overall, washed in moody reverb and spacey effects. I liked how the dissonant clean riff at 4:35 or so leads into the same riff but distorted. Then you get a solo with weird effects, a staple of Porcupine Tree, and a welcome one at that. A great song, perhaps not one of the best, but nevertheless good. [8]

2: My Ashes: This song is very melancholic and sad. The first chord change causes your hair to stand, somehow reminding me of Pink Floyd. The spacey lead at 2:17 fills the mix perfectly. The multitude of effects and modulation that Porcupine Tree uses never ceases to amaze me. This is quite a static song, without the many changes usually associated with prog rock, but nevertheless well done. [7+]

3. Anesthetize: An epic 18 minute long song. The beginning is not so memorable in my opinion, and the singing seemed to remind me of a particular pop band whose name I cannot place. And then the song changes all of a sudden, becoming dark and depressing. Great. The contrast between the relaxing intro riffs and the sad second riff is very effective. At four minutes the song changes somewhat, giving it an evil and foreboding sound. Very well done. Interspersed with ambient parts, the song gives us enough time to relax before the next plunge into darkness. A solo at around five minutes, weird enough to mett our melodic requirements. An interesting panned riff after this prepares us for a very heavy proggish riff at about 7:30. Then comes a part which I cannot term anything other than sexy. Yes, this riff is sexy, with bass, drums and guitars playing an intricate pattern. There are several proggish changes in the middle of the song, riffs that never get old no matter how many times you listen to them. A very heavy riff just after the twelfth minute leads back into the singing song structure. The song quitens down during the thirteenth minute, with a strange sound fading in, a sound that puts you somewhere foreign and alien. And then comes a beautiful slow section, with Steve's voice helped perfectly by the backing. Very depressing. The song ends with a 70's prog sound, right out of King Crimson or Camel. Great epic. [8+]

4. Sentimental: This one didn't really do anything much. A straightforward spacey yet moody song. Not bad, but not great. The song also uses the catchy riff from Trains, and though this is pulled off perfectly, it can be attributed to cheap songwriting. Just good [7]

5. Way Out Of Here: This song... really strikes me deep. It probably starts as one of the most melancholic songs from Porcupine Tree. Don't be fainthearted, it just might make you shed some tears. The lyrics are beautifully composed, and happen to have special meaning to me. The fourth minute sees some oddly timed arpeggios which lead into a heavy riff that jumps right out of nowhere and smacks you in the forehead. The second half of the song is not as heartwrenching as the first, more on the experimental side than standard songwriting. Nice song [8]

6. Sleep Together: I am not really into 'random' sounding artificial noises so I didn't really like the intro, though fans of older prog will surely love this part. Overall, I didn't find anything really memorable in this song. The sounds I mentioned keep on going throughout the middle of the song, and they do annoy me a little bit. This is a very pscyhadelic song, and as someone mentioned, it feels very 'narcotic'. Very trippy, but not spectacular. [7]

As I mentioned, the album will quickly grow on you. It does have a few weak points, but nothing really disappointing. OVERALL, 7.7

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Send comments to Metalstrm (BETA) | Report this review (#122649)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars As there are numerous good reviews here so just a few thought about this album. Musically I think Steven and the guys are came back to the right track, with FOABP they made music enough popular to the majority while diehard progfans also got what they need. This is the hardest task nowdays for a widely known progband and PT made now what they failed to achieve with In Absentia and Deadwing.

What is a bit dissapointing that Steven simply reuses some parts of his old works here and there in this album. Among others we can hear echoes of 'Collapse The Light...' or 'Trains' and the song My Ashes is complete rework of a leftover from Deadwing called 'Revenant'.

With it the production is superb as usual, musicians are perfect, nice quests add their considerable contributions to make an outstanding release. FOABP is on the list of the few prog albums what are in the best works of the genre but still accessible for wide range of people. Very few items are in that list though...

What is also important and should be pointed out that the message of the album is quite real. It really exists a fear of a blank planet nowdays and its important to bear it in mind and fight against it!

Conclusion : after those many disappointing prog releases of this year this one is far the best album of 2007 (as of end of May) - recommended for everyone who likes any kind of rock music.

4,5 stars!!!

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Send comments to eMTee (BETA) | Report this review (#123015)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars GREAT! GREAT! GREAT! After two good albums as "In Absentia" and "Deadwing", growing in intensity here is "Fear of a Blank Planet". "Fear..." is the new conception of Progressive Rock. Away from the pompous and baroque styles of the most bands in this area (which in several cases I still like if well done), Porcupine tree mix together the english prog feeling and complex music architectures with the power of the best american prog metal and the hallucinative psychedelic environment. The result is MUSIC in one of its best meanings. All the musicians are at their best. I have to notify that Gavin Harrison, while in the preceding albums was only the (good) drummer (and I honestly missed the powerful creativity of Chris Maitland), here seems to be more conscious of his part in this excellent mix of great musicians. In particular "Anesthetize" has a great nevrotic drum work which gives the right feeling to the song. In this song I only cannot stomach the noise after the 11th minute, but luckily is very short. But all the songs in this album are intensive, well composed, arranged and masterfully played by the musicians. Do not miss this album if you think that Prog Music is not dead ! 4 stars of gratefulness ! Hold on PT!

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Send comments to progpromoter (BETA) | Report this review (#123475)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "How can I be sure I'm here."

FOABP is a compelling and ambitious piece of modern rock music that aims high and really achieves it goals. The subject matter is dark and relevant and also cyclical, isn't it? We get the stories of disaffected youth in every generation and I'm reminded here of "Subdivisions." While I think Mr. Wilson lacks the poetic pen of Mr. Peart ("Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth.But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth") he still does a reasonably good job of explaining the emptiness that this generations of kids is dealing with.

The title track starts things out quite well I think with the ominous guitar riff and catchy crunch. "How can I be sure I'm here?" is a key line of the track and gets those of us one generation on from these kids to think to ourselves: what exactly can we say, what can we do to respond to that need, to that blank despair they have? We know in ourselves that Blank Planet is a mess and yet we couldn't stop ourselves from allowing another generation to fall prey to the same crap. We segue nicely into "My Ashes" which features some gorgeous melody although to be quite honest, Wilson owes Thom Yorke a royalty check for this track. Is this an outtake from "OK Computer" or what? Maybe so but it is still a pleasing track. At near 18 minutes "Anesthetize" qualifies for epic length status, featuring blissful noise guitar and lots of room which is very good. Alex's solo is fitting and quite nice although with 18 minutes to spare they could have easily given him a bit more space to elaborate. We later get into some near metal moments that nicely balance the rather pop sounding chorus in this track. What makes the track is the section from 12 minutes on where things are calmed down before a last perfect guitar lick goes to flatline. Nice ending to a truly great track.

"I never wanna be old and I don't want dependents." What a line to open "Sentimental" with and one that too many of us can relate to. This is an absolutely gorgeous song that again strikes me as pretty Radiohead but much more palatable to me. Where Radiohead will usually bore me before making me care PT seems to be able to make this work deliciously well. "Way Out of Here" is really, really good. Lots of variance in texture and pace, a beautiful chorus, Wilson's best solo, and some very inventive drumming in the metalish sections. Listen closely to this track as it might be the best on the album. "Sleep Together" unfortunately ends the album on a slightly weaker note. The "big" drums joining in at one minute are the first mistake, they should not be there or they should have been far more soft and ambient. The chorus seems pretty contrived to me and the song plods in places. I think "Way Out" would have been a better closer personally.

The material here focuses mainly on youth but I'm sure given Wilson's age that he is seeing more than "kid and x-box" when he speaks of the Blank Planet. We are entering a century with problems that seem insurmountable, from the cultural to the environmental, war, disease, poverty, justice, personal responsibility, religious fanaticism, on and on. These things and many more are what we all have to deal with, let alone the challenge of having a fulfilling and happy personal life. I'm sure that Wilson feels the kids have the potential to confront these problems. But are we giving them the support they need and are we listening to their concerns about themselves or is it easier to give them another gadget to distract them? Can we put aside our demands from our jobs to spend that extra time with them? Have we really gotten to the point where a prescription for anti-depressants is an essential part of growing up? All of the tenets of our prized economic system that hold things together have the downside potential to the human condition and perhaps Wilson will delve further into the broader picture on future albums. Are we better off continuing down this road of success as defined by profit growth potential or will there have to be a scaling back of expectation of material success at some point? While such a shift would hurt us short term economically, would not it shift back the emphasis of life to personal relationships, time to slow down, to perhaps embrace art over yet another "goal", and to leave the electronic Blank landscape for a one with a heart, pulse, flesh, earth, water, soul. Smaller community based existences for which family and connections to each other are enough, for which we are not fed this message that to succeed means "you must want it ALL, and then push for MORE." I don't mean to go off the deep end here with personal musings but these are the thoughts that FOABP brings to my head and maybe some of you have the same thoughts.

Just one more: I remember being a kid and longing for summer vacation. I remember endless days with no structure, roaming the fields behind our neighborhood with friends and exploring. Playing. Being free. Hanging out in the basements of friends or riding bikes down to the park. I remember dreading the beginning of the next school year. Perhaps those of you who grew up in the 60s and 70s know of the world I speak. Last week I heard a 13-year old exclaim how she is dreading the END of the school year and it's going to be SO boring in summer. How things change. But is that for the better? Is growing up now so about learning conformity and structure that kids today cannot deal with down time? Have they forgotten how to be kids? Does every moment of a child's life have to be filled with structured activity? League sports? Summer school programs? And is the only alternative to that the Blank Planet? I don't know but my gut tells me that kids today have been cheated out of a certain type of childhood that I can't imagine missing. What I do know is that I'm glad I'm not a kid in today's world. And we need to explain to these kids why summer is NOT boring. Again sorry for the long story but I feel it relates to the music in question. The subject matter of FOABP hopefully will help lead to these discussions in the place that matters most: living rooms.

An undeniable modern rock classic.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#123590)
Posted Sunday, May 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fascinating album in a heavier and more sophisticated direction, as embodied by the atmospheric and melodic "Way Out of Here," which veers into some crushingly weighty passages."Anesthetize" is the epic tour-de-force , "Sleep Together" struggles for expression to the effect of creating a dense , full of anguish atmosphere , while "My Ashes" reminds me of Led Zeppelin's"No Quarter"haunting landscapes.Brilliant work ,that gets better and better with every listen.One of the best albums of the year 2007 so far- definitely!

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Send comments to Fantasyman (BETA) | Report this review (#124011)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everybody knows that Steve Wilson is a musical workaholic. Besides his Porcupine Tree he joins several side projects as well. Maybe the influence and experience of the other projects are debet to his musical abilities. Besides his musical talent he is a remarkable composer and producer. Fear of a blank planet is the proof that Porcupine Tree has grown to a high level. Besides the great quality of the music recording the songs are growing and growing on you the more you listen to it. The drums by Gavin Harrison are hypnotizing, Collin Edwin is great as usual and Richard Barbieri is one of a kind. Not to mention Steve Wilson off course. I will not discuss every song individually; many reviewers did this for me ;-). I wrote this record after at least 2 months of listening and this album is still growing on me. So if you like to spend money on excellent music then this is it with no doubt!

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Send comments to J@pie Mol (BETA) | Report this review (#124212)
Posted Friday, June 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was actually the first Porcupine Tree album that I listened to, and I have to say that I was quite stunned by it. This is what it's all about: strong melodies, haunting atmospheres and great lyrics in the tradition from Roger Waters. The theme of the album is about how kids get emotionally numb and passified in the modern world. But we don't get any lectures from bandleader and lyricist Wilson. He let's us hear from the kids themselves: all the lyrics are written in first person. I guess that the album actually is about a feeling of not belonging, of alienation, something that most of us have felt and can relate to. The music is mostly quite slow, full of detail, dark as ink but much more beautiful. I love this album. If you´re into Floyd albums like Animals and The Wall you will adore this one. Just listen to the nearly 18 minutes long centerpiece Anesthetize. It will blow you away.

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Send comments to Kriton (BETA) | Report this review (#124357)
Posted Saturday, June 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best PT album since In Absentia (IMO). It has all of elements necessary to be a masterpiece: excellent lyrics (very depressive in this case) with very dark atmospheres, like early King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator, great melodies, heavy guitar riffs that recalls Deadwing album and the double bass drum gives a metallic power to their sound, all of this blended with mellow parts, where the synthesizers are in the first plane. Anesthetize is the best song and counts with a participation of Rush´s guitarist Alex Lifeson. The title-track, My Ashes and Sentimental are the others great tracks in this CD. 5 Stars

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Send comments to afa48 (BETA) | Report this review (#125197)
Posted Friday, June 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well the present music effort dated April 2007 is very interesting, even though I have to remark a few defects inside, as for a certain spacey refrain within their main tunes, which seem to be just a little bit forced , above all in comparison to their usual standard. Nevertheless there are some gems inside such as "My ashes", especially regarding of the stunning chorus performed by Wilson in the best manner...then you can appreciate the 17 minutes long mini-suite`Anesthetize', the most melodic among their best tunes, as well as such an interesting Alex Lifeson solo, introducing the most heavy part of the album!! Therefore I can't forget the psychedelic touch of `Way Out of Here', perhaps the most experimental song of the whole cd, but for instance the lyrics of "Sleep Together' seem to be quite far away from their best moments, as a sort of controversial artistic expression ...anyway the mood of their work is strong and quite original too, despite their strangest songs sometimes not being inspiring at all... so at the end make your own choice, especially if you are an old fan of the American band and you can forgive them this way for every diverse - sometimes controversial - kind of expression you will find here!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#125223)
Posted Saturday, June 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fear of a Blank Planet took me a few listens to get into. Initially it felt a bit bland but after a few listens I found myself playing the same tracks over and over again. Sadly, for me, there are some weaker tracks which just don't do it.

It opens with the track Fear of a Blank Planet which has a strong driving electric guitar-led heavy sound. If you listen carefully the lyrics are pretty depressing though. [3/5]

The second track My Ashes is more of a ballad with the acoustic guitar coming more to the fore and therefore much slower than the previous track. Lovely mellow track which I feel it is the second strongest track on the album. [4/5]

Then we come to Anesthetize which weighing in at 17mins 40s is by far the longest track on the album. It starts with superb jungle drumming at the front of the mix providing a real drama to the sound. There is an excellent guitar solo at about 4 minutes in. Slowly the drumming takes less of the front of the mix and at 6.20 we are into a classic PT switch to a metal sound. An overall heavier sound then takes over. At 9.20 we start to get the first instance of a fabulous bass riff. At around 11.10 we get about 15 seconds of metal mayhem to suddenly switch back to the main chorus followed by that great bass riff. And then at 12.10 we suddenly get a complete switch of pace and sound - gone are the more metal sounds to be replaced by a simpler almost ballad-like section. I love the lyrics of this section and the way the "verse" is sung here. The track ending reminds me of some recent Marillion. This track is a masterpiece! [5/5]

Sentimental is next up starting with a piano chords against a hissy background with a very electronic drum coming in soon afterwards. There is something a bit Peter Gabriel about the sound to my ears. There is a very nice but brief piece of acoustic guitar towards the end. However, ultimately I find this song somewhat unmemorable. [2/5]

Track 5, Way Out of Here, lulls the listener into thinking this is going to be a bit of a ballad until the first chorus crashes in. The lyrics at this point turn scary. There is a great guitar solo about mid way followed by a very sudden change in pace and sound followed again by a dramatic heavy metal riff. After another chorus the track slowly closes. Probably my third favourite on the album and a great piece of music. [4/5]

The final track, Sleep Together is to my mind the weakest track on the album. I feel it doesn't really go anywhere. It sounds as if it was about to end at around 4.20, but continues on for another 3 minutes with the last minute or so adding much needed drama. [2/5]

My verdict: Anesthetize is brilliant, truly a masterpiece and My Ashes and Way Out of Here are excellent. However, the other tracks just don't lift the quality up quite enough for me to give more than an overall 3 stars though if you absolutely love PT's music I can quite easily see why you would rate this 4 stars.

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Send comments to ProgRobUK (BETA) | Report this review (#125615)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steven Wilson is, without a doubt, the most important figure in progressive rock today. His production of countless prog albums, including three vital Opeth releases, his prog metal meanderings in Blackfield, and his quintessential space rock act Porcupine Tree place him at the pinnacle of a scene that, admittedly, isn't thriving as much as it could be. Thus, his creative input to it must be welcomed and, when necessary, worshiped.

Porcupine Tree's ninth studio album since their 1991 debut On the Sunday of Life is a conscious steering back toward their Floydian roots and away from the often modern rock-oriented approach to 2005's also spectacular Deadwing. The songs still touch on this style, but also touch on every other style imaginable. This is pure art in the truest sense of the word.

Fear of a Blank Planet draws its lyrical inspiration from Bret Easton Ellis' 2005 novel Lunar Park, in which parents "cure" their troubled son with a steady diet of prescription drugs, television, and XBox, effectively cutting him off from the outside world. Wilson uses this idea and connects it to the world we live in today, with lyrics such as the title track's "How can I be sure I'm here?/The pills that I've been taking confuse me/I need to know that someone sees that there's nothing left/I simply am not here". Face it, people, we're a nation of narcotics and neurotics.

Musically, this album reflects the bleak nature of the lyrics with songs that manage to be somewhat depressing even when they're upbeat. "Fear of a Blank Planet" is a rocker with an addictive recurring acoustic lick. "My Ashes" and "Sentimental" are the albums true ballads, each heavy on keyboards and pianos and with emotional vocal performances by Wilson. The album's final two tracks, "Way Out of Here" and "Sleep Together" (the former of which featuring King Crimson's Robert Fripp on keys) each dabble in electronic music with an emphasis on vocal effects and pedal board wizardry. Each of these songs is great in its own right.

However, the whopper of the album is track number three, the nearly eighteen minute epic "Anesthetize". This song has everything that makes prog rock great in it, without being even the slightest bit long-winded or boring. The intro features drummer Gavin Harrison's Peart-worshiping fills (which are actually quite good) over clean electric chords from Wilson. This is your chance to put your seatbelt on, because from this point on, chaos ensues and takes no prisoners. Almost tech-death metal riffing, an amazing guest guitar solo by Alex Lifeson of Rush, soaring vocal harmonies, a quiet interlude, vocal rounds, a mini-ballad inserted into the song, and finally, more [%*!#]ing vocal rounds. Whew. This song is literally a roller coaster of emotion (well, I suppose not literally literally) and warrants no less than one listening per every two days (such is my protocol).

Between this album's concept, music, songwriting prowess, and unabashed flying of the prog rock flag, I have yet to hear a better collection of songs this year. Listen for yourself.

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Send comments to DethMaiden (BETA) | Report this review (#125820)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Steven Wilson likes to plumb the deep recesses of your soul ,especially the dark bits! Paranoia and fear abounds in most PT albums I've heard since the brilliant Stupid Dream. Wonderfull atmospheric electronics and beautifull rythmic structures are two of the very pleasing aspects of their music that I particularly enjoy and this album may well be their finest moment to date. The centre peice Anesthetize (clocking in at 17:42) seesm to have caused the most debate. Is it a proper long peice or just 3 seperate peices cobbled together? I go for the former.You need to listen to this (and the rest of the album) at least 10 times to realise that (perhaps) but there's no mistaking it. My favourite track though is Lets Sleep Together.The rising crescendo as the track gains pace is almost orchestral like and extremely impressive.The whole album works though.If there was an extra gold star for album of the year then this gets it by a country mile in my book.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#125834)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One thing I like about Porcupine Tree is the amazing consistency with their albums. Every time I'd buy a new album, it was really good, so props for that. Anyway, "Fear Of A Blank Planet" is Porcupine Tree's ninth studio album and doesn't fail to please. It's kind of a concept album revolving around technology and the effect it's having on our youth. The album continues in the same vein as the previous "Deadwing", but there's plenty of surprises here.

The album opens with a fast beat that turns into a guitar-driven song much like the title track on "Deadwing." Steven Wilson's singing keeps things moving as he fires off the lyrics that describe the type of person this album is focused on. It's really quite eerie. The song slows down to a quieter section, repeating themes previously heard in the song, and then exploding into a killer riff. The guitar solo here also resembles that found on the song "Deadwing." The song comes to an end, playing melodies that will be heard in the next song, "My Ashes."

This song is a slower, more melancholy acoustic piece that slows things down after the firestorm of the opening song. Wilson's singing is more sad and regretful which reflects the mood of the piece very well. Great vocal melodies, especially in the chorus, really stand out.

"Anesthetize" is getting the most attention among fans, and there's good reason. This 18-minute epic has three distinct sections that could stand on their own as individual songs, but it sounds so much better as one. It's really such a well done and cohesive piece it'd be pretty pointless to try and describe it. The first section is mellower, the second is heavy and features probably the most brutal metal Porcupine Tree has ever performed and the third section is mellower again, with great vocal harmonies. This is easily one of the best Porcupine Tree songs ever.

"Sentimental" has a nice piano part that reminds me "Collapse The Light Into Earth." Like the title says, this ballad as a sentimental feel to it and it actually quite beautiful. An acoustic passage at the end speeds things up a bit before going into "Way Out Of Here."

It opens up with Robert Fripp guesting, playing his soundscapes. This song has a catchy bass line and a killer chorus with the distorted guitar. While it's not the best song on the album, it's certainly very good.

I don't know about other people, but I was a little surprised by the last song, "Sleep Together." The song starts with a continuous keyboard loop and carries throughout the song. Gavin Harrison's drumming gives the song an industrial feel and Colin Edwin's bass line is catchy again. After the choruses and at the end of the song, there are some climatic strings that really enhance the song. They have almost a frantic feel. Very interesting Porcupine Tree song, but it works.

In all, this is an excellent album. Everything is very cohesive and flows seamlessly. Steven Wilson's vocal performance is very engaging and it sounds like he's really putting his soul into what he's singing. If you weren't too put off by "Deadwing", give this album a chance because you won't be disappointed.

Standout songs: "Fear Of A Blank Planet," "Anesthetize", "Sleep Together"

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Send comments to Arsillus (BETA) | Report this review (#125907)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I think that Porcupine Tree had made a mistake by choosing to make concept album. I am sure that this will get many good ratings, just for being thematic album, which makes us sure that this great band is part of progressive rock. Is this what we wanted?

First song, Fear of A Blank Planet, is like a clone to Deadwing song, from Deadwing album, only it is not so strong as Deadwing. In Deadwing song were those grinding guitars, beautiful solos of Adrian Belew and great guitar from Akerfeld of Opeth. But here, we have nothing of these. This is one of the weakest songs PT have ever made. Lyrics are too obvious, guitar is bit shy, and passages are week ant pointless.

Second one is My Ashes. This is the best song on album, because of great sinth riff of Barbieri, and nice strings, but it could have been better.

In Anestethize, drums sound so plastic and uninspired, we have one drum loop that does not change for few minutes. I believe that Chris Maitland is better drummer, more sophisticated than Harrison, who tends toward industrial rock. And guitars in this song sound so artificial, with these industrial loops... PT are just not good enough in industrial rock. Solo of Mr. Alexandar Zivojinovich (Alex Lifeson) is very cool, but Steven, who has one of the most beautiful voices on earth should not have played in processed voice. It sounds so dull and artificial. It does not show emotions. All in all, this is good song, but it could have been better, if more organic!

Sentimental is nice song, but bit too sad. I would not hear it many times. Guitars are in background.

Way Out of Here has disturbing soundscapes, and is very dark. Actually it has feeling of weakness and deep tragedy. It has some guitar solo, too, which is quite good.

Last song, Sleep Together has only interesting strings solo to remember, at the end of album, and effect of repeating voice which is present even in O.S.I debut album, where Wilson sings on one song.

This is good album, but it is just too industrial, after so many albums which were purely organic (Lightbulb Sun, Stupid Dream, Deadwing...) Bad thing is not the fact that Pt go toward industrial rock here. It is the feeling that their industrial attempts sound dull.

I think that theme of album is bit too hard to analize, and bit too hard to listen and to think of, and the band gives no progressive answer on the questions stated here.

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Send comments to nisandzic (BETA) | Report this review (#126119)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm one of the few dissenting voices here who says this new CD ain't all that. I saw them showcase it live a few weeks back and even then felt it strangely lacking substance. I dunno how old Stephen Wilson is now but I feel it may be a little too old to be singing songs about teenage angst. In his own words 'sound of music makes you wanna rage, but it's made by millionaires who're nearly twice your age'. I found the album samey and without much real depth. As a very enthusiastic fan and one who has been charmed by 'The Tree' for two years and bought pretty much the whole back catalogue. I was deeply dissapointed that this cd stayed in 'depressed' mode for, pretty much, it's entirity and lack the broadness of scope and colour offered by it's last 5 predecessors. It was all a bit too er.... teen metal for me. It should have been for the great Mr Wilson too.

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Send comments to daveruegg (BETA) | Report this review (#126311)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
King of Loss
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the new release from the Progressive Rock band, Porcupine Tree and this is really following the formula of the latest two releases, of which all being a little melodic, a little metallic and a little dynamic.

The album kicks off with the catchy FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET or the commercial song on this album. This song is of course the catchiest and it is my choice for favorite song on the album. The lyrics on this song is quite interesting in that it is following the formula of SHALLOW on Deadwing, while talking about angsty teenage thoughts. Brilliant! I must admit, this song is a real rocker, a perfect way to start any Porcupine Tree set! MY ASHES is sort of a transitional song, in between the rocker and the epic to follow. Its a very good song with a lot of emotions, following the more mellow and melodic Porcupine Tree format. ANESTHETIZE is the epic in the middle of the Porcupine Tree album, it is the song that reminds me of SOMEWHERE... On Deadwing, but this song is a truly remarkable piece of work by Porcupine Tree, one of their best songs they've ever made. Remarkably contrasting feeling and some of the nicest chords they've ever written. The next song is a more ballad type ofsong and it is called SENTIMENTAL. Its a song much in the mode of LAZARUS without the poppy, catchy feeling. Of course, the latter being much more pop, while SENTIMENTAL is just a straight-forward melodic ballad.The album finishes off with WAY OUT OF HERE and SLEEP TOGETHER. Too good songs, but rather lacking compared to the stellar start.

Ratings of single songs: Fear of A Blank Planet- 96% My Ashes- 90% Anesthetize- 94% Sentimental- 92% Way out of Here- 85% Sleep Together- 88%

Overall, I must say Fear of A Blank Planet is a great release from Porcupine Tree and one of my favorites alongside Signify, In Absentia and The Sky Moves Sideways.

An album that is in between 4 and 4.5 stars, but could go either way.

About 92% on my scale, really.

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Send comments to King of Loss (BETA) | Report this review (#126730)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After two straight hits with In Absentia and Deadwing, Wilson and co. score a hat trick with Fear of a Blank Planet, PT's most lyrically brilliant album. However, whereas I don't care too much for Deadwing, I absolutely love this album. The album is conceptual and deals with technology's and society's desensitizing affect on modern youth. As a member of Generation Y, I can tell you that Wilson knows his stuff. The standout star here, however, is drummer Gavin Harrison, who places himself high on the list of greatest prog drummers with this release.

The title track opens the album with a look into the true "blank generation" (eat your heart out, Richard Hell). TV addiction, drugs, and meaningless sex are all touched upon. The lyrics wouldn't sound out of place on a Fugazi album, honestly. This track is one of the more metallic pieces in the PT repetoire. My Ashes is a great ballad in the vein of the ballads of Stupid Dream. Anestethize is the highlight of the album, a near 18 minute epic complete with absurdly good drumming and a killer guest solo from Rush's Alex Lifeson. The song goes from opressively heavy to hauntingly soft in the course of it's epic length, and the lyrics are masterful. Sentimental lives up to its title with it's look into the emotions of the empty youth. It is one of the most beautfiul ballads I've ever heard. Way Out of Here features soundscapes from Mr. Robert Fripp. The song deals with the pain of a a failed relationship and the feelings of depression and isolation that come with it. Fripp and Wilson mesh wonderfully. Sleep Together ends the album with the teen trying to cope with the scale of his emptiness with suicide. This is the one song on the album that does not have awe-inspiring drumming, but it's still a great tune.

With this album Wilson takes a snapshot of today's youth. We are no longer allowed to learn and discover things on our own but rather are force fed what a school board believes is useful. The answer to any problem is mediaction rather than trying to discern the root of the problem (ADD, depression). Every child gets a trophy so no one's feelings are hurt. Schools lower test standards so everyone passes. With all of these issues, it's no stretch of the imagination to see teens committing suicide once they realize the emptiness of their lives. It amazes me that a middle aged Englishman has his finger so accurately on the pulse of American youth. Musically, this manages to be both Porcupine Tree's heaviest and softest album. It is even more atmospheric than the early psychedelic material. The influence of Opeth (who Wilson produced several albums for) has never shone through as beautifully as it does with FoaBP (In Absentia is another good example of the positive effect of Opeth on PT). The album is not without flaws, but it's PT's best studio effort yet (even surpassing the wonderul In Absentia).

Grade: A

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#127106)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
kunangkunangku
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Well, as almost every reviewer here has already put it, that's right, this is the most anticipated album of the year. With huge expectation in it, of course. The most obvious reason, if it has to be mentioned, is previous porcupine tree album's (deadwing) high status as the best in its genre, as voted by none other than members of progarchives.com.

There's an indication of some kind of mighty burden to the band by saying that, either it is realized or not. And it seems as if the band should compete with themselves.

But when the first sound flows out from the speakers and can be heard clearly in the opening track, the title track "Fear of the Blank Planet", which is followed by crisp guitar arpeggio, and then taken over by gradually-growing-faster groovy rhythm, every imagination about unmatched expectation disappeared just like that. Not only it, confirmly, is porcupine tree's signature sound. More than that, what can instantly being sensed is that the band delivers once again irresistible, intelligent, intense and awesome music.

And that's definitely true. Throughout the album, there's always melody, sounds, rhythm, and also space textures that make each transition from one song to another flows like one's driving in a freeway. Even small contributions from Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp --both are respected professor in the progressive rock landscape --also has the capabilities to strike a deep chord with the listeners. Each of the six songs --totally clocking in at less than 60 minutes --can be enjoyed on first listen. To dive further, and to absorb every aspect the band's offerings, what's needed are only patience and willingness to understand the kind of problem the band addressed.

Among them is concerning the bleak future for kids whose life is dominated by computers and MTV. The band deliver it in the song titled "Anesthetized". At nearly 18 minutes, this epic is a journey across imaginary manacing atmosphere. It started with the twinkling opening where Steve Wilson's plaintive vocals intensify his brooding lyrics before reaching majestic peaks of devastating sonic grandeur. It's easily the best track.

Like the band previous efforts, from each phase of development since releasing "On the Sunday of Life (1991), this latest output still combines rock, psychedelia and ambient elements. And with the injection of metal sounds, as it has been doing more recently, the band stretch a proper canvas on which they paint gloomy colors that represent the choosen theme.

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Send comments to kunangkunangku (BETA) | Report this review (#127109)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The haunting, aggressive music of Porcupine Tree is back again in 2007. As all good albums, this needs time to digest and absorb properly. (Seeing it live really helps!) After the atmosphere sinks in, and you can grasp the album's purpose, it's a great rewarding experience. Like all Porc Tree (or Tofu Bush) music, the album is filled with various similar atmospheres. They're only similar because the album is conceptual. It's a full-blown concept album - not a semi-conceptual album (such as Selling England), or a side-long concept album (2112), or a labeled concept album with a vague and unclear concept (Tales!) but a fully developed, clearly stated concept album. The concept? Well, Wilson adopts the frustrated cynical wisdom of Waters for a satirical presentation of the problem(s) with modern young people. You may think that this shapes up to be a simple and dull album full of odes to teenaged angst, or perhaps you don't, but it doesn't change the fact that this album's concept is not a trivial one.

[Before I continue with my review, I'd like to note that I am a teen, plagued by this dreaded angst as any other (though, happily less oft) and when I refer to the teenaged population as 'they', please know that I truly mean 'we' and, no matter how I would, I cannot fully exclude myself from the young peoples' numbers.]

The first of many of the album's subjects is technology. "Xbox is a god to me," or "A song comes on to my iPod," or "TV.it's always on," all properly demonstrate the young people's fascination, reverence, obsession, and reliance on modern technology. This leads to weak human relationships, and thus to loneliness. Technology will be dubbed problem #1, and is likewise the root of numerous other problems. Another problem would be drugs (not only the illegal kind). Wilson sings about hopelessness, apathy and confusion derived from consumption of drugs. He sings about the feeling of being lost and even losing the conviction that I (not me, but one) even definitely exist in this realm. Problem # 2 is a huge focus of the epic Anesthetize.

There are many other focuses of the album, but #1 and 2 are arguable the most prominent, and the two biggest roots of other problems. (For example, violence and anger is a problem following the despair of drugs, and the influence from violent films, music and games, which is technology.) So hopefully we all now understand fully the concept of the album. The music of the album is quite up to par with Porc's standards. There's a healthy balance of adrenaline-pumping metal, touching softer parts, atmospheric ambient moments as well. One of the greatest parts of Fear of a Blank Planet, and Porc Tree's music in general, is their ability to change the feel or mood of a song in a split second. The commanding mood of the album is a very blue one. Blue as in the colour, as well as the attribute. Something about the music produces the colour blue in my mind. If I closed my eyes, I see the blue on black of the album's haunting cover. Strange? Quite. Perhaps someone knows what I mean, and likely there are more who think that I'm glorifying mere rock music. But this isn't mere rock music; it's meaningful, conceptual, substantial prog: and I kid you not, it is great.

Despite one of the most wicked guitar solos ever (courtesy of guitar legend Lifeson) and very compelling atmospheres (courtesy of prog legend Fripp [on one track, anyway]) and very beautiful segments (particularly My Ashes), I find the album is missing the very, very slightest icing on the cake, as it were. The cake is a tad dry, but absolutely satisfying. When In Absentia rose to a climax and delivered an emotional explosion, this album is missing a plot line, and there is no climax. It's a bit flat. But, again, as flat as it is, it's full of scenery.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#127287)
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
Dim
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Stoned in the mall again... and again

It was very hard not giving this album five stars, but the song's like Sleep together and Sentimental, though good, dont let this album take home the masterpiece trophy.This album is much more mature than it's predecessor "deadwing", with deeper subject matter and more precise musicianship. Song's like Fear of a blank planet, Anesthetize and Way out here make this a must for any Space rock fan!

Fear of a blank planet- Probably the best opening riff of any modern prog album there is, it's dark acoustic then evolves into a luquidy space rock jam with Steven's muffled vocals acting as a teenager kid complaining about everything that's possible from his Xbox to his mom to pills he's poppin. Afterwhich the song turns into the clasic PT metal that we have all come to know and love, then burnes down to a sweeter more ballady groove. This song also uses the quote "Stoned in the mall again" Which is used in three of the six songs on the album! 4.5/5

My Ashes- People give this song a lot of crap, but I find it quite pretty. I like the meloncholic keyboards in this song that really set the mood. This song is also a statement saying that you dont need the most beautiful voice to make a very enjoyable ballad. This song kinda goes off the cocept of the first person view that we were given and point's towards Steven Wilson's probable view towards modern Britain. A very nice song with an excellent chorus, but has a weird noise at the end that extends the song to five minuetes, for prog cred maybe? 4.5/5

Anesthetize- I probably dont need to say what's already been said about this song except, the drums rule! Thumb's up for the otherwise boring Gavin Harrison! 5/5

Sentimental- I dont quite get this song, it seem's like filler that's part of the concept for me. I like the piano riff and the electric drum's, but otherwise the song dosent really click for me. 3/5

Way out of here- Great song, with the help of some soundscapes from the king of guitar's Robert Fripp! It start's very nicely, but after the first verse the song builds into a misleading faster section just to go into a much heavier one, his show's bad aong arrangement. When the Guitar solo comes in though, nothing else matter's! The soloing has been cut down extensively from deadwing, but is much better on this album! The song ends on a very nice metal riff leaving you very stoked for the next song.

Sleep together- I would probably like this song a lot more if it wasnt the closer. The chorus is very cool, sound's like Wilson's voice is sucked right through a machine, and the ending part is pretty nice as well with the weird middle eastern instrument. Otherwise a very weird song, with a very uneeded drum fill at the end.3.5/5

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Send comments to Dim (BETA) | Report this review (#127302)
Posted Monday, July 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Porcupine Tree's ninth studio album comes out as one of the best of their whole career, as well as a strong contender for album of the year (I for one would put some money to that. but I don't have any jejeje).

The album, as you all might already know is a conceptual one about a kid who goes through life having "seen" and "heard" it all at such an early age that nothing surprises him anymore, living in a numb state, doing (prescription) drugs, having problems with his parents. etc. It seems this concept is something Wilson sees in today's youth. Now; if that is all youth or just a small percent, it's not clear, and because of this unclearness there has been a bit of controversy and debate surrounding the album; which, in my eyes, is good by the way! Personally I think Wilson takes a small but important group of today's youth (which might grow in the next years or not, it's anyone's guess), he doesn't say "This is what is happening to YOUR kids!", but, in order to make that "view" powerful enough, he has to go a little over the top, because other wise. it's just not interesting enough. Would you buy an album about a kid who is a bit confused in life and has a few social problems? Well, probably you would, because the music here is incredibly good none the less. YET it wouldn't be the same. So, I for one like the concept, think it works and give Mr. Wilson two thumbs up!

Now, let's talk about the music. As many have gone into details about each and every song and note in this album, I won't, I will keep it more on the surface. Two songs are good, two songs are very good and two songs are little masterpieces. The first two, the "weakest" sort to say, the opener "Fear of a blank planet" and the closer "Sleep together". Now, this is kind of a problem cause, normally when it comes to good albums, it's the opener and the closer the ones that take the cake. Well. not the case here. Yet, there is nothing wrong with this songs, the others are just better. The two very good ones are the second one "Ashes" and "Way out of here", which leads to the little masterpieces (one of which isn't that little either): "Anesthetize", the album's 18 minutes epic and "Sentimental", third and fourth tracks. Mmm. funny thing, the opener and the closer are the weakest, and the third and fourth song are the strongest, it's like a pyramid or such. interesting indeeeeeed!!! Now, back on topic, this last two songs, "Anesthetize" and "Sentimental" are by far two of the band's best ever. with "Anesthetize" taking the medal when it comes to the best song in their catalog. ever! Yes, it's that good, believe me, the hype is true, this is THE song. I won't give away anything, just listen to it, you will agree with me and then maybe we can have a beer or two and talk about how good this song is, who knows.

The album is fantastic, but it's not 5 stars material. Had the opener and the closer be just as good as the rest of the album, it would have been. It's something like a 4,5 this album, but for me it leans more towards the 4th star than the 5th. so I guess it's a 4,40 or something. I don't know. I'm no good with math.

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Send comments to el böthy (BETA) | Report this review (#127553)
Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have to say that all of the Porcupine Tree material (which isn't that much) I've heard thus far has sounded great on the surface but it doesn't seem to have any depth or soul. This album is no exception. The album is very well produced (perhaps over-produced) and sounds great but for me it doesn't go past that and I can find no emotional connection. There's nothing overly wrong with the music at all but there lacks any kind of passion and sounds sterile and lifeless. The metal riffing seems quite out of place and hinders any sense of coherence to this uninspired derivative mess. Admittedly I've only heard Stars Die which seemed to get worse as it went along. I wonder if I'd think differently about some of PT's middle period releases. It's a shame because there are some moments of potential here which never quite seem to go anywhere. This porcupine Tree album reminds me of latter day Pink Floyd (ie post Waters); a thin veneer or at best a second rate impersonation. You think your getting the real thing for you hard earned but you only have to scratch the surface a little to realise you've been sold a piece of junk.

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Send comments to requiredfield (BETA) | Report this review (#127561)
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What's the lighthouse leading us in this age?

Probably everybody will agree in to aim Porcupine Tree like one of these guides.Not only for their releases, also for their colaborations in another works.

One of the most importants steps in the career of Opeth was the hiring as producer of Mr.Wilson for the album Deliverance.Curiosly in the current album it seems that Akerfeldt has return the help.Not only in the most bravery metal parts of the album, also in the definition. It's an album with more shape than his predecessors, I haven't found the problems of concentration, that I had in the previous releases.

Moreover the melodies have strongly improved. In my opinion Porcupine Tree used to create beauty melodies, but not really emotive melodies at all. In this album there are a lot of moments that I've felt thrilled.

Gorgeous!

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Send comments to olid16 (BETA) | Report this review (#127586)
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars MY FAVOURITE OF 2007

No one can deny the influence of this band on music of this decade, call it Progressive, Alternative, Electronic... you name it. The way they do (or he does) things should be taken(they are already) as a path to follow. Mr. Wison and friends have proven that experimentation can be done smartly and evolution will take it´s natural way, and not in a forced way like other bands, going from one place to another without a clue.

In the past, PT has tryied to make music in very diffent ways but always sticked to a very recognizable style, changing slightly from album to album and usually succesfully. In this case it seems that they have found a sound that haven´t changed too much in the last three efforts. But that doesn´t mean that they are stock and evolution stopped. They are now more focused on the creativity and quality of their music, and it looks they are comfortable this way, because the kind of art they achieved in this recording shows it.

I´ts no coincidence that people of weight of Fripp and LIfeson looked towards this direction. They had to see something they didn´t see in others, and why now? Why not before? Many reasons could be explained, as the own SW had said about this partnership, but i think it´s because they saw a very mature band with lot of potencial, yes they already had it time ago, but now at the highest.

And also they feel like a more cohesive band, you can tell listening to the more participative Richard Barbieri, the experimentated Colin Edwin bass and the drumming of Gavin Harrison, who is to be called as one of the new stars on the sticks. And what else can be said about Steven, one of the most prolific artist in the rock industry.

This album could be the best they´ve done, but is very difficult for me to say because there are so many PT albums i love so much that i would feel a bit unfaithful. At least in terms of quality it is. Also i can say that contains one of the best songs ever:"Anesthetize", and one of the most beautiful mellow tracks: "Sentimental" which lirycs get deep in me.

When i thought there was no higher to reach, no new horizons to find, PT gave us Fear Of A Blank Planet. It seems that Porcupine Tree is still to give us more and more each time, their creativity seems endless and their music flawless.

Viva el Prog!

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Send comments to FranMuzak (BETA) | Report this review (#127670)
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars With "Fear of a blank planet", PORCUPINE TREE add another excellent album to their already impressive discography. The theme of this album is the demise of the current generation of adolescents, whose lives are dulled by drug abuse, boredom and violence. It is not really a concept album in the usual sense of the word, but there is some coherence in lyrics and theme throughout the songs.

"Fear of a blank planet" starts with the title track. This is one of PT's more commercial songs, but it is a great opener nonetheless. It has a catchy melody and a great drive that make for an excellent up-tempo track.

"My ashes", the second track, is a slow ballad with an acoustic feel. This is pure beauty. The chorus is as emotional as it can get.

"Anesthetize" could be called the masterpiece of the album. With 17 minutes it provides a very complete listening experience that encapsulates all aspects of PT's style. The song starts off in a very relaxed way, dominated by a drum rhythm that takes the music ever so gently to more heavy parts where electric guitars join in. This is a song that slowly builds to a climax, alternating between instrumental and vocal sections. You feel that great things are bound to happen, and indeed they do when a brutal metal riff kicks in around 6:00. The real climax comes around 11:00 where there is some frantic riffage that is unmatched in PT history. Unfortunately, after this the interesting part of the song is over, and what is left is a rather dull aftermath which I find hard to keep interested in. In my opinion it would be better if the song ended after its climax as the remainder doesn't really do it justice.

On to the next one: "Sentimental". This track is everything the title suggests. It can be compared to "My ashes" in both beauty and emotional impact.

The only not-so-excellent track is "Way out of here". It has a rather "undefined" melody that doesn't really stick. One interesting aspect, however, is another riff that surprises the listener during the second half. PORCUPINE TREE is clearly exploring their heavier side...

The final song, "Sleep together", is different from all the others, but is nevertheless great! It is dominated by a single rhythmic keyboard note that persists throughout the whole song. The chorus is sung in highly distorted vocals accompanied by electric guitars. It kind of reminds me of NINE INCH NAILS... The song is concluded by a psychedelic string section that is really interesting in this context.

As you may have already concluded from the descriptions above, this is an excellent album. Although PORCUPINE TREE may have gotten more commercial success lately, they continue to do their own thing and never cease to amaze the listener with their superb musical compositions.

Five stars.

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Send comments to ElroyJ (BETA) | Report this review (#128548)
Posted Sunday, July 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

The least I could say is that I was less and less a fan of Porcupine Tree's later albums, which seemed to ever more metal music than the previous one, even if I always thought this was not a linear phenomenon. And with Deadwing proving their utmost metallic album (with Stupid Dream), they had reached an almost unbearable level to this listener. This is all very subjective of course, but I find IFOABP much less so, with the exception of the centrepiece, the almost 18 mins Anesthetize, which rocks out loudly, helped by the guest appearance of Rush's very own Alex Lifeson on guitar and Way Out There where Fripp appears for some Frippertronics doodling and some mellotrons, real or not.

As much as I think this might be Porcupine Tree's best album since Lightbulb Sun (and maybe even since Signify), I still can't get myself to get heavily involved in Wilson's angst and fears, which always seem a little too nightmarish to actually make sense quickly enough. There are some real fine tracks present on this album, but they are the shorter ones (still over 5-mins, though): My Ashes (starting out like Zep's No Quarter, but .. evoking Talk To The Wind) and the quiet Sentimental (also starting and mainly on piano) and the closing Sleep Together (where the mellotrons reappear, real or fake) and ending in a full symphonic feast.

As said above, IFOABP could well be Porcupine Tree's best album in a long time, but this hardly makes me think that it could be anymore essential than any of their albums, all periods considered. But with this album, PT might just have signed one of the better high-profile prog albums of the year.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#129002)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars With Fear Of A Blank Planet Steve Wilson has finally convinced me of his compositional ability. FoaBP captures a previously missing emotional intensity in Wilson's earlier works and brings it to the forefront here in an omnipresent depression and apathy. Wilson finally fines the perfect mixture of his metal aspirations and his more mellow side. Instead of seeing the music as a zero-sum game where one must be dwarfed to accent the other, he brings both to the forefront here for what is Porcupine Tree's heaviest and softest album simultaneously that never ceases to segue perfectly despite this polarization.

Every member of the band performs to a degree I thought impossible judging by their earlier work. Everything has been stepped up a notch, including Wilson's voice which never falls short in its emotive range as I felt previously happened. The most dramatic change I see is in Gavin Harrison. Before hearing this album, comparisons of Harrison to legends such as Peart, Palmer, and Bruford left me stunned. His work here quickly made me a believer though. His technical prowess really takes its own form on this album and I believe he proves to be the most essential cog in the FoaBP machine. His sense of rhythm and melody astonish me, but most impressive is his restraint which he never fears to use.

The portrait FoaBP paints is the darkest shade of melancholy, but in it some of the most beautiful melodies I've heard come into play. Richard Barbieri's choice of tones fit the mood like a glove. Every song on the album delivers well more than its money's worth. The opening and closing tracks are perhaps the most one-dimensional and typical PT metal songs, but they still entertain with some great riffs and drumming. As a general rule for the album, the more depressing a track is the better it is. Which shouldn't come as a surprise given that's really what the album is all about. However, far above any competition is the epic "Anesthetize" featuring a trademark solo by Alex Lifeson (the quality of which I wish he could have duplicated on Snakes & Arrows). The epic consists of three parts, the closing being the strongest with one of PT's finest vocal harmonies.

I've never been one to gush over Steve Wilson's music. However, with FoaBP I think Wilson has finally earned his accolade as one of the best modern prog composers.

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Send comments to Equality 7-2521 (BETA) | Report this review (#130174)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Blacksword
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'm not sure there's much I can add to the discussion on this album. I'm sure it's been said, but for me this is one of the best new albums I've heard in years. I'm new to Porcupine Tree, and my God, have I been missing out!! 'FOABP' is my first PT album, but this is typical of me; to work backwards....

I also have 'In Absentia' which I absolutely love. I guess I just had to have my say, and here goes. From the moment this album started I was captivated. Every note, every word held my attention. It cast a spell over me; an effect which I have not felt from listening to music for a long time. 'FOABP' is an emotional rollercoaster of an album (excuse the cliche) The despairing lyrics set against the driving powerful rock of the title track is a very powerful combination indeed, and from that moment you are reeled into Porcupine Tree's dark and doom laden urban nightmare. Tales of pale, depressed mediacted kids sitting in front of a TV, or an X-Box, not really taking anything in, just existing. Blank. Their medication a substitiute for parental guidance, attention and love.

'My Ashes' is a wonderful moving song. Wilsons lyrics and the bands mastery of atmosphere and melody make this something of a tear jerker: "And my ashes fall beneath the silver sky where a boy rides on a bike, but never smiles. And my ashes fall on all the things we said, On a box of photographs under the bed"

"Anesthetize" is a contender for one of the best prog rock songs ever written. A bold statement perhaps, but based on the impact this song has on me, it proudly sits alongside 'Xanadu' by Rush, 'Awaken' by Yes or 'Dance on a Volcano' by Genesis, and why not I ask..? Each section of this song has been thought through and executed to perfection. I'm not big on metal these days, but the very heavy interludes in this track, add to the exitement, and provide brilliant contrast to the darker sections, which are reminiscent perhaps of some of Radioheads work. Alex Lifesons contribution is superb. A classic Lifeson solo.

"Sentimental" is another track where the melodies haunt you, and work beautifully with the lyrics. After listening to this album just once, it was the chorus to this song I found myself humming the next day: "Sullen and bored the kids stay.." Perfect.

"Way out of here" and "Sleep Together" are good solid PT tracks, and continue the albums themes powerfully until the last note, but for me the first four tracks are simply magnificent, and together with Rush and Tinyfish, I think PT have made 2007 a very good year for progressive music.

Is it all doom and gloom? Well, yes, pretty much, but dont let it get you down, hey. Porcupine Tree took me on a journey with this album. A journey which made my eyes water, brought a lump to my throat, sent a shiver down my spine, depressed me and thouroughly elated me. Thanks Porcupine Tree. You guys use music as weapon, but in a bloody marvellous way. Thankyou very much for 'FOABP' What more can I say? 4 stars.

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Send comments to Blacksword (BETA) | Report this review (#130302)
Posted Thursday, July 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree has really blown me away with this album. I don't think it's their best, but I think it's definitely way up there. Overall, the sound quality BLOWS ME AWAY. It almost sounds live and it feels like they're playing right next to me. Here's my breakdown of the songs: 1. Fear of A Blank Planet - A very catchy song which immediately captured my attention with the assertive guitar riffs. It reminded me a lot of Deadwing. Highly enjoyable, but not particularly groundbreaking. 2. My Ashes - This song is ok. I like it, but it's nothing special. I don't think I would go out of my way to listen to it on its own but fits well within the album. It seems a little bit weaker when taken out of its context. The electronic effects are intriguing. 3. Anesthetize - I did not like this song when I first listened to it but as with most great PT songs, it grew on me until I developed a kind of manic obsession with it. The intro is fantastic and the drumming is phenomenal. As one person pointed out, PT's drumming in this album hearkens to the almighty king of drums Phil Collins. The song is a little bit weak towards the middle, however it finishes strong and leaves you wondering. In my opinion, this is one of PT's best songs. 4. Sentimental - Love the piano throughout this whole song, especially the beginning. Wilson does an excellent job of creating the sentimental feeling through the music. 5. Way Out Of Here - I really enjoy the quietness of the beginning of this song and Wilson's yearning tone "...and I realize it's getting late." While I like the cacophany of sounds in the refrain, I can see why many people say that it's over the top. 6. Sleep Together - The intro to this song is so creepy, it fits the mood perfectly. The lyrics are a little blah but I find Wilson's begging tone so forceful and effective. The orchestral end is the best part though...it leaves you feeling out of breath and asking for more. I know some people think Steve Wilson is trying to grab the attention of teens with this album. If he is, I think he's doing a pretty poor job. This music is not going to appeal to the majority of teenagers, especially not the theme. I would agree that PT's music has gotten more "accessible" over the years, but the music is still far from being mainstream enough to appeal to teens. I would know, since I am 17. I'm the only person my age who loves Genesis and PT. As for FoaBP's theme...I think it's fabulous. It's scary for me because I see it every day: people who walk around like they're anesthetized and I can relate to it. Maybe that's why I am so attracted to this album, because I feel disconnected from a society that I watch warily from the sidelines. It's great that someone has described this crisis through music. This album isn't for the faint of heart. It's a beautiful work and I am constantly glad that I was blessed to stumble upon PT.

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Send comments to LucyintheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#130644)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
evenless
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Fear Of A Blank Planet" was inspired by the book "Lunar Park" by Bret Easton and is based on a generation of kids who have grown up in an over saturated technological society, where they have everything at their fingertips - and thus have experienced so much growing up that they have nothing to live for.

It seems like this horrifying image of society has become pretty accurate today already. I just read in the newspaper the other day that, especially British youth has become very bored with their lives and thus spend their time drinking, having sex, doing drugs, being violent and so on and so forth. Apparently Mr. Wilson is concerned and he has every right to be! As a young parent myself I do feel that this is becoming the worst threat of raising our children. I wish they will continue to play outside while they are still young and don't become "couch potatoes" or worse. Not even thinking about doing drugs, having unprotected sex and being beaten up by other children for no reason at all.

So that's for the dark theme of the album. Now let's continue with the songs itself. "Anesthetize" surely is the heart of the album clocking 17 minutes and 41 seconds. I heard this song (previously called the beast, since people were not familiar with the title yet) for the 1st time during one of PT's FOABP tryouts. And what a tryout it was! Especially Gavin Harrison's drumming on it is absolutely amazing! No wonder Gavin was chosen by the readers of "Modern Drummer" as best progressive rock drummer of the year! Simply amazing!

Just before the heart of the album we find the mellow song "My Ashes" and the album kicks off with the title track, being a more up-tempo track in the style of the Deadwing album. After the heart of the album we are treated on another mellow, sentimental track called, hmmm, "Sentimental" On this song multi instrumentalist SW trades in his guitar for a keyboard and his playing reminds me of the "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun" era. Wonderful mellow song you can dream away on.

After "Sentimental" there's "Way Out Of Here". It starts with a mellow intro accompanied by an almost whispering SW. After the whispering SW cries out "Way Out Of Here" and after that we get a more up-tempo song. Near the end some great guitar riffs! Pretty cool song.

The final track of the album is "Sleep Together" and it has an absolutely great beat and rhythm! This is one of my favourite tracks on the album, together with "Anesthetize" and the album title track.

Conclusion: With FOABP Porcupine Tree might very well have recorded their best album up to date. Was PT going into a somewhat heavier direction with "In Absentia" and "Deadwing", now it seems they found a nice mix between those two albums and for example the "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun" albums. As long as Mr. Wilson continues making albums like these we surely don't have to have "fear of a blank planet".

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Send comments to evenless (BETA) | Report this review (#132059)
Posted Monday, August 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have known PT a long time, so I figured I would review an album, and where better to start than the most recent. First off I have to say that I have experienced the emptyness that PT describes first hand. I have spent far too much of my life popping ritallin and adderall, people need to realize that this is a real issue. However the CD falls short because of my experience, the CD almost portrays the emptyness that can only be found in perscription drugs TV and pornography. But they dont quite reach that level of feeling or understanding, that said the music rocks.

Fear of a Blank Planet: Good song, but really weak opening for an album, probably one of the weaker tracks on the disk, it feels contrived, Steven Wilson cant seem to pull off the child character in this song, he feels like a condecending adult trying to fit into a role that he could never understand. The musicianship however is strong enough to save the song, especially the spacy ending.

My Ashes: The closest that PT get to their consept throughout the whole album, really feels hopless. The beautiful melody doesn't hurt either. This song seems to be picking up where In Abstentia left off, verry ambient keys and nice acustic guitar backing. Oh Yea this is a good one.

Anesthetize: the epic of the disc, the opening is particurally good, this is the tipe of song that slowly builds up your emotions, and then lets them drop again. This song is probably THE defining PT epic, the heavy on this song is heavy and the soft is soft. The song isn't particurally memorable, but it takes you on a journy, and no one can deny that it is awsome.

Sentimental: The piano ballad. It sounds like a PT piano ballad, not particurally interesting. This song is particurally condesending, I can understand that PT has a mesage but I dont think this is the best way they could express it. Weakest song on the disc hands down.

Sentimental: Great dramatic song, it is so angsty without needing to be heavy or overbearing, really good, perfectly atmospheric and minimalistic without being boring. "I try to forget you and I know that I will in a million years, or mabe a week" perfect. The song only clocks in at 5:26 but it has an epic feel, pulling you through sevral moods, and even a heavy inerlude that to me seems to be the kids suicidal decision. The absolute best song on the album, perfect feeling and musistianship.

Sleep Together: creepy and powerfull, strangelly reminicent of Brian Eno and at the same time Sigur Ros. Mabe its just the minimal ambiance (thanks Fripp). To me this song feels like a good old fasioned rocker, only played through a haze, it goes great with the theme. My complaint with this song is that it ends and then feels the need to ruin the mood by throwing in an extra drum fill, stupid stupid stupid.

in conclusion a good album with some good and bad songs, the bad songs however the way it was put together it is only able to convey mood, in small spots, usually mood is PT's strength and when compared to other PT releases this one is weak: 3 stars Good, but not essential

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Send comments to Proletariat (BETA) | Report this review (#132227)
Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Fear of a Blank Planet is Porcupine Tree's most recent album and the follow up to the highly acclaimed, though personally very disappointing, Deadwing, and musically builds on the melodic metal approach that they seem to be heading towards, but without the technical display of other bands. This time its a concept album of sorts were all the songs follow the central theme of the youth of today being apathetic towards the world at large.

Obviously, as with any social observation made by art, it paints all, or most, of modern youth with a wide brush to get across its points but the big success of the album, in my opinion, is that Wilson has succeeded in creating a series of songs, that all fit together into the larger concept, each exploring separate sections of the "problem", without having to judge it himself. In this way he has succeeded brilliantly in creating a piece of art that highlights an aspect of modern society without passing judgment and leaving that entirely up to the listener. This is not something that is easily done but lyrically Wilson pulls it off brilliantly creating probably the strongest album concept of the year. Its just a shame that the music doesn't back it up.

Musically this album fails badly. I have listened to Fear of a Blank Planet many times and each time I feel as apathetic towards it as the people it portrays, surely this cant be a good thing? Each song carries one or two decent ideas but never are they really expanded upon and what they have seems to be left to play itself out to death. The only exception to this is the album closer, Sleep Together, which is a brilliant track that builds to a sudden climax with the tension being piled on by the excellent performance of a string orchestra, really adding feel to the song. However, 43 minutes is a long time to wait before you get any really good music, with the epically long, if not epically styled, Anaesthetise being the worst culprit. Its just far too long and I find myself begging for a change in pace, or song, before halfway. Its the same story with the other songs as well. Though this album is an improvement over its predecessor, Deadwing, I find its mostly down to the fact that it isn't as totally aimless but I cat help but feel that the members of the band lack the technical ability to pull off what they are trying to achieve, with the possible exception of drummer Gavin Harrison who is not bad at all, if nothing special, and the guest musicians of Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp, who need no introduction.

Overall I could have done without this album and I swear its the last time I'll get carried away with the hype (yeah right). Its better than Deadwing but only because it feels more focused and is lyrically very strong, but its not enough to make me consider coming back for more than the occasional listen and so it gets stuck with only 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 because it not quite 3.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#134033)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK, proggers, here's my opinion on this album:

I can consider myself a long time fan of this group, I discovered it 4 o 5 years ago, but I have listen to each and every one of the albums and, for me, is one of the few good alternatives of modern prog.

Having that cleared, lets get down to business: this album almost took me by surprise (I didn't know about the new PT album and wasn't even expecting it) but, once I had news about it, I went for it. . .

First thing, only 50 minutes of music in the era of the 70 and 80 minutes CD's. . . very strange, did SW ran out of material? Don't know and hope not. . . for music's sake. Second thing, when I knew about the album, I created - as expected - my OWN expectations about it. . . hoping to hear some new and thrilling. . . and have to say that FOABP didn't really live up to those MY expectations.

Its a complicated album, didn't get much of it from the first listen. . . believe me, folks, FOABP needs a few - lets say QUITE a FEW - listens or runs throughs to catch up with it. . . it does not come easy into your ears and brain. . .but, after listening it over 5 times, I can say its a typical PT album, it has THAT mark on it. . . someone - in his review - said that PT has found its sound in this album: I TOTALLY AGREE!!! . . . PT sounds AT THIS MOMENT only like PT. . . SW has found his voice (even though it involves heavy dubbing and distortions, but that's his trademark) and he is quite a good guitar player (don't enjoy much his heavy metal riffs but he somehow finds the way to make it interesting for me), Barbieri is a MASTER with the synths, keyboards and their atmosphere, pitty SW doesn't give him more space to shine, Colin Edwin is SOLID, RELIABLE and this is definitly Gavin Harrison's up most performance, what a way to progress from DW to FOABP!!!, he really calls up my attention here (and I didn't even like him at first when he filled in for Chris Maitland). . . Good guests appearances, specially Alex Lifeson's . . . OK, that's for the performers. . .

The album really looks like a concept album with only one song divided into 6 parts. . . thats how I see it, feel it and hear it. . . It goes from a strong start (FOABP the song), through a well blended My Ashes and it reaches its peak with Ansthetize (GOOD SONG!!!) then starts fading with Sentimental (not a bad song, anyway), Way Out of Here and Sleep Together. . . resuming: NOT the best PT album ever but its good to have it in their collection (I still have Lightbulb Sun as my preferred album). . .

I give it a 4.25 or something like that. . . PT fans will love it, others will hate it. . . for me, I'm just happy that SW eased up on the dark metal influences (too much on In Absentia and maybe on Deadwing). . . so there you have it, proggers, PT at their trademark sound. . . ENJOY IT LIKE I DO. . . SEE YA. . .

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Send comments to songo (BETA) | Report this review (#134250)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I will start by saying that I like this album. In general, I like this band as well. I was not crazy about what I heard of the previous 2 or 3 albums, but I like Sky Moves Sideways, Signify, and Recordings and Lightbulb Sun and Stupid Dream are okay.

First off though, I don't find this band or album to be very "progressive" (I use the quotes to refer to the dictionary definition of the word as opposed to the genre, which I refer to as Prog or Progressive Rock as a whole). Their sound has evolved somewhat I suppose, but I really don't hear much in the way of musical development. The songs are all pretty basic in terms of chord progression, rhythms, and melodies. I don't hear anything I would consider innovative or particularly unique. As a whole, this band does have it own sound and approach, but I don't find it all that original or "progressive". But I like space rock, and most space rock bands are not exceptionally unique or "progressive". This doesn't, of course, mean it isn't good. So now that my overall view of this band and album is out of the way, on to the specifics.

This is apparently a concept album. I can agree with that. There is a lyrical theme that goes through the whole album, as well as an overriding atmosphere, both of which are consistent and interesting. The lyrics are not, as one reviewer pointed out previously, a judgment on the situation they describe. They merely lay out the facts so to speak, albeit in a broad and general manner. I appreciate this aspect and think Wilson has done a very good job on the lyrics (though they are terribly depressing.....but that is par for the course with his lyrics). However, the notion that this album is one long piece of music doesn't make sense to me. Each song sounds like a separate entity to me, distinct from the others (aside from lyrical similarities and overall atmosphere). But that doesn't really affect the quality of the album at all for me.

The first half I enjoy much more than the second, but it's all pretty good. The opening title track is suitably up tempo and draws you into the album and concept quite well. I like the overall blending in this album of their more space rock leaning songs with their more contemporary sounding and heavier later material (I know I said above that they haven't "progressed" much, but this isn't a contradiction as I did say their sound has evolved...........but I still don't think it has changed all that much in any substantial way). This song pretty much sums up what you can expect from the rest of the album. My Ashes is a slower paced song, but Wilson has always excelled with those and this one is no exception. Very enjoyable song for me. Anesthetize is the first real PT epic since Sky, and is my favorite song on this album. Probably because it has some variety in it and isn't focused on one or two rhythmic and melodic ideas like the other songs are. Some real heaviness in here off set with some of the most mellow parts of the whole album. This is probably one of the more "spacey" songs as well, at least in the mellow parts. Lifeson pulls off one of his usual perfect solo's, enhancing the track considerably even though it's less than a minute long. Sentimental is another softer slow song, but I think it is a nice contrast to the preceding epic. The last two songs drag a bit for me, but both have cool chorus' and Way Out Of Here emphasizes the spacey side of the band with help from Robert Fripp's guitar soundscapes. Though to be honest, I have a difficult time picking them out from the rest of the music and I'm still not entirely sure that what I think is his soundscapes really is. In any case, the album ends somewhat anticlimactically for me, but at least it's not bad either.

So overall, I don't find this to be terribly "progressive" in the sense of uniqueness or inventiveness in music. But if for nothing else than Anesthetize, it is certainly Progressive Rock in the sense of fitting the genre and this site. A very good and well presented concept, even if I do still think the songs don't make a 50 minute piece of music but seem to work only as individual pieces (and the fact that the album is 50 minutes is a plus in my view...........much more of the kind of songs that end this album and I would probably give a lower rating out of boredom). A must for the fans, and probably not a bad place to start with this band as it does seem to mix their older and newer approaches quite seamlessly. For myself, a solid 3 stars. Good, but I don't consider the album to be "excellent".

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#134281)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars

First of all i'd like to say that my rating is not related with the fact that this album is "prog" or not in an old fashion way. I think this debate is so futile.... I know one thing this album takes me on a journey every time it plays on my stereo. That's the important thing. When an album can reach you in a different way every single time you listen to it, i'd guess you could call that a piece of art. This album is just that.

PT asn't sound so cohesive on an album since Signify. Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, In Absentia and Deadwing were all pretty darn good albums, collections of songs... But Fear of a Blank Planet is more then just a collection of songs, this album has an entity of itself. It reminds me a bit of Meddle by PF... it contains the most heaviest and yet the most introspective music PT as produced so far.

With FOABP Porcupine Tree has reached a musical maturity that many bands can only dream of... Now I guess you old progsters will debate if PT is prog or not... It just doesn't matter, just enjoy the musicianship... and PT is certainly on top of their game.

JM

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Send comments to fant0mas (BETA) | Report this review (#135678)
Posted Saturday, September 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over a decade on and Porcupine Tree are still evolving, a feat many bands are unable to achieve. With each new album comes a new concept or style, pushing the boundaries of modern rock into unexplored territory without straying to far from the sound fans have come to love. Porcupine Tree is not a band for fans of prog, rock, metal, or pop but a band for fans of music.

Fear of a Blank Planet is definetly one of their best albums. The songs are beatifully written and expertly produced making for pure musical ecstasy. This album takes the listener through spacey psychedelic rock, grinding metal riffs, enchanting acoustic ballads and true progressive epics. Stunning sonic euphoria throughout this new 6 song effort - a must for anyone who longs to hear 'new prog' in action.

The opening track sets the scene for the rest of the album, one of perscription drugs, internet porn and terminal boredom. The lyrics here are thoughtful and somewhat haunting - about the blank future of 21st century life.

This theme continues on several tracks on the album - most notably on the epic Anesthetize (the best track on the album).

Any PT fan will instantly fall in love with this album, and hopefully FoaBP will bring the band a welcome breakthrough over in the US. Seriously this is a five star album, and this is coming from someone who considers 3 stars to be a truly inspiring masterpiece. If in doubt buy anyway - you will not be disappointed!!

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Send comments to shininglight (BETA) | Report this review (#137078)
Posted Saturday, September 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree seem to get better with each album. Some say they like their space rock earlier days or others like their more recent material where they involve more metal. Fear Of a Blank Planet combines both. I like what this is album is about also. Steven Wilson picked a good subject for a concept album. The title track sounds like something it would be on Deadwing. A good hard rock track for a opener. My Ashes is a great mellow song, what i like about this song is Richard Barbieri's synths in the background it goes great with the song, then it leads into the greatest porcupine tree song of all time Anesthetize. The first time i listened to this song i did not realize it was about 17 minutes, the song flows so well. Sections of this song are very hard heavy metal and this song also contains great drumming by Gavin Harrison. The song ends in a beautiful slow spacey guitar. Sentimental is the weakest track on the album but it also has a great acoustic performance by Steven Wilson. Way out of here is my second favorite song on the album and I love the lyrics, very dark. Also a great solo by Steven Wilson. Then the album ends with sleep together a good closer, a very angry/dark song. Each is song is Porcupine Tree at their best. Steven,Colin,Richard, and Gavin give their best performance on this album. One Of my favorite albums of all time.

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Send comments to JROCHA (BETA) | Report this review (#145860)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What can we say more?

There's been a godzillion reviews of this album, and what to say that hasn't been done. I'm still not sure if I prefer Deadwing over this one, but this is veeeery textured album with (hurrray) with lots of incredibly good segments (the end of Anesthetize and the Lifeson's solo, the melody of Way out of here) and some pretty ear pouding moments a la Deadwing.

The songs are indeed rich, but the subjects are soooo depressing. Fear of a blank planet traces a portrait of today's youth, supposedly brain-stuffed with video games, Adderal and pornography. What the ?!? I don't know where Wilson hangs out, but it's certainly not in my neighbourgh. To say that most kids are lost in a cloud of confusion is somewhat real, but awfully blunt for parents, teachers and people who still believe in the goodness of humans. Before I break out the Welbutrane, I understand clearly it's all part of a marketing package. Porcupine Tree always fueled on dark and gloomy moments, but this canvas is really bringing me down!

Once again PT's stellar talent is showing us that accessible prog is alive and well.

Do not play this at your wedding.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#147601)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
SoundsofSeasons
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars edit: 6/12/08Yes, it's a Masterpiece... at least a Masterpiece of 2007.

From the dark lyrics of the opener Fear of A Blank Planet, you can tell this album isn't going to be uplifting. On My Ashes, it changes moods from anger to a more sad realization of what's going wrong. It is a very atmospheric song. Then in Anesthesize the great drumming and strong progressive musical changes really let out a beast. In fact, id like to stop touch on Gavin Harrison's drumming in the album for a minute. If i hadn't seen the dvd Arriving Somewhere... and hadn't heard this album, I would have though Gavin Harrison was nothing more than a solid, yet dull, drummer. After hearing him play in FoABP, i can safely say that he is absolutely phenominal. He is creative, he plays dynamically, and he plays with emotion. Anyone who is a drummer or a fan or drummers must hear this album for that reason alone. O.K back to the songs. In Sentimental the beautiful piano driven ballad is complemented perfectly by Steven Wilsons voice, which goes from childish and timid sounding to mature and full sounding in the same song; very cool. Then in Way out of Here we get a very emotionally charged song once again, this really hits you hard with a sonic flood of sound. Finally Sleep Together (which incidentally is probably the weakest song of the album) closes in a dark and harsh way, personally id rather it had ended on an uplifting note, but would really be up to personal taste.

Fear of A Blank Planet has everything you would want from a depressing album about the drug, sex, and videogame overdosed pre-teens of today. Fantastic sonic sound scapes, beautiful ballads, angry wailings, and Gavin Harrison's percussive genius. Definitely one of the best albums of this year. Outstanding, and completely deserving of all the great reviews it's collected.

edit: Upon listening to this album with rather nice Grado headphones, fully exposing its amazing production and exposing Gavin's percussive genious even more, I have come to the conclusion that this is not a 4 star album, but a Masterpiece 5.

2007 was the year of Porcupine Tree and Fear of a Blank Planet.

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Send comments to SoundsofSeasons (BETA) | Report this review (#147692)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have listened and reviewed many recordings from this band. I have rated most of their studio albums with three stars because I couldn't really be overwhelmed with their music. There were always great songs featured of course, but consistency was lacking and the felling of too much of the same thing prevailed.

Actually, I preferred some live recordings which sounded more interesting in terms of tracklist. Even if they changed from genre during their career, starting with spacey psychedelia to evolve towards a heavier music at no moment I could hardly discern any masterpiece in their production. And it is the same with "Fear..." I'm afraid.

The title track was very promising. In line with a traditional song of theirs. "My Ashes" has a definite feeling of "No Quarter" ("Led Zep") but does not reach the upper level of its ankle. "Anesthetize" seems to come out from "Dream Theater" 's repertoire.

But that's the evolution Wilson wanted to give to the band since his early relationship with "Opeth". Not that it is a bad song, on the contrary. But it lacks of personality. I can reasonably tolerate true prog-metal (which is the case here). When the prog side picks up versus the metal one. Actually, this long song holds a bit of all the styles that "PT" has undergone throughout their prolific career. Some sort of testimonial work. This song won't anesthetize you; that's for sure. I consider it as a highlight.

"Sentimental" is the archetype of an average "PT" song. Can't really blow me away. Soft and mellow, feelingless and boring. Like if Wilson had taken sleeping tablets while composing it. "Way Out Of Here" is much better of course. More energetic and truely heavy as well during the second part. Great riff and guitar play here. But "Fripp" is featured as guest musician...

I am still hesitant in terms of going to their Brussels gig in a few weeks. Maybe that the opening act "Anathema" will give me the extra kick to decide me to go...

This album is much better than "Deadwing". Seven out of ten. Rounded down to three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#148617)
Posted Friday, November 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It seems I adopt the minority position in saying that "Fear of a Blank Planet" is, sadly, far from the masterpiece it is being lauded as. In fact, I would go so far to say that it is the weakest album the band has recorded in decades, featuring nothing we haven't heard before (or worth hearing, more appropriately) and progressing little beyond the heavy groundwork so brilliantly established in their prior two albums.

The principal problem is that, with the exception of the immediately catchy vocal melodies of Wilson, the songs are simply not up to par with what we've heard before; some sections sound like "Blackfield" outtakes. The always great shifts between the band's eerie soundscapes and heavy riffs sound terribly contrived here; they come from no where, and disappear having added nothing to the song's depth. Rather, just when the listener is getting into and enjoying say, the dreamy textures of "Way Out of Here", a pointless explosion of simple, chugging crunch destroys the mood. Wilson does, however, give some very catchy and beautiful vocal deliveries on some songs.

The centerpiece, "Anesthatize", has a few highlights, but sounds more like three different songs connected together just for the sake of variety; if fails to evoke the same energy and emotion we heard last time around on the much shorter, and much more interesting "Arriving Somewhere". Alex Lifeson's contributions are a fun addition, but could have been utilized more.

The message, while certainly relevant, is practically beaten into the listener's head by the album's close, and lacks the creative subtlety found in Wilson's usual lyrics.

As a side note, did anyone else who saw this album performed on the last tour notice the amount of teenagers in attendance? Were they text-messaging their friends throughout the concert as much as they were at the one I was at? Maybe SW should dedicate "Fear of a Blank Planet" to his widening fan base...

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#149631)
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I admire Porcupine Tree for a long time, somehow it's not really my cup of tea where the style is concerned but their superoriginal approach and pioneering tendency deserve every credit. And because they explore so many different directions not all of those directions appeal equally to me and then I'm talking about the Voyage/Metanoia/Coma Devine kind of material.

But this is just another regular album by PT and it's always interesting to check them out. After a few listens I want to concentrate on the epic on this album. Anesthetize is another amazing effort of Steve Wilson and the other band members. It's with these kind of compositions I can only bow in admiration of what he has achieved. I'm really in love with this track. It's so versatile, moving fluently from one passage into the next and I keep wondering: how do composers do this ? They have to be brilliant and real genius.

Anyway, this track draws all the attention and leaves the other ones palish in the background. The others aren't really significant objectively spoken. Just Way out of here is a very nice one but the rest is less. And because of that I can't give this 5 stars but of course 4 is the least in this case.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#149651)
Posted Friday, November 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars With Fear of a blank planet, Porcupine tree have fulfilled all the potential that they showed in previous releases. Although the track lengths are longer, the composition is for the most part far tighter, and there is a far greater density of ideas presented here. The absolute highlight is the three part, 18 minute Anesthetize, which moves through three distinct styles, showing off Porcupine tree's great versatility, as does the whole album. Even in it's softer, more major moments, however, FOABP is still very dark: the whole thing is dark, as is shown by the final track, Sleep together. The decision to end the album on a downer has recieved much criticism from fans, but this is not an album about happy endings. A happy ending would spoil the overall emotional pitch of the record, and would seem somewhat cheesy or naive. From beginning to end, the production is of an extremely high standard, and FOABP ranks among the best albums of the year.

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Send comments to La fraisne (BETA) | Report this review (#153219)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars To start this review I've to say that I'm a big Porcupine fan! I've follewd them for so many years, saw them live five times. At the same time I've to say that FOABP was really a big disappointment to me! Mr. Wilson alway surpised me with every new release, but It's from In Absentia (that I consider his absolute masterpiece!) that things are getting a bit less interesting. FOABP has really few things to say, many things in the records were already said with In Absentia and Deadwing, the records that started the "heavy-riffs" Porcupine era. Anyway talking about the album I have to say that the long Anesthetize shows the best part of the record. A well inspired "suite" with a great melody and a great riff. But 17 minutes in a records are not enough for Mr. Wilson. I was expecting something more. Another pretty good traxk is the opener, I appreciate the hypnotic riff. The rest of the record can be defined just a "filler" to obtain 50 minutes of music. In particular the worst is the last song "Sleep togheter" reallu uninteresting and boring, probably the worst of entire PT inventory! I have to say that I prefear psychedelic and melodic PT that this later extreme-metal-inspired version of PT. I hope Mr. Wilson will make something different in the future.

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Send comments to MorgothSunshine (BETA) | Report this review (#153238)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Man Overboard
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Sometimes it's difficult to hold an opinion that wildly differs from general consensus. It can get you ostracized, and accused of having an agenda. It can have unforeseen ramifications, personal and otherwise. But is it better to betray your heart and your gut for acceptance?

Not for me. I've been holding off on this review for many months to be sure I was familiar with the album, as to not jump the gun with a hasty write-up.

In an interview with Thrasher Magazine, Steven Wilson states: "We are essentially playing quite simple, melodic music." Wilson continues. "It sounds deceptively complex, but it's actually very simple and very direct. I think where the complexity comes from in Porcupine Tree is very often in the production and the arrangements." I love simple, melodic music with great production. However, this album is overproduced and overly-long. As it stands, it comes across as neither loyal to its simple core, nor the complex progressive masterpiece it aspires to be. In such a confused state, it does not speak to me as anything but something trying to be what it is not, and afraid of what it is. The overall musicianship is extremely tight, and the production is pleasant to the ears, but at the end of the day, I'm left cold and unsatisfied with the overall package. 2 stars.

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Send comments to Man Overboard (BETA) | Report this review (#153305)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Feverishly anticipated, swiftly reviewed (far too swiftly - how can people make an informed judgement on a record on first listen?) and ultimately less than fully satisfying, 'Fear of a Blank Planet' is an enigmatic album.

First, it has been dumbed down for the masses. Rather than the general morose, almost misanthropic assessment of the human condition we normally get from PORCUPINE TREE, this album is based on the well-worn concept of losing our humanity to soulless media. Many of the themes explored with subtlety in previous albums are regurgitated here: family dysfunction, muzak and malls, killers and guns, suicide. But they are accompanied by a hammer. The listener is bludgeoned with the concepts in a way I've not seen since ROGER WATERS let megalomania finally overwhelm him. And not only the lyrics are recycled: as many reviewers have noted, the riff from 'Trains' pokes its head up in 'Sentimental'. What is WILSON trying to evoke? Or is this a play for a broader audience, a remixed selection of their best lyrical and musical ideas, a last push for superstardom?

Second, while much of STEVEN WILSON's lyrical beauty remains, the album is structured to feature riffs and percussion. These have always supplemented excellent compositions, but they now seem to lead the music. I find they make a number of the songs almost indigestible, including the much-lauded but oddly-shaped 'Anesthetize'. There's no doubt the combination of a simple concept and dumbed-down compositions and instrumentations make for a more widely appealing album, but, for the fan, there's much less to savour than one would expect after the excitement of the first listen.

Fundamentally, I suppose my unease is that of a person left out of the conversation. On this album WILSON talks directly to teenagers. He's inhabiting their universe, trying to address their concerns, at once empathising with them and lecturing them. Well, it's been a while since I was a teenager, and back then I was far from apathetic. My greatest wish was that someone could invent a pill so I didn't have to sleep, so full of life was I. I'm therefore separated from WILSON's concept by time and temperament, and the one-sided (and dangerous) nature of the album's treatment of teenage ennui makes me uncomfortable.

The avowed centrepiece is the aforementioned 'Anesthetize'. Taking a moment to think about it perhaps reveals my unease with this album, and the direction the band appear to be taking. At 17 minutes it seems on first listen to be a progger's godsend, but at heart it's a six-minute song surrounded by eleven minutes of unrelated instrumental work. This middle section, let's call it 'cod philosophy' for short, is a wonderful example of PT's ability to write compelling hooks and produce glorious prog-influenced pop. But what's it doing buried in this combination of slab drumming and riffs? Why do we have a LIFESON solo even before the main part of the song? Solos allow us to contemplate what we're hearing, but nothing has happened for us to contemplate. Far too much has been made of this solo: most of WILSON's own solos are far more satisfying. And what's the last section of the track about? Who doesn't sit there waiting for the next song to start?

No, for me this centrepiece simply doesn't work. It's the length of 'Close to the Edge', for example, but apart from the central section contains only a fraction of that track's ideas and energy. And it's a very odd shape: rather than beginning with a theme, developing and varying it, departing then returning to it, this track gives us a six minute prelude, an unrelated six minute pop song and a pointless five minute outro. The shape feels dreadfully awkward to me.

That said, there are some excellent tracks on this album. 'My Ashes' shimmers with PT beauty, and 'Way Out of Here' is a monster track rudely spoiled by an out-of-place central riff. I find the closer 'Sleep Together' extraordinarily convincing - showing that I'm clearly out of step with most listeners, who love 'Anesthetize' and hate 'Sleep Together'. It's a chilling euphemism and metaphor for suicide, and is the only time on the album the music builds to the sublime heights I've come to expect from anything WILSON's involved in. In particular, the 'Kashmir'-like keys at the end raise the crushing weight of the track another notch.

Perhaps something essential could have been fashioned from bits of this and bits of 'Nil Recurring', the outtakes released later in 2007. As it is, there is enough here to merit many listens, but I cannot see this heavier version of PT - ironically, conceptually PT-lite - being an essential part of my regular listening experience in the way at least four of their earlier albums are.

The main effect of this album is to make me yearn for NO-MAN's next release.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#153318)
Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Social discussion and commentary have always been popular subject matter for albums of all genres in modern music. When writing with his band for their ninth studio album since their formation around 1990, lead singer and guitarist, Steven Wilson, decided that this latest release would be a departure from the traditional story-based concept albums, such as ghost story, "Deadwing," and "In Absentia," which is about the development of a serial killer from childhood to adulthood. Instead, this latest release is a group of tracks concerning the issues of the modern age, such as technology replacing human contact and an increased reliance on drugs. With their switch to a major label before this album, Porcupine Tree is growing in popularity and recognition. Luckily, they did not sacrifice the quality of their music, creating what is easily one of the most interesting, skillful, and creative albums so far this year.

One thing that the band is noted for is its unique style, which often shows dynamic changes between progressive metal outbursts amongst ethereal serenity. Generally, the album is very catchy and melodic. Despite mood and tempo changes, the band remains consistent in musicianship. For example, this album is easily drummer Gavin Harrison's best performance. This style is enhanced by guest musicians, such as Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp, guitarists for Rush and King Crimson respectively; both of which have strong influences on the band's sound. As far as the general wave of modern progressive bands goes, Porcupine Tree is probably just as accessible as their more popular contemporaries Dredg and The Mars Volta.

The album is a slim six songs, but totals over fifty minutes. This is mostly thanks to the third track, the 18 minute monster, "Anesthetize." A prime example of the complexity of their music, this song is comprised of three parts, each linked with musical interludes showing impressive guitar. The lyrics are relevant to the album's concept discussing modern apathy paired with an obsession with technology. Don't be fooled in to thinking that this album is a rant against modern culture with music in the background. It is, at heart, music first that happens to have lyrics concerning this subject matter. This band obviously finds that the music, the blending of the instruments with the vocals, takes prevalence and is therefore the highlight of the album. This is shown through the long instrumental passages found not only on "Anesthetize" but one all of the tracks. For example, even the first single, title track "Fear of a Blank Planet" only follows the traditional pattern of verse-chorus-verse and so on for a portion of the song. This is what makes this band's music a cut above the traditional alternative fare.

The lyrics are told in the first person and are intended to give insight as to the effects that technology and pharmaceuticals have had as far as damaging the psyche of kids goes. The lyrics get quite blatant at times, examples being lines such as "I'm stoned in the mall again/terminally bored/shuffling through the stores/and shoplifting's getting so last year's thing." Of course, these are probably some of the weakest lines on the album, but one can not deny their effectiveness. However, it is not a discussion of the problem that truly captivates the listener as much as the effects that it has. For example, "My Ashes," a slower piece, goes in to the psychological effects such as the shortening of childhood and the lack of happiness. And eventually, especially on songs "Way out of Here" and "Sleep Together," the desire to break this cycle of despondency is explored. The whole topic is presented vividly and insightfully through the eyes of the fictional character that moves through Wilson's mellifluous voice. The message isn't bludgeoned over the listener's head, but rather is just one element that creates the whole of a truly impressive album.

Overall, I have to admit that it's the musical quality that takes full prevalence as to what sets this album apart from others of a similar nature. The talent of Porcupine Tree is in full force on this album and the creative delivery of each song makes me want to keep listening to this album. I can't recommend this album for those with short attention spans or for those who just don't get or don't enjoy complex rock music. However, if you're looking for an album to push the boundaries of what you thought music was supposed to sound like and enjoy all forms both melodic and heavy, have no "Fear" in purchasing this well-executed album.

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Send comments to moreitsythanyou (BETA) | Report this review (#155305)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the first true Porcupine Tree I heard, aside from Shallow, which doesn't allude to their true abilities. This album is absolutely one of the best albums I have ever heard in my life. Its right up there with the classics of the 70s in creativity, technical skill, emotion, power and drama. By far the best of all the Porcupine Tree music I've heard, this album is predicting a future which could be much nearer than we realize. The idea that computers are taking a bigger role in our lives combined with the younger generations increasing reliance on drugs, pornography, sex and violence makes for a scary concept with is true nonetheless. Wilson's lyrics are filled with allusions to modern life, something which had never been done on a grand scale since the Gabriel-era Genesis. Now, as for the music itself, I had been growing uneasy looking back into Porcupine Tree's career and seeing them develop from the Floyd influenced spacey textures band into the band they became on In Absentia, with a little too many heavy electric riffs for my taste. Now, on Deadwing, they lightened up a little bit, and on this album they found the perfect mix, plus they make it more progressive as opposed to In Absentia, which was mainly conventional heavy rock. They also make good use of guest musicians on this album, not too many, so as to overshadow the band's talents, but Alex Lifeson adds an excellent guitar solo to Anesthetize, and Robert Fripp slides nicely into the background of Way Out of Here. Wilson is still superb with his multi-instrumentality, including all guitars, piano and singing, and Richard Barberi is a great keyboardist in that he knows when to shine and when to create the greatest background textures since Pink Floyd. Colin Edwin has his share of nice bass parts, and Gavin Harrison continually bangs away, creating the throbbing heartbeat over which this masterpiece is created. Alright, on to the songs.

Fear of a Blank Planet: Excellent opener to a masterful album. the lyrics here are the best, giving us tons of pop cuture allusions like X-box, pornography, Pearl Jam, and many more. opening with odd computer sounds, we are soon introduced to an angular acoustic riff in 6/4, and Harrison jumps it to bring it up to speed. The electric guitar sounds here have an effect on them that suits the song perfectly. Wilson sounds like hes inside your head, ranting about all the crazy junk in his life, and talking in spurts like hes going mad. He trashes his parents, the mall and his home life. Lots of talk about popping pills, it seems the main character is a druggie. The chorus is a little saddening, questioning life itself. the lyrics really make this album what it is. finally, it is revealed he has bipolar disorder, and the music backs off, adding some spacey guitar notes. the drums bring us back in to a slower, spacey jam part. Barberi shines here, adding some eerie tones to the scary riffing from Wilson. it really gets heavy now, but I don't mind it. the guitar solo is hard to hear underneath all the distortion, but its amazing. Then we get taken into a section that sounds straight out of Pink Floyd's "echoes". the noises are great. some more depressed vocals from Wilson, bringing us back to the concept, of being tired of life at age 15 or so.

My Ashes: A nice, tragic, eeriely happy and sad ballad.The piano finally comes out here, along with some nice acoustic strumming. Wilson sings in a more sad tone now, remembering wasted opportunities in life, and taking on more problems than he needed. the chorus is bad sad and happy, and one of the best in a traditional song ive ever heard. the lyrics are so crammed with nostalgia its hard not to feel very sad while listening to this song. My favorite line of the album is the one in the second repetition of the chorus: "And a dream plays in reverse on the piano keys". its brilliant. ends with some great strings and singing from Steve.

Anesthetize: Kicking off right away with some pounding drums from Harrison and interesting chords from Steve, this song is the masterpiece of the masterpiece. it goes through so many moods it could be a concept all on its own. it has some very creepy lyrics, introspective and scary, with lines like: "I simply am not here, shut up, be happy". the way Wilson sings this is positively hair-raising. the person talking seems to be paranoid, mentioning diseases and staying away from certain things, while the whole time the drums are throbbing away. we soon get treated to a drum riff with actual snare, and the music darkens accordingly, but soon backs off, giving Alex Lifeson plenty of room to stretch out on a masterful solo, so filled with confusion that it suits the mood of the song. soon Wilson comes in with some deep, heavy riffs, overlaid by gorgeous electric piano from Barberi. then another guitar track is overdubbed, going far higher than the piano, making for a very interesting sound. the drums get very complex as the riffs get heavier and more complex. the mellotron in the background is nice, and Steve comes in to sing again, sounding far away, and the lyrics bring us more references like MTV, Shopping Malls, and more talk of popping pills. the drums mix it up a little sounding african at one point, then back to heavy metal. I especially like the synth following Wilson's vocal line. at this point, the song is only half over, if you can believe it. there is a big section filled with many different riffs and moods, as per Wilson's mood, seemingly. after this comes a spacey keyboardistic section with nice sounds from Wilson's computer to aid it. the guitar comes back in after a while, and the mood has completely changed from anger and hatred to sadness and regret. the vocals are echoed everywhere for a nice effect, and the hammond in the background is great. when it gets to just Wilson singing, it sounds very personal and meaningful, and then the other voices come in. the hammond once again fills out the sound to the point of orgasmic, and the guitar tones are gorgeous. there is a small, simple guitar solo that suits this section perfectly to close the song, followed by just a few keyboard chords.

Sentimental: The saddest, most emotional song on the album brings us deep into the heart of the narrator, showing the listener how he feels, and that feeling is horribly sad. Wilson sounds far away, and the repetitive piano chords are a great touch. the chorus is talking about viewing the children from an adults perspective, wasting every day because of their drugs and lack of interest in anything. the drums are dexterous and agile, making a great beat for this guwrenching ballad. the song picks up a little near the end, with a nice acoustic guitar solo, followed by a gorgeous ending of piano and Steve's sad voice singing the chorus once more.

Way Out of Here: it starts with odd noises, probably courtesy of robert fripp and his Frippertronics making the soundscapes. Wilson comes in singing in the same tone as the previous song, with yet another allusion to pop culture: the Ipod. He seems to be frustrated with people talking to him, asking questions. the drums kick in in a 3/4 beat that sounds very nice. however, when the electric guitar blasts in, its 6/8. yes, I know its basically the same thing, but it doesn't sound the same. the lyrics are telling of a plan to forget everything the narrator has loved and escape from it all, hence the name "Way Out of Here". after the second repetition of the chorus, a great electric solo comes in, giving Steve a little bit of space to show his chops off, and what chops they are. After the solo, everything backs off and several tracks of guitar are overlapping and make a great sound, with little bits of electric piano here and there, until the riffs come fast and heavy. the chorus repeats, as do the riffs, with some heavy double bass work from Garrison. ending with an odd jam, this song leads us into the closer...

Sleep Together: The Lyrics here say it all. Leave together, Sleep together, Switch off the Future Right now. it seems to be suggesting that the druggie has gotten high once more and thinks he can escape it all by dying. the beginning has some awesome synth sounds and Steve sounds positively mystical. The drums are harsh here, and some vague premonitions of a heavy riff are heard far away. The chorus is harsh, seemingly talking to someone and ORDERING them to "Sleep Together". it sounds very scary, with some strings heard in the background only emphasizing this. the strings add some great fills to the next verse, making it twice as good. the echoes in the next chorus are creepy, making you feel as though people are all around you saying leave forever, the ending line of the album. . the synth sounds are ever present and soon come to the foreground again, with more electric piano frills. it slowly builds into a cacophony of guitars and strings clashing all over the place. it hits out, followed by a so-random-its-hilarious drum thing in the middle of nowhere.

I think I've said enough here, and people might not even read this far due to length but I love this album That is all. Let's Leave Forever, this dark and depressing planet to another.

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Send comments to The Ace Face (BETA) | Report this review (#155432)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It seems pointless to review an album that has already been reviewed so many times, but it would be unfair to skip over it as it is easily in my top 5 albums of 2007. Easily PORCUPINE TREE's most progressive album since THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS, the band's more metal edge does little to detract from this. The opening part of "Anesthetize" is so grandiose, with fantastic drumming and a brilliant buildup with great solos, that it fully merits its role as the album's centrepiece. "Sleep together" is also notable as it changes from PORCUPINE TREE's traditional slow-burning ending, replacing it with powerful chords and strings. The only drawbacks might be the end part of "Anesthetize" being slightly disjointed from the rest of the song and the repetitive title track which only really takes off halfway in. These are minor flaws on a masterpiece, though, and I have no problem giving this album 5 stars.

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Send comments to Warren (BETA) | Report this review (#155446)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Only MTV and cod philosophy"

"Fear of a blank planet" is Porcupine tree's latest album at time of writing. The first things which catch the eye before even listening to the music are A) the presence of a couple of notable guest musicians, and B) the inclusion of an 18 minute track.

In all, we have just six tracks here, the album running to a rather brief 50 minutes (especially when we consider that a half hour EP from the same sessions has subsequently been released). The title track kicks things off in an upbeat mood, Wilson's vocals being variously distorted over a rich wall of sound. The song portrays a concerning vision of the way society is heading with lyrics such as "X-box is a god to me" and "Don't try engaging me.. You'll never find a person inside". Musically, the track repeats the accessibility of more recent Porcupine tree albums while offering a well crafted arrangement.

"My ashes" is a soft ballad with strings orchestration by Dave Stewart and Steve Wilson. The song is uncharacteristic, even in terms of Porcupine Tree's softer tracks, with a lush melody and arguably Wilson's most sensitive signing to date.

It is though "Anesthetize" which we anticipate, and wait for impatiently. The length of this 18 minute epic harks back to the days of Porcupine Tree's long tracks such as "The sky moved sideways". After a soft vocal intro, we venture into a dark, haunted instrumental passage with dramatic percussion and incisive guitar. Alex Lifeson of Rush makes a guest appearance on the track adding his distinctive guitar style to complement that of Steve Wilson. Lyrically, the track continues the theme of the title track with observations such as "I'm watching TV. I'm totally bored but I can't switch off". In reality, the piece is a suite in four or five sections; while the sections fit well together they are nonetheless disparate. The track is thus more of a "Supper's ready" than a "Gates of delirium" if you get my drift. In all, while this is a reassuringly epic piece, it is for me not one of the band's best.

"Sentimental" is once again built around the depressive theme of the bleak future for the youth of today, set once again to a soft melody. "Way out of here" offers a possible escape, but this proves to be a false hope. The song has echoes of the band's psychedelic past with dreamy Floydian effects and delicate vocals. The latter half of this, the first of two 7+ minute pieces, is more orthodox riff driven PT.

"Sleep together" finally offers a kind of solution, proposing to "Switch off the future right now". Musically, the track remains depressive but powerful, offering a marked contrast to the trend of previous albums of ending with a downbeat, reflective song.

In all, "Fear of a blank planet" is a well constructed album whose underlying concept is depressive but worryingly realistic. For me, there are no killer tracks such as "Arriving somewhere.." from the previous album, but when heard as a whole, the tracks add up to more than the sum of the parts.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#155692)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of The most popular albums of 2007, Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet really shows us that progressive rock music can still break through to the mainstream. This was the first Porcupine Tree album I bought, and is my favourite so far. The opening track Fear of a Blank planet is my favourite track from the album. Porcupine Tree's lyrics have always appealed to me greatly, and this song (along with the rest of the album) is a true testament to this appeal. The album epic Aneasthetize is the best performance on the album from an instrumental point of view with guest guitar from Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and some excellent band arrangement throughout. My other favourite track from this album is the final track Sleep Together, which really shows off PT's love of electronics, reminding most fans I think of their debut album. A very strong album and a necessity for prog fans. 4 stars.

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Send comments to cynthiasmallet (BETA) | Report this review (#156281)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars At the peak of my interest in Porcupine Tree, the band releases an amazing concept album that is more like one long song, than six separate ones. Fear of a Blank Planet seems to mix together all of Porcupine Tree's recent influences into one solid package of honest songs that attack the ills of modern society. It's not punk rock in any way, but there is a very punk-like manner to these urgent and meaningful songs. I enjoyed the album immensely after the first several listens, and after I saw the band in concert in May 2007, the message of it all was driven home even harder. I was inspired and enlightened by the music and felt that their live performance accented the album perfectly. Ever since the concert, I've listened to the album in a different way and have found its message and statement even more clearly.

FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET

The first song kicks off with an earnest energy. The guitar riff and Gavin Harrison's drum attack are very forward and up-tempo. Wilson's singing is at a new level of angsty, from the point of view of a disillusioned 21st-century teenager. The chorus is the first time in the album we hear the pills in me motif, and the message rises above the angry down-tuned riffing. Porcupine Tree's message in this song is very in-your-face, blunt, and stirring. The song easily paints a mental picture of lifeless youth suffering in the prison of their unhappiness. The band manages to capture the emotion of depressed teens in a more earnest and colorful way than the popular emo music dominating the airwaves today. Fans of Tool and Dream Theater will surely delight in the tasty rhythmic guitar work that is thrown about in this tune. A great opener for the album, Fear of a Blank Planet sets the tone for what's to come.

MY ASHES

As it's been said so many times before, the keys in the intro are reminiscient of Led Zeppelin's No Quarter. The acoustic work under the keys is a very effective touch. John Wesley's background vocals are very evident in this particular song and add amazing texture. There's a string arrangement too, hearkening back to Lightbulb Sun-era Porcupine Tree. The keys, strings, acoustic guitar, and blasts of distorted electric guitar combine to make a wonderful soundscape. The song's rather slow and depressing. It's a great change of pace from the opening track while retaining the overall theme, and lulls the listener into a false sense of security before the band decides to assault the listener with the track that follows.

ANESTHETIZE

From the first pounding Harrison drum, I knew that this song would hit me hard. Upon my initial listen I took one glance at the track length, over 17 minutes, and didn't glance back at the time once until the song was over. The repetitive riff combining with the complex Harrison drums in the beginning are hypnotic to say the least. Barbieri and Edwin lay down some lush atmospheric work behind some typical angsty Wilson vocals. There are industrial-like keys that follow, and at this point I'm reaching for my safety harness, because there's an underlying urgency that foreshadows what is to come. The opening minutes of the song are very alike the opener's down-tempo parts. Whoa, what's this? An Alex Lifeson guitar solo? It's textbook Lifeson and fits perfectly into the atmosphere set by the band. If I didn't look at the liner notes, however, I wouldn't know it was him, because it sounds like something Wilson would tear off in the situation at well. After Lifeson's piercing solo fades away, the listener is treated to a series of bouncing rhythmic guitar. It's recommended to listen to this album on a set of good headphones, as it's an aural treat to groove to these riffs as they go from earphone to earphone. There must be three guitars at this point, one in each ear plus another one soloing lightly overhead. The drumming is getting more and more complex as the song goes on. A Deadwing-ish heavy metal riff kicks in.... and then the fun really begins. The guitars suddenly become angrier and dirtier. The keyboards give a drone that sounds like a chorus of monks, and then Steven comes in bitingly. The chorus is oddly catchy for a prog-metal tune. I think if this song was edited down from after the Lifeson solo to the end of this passage, it could be an extremely popular hit for young hard rockers. It's extremely accessible, but that doesn't take away from the phenomenal musicianship demonstrated and the dire message at hand. The rhythmic work by everyone in the band is impeccable, to say anything less would take away from the one-of-a-kind performance in this song. There are enough changes, nuances, and transitions to keep even the most attention-deficit of listeners involved. If the opening passage was hypnotic, then this part is an outright musical trance.Just like any good long song, Anesthetize reaches a climax that is worth the eleven or twelve minutes it took to get there. Twenty seconds or so of brutal, searing, aggressive, diabolical guitar shredding rips right into the listener's ears before an extremely rousing rendition of the chorus cuts in. Amazing! Some more prog- metal riffs, and then the song takes a sudden drop-off. From shredding and pounding drums, Porcupine Tree leads us into a more relaxed passage with more of the monk chorus motif and industrial noises in the background. This particular part of the tune is remarkably like some of the more balladic numbers off of In Absentia. There are amazing harmonies and vocal interplay here. The melodic vocal work is like a quality cigarette after the best sex ever. It's a great way to mop up the mess made by what are, in this PT fan's opinion, the finest twelve minutes the band has ever committed to record.

SENTIMENTAL

The piano intro is another very In Absentia/Lightbulb Sun texture. The chorus of this song is absolutely beautiful. Wilson emotes the chorus in the best way for it to be sung. It's certainly not as complex as any of the first three songs from the outset but it is no less a solid song. At this point the band seems to be following a pattern for this particular album: Hard, balladic, hard, balladic. The comparisons of this song to Trains are spot-on, as the solo and riffs in the latter middle of the song seem culled directly from In Absentia's second tune.

WAY OUT OF HERE

Robert Fripp of King Crimson supposedly did some guest-work on this track. I didn't notice until I checked out the liner notes. Much like Lifeson's guest solo, it's not out of place at all on a Porcupine Tree record and blends into the atmosphere flawlessly. The chorus doesn't seem to fit into the flow of the initial few lines of the song, it comes out of nowhere. Wilson's lyrics seem subpar compared to his usuual work. It's nothing out of the ordinary for him, they're just too Steven Wilson, even for Steven Wilson. Regardless, the band puts on another flawless performance in this song. The song as a whole isn't anything too spectacularand at this point the album is in a lull. It's a musically-satisfying lull, but a lull just the same. There's a blast of Anesthetesque riffing that rises up in the late middle of the song, but it feels out of place, almost as if the band said, Hey, let's put one of our new signature blasting riffs into here to spice things up!

SLEEP TOGETHER

The song starts out interestingly enough. The drum pattern is engaging and there are some great effects stirring around in the background. However, the chorus is the second in a row that seems forced and out of point. The strings make another appearance, with a Middle-Eastern flavor this time through. About midway through the song it seems to pick up a little more. I'm typically not a fan of string sections in rock songs, but the flavoring it adds make this song more listenable. Sleep Together has all the distorted Wilson vocals one could ever need. For a long time Wilson's vocals echo repeatedly in the background before fading into some more effect whirls. There are no stand-out instrumental solos in this song, where a solo would typically be, there are instead a series of atmospheric sounds followed up by strings and a delightful bassline. It's evident that Harrison is one of the modern drummers that carry the torch for progressive work, his rhythms are always complicated yet fit in well at the same time. Wilson's distorted background vocals loop in for a brief moment at the end of the song, and then some strings... a drum fill... and we're all done!

The album was created with a good concept in mind, and for the most part the band seemed to adhere to it rather well. The soundsapes, riffs, effects, and approaches used highlighted the mission statement with little error. The album is filled with strong points: Wilson's emotive vocals, brilliantly complex rhythmic work, unusual effects and atmosphere, and the entire song Anesthetize. However, there are a few characteristics that merit mentioning that seem to hold back the album from being a true masterpiece. After Anesthetize the album seemed to drag more, and nothing the band was doing really kept me on edge. Also, there were several instances of the band either quoting their influences (Led Zeppelin, namely.... No Quarter in My Ashes and Kashmir in Sleep Together) as well as themselves (Trains in Sentimental, any piano-driven number in In Absentia). This seemed to hold the band back and I honestly feel as if they didn't break any entirely new ground in the album. It was a great album, yes, and a perfect way to end a trilogy of incredible releases (IA/Deadwing/FOAB). However, I find myself pondering, where can Porcupine Tree go from here? There's an obvious progression that started at Lightbulb Sun up until now, but it seems as if the band has stretched these musical and lyrical themes as far as they can go.

As a music release in general, I'd give FOAB 5 stars. Brilliant playing, an interesting theme, bold statements, and overall an engaging piece.

As a Porcupine Tree release, I'd give FOAB 4 stars. It's not quite on the same plane as In Absentia or Deadwing, but it holds its own and deserves every bit of the Porcupine Tree title.

Finally, as a progressive release, I'd give FOAB 3 stars. There's not too much here that's groundbreaking or original at all, however, every theme one could use to describe progressive music is present. That much is undeniable.

So, I'll rate Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet as a four-star release. It's not quite a masterpiece, but it's still an excellent addition to any kind of music collection in general. Steven Wilson and company have engineered a snapshot of modern youth that proves as strikingly true, startingly bold, and artistically credible in many ways. An intense listening experience with many layers of deep, rich music that is, again, best heard on a set of headphones, Fear of a Blank Planet is likely to be getting spins from me well into the future.

4/5 stars.

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Send comments to Woodbridge (BETA) | Report this review (#156443)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars My turn. Let's get the clichés out of the way: Porcupine Tree's a talented band and I have followed them from day one. Steve Wilson is a musical genius (if anyone has any doubts, they are secret "Twavis Twitt" country fans), a dazzling guitarist, composer, woefully underrated lyricist and stellar producer with a PROVEN pedigree. Ex-Jap Richard Barbieri always was a "behind the scenes" cult keyboardist, more Eno than Emerson but a master at electro-colorings and mood meister par excellence. Bassist Colin Edwin has a simple role: "put down a groove that we can fly over" and he does that really well, no flash but solid substance. Longtime drummer Chris Maitland was replaced 2 albums previous by the massive Gavin Harrison, a truly masterful session drummer who proved to me live that he is among the very, very best (hello, Neil Peart the Rushian and Bungalow Bill Bruford). The music has certainly evolved over the last 15 years, going from swooning psychedelia, to space-prog in the finest Floydian tradition to some of the best original prog ever recorded. The recent harder edge has made this crew progress even further into some powerfully emotive musical environments, adding a scathing critique of today's culture (or lack thereof), where the directionless youth fall prey to obesity, despair, ennui and lousy drugs, all leading to the ultimate nadir = apathy. It's about time someone gets lyrically angry in the prog world, we cannot constantly burden Fish' still resilient shoulders with all the injustice of the universe. Having seen this album in concert, I cannot aptly describe how stunning the material is in a live context, a crowning achievement in prog by the way, the presentation was simple but overpoweringly effective and just blew the entire audience away. Power, passion, emotion, feeling, art = five muses, five musicians (John Wesley is the live silent 5th guy), what a combination! The title cut (9) kicks off the proceedings emphatically with a steady beat that marshals in the "sunlight coming through the haze", a false hope as the lyrics spew venom at a society having lost its most basic values, diving into the deepest moral abyss and addressing a drug infused lethargy that is nothing more than cowardly suicide. Hey, this is not pretty prog by any stretch but it's also the very modern definition of blasé without a punk, two-chord vomit vocal delivery (more Syd than Sid, both misunderstood baskets). "My Ashes"(10+) is an outright melancholic essay that proposes a chorus melody to die for (pun intended.), the "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin-like e-piano expressing all the pain of the universe, with assorted colorings courtesy of Barbieri's keys and the saddest lyrics this side of rehab. "Anesthetize"(10+) is the 17 minute classic that has been the subject of everyone's drool and in a live setting , it provoked a standing ovation with a few hot, long-legged Montreal babes dancing in the aisles (how's that for a rare sight at a prog venue?). Can we have some more, please! Gavin Harrison just pummeled us to smithereens during this hallucigenic musical voyage and with John Wesley providing a fine rendition of Alex Lifeson's blistering guitar solo, this piece had an ultra decadent Roxy Music-like atmosphere tied to some heady Crimsonian guitar rage and a vibrant chorus "It's All in Me, All in You " that had everyone screaming, fists a pumpin'! The last 5 minutes provide a dreamy outro finale that has all the typical Watersian angst ("Water so."), swirling like a gentle breeze, helter-skelter, going nowhere. One of PTree's crowning pieces. "Sentimental" (10+), as the title aptly describes, is another extremely poignant, melancholic assessment, with a "self-killing" melody ("You can't blame your parents anymore"), more bile rising ("Stoned in the mall, the kids play") and despairing hopelessness ("Sullen and bored the kids stay") . "Way Out of Here"(9) is another heavier piece that starts out somewhat indifferent until the raging guitars kicks in with savage abandon and batters the listener with contrasting nightmarish scenarios, almost like the incoherence of a drug overdose. Very slow burn gruesome. "Sleep Together" (10) is the final musical stab, a "Do or Drown in Torpor" dirge that somehow sanctifies the escape from reality "Lets leave forever, switch off the future right now", a sweepingly incoherent plea for a warm body that may or may not care anymore but it's still better than solitude. Wilson is my friend, just like the ball with Tom Hanks' character in the movie "Castaway". The disc ends on a very George Martin/Beatles like orchestral goodnight. Well, on that cheery note, I need a shower to wash away the morbid sweat, singing "And I fear tomorrow, I'll be crying".. 5 mangled trees.

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#159355)
Posted Sunday, January 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Porcupine Tree has become the hottest thing in progressive rock. A great band to be sure, but do they really deserve all of the acclaim they have been getting lately, more specifically, is this album really all that everyone is making it out to be?

Simply put, no.

This record is definitely good, and there are moments of pure musical bliss and ingenuity, but I can list at least 5 albums from this year right off the top of my head that blow away this one. And I can't say this is remotely perfect. I think "My Ashes" and especially the closing track, "Sleep Together," are a bit weak. The album really takes a hit for having a weak closing, and it's not even that it makes a poor closing track, the song in itself is boring and the overall tone of the song and Steven's vocals cane be bothersome. I also think the two preceeding albums are better than this one.

Now, I am coming off a little strong here - all of the other tracks are excellent - but I just can't believe how so many prog fans are salivating over this thing and completely neglecting the true best album of the year: Colors by Between the Buried and Me. That is true innovation, complexity, emotion and consistancy at work.

I am a big fan of Porcupine Tree, and I do like this record quite a bit, but I can not agree with the overwhelming number of people lauding this above more worthy releases.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#159683)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars If Fear Of A Blank Planet is The Album Of 2007, then prog is dead.

Steven Wilson has drowned completely in the praise of prog-rock fans at last. I don't want to say that I dislike FOABP at all, but it is a pity that Porcupine Tree expended all their best bygone qualities.

FOABP is just a compilation of songs of all PT's eras (though, not the best moments here). The only track which seems to me more-or-less inspired and well-structured is Anethetize, with great guitars, solos and heavy riffs. Really like it!

Other songs are just one of the most boring ones PT ever written. FOABP (the song) resembles Deadwing (the song) a lot - the same structure, even almost same riffs and rhythmics. My Ashes is VERY BORING to my ears - no, it's not like a wonderful Heartattack In A Layby! No sign of inspiration! Sentimental is funny - especially when I hear the riff from Trains... No more fresh ideas, Steven? Unfortunately, Way Out Of Here is simply a collection of boring music and senseless heavy riffs at the end of the track. Sleep Together is somehow interesting at its symphonic end, not typical for PT, but the song overall is too long and senseless again.

I am dissapointed. Porcupine Tree can do better. Good, but non-essential. 2.5 stars really... added 0.5 just because it is Porcupine Tree.

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Send comments to Paper Champion (BETA) | Report this review (#160164)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fear of a Blank Planet is definatly a strong album by Porcupine Tree, but not their best. I could easily select the two weakest tracks from this album, though. So lets get started:

Fear of a Blank Planet (8/10): A very strong opener track. Very disturbing lyrics as well, dealing with the troubles of a drug-addict teenager, who wastes his days away. The best aspects of this song, for me, are the lyrics. The music is definalty proggy, but also catchy at the same token.

My Ashes (5/10): This is one of the throwaway tracks for me, personally. One thing I enjoy about it is Steve Wilson's vocals. His voice shows an intimacy like from what I heard on Sky Moves Sideways. The one other thing i enjoy about it, is the placement on the album. After the heavy title track, it mellows out very well. Definatly not the best song, but not real horrible either.

Anesthetize (9/10): This song is really the highlight of the track. It really reminds me of Sky Moves Sideways-era stuff: It was wonderful soundscapes, and it is very dynamic. Plus, Steve Wilson's voice is great here. Where he needs to be intimate he is, and when the song gets heavy, he hits it hard. Great song here.

Sentimental (7/10): This is a strong, slow song, strategically positioned in front of the epic track as an easily digestible, mellow track. It's a very beautiful song, and it deserves 7/10 for it's tender melodies.

Way Out of Here (8/10): Another highlight on Fear of a Blank Planet. It portrays the disturbed teenager very well, and it goes to show you even our older siblings know what's with the community. This is another longer song, shooting about 7mins. There's a solid melody, some good rhythms here and there, good work on Steve Wilson's part...just a good track overall.

Sleep Together (5/10): This is a possible throwaway in this album. It would be a good track elsewhere, but not here. It could have ended finely with Way Out of Here, or maybe even a small instrumental...but this track is one of the reasons I couldn't give this album five stars.

Overall, this is a very strong release by Porcupine Tree. I really enjoyed it, and hope to see Porcupine Tree takes their music to new heights in the future.

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Send comments to Delirium Kentia (BETA) | Report this review (#160690)
Posted Sunday, February 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album has many elements that make it quite excellent.

The first is their use of layering to create the Porcupine Tree sound, if you know them you know what that means. It definitely appears in this album.

The second it their use of polyrhythms and odd meters. Look at Sentimental, the intro has a piano part in alternating 5 and 6, and a drum part that goes between 13 14 and 15. Both at the same time. It;s one of those things that theoretically shouldn't work, but somehow becomes amazing when it comes into reality.

And this album has a definite sense of overall style, no doubts there.

So without further ado....

Track One: Fear of a Blank Planet

Not a bad opening track. It's the most rock-y song on the album. It opens up, hits you with some good stuff, then gets out of the way (after a hefty 7:28) to let the other songs come in. A good tune.

Track 2: My Ashes

Kind of average. Not bad, but nothing really special as far as they're concerned. It starts off with a synth sound that is reminiscent of No Quarter by Led Zeppelin.

Track 3: Anesthetize

The epic of the album. 17 minutes in length. It goes, and goes and goes. The ending seems a bit drab, but it doesn't kill the song. This song has a lot of good simple polyrhythms and repetitions. But not too many repetitions. At the end it leaves you craving for something a little more down to earth though, it's really open-ended Pink Floyd style piece.

Track 4: Sentimental

This on is my pick for favourite song off the album. It starts off with an amazing polyrhythm in multiple changing odd meters. It soft and almost mystical or enchanting seeming.

Track 5: Way Out of Here

This one has interesting guitar parts spread around. around 4 minutes in there's a guitar duo that just is almost of of character, but works. This one keeps a good contrast and interesting juices flowing.

Track 6: Sleep Together

Good strings, catchy lyrics, kind of not as good though. Definitely one of the weaker tunes on the album, but not bad.

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Send comments to Wallium (BETA) | Report this review (#160707)
Posted Sunday, February 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars There's not much to add to the discussion about this album and every thing I say will have been said over and over again but I just have to review this album. I can find almost nothing wrong with it for the entire 50+ minutes. Every song is constructed carefully and each part has its own place in the album. The lyrics have sometimes been dismissed as too angst driven but one has to remember that this is following from a book that the album's concept is derived from, so this argument is, in my opinion, useless. Even if the story was purely from Steven Wilson's head the lyrics are very well written and do not detract, but add to the overall experience. Musically this contains Porcupine Tree's loudest and quietest work to date (both their loudest and quietest moments are contained in the last two movements of Anesthetize respectively). Making an album with such stark contrasts in sound throughout is very hard to do without screwing up at least one of the transitions, but Porcupine Tree do it seamlessly, and repeatedly here. On the last four Porcupine Tree releases all the members have been playing with immense skill and to great avail, on Fear of a Blank Planet, however, every member does their best work to date. Wilson's vocals are haunting and beautiful, and his guitar work is magnificent. Gavin Harrison's drumming is very dynamic and he keeps doing things with his drum kit that just draw attention to places on wouldn't normally be focused on. Colin is as good as he's ever been filling out the sound nicely. The biggest step up in contribution has to be Richard Barberi's synthesizer work. The moments of tranquility it provides on songs like Fear of a Blank Planet and especially Sleep Together just push this album into a new realm of feelings. One more thing of not is the production and attention to detail in the production that this album exhibits. There are things going on that I didn't hear the first five, ten, and twenty times I played the album. This is one album that should definitely be listened to on the best pair of headphones you can get a hold of. Again, there was probably nothing new said here but all the same this is an album everyone should listen to at least once in their life.

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Send comments to moomoo (BETA) | Report this review (#161308)
Posted Friday, February 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is not a masterpiece!

A decent record, though, delivered by PT for 2007. I got the impression that SW run out of ideas a bit. There is one really fantastic track - the title track - but it makes promises the rest of the album can't keep. Especially the 17 minute suite is a bore IMHO, but for compensation two very good tracks - Sentimental and Way out of here - follow suite. The rest is decent but lacking surprises. All in all the album is a bit foreseeable, which is a pity. For the first time I find Wilson's lyrics more important than the music (I usually don't care much for lyrics). This release is no match for Deadwing or In Absentia, maybe not even for Stupid Dream. Let's sum up the pros and cons: Pro: the lyrics plus one outstanding and two very good songs which add up to 20 minutes. Con: three average songs adding up to 30 minutes. I think this is to much mediocrity for a better rating - 3 stars.

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Send comments to strayfromatlantis (BETA) | Report this review (#162396)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rating: A-

As today's most famous not-a-prog-band (if they are to be trusted to label themselves), every Porcupine Tree release is sure to earn attention, and, as recent releases have shown, such attention is fully deserved. Though Deadwing disappointed after the largely excellent In Absentia, Fear of a Blank Planet shows that not only are Porcupine Tree not declining, they are undeniably rising: Fear of a Blank Planet is their best yet. Evolving from a heavily Pink Floyd influenced space rock band to an alternative metal band that mixes crushing riffs with ambient pop beauty, Porcupine Tree has found a niche where they are kings, and Fear of a Blank Planet establishes that once and for all.

Unlike In Absentia and Deadwing, which are complete entities in their own rights but are nevertheless each comprised of multiple songs, Fear of a Blank Planet is really one (not-a-prog-) song in six parts, and what a glorious song it is. The opening title track immediately grabs the listener with a heavy yet catchy riff and a chorus that is somehow even catchier. It gets blood pumping, shows that Fear of a Blank Planet is for real, and displays tremendous songwriting - all in one blow. Then, of course, there are the excellent lyrics, which deal with the technology obsession Steven Wilson (lyricist, vocalist, and guitarist for Porcupine Tree) sees in the modern generation.

This album is no one-trick pony, however, as "My Ashes," the second track, clearly shows. "My Ashes" has to be by far the most beautiful of Porcupine Tree's softer tracks, showing real maturation in that arena, which I had previously found to be one of Porcupine Tree's weakest. And then, of course, there's the highlight of the CD, the (not-a-prog-) epic "Anasthetize," which might just be Porcupine Tree's best song to date (or, I guess, part of a song). Alternatively serene, crushing, beautiful, and energizing, "Anasthetize" is an epic done right: no bombast, no pretension, just pure songwriting talent. Every chorus ranks among the best they've written, every riff among their most memorable, every melody among their most beautiful, every vocal harmony among their most sublime. Needless to say, after such a tremendously powerful epic, the rest of the album has a lot of living up to do, but it manages it.

"Sentimental" is another ballad, similar to "My Ashes," this time incorporating some well-placed electronic elements with its beautifully simple keyboards and simply beautiful vocals. It's heartfelt and touching, giving it a personal and approachable feel that's entirely appropriate after the endless dynamics of "Anasthetize." This leads to the lyrically depressed but (almost) musically upbeat "Way Out of Here," which, over the course of seven minutes, transforms from largely atmospheric to hard-hitting metal. The first few minutes sound a bit too similar to Animals era Pink Floyd at the beginning, but once it shakes this off, it stays true to the quality of the rest of Fear of a Blank Planet, and, while probably the weakest track on the CD, it's certainly no slouch.

And then, suddenly, somehow, we're already at the closer, "Sleep Together," whose seven and a half minutes fly by just like the CD's first forty-four. With one last burst of energy, Wilson and co. conclude Fear of a Blank Planet just how it began: phenomenally. With no major weaknesses and filled to the brim with good ideas, Fear of a Blank Planet is by far Porcupine Tree's best yet. I almost wonder if it's time for another change of sound from Porcupine Tree, since I find it impossible to imagine them ever topping this masterpiece with the style of music they are now playing. One thing is certain however: wherever they go from here, they have guaranteed themselves a well-earned legacy with In Absentia and especially Fear of a Blank Planet. One of the most essential releases of 2007.

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Send comments to Pnoom! (BETA) | Report this review (#162408)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars For much of later 2007, Fear of a Blank Planet seemed to get quite a bit of attention, and voted in many progressive polls as the best album of that entire year. At the time I had a bit of a prejudice toward Porcupine Tree after I heard some songs off Signify, and at the time I simply disliked the band. As well, I'm not exactly the biggest appreciators of alternative music, in fact the style is what makes me hate the nineties decade so much. I really didn't know what to expect from this album, and when I first heard it, one thought stuck in my mind: this is it? This is the best album of 2007? Wow, that year did suck for prog! Yes, I was indeed a bit disappointed, but first impressions are always deceiving with prog. With several attentive listenings (as well as having a knew-found appreciation for more psychedelic music from Pink Floyd), I began to see the quality in this album. First off, the drumming is sharp and simply incredible, I almost find it more enjoyable to primarily listen to the drums than the other instruments. The band's use of sound effects to create a desired atmosphere has almost achieved (but not quite) the level of Pink Floyd's, and the lyrics fit so nicely with the mood, which almost always somewhat solemn and. It's interesting - the album is full of commentary on how hollow society, especially my generation, has become, and yet after listening to the album I myself am left with a hollow feeling, as my friend jshutt experienced as well. I is a great album to relax to. It floods with soft emotion and delicacy, refraining from showing much in-your-face top-notch musicianship and focusing on composition, quite the antithesis of Dream Theater in many ways. My only main complaint with the album is that even though it has great contrast and movement in the music, the mood itself seems a bit stagnant, rarely do a I feel a sense of energy or happiness, but that may have been intentional with the album's theme. It is know, along with Paradise Lost, my favorite album of that year that I unfortunately went the whole year without. All well, it was certainly a pleasure getting to know this album, and it has made me view the band in a different light, and I look forward to checking out more of their discography. Very talented musicians, the keyboardist, guitarist, and especially the drums, were my favorite instruments to hear on the album. I just with I could have heard more from the bassist, who seems to be the least noticeable member of the band on the album. All of the songs on the album are excellent, with Anesthetize gaining acceptance into my favorite epics list. Overall, Fear of a Blank Planet was a pleasant surprise indeed, and I'd consider it a great album for any progger.

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Send comments to Draith (BETA) | Report this review (#163339)
Posted Thursday, March 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars How come Fear of a Blank Planet has a higher rating than the amazing In Absentia? On this album, Porcupine Tree's sound has become a lot smoother, but I can't say that's a development in the right direction. It looks like Steven Wilson is trying to keep his young fanbase satisfied. The only really interesting song on this disk is Anesthetize. The other song's are just, well, typically PT. The songs just aren't interesting and inspiring enough and after a few times I put the disk aside because it gets bored. Don't get me wrong, Porcupine Tree stands for high quality music and FOABP is not really bad, but I just think it isn't very interesting compared to most other CD's they produced.

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Send comments to Niccollo (BETA) | Report this review (#163554)
Posted Sunday, March 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The prog album of 2007. I didn't buy much of that years music crop, so I will not judge it by those standards, but I can confirm that it is an excellent album. the only other Steven Wilson work I am familiar with is his collaboration with Opeth as keyboardist and producer on Blackwater Park. I must say though, I believe him to be a very talented musician.

'Fear of a Blank Planet' is an excellent semi-metal song, and probably the first PT song I heard (although it might have been Arriving Somewhere or Blackest Eyes). The lyrics are a bit extreme but there are probably people my age (16) out there who feel like the emotions described in this bleak song. 'My Ashes' brings the pace down to a slow burning ballad with lyrics that really strike home. 'Anesthetize' is the epic centrepiece. It would not be counted amongst my favourite epics, but it still is excellent, incorporating an Alex Lifeson solo, some heavy metal sections, and a brilliant psychedelic ending. 'Sentimental' is a highlight that is another sof reminiscent song. 'Way Out of Here' is probably the weakest track, but I still enjoy it, and it fits in with the album. Fripp's magic touch is present here of course. 'Sleep Together' has an industrial feeling similar to the music of Nine Inch Nails, but surprises me with its symphonic ending.

The quality of the music presented on this album is excellent and has some sort of quasi-concept. It is very bleak. Teenagers should appreciate the original twist on angsty lyrics, even if it is a bit pretentious for an old geezer like Wilson to write them ;-P

I would recomend this to fans of prog who like a modern twist to their music. There are nuances in the sound that remind me of Crimson but I'm not sure why. I will give it a well deserved four stars.

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Send comments to burtonrulez (BETA) | Report this review (#164232)
Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The name PORCUPINE TREE was more or less familiar for me when I started to visit the Prog Archives in 2005, but I recognize that except for the available streaming tracks I was totally unaware about them in musical terms - anyway, I thought they were just another new band; I wasn't prepared to witness the ecstasy the name PORCUPINE TREE achieved in the forums and, to be discovered afterwards, throughout the host of progressive fans, especially the youngest. So much ravishing made me curious and with time I ran through PT albums only to be grabbed too although in a less captivating way. Here, instead of laudatory speeches related to their entire discography, I'll jump this part going directly where the caldera stirs: "Fear Of A Blank Planet", PT 2007 release and noted by many as a summary of everything they've done before, presently and. in the future.

FOABP is really a fair and honest work, with the band biting a cluster of musical styles, including many spots of the prog-rock genres. Some people told me that PT feel a bit uncomfortable being labeled a progressive band, but they are and this direction is shown notably here in this album - the association with a underground mood can be disturbing especially if one wants to make money and/or to reach a wider audience. Anyway, like it or not, FOABP can be considered a neat modern prog-rock output, incrusted inside the Eclectic/Heavy sub-genres, in spite of emo/pop touches that spoil here and there some parts of the album.

Track arrangements and general production are among the best FOABP features, together with the already notorious band musical competence, being worthy to highlight the drumming and keyboards actions, while vocals and guitars run accordingly as always. Addition of guests Fripp, Lifeson and Wesley more than improved the appeal provided by FOABP.

'Fear of a blank planet', the title-track and opening act, starts soft and plain, only to throw the listener into a myriad of different tunes, ranging from typical space/psych chords (PT's roots) to clear heavy sounds and hovering above these that dazzling prog atmosphere able to please the most diverse tastes; there's a feeling of unfinished things like a page to be written further - and it seems to be done with a purpose. The balladesque 'My ashes' reminds me some early 70s melodies, this time seen from a 21st Century point-of-view, not spectacular but keyboards play in a symphonic manner, a symptom of the band's and album's eclectics.

The mentioned introductory songs act like a preparation for the epic-like 'Anesthetize', a lengthy track so meaningful and touching with so many variations and possibilities that's almost impossible not to be caught by its tunes that I suggest simply let the flesh and mind flow in parallel - even not picking immediately the lyrics one may visualize clearly to where this voyage goes.

The 3 last songs are well fitted within the album concept (dare I say there's one, no?) and complete fairly the superb first half well above the average platform: 'Sentimental' is pungent and has a catchy piano; 'Way out of here' brings some Floydian memories mixed with other influences; and 'Sleep together' closes the ark with a golden key and I swear I could hear Beatles tunes from the Magical Mystery Tour era and the final question remains: did they try to take us into a magnificent journey with FOABP? Well, they got closer and who knows if I'll embark totally in this tour with more hearings.

Truly, a fine work from Mr. Steve Wilson and companions that lands correctly into the excellent addition to any prog collection. That's it!

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Send comments to Atkingani (BETA) | Report this review (#165382)
Posted Sunday, March 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As some think, I agree that this album is very much overated. The only interesting songs for me are Anesthetize and Sentimental, but the rest is typical PT, in very similar style to In Absentia and personally I prefer the latter. The two I mentioned, however, are masterpieces, so they save the album from a two star rating, but the rest drags it down. The best thing I can say about this album is that it is, by a stone's throw, Gavin Harrison's best performance throughout the whole time he's been with this potentially brilliant band. So, being this NOT by my standards an excellent addition to any prog music collection, 33% of it being masterpiece work, 66% of it dull and unoriginal, I'm going to give this an average rating for an average album. 3stars is the best I can dish out for the latest release from PT.

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Send comments to The Pessimist (BETA) | Report this review (#165876)
Posted Sunday, April 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars On this record are not only some of Porcupine Tree's heaviest moments ever, such as a few of the instrumental breaks in the massive Anesthetize, but also some of their most delicate, such as the gentle My Ashes.

Do not fear: the band is not just repeating ideas from earlier CDs and trying to improve upon them, as many bands do (and Porcupine Tree is often accused of). Rather, Porcupine Tree branches out in some other directions, such as oddly written and timed synthesizers, something akin to thrash, soundscapes reminiscent of mid 70s King Crimson, and a measure of grungy punk sound. The highlight of this album may very well be the drumming of Gavin Harrison, not a newcomer to prog or music at all, but nevertheless one who suddenly decided to let everyone know that, yes, he can drum particularly fast but also with an uncommon amount of flair. That is not to say that the rest of the band is not in top form, either. Wilson's guitar and voice are at the peak of their respective sounds, while Barbieri provides some well produced and very cleverly used synths and keyboards. The only downside to the band's performance here is the absence of a strong bass sound, which has in the past been a strength of Porcupine Tree, but here Wilson follows the metal train and blends the bass in with the crunchy guitars.

Fear of a Blank Planet opens with its title track, a song actually somewhat reminiscent of the opening title track on the band's prior release, Deadwing. That is not to say it's at all the same, nevertheless. Some unhappy lyrics, a nice guitar solo, and a surprising drum fill that lends the music to a rather heavy riff all form the majority of the song, until it comes to the ending portion, where it fades gently into the next track. My Ashes happens to be that very song, but admittedly there is little terribly new about this song. It hearkens back to In Absentia or Lightbulb Sun. That is not to say, however, that it isn't a worthy song. While perhaps the least exciting and clever on the album, it still features a sweet melody and a refreshing background noise of a record and a needle. Of course, any loss of excitement that My Ashes might provoke in a listener goes away fairly quickly as Anesthetize steps up to the stage. The longest track on the album (indeed, the band's longest track next to The Sky Moves Sideways), it clocks in at just under eighteen minutes. Anesthetize is divided into three sections. The first is a minimalist part building towards a guitar solo by Alex Lifeson of Rush, all the while driven by an eccentric but steady rhythm from Harrison. The second part begins in a rush of heaviness, as the double bass goes wild and Wilson's guitars crunch down hard. This is also the only section that really features any sort of a chorus. Near the end of this middle third comes what is perhaps the most shocking Porcupine Tree moment to date: the guitars lose all semblance of melodic gentleness and the drums go into full thrash-mode. While this may turn off a number of the band's listeners who are only interested in their melodic side, it certainly throws every fan for a loop--and many prog fans like being thrown for loops. The final section is gentle and pacific, layering harmonies over a oceanic soundscape, softly winding the track down and away.

Following on the heels of this impressive track is Sentimental, an acoustic and mellow track somewhat reminiscent of Trains. While a nice song, this is a fairly unremarkable one. Or perhaps that's simply an aftereffect of following Anesthetize. Hard to say. Either way, the tempo and energy picks back up again once more with the song Way Out of Here. Featuring a lot of distortion in the chorus and a continuation of the album's dark and depressive lyrical content, the track plays forward without really slowing for the first half. Partway through, however, the music fades away, and Robert Fripp of King Crimson guests to build up a sparkly soundscape. Once this rising force climaxes, the song dives back into the metal ideas, featuring a whole lot more intense drum work from Gavin. The final track then wanders onto the album: Sleep Together, an unconventional closer for Porcupine Tree. Quiet verses and loud, grungy power-chorded choruses make up the song. The finale of the song features some humming string synthesizers, bouncing around on a strange melody but really shaking up the conclusion of the music. The production and mastering on this portion of the album especially is impressive.

In the end, this is quite probably Porcupine Tree's most varied and strongest album to date, edging out the favorite In Absentia on account of a bit more experimental and creative energy. It's also not a bad place to start with for the band overall, either.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#168624)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This PT opus is certainly not their greatest work, but it's still delightful.

Great mood all along, but lacking consistency IMO. This album is between the rock side and the psychedelic side of PT, staying closer to the Deadwing mood than the older days albums.

I personnaly prefer the EP Nil Recurring which has many of FOABP's riffs, put in a different and simpler way. FOABP tends toward a pop sound, with a spacy wrapping.

The best feature in this album would be the excellent drumming which gives this album a great groove and a lot of rythmic originality, with some Opeth likelessness.

I'd say 3.5 stars in comparison to their past albums.

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Send comments to mono (BETA) | Report this review (#168685)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet 5 stars

This album is Porcupine Tree's career resume.

A perfect mix of everything Porcupine Tree has done, this is also their most accessible album to date. their popularity surged after this release. This was originally one song broken down into six connected pieces. Each one seems to have a unique taste, but it binded musically and spiritually to the concept at hand. The concept is a pretty relevant one, dealing with kids and their slavery to electronics, media and drugs, which is a real growing problem in my eyes as well.

'Fear of a Blank Planet' is the title track and opener. Like the track 'Deadwing' it doesn't hesitate to get loud right after the short intro. This is a lyrically driven piece coupled with some of Wilson's typical drop-D guitar riffs, which has been an asset to their new sound. The song takes a dramatic change towards the end where things get melancholic and slowed down. It made a decent track turned into a great one.

'My Ashes' is where the preceding track took off. This track is a classical piano piece mostly with some voice and some effects. This track has been the weak one on the album, but as I like to give albums time (for good or bad), this track became quite a cozy one. Another great song.

'Anesthetize' is a massive 17+ minute track. This is one of PT's best tracks. It has a real industrial metal flavor to it. The track can be split into three parts. The first is opened up with some of Gavin's best drum work. A perfect display of dynamics and rhythm on the toms drives the beginning with some singing and a few heavy guitar moments. The guitar takes the lead in the second part where it feels like a really long jam. The third part takes a drastic change with some vocal effects and a cold ending.

'Sentimental' is a breather track after 'Anesthetize'. It's a really slow acoustic song with some of Wilson's best singing. Towards the end things get more upbeat, and a return to the catchy riff from 'Trains' is brought in again.

'Way out of Here' is my favorite song on the album. The chorus is among the best, mostly because of the little melody and the perfect vocals fitting it. That is the only way to really describe it, it is a must hear.

'Sleep Together' is a great ending to this album. It is quite an eerie one, putting this album to a dark end. This includes a string section in the end.

I found 'Deadwing' and 'Lightbulb Sun' to get leaps ahead of this one. The thing is, I cannot really find anything weak on this release. Everything seemed to be really flowing and tied together wonderfully which is usually hard with most concept albums. It really left no mistakes.

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#168868)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Solemn and bored the kids stay

Porcupine Tree's latest attraction (at the time of writing) has gained a lot of attention from the prog community, and for many good reasons. A concept album about how tomorrow's kids are going to be zombies to their computers, Xboxes and malls is sure to intrigue anyone who thinks the same about modern society, especially us cynical ones. The ironic part about this is that the audience targeted by the lyrics became the target audience when it was marketed over mySpace and the like. Mr. Wilson is very wise as to how to get his message across.

But speaking of message, a bigger question arises - being someone so good with the progressive structure and a modern master of the instrumental, how is this lyrically thick moral aspect going to affect the music? The answer is - a lot.

Fear Of A Blank Planet shows an entirely different Porcupine Tree [PT] than the blokes who traveled Sideways in the Sky or running up down staircases, this one is a heavy, rougher edged band who wants to get a point across. It's even a very different album from their previous effort Deadwing. This is, of course, not a bad thing since PT has always gotten by on being a very dynamic and shifting band, expecting them to stay the same would be ridiculous.

What should we expect on this album then?

Well, prepare to be bludgeoned with lyrics, but if you're ready for that then you should be fine. This is PT's most vocally heavy album to date, but it's also one of their most heavy in everything in general. Tone, mood, depth, it's all very heavy. This is clearly evident from the opening riff on the title track right though to the final chord on the final track. Though the album does tend to leapfrog itself with fast and slow there's no stopping of the heaviness, no matter what incarnation it takes. Fear of A Blank Planet (the track) is quick and jaunty while My Ashes is simply heavy in subject matter, and so on and so on.

Likely the greatest standout on the album (and this is hardly surprising) is the 18-minute suite Anesthetize. Starting with some chilling chimes and some catchy bass the song eventually makes it's way into motion. Going from fast and destructive to slow and calm coming into the end, this one visits it all. Featuring an excellent and very Rush-like solo from Alex Lifeson coming into the beginning of the second segment, this one is also a very good track for all the Heavy Prog fans out there.

Whether it be the heavy and chugging tracks like the title track, Way out Of Here and Sleep Together or the melodic melancholy of others such as Sentimental this album is one that works off a couple carefully selected aspects. Being a concept album as well they tend to stick close together creating a sound that, the first couple spins, seems like a very samey album. The tracks are well placed in the timeline however, and this effect soon wears off. even if never completely.

Being one of the most important prog bands of this decade (even if Wilson denies the prog label) it's to be expected that they release very well respected albums. This one isn't perfect, but it's still miles above some of the other music on the market. Voted PA's album of the year 2007 (very deservingly) this one is very unlikely to not catch your interest if you fancy yourself a prog head. It's very hard to give this one a 5, but it's very well deserving of a bright 4. Maybe even 4.5. An excellent addition to your library.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#169180)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet

Well let's see here. This is what, Porcupine Tree's 37th album? Something around there. Yet it is still good. Very good actually. Not perfect, and not a masterpiece like others have been, but still, very nice. The album shows the band reaching much more proggy heights than on the predecessor Deadwing, and doing so with a flair and style all their own. Steve Wilson and Co. have been producing music for quite some time now, and every true release (barring the Wilson solo stuff at the end, which mostly sucks [until the first real LP that is--Up the Downstair]) has been of substantial quality. Wilson is an expert songwriter if I have ever heard one, and his knowledge of how to utilize the guitar as an instrument as opposed to a shredding machine is infallible; here's a guitar player whose solos are full of this great thing called melody, and whose songs are filled with layer upon layer of thick, resounding chords and nice metal tones. And of course--the added bonus of all Porcupine Tree releases--the production is stunningly handled--superb.

Now the music:

The album only has six songs, something unprecedented since The Sky Moves Sideways for this band, and, although this album is not as good as that one, each song still holds its own water, and does it relatively well.

"Fear of a Blank Planet" could, in essence, be titled: "Deadwing: Part II", considering how reminiscent of each other the tracks are. The title track to this album will immediately grab your attention, and probably negatively because of the album's biggest flaw: the lyrics. The lyrics on this album, reflecting on the dysfunctional youth of today, are Wilson's weakest yet I'd say--and that's saying something considering some are considerably weak. Still, with Porcupine Tree, this has always been easy to overlook (especially since some of the lyrics are actually quite fine). As for the track itself, it is mostly upbeat and rocking, which is fine. The ending segment is very nice, and the track breaks apart and leads off with the keyboard tone used almost throughout the album.

"My Ashes" is uneventful, but not bad. Short, sweet, simple, and with nice vocals; it serves its spot with finesse, but will soon be forgotten, if only because of the next track. "Anesthetize" is awesome. An 18-minute epic featuring great everything; from hooks, to solos (a guest appearance by Alex Lifeson from famed proggers Rush is present as well), to the awesome chorus--the song is developed really well, and is, without a doubt, one of the band's greatest achievements. "Sentimental" follows, and though it is very good (featuring an astoundingly beautiful chorus), the re-worked version of it entitled "Normal" on Nil Recurring is superior, at least in my opinion.

"Way Out Of Here" is an interesting track, and probably the one track I'd consider a failure on the album. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's underdeveloped. The ideas here are great--and the soundscape backing it all up (provided by Robert Fripp) is nothing short of great--but they fall short due to over-elongation and just plain underdevelopment present in the actual songwriting itself, in my opinion. This is the track that could've been, but it feels stretched and rather boring.

"Sleep Together" is a decent track, but still not as good as anything from the first half of the album. What makes the track great is actually not the first five-or-so minutes of it at all (which are rather mediocre, truthfully), but the ending segment--which features climatic strings over the band itself. The moment is awesome and makes up for both "Way Out Of Here" and the first half of this track, while managing to end the album on a high note.

So, while the majority of this album is quite good, there are some moments in which it gets bogged down on the latter half of the LP. These tracks hold the album back from its true potential. Still, it's a great release, and a step in the right direction for the band methinks. I'd give it a solid 8 (Anesthetize truly boosts this one above Deadwing), which is exactly 4 stars here--for once with no deliberation at all!

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Send comments to Figglesnout (BETA) | Report this review (#170908)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'll have to agree with the banner at the top. Album of 2007. It's been a year since it's release and I still cannot put FOABP down. I love this sort of music, from beginning to.. well.. kind of end. Sleep Together is probably the weakest song on the album but even then is still listenable. Porcupine Tree have kept their recogniseable sound while progressing further and further into the metal genre. And this isn't shred and giggle either. It's thoughtful, well placed, and beautifully put together.

Absolute Musts: Fear Of A Blank Planet, Anesthetize, Way Out Of Here, Sentimental (9+) Listenable Ones: My Ashes, Sleep Together (7s and 8s)

Overall, essential, amazing and your prog collection will thank you for adding this to your archive.

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Send comments to Sacrilege (BETA) | Report this review (#171240)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is really well made. The concept behind it speaks to/of the younger folk of our world and how they very greatly then the past generations, and what we've done with everything to make it as such.

Musically, the album is superb. The album features magnificent musicianship by all Porcupine Tree band members with complex compositions and movements with very deep lyrically. I get lost in many of the songs and just drift off, until getting crashed back into full conciseness by many of their 'surprise' movements. It adds to the whole effect of the album and the ideas being presented. The album as a whole presents a similar feel all around, from the title track to the ending movement.

There are a few drawbacks for me with this particular Porcupine Tree album. The first, and probably the only big one is the size of the last song. I understand and appreciate its length and why it stops at 7:29 on my player, but with the music being presented and played, I felt it should have lasted much longer, perhaps getting into the double digits. It's one of those songs that you completely get lost in, but the trip is always too short.

The other concern I have with this album is the song order. Each of the songs on the album are true gems and progressive musts, but Porcupine Tree has a habit of putting their 'longer' songs on the album in the middle (although on this album 'Anesthetize' fits quite well in the middle since it has movements making it feel like three songs in one). Also, after 'Anesthetize' they follow it up with 'Sentimental', one of my new favourite songs, which sounds like a finale song and not a middle pivot point.

Other then those concern "Fear of a Blank Planet" is an excellent addition to any music collection. It brings forth great music and adds amazing themes and concepts to the mind. I recommend at least a listen through to everyone, just for the experience of the music. This is as close to a masterpiece I've heard from "Porcupine Tree" and is one of my new favourit albums.

A very well earned 4 stars

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Send comments to mothershabooboo (BETA) | Report this review (#172795)
Posted Sunday, June 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars If everything on the radio was THIS good, then the world would be a much better place.

That's my motto to certain artists, but it fits most aptly and often to Porcupine Tree. Porcupine Tree are relatively unknown in the mainstream, but I can't figure out quite why. They started out as a complete outlet for multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but then became more of a band effort increasingly over time.

The brilliance of their records is unmatched by hardly any other artist that I know (except maybe Magma or Rush in terms of consecutive masterpieces) and this album is NO exception. Many of you probably wonder what this sounds like... it's really a unique mix of amazing vocal harmonies, alternative and metal influence, spacey interludes, and all around extremely tight production, musicianship, and compositional skills.

The music is highly well-crafted and very accessible, so those of you who are worried about my bordering-on-the-obscure music tastes at times won't have to expect a Weidorje or Magma here. You could even show this to your friends and chances are they'd like it. This doesn't take away from the artistic depth of this album or ANY of Porcupine Tree's work, however.

It has some of the BEST production I've ever heard (by Steven Wilson himself), the music again is absolutely outstanding and uniquely addicting, and the lyrics can be dark but always have a purpose. This particular album is a concept album built around the collective fear of the unresponsive generation, i.e. kids who grow up never feeling or intellectually stimulating themselves, only zombies who constantly play Halo to fit in or what have you. If it sounds conceptually weak to you at all, I guarantee to you that in the voice of Steven Wilson it is executed in an absolutely wonderful fashion.

But who has time to even listen to the lyrics when the music is THAT good?! Did I mention Porcupine Tree has one of the greatest modern drummers, Gavin Harrison? Just listen to Anesthetize, which is the beast track of this album. It is easily one of the greatest pieces of music I've ever heard.

Anyone who skips out on hearing some Porcupine Tree is missing out on possibly one of the greatest things to happen to music, especially in the modern day.

Well, what are you waiting for? Stop reading my note and go order Fear of a Blank Planet today! You definitely won't regret it.

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Send comments to MovingPictures07 (BETA) | Report this review (#173202)
Posted Saturday, June 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh man, more Porcupine Tree! I'm reviewing my collection so I can get it out of the way. Not that I want to that is. This record is so great, it's deserving of constant replays.

Now, i'm getting something out of the way here. What I've done is mixed Fear of a Blank Planet in with Nil Recurring. The songs are like this:

-FOABP -My Ashes -Cheating The Polygraph -Anesthetize -Sentimental -Normal -Way Out of Here -Sleep Together -Nil Recurring -What Happens Now?

I must say, this order makes for an amazing listen. But for the purposes of this review, I will review the original tracks and then go review Nil Recurring. Let's begin.

Fear of A Blank Planet. Click clack. This song is seriously, slowly becoming one of my favorite PT songs. It's so creative and the drumming is...admirable. It's the old stuff. There isn't too many drummers like Harrison out there these days and I appreciate this highly. The concept here, is the everyday life of a pill taking, computer addict. He basically explains everything that's going on in his life at the moment. Very interesting. The song itself is too good for words. Records like this take me awhile to make into words. This is the very reason I still haven't reviewed Selling England By the Pound. PERFECT song. (10/10)

My Ashes is a slower going little tune. I really disliked it at first, but it grew on me. The only thing I can't stand is the chorus's vocals. I have no idea, they sound like they were strangling Wilson. It bugs me. Other than that this song is very good. (9/10)

Anesthetize. I can't even begin to explain its epicness. It's...beyond epic. I won't go into details on this one, because I'll end up here at midnight finishing a review. Just to say this is the most progressive PT track ever. Seriously, I would get FOABP just for this track alone. (10/10)

Sentimental. What a landmark track. It's a beautiful song about the character wanting to stay young forever. The chorus brings a tear to my eye. Just, the best song on the album. (10/10)

Way Out Of Here, very ambient song. Fripp providing soundscapes with his frippertronics. Really effin cool. This song is really a get up and dance for me. I don't know why, I just get filled with energy whenever I hear it. Amazing track. (10/10)

Sleep Together, starts off a little like a Radiohead song. Very cool. This track, honestly, is good by itself. I just didn't like it as a closer for the record. It really didn't work. They should've thrown in the rest of Nil Recurring in there. Honestly, some of the songs on Nil are better then here. Right song, wrong place. (9/10)

So, basically, this is an epic album of great quality. The musicianship is Way out of here and the lyrics are great. It's just those two songs that make it miss the perfect 5 stars. I've vowed to never give anythign five stars unless each track was perfect. So there. 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Treasure (BETA) | Report this review (#177696)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I don't know what to say about this album.It makes me believe,that there will be a new golden progressive rock era after the 70s.Mainly heavy prog,but it contains so much ideas here...This album is at the same time classic review of the 70s and vision to the future with that low-mooded and dark sound.It is structured consistently and is about to become a future classic.It is essential music for 21st century prog culture!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#177834)
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree // Fear of a Blank Planet

PT , nothing less , nothing more , BUT , Surprising and ........ outstanding ! for a while , I thought that progressive doesn't exist the way its supposed to be . Fortunately , with Porcupine Tree & Opeth we had the pleasure to enjoy a new generation of progressive music . Up to Date & Outstanding Masterpiece of Neo Progressive - psychadelia came out by the pioneers of neo progressive PT . Fear of a Blank Planet , A journey between the second and the third Millineum , crossing many bridges to achieve this fusion of , psychadelic - rock , in new methods . I can simply say that , with coma divine , Fear is one of the most interresting albums since 1982 . the four musical minds involved in the making of this work , represents one of the best teams to create the best Neo progressive psychdelic rock since 1970 . A Foggy tapestry of sounds & harmonies , spreading over 5 excellent tracks , and hovering between pscychadelic , rock , ambient , heavy , whispering vocals , and outstanding performances in all tracks . A perfect team to achieve this wonderful work , and the listener's patience finds ample reward towards every single track of this < endless work > , with a lush magnificient , 17 minutes piece ( Anesthetize ) featuring the best of Neo Progressive , in its best shape . A tribute to the past , addressed to the present and the future of Neo progressive rock . Outstanding & Outrageous , i really felt myself Living in the Past with a new pair of shoes made in 2008 , enjoying the amazing Psychadelia in best shapes . So , digging in the past to enjoy the good music is no longer a must , for old proggers . Bands like Porcupine Tree , Opeth , Arena , Pendragon , Satelitte , Blackfield , Dreamtheater , and so many others gave new dimensions to our dreams . A 5 Stars without hesitation ....... TracksToni // -- Review posted at the same time in GlobeSound

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Send comments to trackstoni (BETA) | Report this review (#178684)
Posted Saturday, August 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Steve Wilson, ie. Porcupine Tree is truly carrying the torch for progressive rock. FOABP breaks new ground for me in total variety of material. Definately my favorite album from Porcupine Tree, well above In Absentia and Deadwing, not that I don't love both of those albums as well. It seems to me that Steve Wilson is getting better and better with each release. The title track is awesome, great chords and chorus, and a great rocker. That's not to say that complexity has been comprosised on the track either. Turn it up! Definately a beach cruise crank up favorite. The other major highlight for me is Anesthetize, I love the Genesis style fills at the beginning. And throw in a solo from Lifeson of Rush? No kidding. Sentimental and My Ashes are great, moody and slow. Way Out of Here is a great song too. It seems the only low point here for me is Let's Sleep Together, too NIN for my tastes. Awesome album, looking forward to the next one!

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Send comments to Timdano (BETA) | Report this review (#181224)
Posted Sunday, August 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree would have written some of the most memorable music that I have heard in recent memory. Having said that, it took me longer to get into their most recent album FOABP but ultimately it was worth it. There is a Floydesque attitude in the lyrics and the first four songs on the album are infused with enough of the usual PT creative output to satisfy any fan of the band and even tempt new ones. The difficulty for me in giving it higher than 4 stars is the last two songs on the album. To me there is a definite weakness in the compositions here that even the legendary production values of Steve Wilson could not overcome. There is a blandness to Way out of Here and Sleep Together that bring this album down to a 3.5 value.

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Send comments to barbs (BETA) | Report this review (#181870)
Posted Saturday, September 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mind Numbing!

Steven Wilson is a god!

This album is without a doubt the best record released in my lifetime (birth yr, 1988). I've spent all of my life listening to music of the past (60s-70s), and that's not a problem at all, I love it, but I used to think, will there ever be a band/album that could touch the brilliance of the past?? I discover Porcupine Tree and think to myself; they defiantly have the potential, especially with releases such as Signify and In Absentia. With the release of Fear Of A Blank Planet I was completely convinced. This album is FLAWLESS, EVERY track is beyond brilliant. What a concept, each track fits so, so well, the album just weaves; mind numbing is what it is. There's no need to go track by track, I don't even look at the tracks, just start from the beginning and the length is perfect (50 min.). I can't wait for the next PT release, but there's no avoiding a letdown, but that's ok. I can't state it any simpler, this is a must have for any prog collection.

I'm going to start my 5 deserted island albums in my reviews; these are in no order of importance, just in order as I review them. Fear Of A Blank Planet is one of the five I must have, #1.

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Send comments to Kix (BETA) | Report this review (#184376)
Posted Thursday, October 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best fear that could have been created

This album seems to me that is the best album of "Porcupine tree". After one decade creating excellent music and albums like "Stupid dream", "Signify", "In absentia" and "The sky moves sideways" among others, they manage to create this disc that has, in certain form, their own spirit. This album narrates all a situation in which the modern children and adolescents are living.

The album opens with the emblem song of the disc because it takes the same name. This song begins with one riff of guitar followed with a drum that happens to be the base of the rate of all melody. The song maintains more or less he himself style accompanies with a "shady" letter and I must add that in his form also he is shining. To all this stuff this song is the best one between the 6 songs to open the disc, and in addition it seems to me the best song of the disc. Score: A++

"My ashes" is a song perhaps a little underestimated but is very well united with "Fear of a blank planet" in spite of being much more smooth and slow. Score: A

It follows soon with "Anesthetize", that is a slow although also much more melodic song. In this song it makes appearance Alex Lifeson with a guitar solo that breaks a little with the scheme of the song, but without giving incoherence. This 10 minutes song makes this an excellent disc, and makes it an excellent progressive CD. Score: A

The song "Sentimental" opens with a keyboard solo. Is very interesting song, the melody and the lyrics are united in an excellent way. There is no much to say about this song, unless it is an very good song. Score: A+

I do not know what they were trying to do with "Way out of here", because it is a song that breaks with the style that came bringing the disc; the song is quite good in addition that it counts on the participation of Robert Fripp. But I do not see it located in that place, perhaps put it indeed to break with the thematic one but it seems to me that he was preferable to put a song with a united mood more with the one than the disc already brought. Score: A-

"Sleep together" is another song that would not have to be in this disc, I have the same opinion about these two last songs. They are quite good songs and that they have a coherence among them two, but not between the other four, and taking into account who the disc treats about a subject in specify and which it takes to a defined direction the two last songs would have to take same the thematic one that the others. Score: A-

In summary, this is one of the best things than Steve Wilson and his group has done in the last years.

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Send comments to Terenzani (BETA) | Report this review (#188568)
Posted Sunday, November 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Fear of a Blank Planet was my introduction to the band known as Porcupine Tree. This album continues the trend of heavier music and decidedly darker themes. While the lyrics are based on the novel Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis, the overriding subject matter deals with a topic I have often considered during my time as a college student and subsequently a high school teacher: Adolescent nihilism. Young people in these times can frequently only be stimulated by video games, music, and television, shutting themselves up from the world, as the parents drug up their children, believing their erratic and depressing behavior is natural and excusable. It's a depressing but otherwise pleasant collection of music.

"Fear of a Blank Planet" The acoustic introduction here (not to mention the sound of someone typing on a keyboard) is a nice touch and an excellent way to start this album. The lyrics are spot on when describing the pseudo-anguish many young people go through, the façade that life is a vulgar travesty not worth living through, and the self-absorption that many youth indulge in. The chorus states the problem succinctly, and is also memorable in a way that most Porcupine Tree music tends to be.

"My Ashes" A mournfully beautiful song, this one is full of a sense of pining for a lost childhood and days long gone. The strings and the acoustic guitar are effective in conveying such a sorrowful mood, as are Steven Wilson's vocals. The music flows steadily, like a river a young man has tried to drown himself in.

"Anesthetize" This track took me several listens to finally get into, but now that I have, it is one on the album I look forward to hearing. We get the privilege of hearing Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson also. Whereas I once thought of this track as repetitive and somewhat boring, further hearings gave me a greater understand of the composition as a whole, and I appreciate its place in the context of the album.

"Sentimental" This is about as depressing as it gets, especially from the first lines: "I never want to be old, and I don't want dependents." It is mainly piano driven, with some unsettling timings. The drums sound like a mix of samples laden with effects and the real deal. The chorus is catchy, and the music remains pensive. This chorus will be reprised in the later EP Nil Recurring, as will the title of this song.

"Way Out of Here" Here, Porcupine Tree again juxtaposes heavy riffs with quieter passages, only to a greater extent. The track also features legend Robert Fripp. It is a bleakly hate-filled song, loaded with discontented phrases and a dismal spirit. There is an excellent bass-lead groove at the end of this song, making one want to hear it again.

"Sleep Together" The final song is the weakest track, although by no means dispensable. It seems a bit longer than it should be, and therefore somewhat repetitive. The last three and a half minutes is a settled but disquieting instrumental section that does make this song stand out.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#189325)
Posted Friday, November 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe it's true instead

Fear Of A Blank Planet (FOABP to be short) is the last (at today) studio album from PT, it comes out two years after the weak Deadwing and make what we have expected from a group who is one of the better music expression of the thing we call prog (I consider the pop parts on their discs as a trick to make the discs more easy to listen for non-progheads), so what is this FOABP? A nice intro strong as Deadwing itself, more metal than prog but there is a difference between the 2 tracks: while Deadwing is centered on metal parts in FOABP we see a nice rework in drum section, as Harrison counters the repeativity of the metal part I see here some of the best Collins/Bruford kind of sound (far different from Deadwing where Harrison was playing the same single note almost for the entire album), the other difference is the kind of sound, for the whole song here we got the feel that is growing in something different, while in Deadwing we got only the flat metal piece of music, anyway we still have a lot of influences from Dream Theater (but since DT works stop to be original after the 2002, I think that's not a plagiarism), at the end of the title track we got a slow ballade where Harrison stops for a bit (maybe to take a breathe), My Ashes comes out like a slower Trains and grows again with the enter of the drums, it's a prelude to the suite Anesthetize. The main track here enters with a strong intro of drums (again Harrison make the work for the whole band), the song keep going in this way (a lot different from what we have seen in previous works, but still PT, I like the chorus too taken from old PT - Stupid Dream maybe) till the 9-10th minute where comes the main piece, the music changes making a bit more metal than before (like title track), the last part begin with some atmosphere and then the voice of Wilson slow sing repeted and distorted with slow tunes and the drums that follow the line. Superb. After the main piece we go down till the perfect Sentimental, a piano introduction to make the carpet for Wilson to sing in Pure Narcotic/Waiting style, here Harrison play a background part but we can listen him again going for his own rhythm (the counterpoint of the whole song) till the 3rd minute where it become the main piece and the piano take the background part, (at 4th minute there is a Train part that make me feel sad, it's a mistake from PT I hope and not a plagium of their own works) anyway after that we got the 5th song (Way Out of Here) a strange one (We got Robert Fripp at soundscapes) ok... great eclectic music with synth voice (in some parts) that make couple with Wilson, the lyrics here are short and used only to make the atmosphere better, Harrison again plays his own counterpoint to the whole song as Bruford did in Fripp work's (maybe this song is the cause of Harrison being hired for next KC's album), the end is a chill out of the music that slowly fall in the last track Sleep Togheter. It doesn't fit in this album, we got a anonymous flat Harrison till almost the 2nd minute, but he's still cold and empty, here is the bass to take the lead, anyway the strong voice from Wilson make the track to sound good enough to worth a listen. The last two minutes are for the Harrison counterpoint of the track, but the other instruments overwhelm him again to put the end at the song. Nice to say that there is and end and 2-3 fast percussion like the vengange of Harrison over other instruments. Ok very long review, I've spent a lot finding the right words for this but at least I can give to FOABP a rating, I'll leave my happyness to being wrong (they are good and they are true!) to see that Deadwing was a merely mistake and put the vote on: 5 stars no bonus, only the music.

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Send comments to Erik Nymas (BETA) | Report this review (#190610)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars From start to finish this is a perfect album...there are no filler moments, there is nothing missing....as usual the production is flawless and the performances are excellent. If i was to give any criticism it would be the guitar solo by Alex Lifeson (which I know seems quite popular with other fans).....I think Steven could have easily done a better a job...but really a minor point...If you are already a PT fan you will have have/heard this....if not give it a listen...I would be surprised if anyone (prog fans that is) didn't enjoy this....I know the 5 star rating is reserved for masterpieces...this album certainly deserves that rating.

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Send comments to Peachy (BETA) | Report this review (#194612)
Posted Sunday, December 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree has done something that not many bands have been able to do, and that is to place the listener in a front row seat in a bizarre psychological theatre of the mind. The Who were able to do this with Quadrophenia, Genesis did it with The Lamb, Pink Floyd did it with DSotM. The similarities to Quadrophenia and the Lamb are somewhat apparent, the story has changed slightly in that our drug addled protagonist is a young child force fed medications presumeably by his parents who had neither the time or the inclination to love and work with the boy. But this story is a much darker and sadder affair. Like the teen in quadrophenia the boy struggles with feelings of alienation, depression, anxiety and thoughts of murder and suicide. His typical suburban world which includes a mall to hang out in, his much loved xbox, and the meds, have all conspired to effectively remove him from all that is good and real. Love, it seems, is no-where to be found until he finds the child within who loves him and leaves with that child.

This is my take on the story anyway. This is oscar winning material. From the film of the same name so to speak. And if I did not get the details right it does not matter, all I know for sure is that I can feel the pain. How many records can achieve that effect? The musicianship is superb, The production is fantastic, Steven Wilson is an artist for our times, and the band probably has one of the most interesting drummers to come down the stream since Bill Bruford.

This is an outstanding record, deserving every bit of the praise that has been put upon it. I can find no faults except that it hurts the soul a bit.

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Send comments to Valdez (BETA) | Report this review (#196690)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5

Unfortunately I don´t like the last song of the album.

This is the best album I´ve heard in the last 2 years. Steven Wilson has developed a sound that is a little heavier than the other records but without eliminating the amazing moments of beauty that he gave us in every record (Maybe Steven has developed a more Mikael Åkerfeldt-ish sound).

Fear of a blank Planet

The opening track and also the one that has a video to promote the album. This song it´s like hearing a normal PT song but it has something else, I don´t know exactly what is (I compare that song with Blackest Eyes but the feeling is different). 4.8 of 5

My ashes

This track is soft. It´s the Steven Wilson´s trademark. A moment of beauty. I really appreciate the vocals on this track. The music makes you feel like floating. 4.6 of 5

Anesthetize

Just listen to this song... You won´t be disappointed. A complete masterpiece. This is one of the tracks that makes you feel happy that there are still geniuses making music. It has 2 soft parts and an almost- headbanging part. In this track is where I feel more the influence of Mikael Åkerfeldt. But take in consideration that Steven have influenced Mikael. So, it´s like concatenating both geniuses. 5 of 5

Sentimental

It´s like My Ashes... a moment of beauty after a moment of brutality... The song is incredible and fits perfectly well tho the concept of the album. 4.5 of 5

Way out of here

Incredible track. The vocals are amazing. I´ve seen that in this forum the people don´t talk about the lyrics a lot. But I recommend you to hear the lyrics of this album (Steven Wilson said that he was inspired by the issues talked in Pink Floyd´s Dark Side of the Moon and Radiohead´s Ok Computer). 4.8 of 5

Sleep Together

This song is the only one that I don´t like. Lyrically it fits well, but I don´t like the music. It´s like an ambient song. 3.5 of 5

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Send comments to amjch70 (BETA) | Report this review (#199683)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fear of a Blank Planet: an ode to a degrating generation!

Based off of the work Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis (a very good book by the way) Fear of a Blank Planet has 5 songs and a masterpiece. The album itself is pretty good as a prog album and only okay as a P Tree album, but has some really strong, emotional, and powerful moments. The production is pretty flawless, and if you didnt know, this album was nomminated for a grammy for best surround sound album in 2007. The line-up is the usual, with guest appearence Alex Lifeson on Anesthetize for the guitar solo and Robbert Fripp on Way out of Here for soundscapes.

The album is very diverse in sound and very different from all other P Tree albums. Old fans of the band may hate it, and people who listen to this as their introduction to P Tree may love it, or vice versa. I cant really explain who it sounds like, because to tell you the truth, I think it sounds like Porcpine Tree music.

The standout tracks on the album are Anesthetise and Sentimental. Anesthetise is a 17 minute epic with three movements, a post-metal sounding movement in the beginning, a heaver powerful trippy section with some pretty rediculous time signitures (23/8) in the middle, and a very soothing slow motion ending. The entire song is so vivid and artistic. I hail it as a work of genius. The lyrics are moving and sometimes beautiful, especially in the last section and the musicianship is so GOOD. Sentimental is a depressing ballad that starts off with some piano and some of the best vocals by Steve. Then it slowly melts into a jam reminiscent of Trains or Shesmovedon.

Finnaly, this is definetely 50 minues of your time worth dedicating to this album. An excellent addition to your collection 4/5

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Send comments to pianoman (BETA) | Report this review (#201485)
Posted Monday, February 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Tree's latest is a great album. Their sound has changes since the last few albums - longer songs, as you'll see - shortest is 5 minutes, longest is 18, with an average around 7. Sadly, I ahve to admit before I begin that much of this additional time is wasted, in a sense, as nothing really interesting happens in the last 3 minutes. A riff is established, a verse is sung, chorus rocked out, it repeats, and it's awesome, but as soon as it comes to doing an instrumental section, they seem to wonder aimlessly. It doesn't achieve much. Culprits here are Way Out of Here, Sleep Together and the title track. Sure, when they rock, they rock, but when they're noodling away at the back end of the song, nothing is achieved. They kinda fizzle out like a rather disappointing flare. Not totally wasted - it's not silence, but you get the idea - you wait for a great climax and nothing comes. Odd.

That short rant aside, the album is excellent - don't let me discourage you from that. When it rocks, it certainly does rock. The title track proves this - it opens with a typing sound - tying into the theme of the album, about today's youth wasting away their lives on drugs and computer games - then with a warping noise, Fear Of A Blank Planet begins in earnest. Played on an acoustic, it is a very dark riff. Offbeat, interesting. Drums kick in at an angle, and heavier guitars come in with punchy bass, followed by twisted vocals. This is the Porcupine Tree we know from their recent albums - the song is generally commercial, with a well defined format. It's clearly not radio potential, but it's still a great song - clearly prog, thanks to the extended ending, as described above, which slows down, and gives us a few minutes of less inspiring guitar work. Yeah, there's a solo above all the noise, but I've never really like Wilson's guitar solos anyway. You kind of expect it to finish with a bang, but it fizzles out. Regardless, it's worth listening though, as some vocals return for a slower section which is quite melodic - great lyrics, actually.

So, next, My Ashes reminds me of Lips Of Ashes, due to their similar mellow qualities. Clearly, the lyrics follow the original theme. Chorus included. Strings appear round the back end of the song to give it a peak, but the rest of the song is really quite unspectacular. Due to it's un-interestingness, it's probably my least favourite.

Ah, an epic. Anesthetize is a wonderful rocker. Starting out slow, Wilson sings nicely over beating drums and an interesting guitar effect. Heavier chords peak through along with the chorus. This heats up into a solo (provided by Alex Lifeson of Rush, as a guest) which is excellent, providing a good intro to the second part. Featuring heavier chords, this brings the song past the 10 minute mark. Singing is included, with a great chorus dedicated to the section. Drumming is strong, if not a little dull, but the section delivers an excellent heavy section and brings the song up. No real solos from instruments, just riffs - probably a good thing. The chorus comes round at the 11:30 for an encore before part 3, which mellows back down into a slow, melodic section, with relaxed drumming and peaceful guitar riffs. Effective singing gives this part a great effect. Vocal harmonies are also excellently employed. It doesn't end on a bang, but it ends effectively with this section, as strings arrive to save the day, and give a little bit more oomph at the finale. it's only really 17 minutes, the last 42 are wierd noises (but where are PT epics without wierd noises?). A great song. Stands out amoung the rest.

Purely calm, this track has a beautiful piano riff on par with Collapse The Light Into The Earth. Sentimental is short but sweet with fantastic lyrics, a great chorus, and an awesome peak with acoustic guitars towards the end. Beautiful guitars soar below the drums on the chorus, and the lyrics are slightly clouded. Read them, they're odd but really, really cool.

Way Out Of Here brings back the darkness to PT as it should be after a few calm minutes. Slow to start it kicks into a great tune with verses and a chorus (simply the words waaaaay ooouuut - waaaay oouuuuuut of heeeeeere...). Similar to the title track, it loses momentum towards the end, though it does feature a great solo. The bass stands out at the ending.

The final track, Sleep Together is on par with Way Out Of Here. Similar story - verse and chorus (even with a very similar chorus structure (Let's sleep together...). Strings are more prominent here. It gives the album a bit of a weak finish, as the ending is simply the riff with some more synthesised strings. At the very end, the drums twist down once more to announce the ending.

Disappointed by the 7 minute tracks, but pleased with the two middle tracks, this is a good album. If something more interesting happened at the end of Way Out and Sleep, maybe it would get the 4 starts it really deserves.

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Send comments to Staker (BETA) | Report this review (#201831)
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first time you do something new in your life is always special. Everything from learning to ride a bike for the first time to your first kiss. This is my first review on this website and therefore after a lot of consideration I have chosen to review an album that is special to me. Fear of a blank planet is the latest album from the mastermind Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree. The theme throughout this album is concerning the new generation of youth and how media, drug use (and abuse) and apathy is influencing them in a negative matter. The lyrics are quite straightforward and it works quite well because it is a message that is straightforward in general.

And now over to the musical content of this album. The production is simply breathtaking. Steven Wilson has a good reputation as a producer and he has produced albums for Opeth in the past. He is currently producing albums for Anathema and Orphanded Land so it is safe to say that he is a magician when it comes to producing albums. Another point that stands out with Porcupine Tree is that even though it is progressive in terms of taking music to new limits, Porcupine Tree's main focus is to make good songs. Good songwriting should be the essence for making any kind of music. This results in a very emotional album. Music is simply put an expression of emotions and Steven Wilson proves again that he manages to reach out to the listener and he gives us the message which he intends to say. Another special mention need to be addressed to Gavin Harrison. He is simply one of the best drummers in the music scene today. He does not overdo anything and if it suits the music he often use the less is more principle. The level of details and the memorable drum passages is simply outstanding on this album.

A brief introduction of the songs of this album.

1. Fear of a Blank Planet: It starts with a rocker. The song contains some very memorable melody lines and it is the perfect opener for this album 4.75/5

2. My Ashes: The first time I heard this song I though i had put on No Quarter by Led Zeppelin. The opening is very similar to the theme of this song. It is an emotional and nice track. Again the thing that stands out is Steven Wilson's ability to make excellent songs. It is simple in its structure but there are so many levels of detail that makes this song to a very good ballad. 4.5/5

3. Anesthetize: This is a composition that is very had to describe with words. It is simply an experience. I will not describe it minute by minute because it will not do any justice for this composition. It contains everything that is expected for a progressive epic track. Tempo changes, memorable melodies, rhythm passages that will make the Goosebumps come crawling and incredible vocal work. This track also contains some of the heaviest passages Porcupine Tree has done to date and association to Pantera can be heard on a couple of occasions. One word to describe this composition: masterpiece! 5/5

4. Sentimental: Sentimental is another mellow track. A beautiful piano opens this track with some very nice drum passages. The lyrics are very memorable. This track is somewhat similar to some of the songs from Steven Wilson's side project Blackfield. Again it is a very simple structure with focus on emotion and melody. 4.75/5

5. Way Out of Here: I have been talking a lot about music's relation to emotion in this review. Way out of here is one of the most emotional songs I have ever listened to. The lyrical theme of this track is the decision of escaping in various forms. Again words will not do the justice for this amazing track. It is perfect. 5/5

6. Sleep Together: The weakest track but it is still a very strong track. It continues at the same structure as the previous track but it fails to reach the highs that Way out of Here did. It is a nice closure of a memorable album. 4/5

This is simply a post- modern classic. The lyrical content reflects the challenges and problems that we face today in an excellent way. Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.

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Send comments to mangor (BETA) | Report this review (#201909)
Posted Friday, February 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars PA's greatest album of 2007 makes its way into my library about a year behind the moment. Let's see if I can make sense out of this one.

Obviously, Porcupine Tree is one of the most popular bands on this site and this is one of their most popular albums. It's was a strange album when I first listened to it because my first impression was that it was just an above-average indie rock album. It takes a couple of listens to really see where the underlying complexities lie and how much of an artistic statement this really is. This IS NOT prog in a traditional sense; there are no obvious Yes-tones or Genesis-tones, odd time signatures are there but not overwhelming, and the virtuosity is how the compositions are put together, not necessarily how technically proficient the instrumentalists are.

I quite like this one very much, but I'm not going to over-elaborate every last song nor am I going to call this the greatest prog album ever. The only fart in the album to me is ''Sleep Together''; it just sounds like monotonous droning even when the song gets heavier in dynamics (of which I quite like). Other than that, I'm quite pleased with everything else; the lyrics, the segues, the structures, the instrumentation, the vocals, etc. Definitely, ''Anesthetize'' is the centrepiece of FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET due to its length, but I like this one a lot since it only focuses on a few themes throughout its 17+ minute length, but all are developed well and the transitions are nice and smooth.

Most prog fans seem to take this one close to heart despite it not being a prog album in a traditional sense. I think progmetal junkies ought to get a kick out of this one since FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET kind of leans in that direction. I'm going to say it's a five star album, but be warned, there's a slight risk you might not like this one.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#202594)
Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' - Porcupine Tree (10/10)

Although it will arguably never reach the same level of success and achievement as it did in the 1970's, progressive rock is not dead. In fact, some of the decade's best music was crafted by progressively-inclined acts. Porcupine Tree is the defacto leader of modern prog rock these days, with a string of masterpieces under their belts that more than justifies the attention they have received. Throughout the late '80s and '90s, musical mastermind Steven Wilson developed Porcupine Tree from what was originally a tongue-in-cheek psychedelic experiment into something more serious. Though a bit older than some of the other bands on this list, Porcupine Tree never really hit their stride until the 00's, opening the new millennium with such now-classic albums as 'Lightbulb Sun' and 'In Absentia'. Virtually perfecting their atmospheric blend of art rock by 2005's 'Deadwing', Porcupine Tree then set their sights on something different. Emphasizing their existing feelings of melancholy and exchanging their psychedelic tinge in favour of metal, 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' saw a much darker side of the band's music than ever before.

The album is a six piece concept revolving around the tribulations of modern life, through the eyes of a teenager. Porcupine Tree expose and reflect upon the sort of ambivalence and apathy that plagues the middle-class lifestyle today, with Wilson's brooding lyrics touching upon everything from prescription drugs, hypocrisy and media to the emotional results of this environment; isolation, helplessness, and thoughts of suicide. Make no mistake; Wilson tackles these topics with a poetic soundness that keeps 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' from ever becoming a weepy mess. Most of the loose narrative here is told through the eyes of your everyday pill-popping, disillusioned youth, and Wilson manages to adopt this persona in his lyrics without getting preachy or didactic, much like a prog rock J.D Salinger. As one might guess, the music isn't too far off the lyrics in terms of its moodiness. There is plenty of dynamic here, ranging from soft electronic ambiance to moments of extreme metal aggression- possibly a reflection of our protagonist's bipolar disorder? All of the chaos within the mind of this teenage everyman is channeled through Wilson's brilliant-as-ever production.

'Fear Of A Blank Planet' rests in a perfect balance between a sense of cohesive flow and distinction between songs. The title track gives us a dense blast of dark art rock and introduces the subject matter. 'My Ashes' and the spacey piano-driven 'Sentimental' are a more relaxed slice of Porcupine Tree, toning down the energy and heaviness without losing any of the feel. 'Anesthetize' is the album's seventeen-minute cornerstone, an absolute monster of a track that summarizes everything the album is about, featuring both the album's most mellow, and most aggressive moments all within one composition. 'Way Out Of Here' is possibly the most immediately appealing track, with the melancholy now amped up to 11. Finally, 'Sleep Together' ends the journey on an ambiguous note, with exotic string sections blazing and dark electronics filling up the sound. The album ends with Wilson singing about relieving the pressure, and burning his possessions. Has he found enlightenment and broken through his apathy, or killed himself? These things are left up to the mind of the listener, and makes 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' the greatest statement from one of today's most impressive rock groups.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#205900)
Posted Monday, March 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
lazland
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.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#215401)
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars My introduction to Steve Wilson and Porcupine Tree. After a fifteen year hiatus from "progressive rock" and most new music, ProgArchives reviewers led me to this gem. Revived with a new intrigue and interest in the most artistic of music forms, progressive rock, I began my adventures into post-1970s prog with this CD. From the first listening I was impressed. A little heavier than I expected at times, I quickly keyed into the drummer: very impressive. Then found myself bewitched by the beautiful and diverse sound textures (helped out by old "friend" from my David Sylvian years, Richard Barbieri). Even nostalgically amused by the "guest appearances" by prog legends Fripp, Lifeson and Wesley.

1. "Fear of a Blank Planet." Drums catch you from the start: Tight! Confident! Who is this guy! Google search! Pretty cool "metal-ish" feel in the guitars, the kick drum style, though mellotron/synths soften it some. Great mellotron background wash! Lyrics kind of cynical and depressing. Keyboard work is subtle but really absorbing. Good hard driving tune with excellent electric guitar and synth soli at the end. The end is the best part (and more typical of older PT, I will find out). 7/10

2. "My Ashes." Very cool intro. Haven't heard that effect/sound since Zep's "Ocean". Chorus enters over a beautifully fluid wash of Floydian mellotron, followed by entrance of drums and electric guitars.The burdens of cultural transmission. I've read Steve can be a bit down, even depressing (lyrically). Love the flowing, floating strings behind the vocals and acoustic guitars. A lovely, well-constructed song. 8/10

3. "Anaesthetize." The first truly priggish feeling song. (Especially due to it's 17 minute length.) The drum "arpeggios" underlying the first three minutes are mixed perfectly into the song so as to not overwhelm the listener. The entry of the fuzz guitar chords and snare hit and then excellent electric guitar solo precede an awesome electric piano sequence (Ambrosia?) and some synthscapes just before the more metal-ish drum and bass sounds take over the rhythm. Steve's treated vocals @ 8 minutes in truly usher in a more fully metal feel (so cleanly recorded!) (really a Nirvana grunge "Feels Like Teen Spirit" section). Awesome Gary Newman "Cars" sound just before this drummer dude really gets to impress us. There's that metronomic click track again. Barbieri/Wilson's synth work is so smooth, subtle, understated but interesting and key! The Floydian end section brought in at 13:20 is very cool, very Wish You Were Here/Animals, complete with brief Gilmour-esque axe solo. Song never really seems to develop into what it promises at the beginning, though it does end well. 7/10

4. "Sentimental." A teen anthem sung by a thirty-forty-something. Hm. Simple, SimpleMinds/U2-ish song structure has a feel similar to several other "classic" PT songs. So-so song. 5/10

5. "Way Out of Here." The first of the albums two really great songs-true classics, with really powerful lyrics and vocal deliveries (though sometimes too deep in the mix, due to the treatments). Very catchy chorus lyric and melody. Absolutely stunning guitar solo (Fripp?) is followed by an eerie, here comes the slasher lull before all metal hell breaks loose. And did I mention the drums? This drummer knows his craft-enhancing yet never dominating with sometimes breathtaking speeds and techniques (again, the drums are so well mixed into the music). The long fadeout of ascending string sounds over Harrison's ever-so subtle yet playful batterie is brilliant! 10/10

6. "Sleep Together." A quiet little intro is suddenly amped up and made rather eerie by a strong, slow drum beat before Steve's treated voice screeches his forceful though despondent command "Let's sleep together." The world's about to end, so why not? Second time through the chorus leaves us in outer/inner space with some very interesting multiple synth play. Gavin and Colin rejoin the music to help usher us through a truly unusual "string quartet" (a la Kronos Quartet) exit. Very fresh and creative. Classic prog! Awesome! 10/10

Undoubtedly outstanding musicianship and sound recording with very impressive composition and of-time-capsule-interest lyrics (computers and iPods). I think we have a modern prog classic! 47/60 = Solid 4 stars. An excellent addition to any music collection.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#215707)
Posted Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion, this is possibly the best album released in a looong time. I can see why some traditional prog rockers may not like all of the attention this band is getting. They have a different style than the pioneers like Yes, ELP, Tull, Genesis etc. I love all those old bands, but I also love Porcupine Tree! They have proven to me once again with this album that they do in fact belong in the pantheon of the Prog Gods. Hauntingly beautiful melodies mixed in with thumping good hard rock is what the best Progressive rock is all about for me, and Porcupine Tree defintely delivers. I am not sure how popular they are in the UK, but in Canada and the US they are basically unknown to the masses. I don't really see why as some of their songs could easily fit right in on a good radio station. But, I have yet to find a North American station that will play them. All I can say is..... Steven Wilson....Live Long and Prosper !

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#217335)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars I usually try to take a bit of time before I review a CD. Four to six careful listens where I'm completely alone, doing little else other than listening to the music. I try to listen on my car stereo, my home audiophile system and through headphones with either the CD player or MP3.

I REALLY tried to like this record; but it didn't strike the same chord with me as with other reviewers/fans/listeners who think that FOABP is a prog masterpiece. Some have gone as far as to say that this is THE BEST prog recording of the past [x] years. I definitely do not agree with those reviewers.

I break down this review in the following way. I don't use the same criteria for all recordings, but since this one had such a "serious" storyline that everyone was ranting about I decided to include the "Emotional Factor" into my review:

(1) Production quality: 5 stars (2) Musicianship: 3 stars (3) Originality: 2 stars (4) Progressiveness: 2 star (5) Emotional factor: 2 stars (6) Replay factor: 1 star

1. Production quality: For all of those naysayers who say that artists shouldn't try to master their own music, well here is proof that it CAN be done; and quite OUTSTANDINGLY! Per the liner notes Steve Wilson mixed and mastered this recording and he did a masterful(no pun intended) job. He created an extremely tight recording that is somewhat mechanical, because of its precision, but overall a very easy listening experience that places each instrument into the stereo spectrum without falling prey of the stereo widening that is so prevalent these days. With FOABP Steve created a very live-sounding recording. I MUCH prefer a thicker mix where all of the instruments are in the stereo field rather than the overly abused left-right, wide panning technique where instruments are in complete isolation from each other. Arguably, the latter makes for a more enhanced headphone listening experience but it's not a realistic image of how live music sounds. Kudos, SW, you made a fantastic sounding record!

2. Musicianship: The drumming is by far the main attraction on this record. There are some excellent tom thumping parts that are reminiscent of the percussion on Peter Gabriel's Security release. The guitars are extremely well-produced but lack any real virtuosity, progression or emotion. They are simply there to create washes of chorus and sustain; not much else beyond that. The vocals are OK, but a bit too adolescent to garner any serious merit.

3. Originality: It's difficult to decide whether PT are very original or not original at all. I don't understand all of the Pink Floyd comparisons; other than the dark topic matter. If that were the only criteria used to compare this band to PF, then over half the prog bands of the last decade have been influenced by PF. But realistically, this band does not sound like PF at all. The guitars have nowhere near the emotion that Gilmour pumps out of his Strats and the keys don't create the psychedelic vibe that made PF what they are/were. If any comparison should be drawn it should be with Radiohead.

4. Progressiveness: That's where this album falls on its face. I had VERY HIGH hopes that these guys where doing something completely unique and moving the genre forward; but they didn't get it done. The music is insipid, having little to no inventiveness and quite monotone. Interestingly, I had FOABP on my MP3 player sandwiched in between records like Gentle Giant's Glass House, Parliament Funkadelic's Tear The Roof Off, Steve Vai's Fire Garden and Queensryche Operation Mindcrime and honestly, FOABP sounded pretty weak along those other records.

5. Emotional Factor: Here's where I expected this record to show its teeth, but again it let me down. There is no story line, per se. Wilson simply chose to relate the world from the perspective of a young, troubled person(s) but didn't go deep enough to provide any satisfying answers. Any artist can observe but the best story tellers provide answers or even opinions on what they observe. Wilson simply states facts(several times he sings about kids "getting high and walking the malls") but doesn't expand to provide his opinion as to whether doing so is good or bad , if it's inevitable, avoidable, warranted, inexcusable or if he's indifferent to it...etc. I walked away believing that the lyrics justify what kids are doing as if though there is NO HOPE! Wilson may tell me different, but that's the message that I get from his record; namely HOPELESSNESS. Since I don't share that hopeless philosophy I find this record completely harmful to young people. I can just see stoned teenagers, cutting school and walking the mall while bopping their heads to this record; an anthem of sorts to that crowd.

6. Replay factor: I played this recording four or five times in order to see/hear what everyone else is hyping about. I'm in my mid forties and don't want to fall too far behind the current groove and like to keep abreast of the current trends. I hate to admit that I wasted time listening to FOABP beyond a second listen. The record sounded the same the first and fifth times and that alone tells me that there is little there that will make me want to come back; hence this CD will either get traded or will gather dust.

In short, PT is nothing more than a band that shows up on the Leno or Letterman show one evening and the next day I forget who they were. I really wanted to like FOABP, but if this is supposed to be PT's best effort, then I certainly won't be buying any more of their releases.

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Send comments to wbiphoto (BETA) | Report this review (#217789)
Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album may be highly revered for several reasons. For one, it has a lengthy track, "Anesthetize" which is killer. Another reason is that the production and atmosphere of some of these tracks are killer. However, I think the biggest reason for Porcupine Tree's success is their alternative rock base blending with prog rock. Progressive rock fans, unfamiliar with some of the latest trentds in the past couple of decades might have missed the alternative rock trend. So when a more intelligent band in the genre gets labeled as 'progressive rock', they find it a refreshing new sound. Although the genre blend is pretty unique, a lot of Fear of a Blank Planet lacks in originality.

The overall sound of the album can be described as moody alternative rock with large doses of progressive ideas blended with a few dashes of heavier guitar riffs. Either the songs on here are loud, driving alternative metal, or Pink-floyd esque atmospheric prog. Steven Wilson's production on the album is pretty much flawless, but sometimes this can lead to the tracks seeming to have some 'sterility' to them. The production allows the listener to immediately see everything that's going on, and with the repetition in the album, sometimes it makes the album more than a little boring.

Anyways, most of the songs are pretty straightforward in any event. Standard rock structures float through each of the tracks except for the aforementioned epic, though still in each of its sections has a pair of verses, so it could be argued that it still follows the structure. Most of them are based on soft keyboard themes and are lethargically slow, sometimes to the point where the listener can get pretty bored, especially in the song "My Ashes". Sometimes there are more energetic riffs to be found, like in "Fear of a Blank Planet" or towards the end of "Way Out of Here".

The epic track, "Anesthetize", though is still pretty interesting. Through the entire piece, the listener is enveloped in a killer atmosphere, beggining with a regular moody keyboard melody above some flowing toms on the drumkit. The piece progresses fantastically through its 17-minute voyage, eventually exploding with double bass pedals and metal guitars, and at points dabbling in great polyrhythms. The ending is a bit predictable, but it's a fantastic composition nonetheless.

As an album, I feel Fear of a Blank planet is mostly dissapointing. The sterile, clean production and the repetition of generic adolescent mood brings the album down a ton. However, most of the music isn't bad, and there are still great ideas to be found in the album. Most prog fans should be able to enjoy it.

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Send comments to topofsm (BETA) | Report this review (#218558)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I think that "Deadwing" is a masterpice, and it was really difficult to be surpased by another Porcupine Tree album... But I don't know how, Steve Wilson and his fellows managed to make the best album in the band's career!

The style of "Fear of a Blank Planet" is not very different from "Deadwing"... It's maybe even more cohesionated, proggier, and it has the perfect balance between the strong guitars of the last band's period and the symphonic and classic prog elements. Anesthetize is the perfect example... And the best song they have ever made!

I had the luck of seeing Porcupine Tree playing this album live in its integrity in Madrid, the last October... They played it from beginning to end, not missing a single note. And then I realised again how wonderful this album really is. It has no flaws, not a single weak moment, and it flows wonderfully from the first to the last second... My Ashes and Sentimental are great mellow prog songs, following the path of Trains from "In Absentia", but adding an even more melancholic and devastating feeling. The tittle track is similar to the song Deadwing in style in melody, but even better. Way out of Here is another little classic in this album, with a great vocal work and a lot of intensity... Sleep Together, with its hypnotic bass line closes the album in the right way... While Antestetize is the best Porcupine Tree song I've heard!

The concept of the album is also really interesting... Here Steve Wilson give his opinion about today's young people, about the drug abuse they make every day, the personal problem they have to adapt themselves to this world, and even their way to love and feeling the others. Every song of the album develope this concept with the marvellous Wilson's lyrics, with a great sense of melancholy, desperation and world's disconnection. I think I will never be tired of hearing this incredible lyrics accompanied by even more incredible music.

Best tracks: every song of the album is a classic, both lyrically and musically.

Conclusion: "Fear of a Blank Planet" is the best Porcupine Tree album I've heard... Here we can hear the band in top form, in the highest peak. The sound is perfect, every song is a classic, the musicians are masters (Gavin Harrison is god), and the band finally reached the perfect balance between the hard guitars and the acoustic/dreamy passages, almost reached in the outstanding "Deadwing"... So Steve Wilson and the rest of the band will have to do a very very hard job with "The Incident" to surpase "Fear of a Blank Planet", because it's one of the best prog albums of this decade.

My rating: *****

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#223267)
Posted Friday, June 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having re-aqcuainted myself with progressive rock a little over a year ago, this record was one of the first I got my hands on. After a year of listening Fear of a Blank Planet I think I'm ready to submit my review on it (which, by the way, marks my first on this site).

Right from the very start Steven Wilson and his crew take the listener on a sightseeing tour of modern madness, depicting the current state of the world in a similar fashion to Dark Side of the Moon, another masterpiece of its time. This time, though, it's about numbness, over-medication and the pressures of modern age.

In the context of the album's topics it is no wonder that the result is quite a depressing image. Although I'm generally not a fan of overtly melancholic records, on this album it, in fact, is one of its greatest assets. The bleakness really shines on through and the whole picture is not diluted by forced positivism.

When it comes to the performance of the music, the contrbutions of mrs. Wilson, Barbieri, Edwin and Harrison blow me away with each listen. To me, the band has always been divided into two units, the rythmic backbone and Harrison's signature rythmic illusions; and then the Wilson/Barbieri spacious, atmospheric powerhouse. One might argue, that Wilson's songwriting and production skills are what make Porcupine Tree, and while that is very true, it's only a fraction of it all; the breathtaking quality of this record is largely built on the instrumental capabilities of the players.

I won't go into detail describing each song separately, because, as several reviewers have pointed out, this is a single long song and should be treated as such.

This record is a modern masterpiece even when compared to such heavyweights as Foxtrot and DSotM and I encourage everyone within this community to experience it!

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Send comments to Jimoleon (BETA) | Report this review (#224229)
Posted Thursday, July 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Fear Of A Blank Planet, Porcupine Tree, 2007

My problem with Fear Of A Blank Planet is that it is an absolute non-event. I can go through an entire listening without thinking of a single bit that I either particularly like or dislike... a fairly tame set of vocals (going for a representative non-voice, and since the lyrics aren't representative, it basically ends up being a complete non-representation) and the ridiculous preconceptions of the lyrics (I mean, seriously, 'X-box is a god to me'...) admittedly don't help it much. No complaints with the performance, nor really with the compositions; it just continues to make no impression, except for the occasional nail-biting lyric.

Keys and a slightly Opeth-flavoured acoustic introduce a very much alt-rock number. Somehow, despite a number of individual features that seem appealing (Harrison's drumming, cool harmonies, memorable melodies, birdcall guitars, some ornamentation), the overall texture is a sort of cold soup (not mushroom, though: that tastes even better cold), which, despite nice components and a bit of forethought, has been left out on the side in the concept album kitchen too long to hit the spot.

Way Out Of Here, as a cooler number, seems to work better. Menacing electronic throbbing creates an undercurrent for a slightly Quadrophenian verse (perhaps the theme, perhaps the style but that's what it reminds me of) and a great entrance by Harrison. The sort of slow-metal groove of the chorus is effective; the guitar solo and that plain dull metal bit entirely unhelpful... I mean, why do I want to hear a generic metal riff in the middle of a pop song... it just doesn't add anything? All in all, a bigger ratio of 'oh, that's nice' to 'where did the last seven and a half minutes go', but I'd still be surprised if it's a 1:1.

Sentimental sees a sort of effort at a moment of brief hope in the o so real wasteland of desolate computer-screen-starers who no longer care about anything with a cheery piano, and more or less non-depressive melodies. Admittedly, the vocals seem as doom-and-gloom as ever (I'll spare the lyrics; you probably know what I think by now). All in all, it's a fairly harmless alt-rock song with a particularly decent set of background guitar solos and still a non-event.

Anesthetize is like an epic poem in that it's long and has a suitable amount of repetition... it's also a bit like a stool with two legs, where the missing leg is quite important. The vocals are just about blank, but somehow not blank enough to convince me that I should forgive their content (moderately loong syllables with no colour or flavour all over). There are a few, rare, really spine-tingling moments where the whole band pulls together in a manner just about moody enough to convince you that, even if the album's message is ridiculous, if it were about something else, you'd be impressed. Lifeson's guest solo is neat, as is the burst of jamming over a speaker-switching riff. These flashes of excellence meet with the dreaded repetition as a springboard:  'relax... I know that was a bit quick, so calm down, wait until you think you're in your comfort zone... we had a metal riff... have it again... we might develop it when we're sure you're OK with it... ready... alright, have a bit more content... it's OK...'

Maybe I'm just more picky about what should be in a long song than when I first started, and as said, there are some glorious moments in Anesthetize but the repeats, the first couple of sets of vocals and the lyrics do put down what at times emerges into something of a quality, structured epic. Admittedly, the structure's just about lost on me (meaning: only the immediate contrast makes an impression). Again, it could make a bigger impression than it does, but it's on the nice side.

My Ashes is a small step up for the album's more friendly material, augmented by a set of lyrics I can conveniently pretend are about something completely different, a nice vocal melody, a contrast between the piano and guitars and some synth strings which I fear criticising in case it actually turns out to be Fripp (who later on makes some suitably bizarre soundscapes). Harrison's entrance darkens and hollows out and cools the whole thing in a manner pretty typical of the album. Another not-really there track.

Sleep Together features more of the throbbing synths (and a great sound on them: a nod to the producer to make up for all the nasty things I've been saying about the lyrics), as well as metallic moments that are credible and add to the song. Some sly oddball guitar licks, a constant keyboard presence and thick metallic drumming add up to a slightly more exciting ending to a generally bland album. Even if a Midsomer Murders incidental music type melody is drawn out a bit and the concept remains the just victim of a Harold-The-Barrel scene where I harangue it to just jump already and leave the rest of us to deal with more menacing and genuine types of angst. Still, musically, it's not bad.

Writing all this, I've realised that my problem with this album is simply that I can't take it seriously... the lyrics seem like a parody more than an insight, and consequently all the concept album paraphernalia... picked voices, moments of contrast and triumph and so forth, fall flat. Anyway, if you don't care about lyrics, or spend more than 50% of your waking hours complaining about the sinister results of the internet via the medium of progressive rock forums, this is probably not a bad place to start with Porcupine Tree... I mean, I can see how, if I could ignore the concept and pretend it was about hobbits or tantric scriptures or how you got Christopher Lee to add voiceovers or something a bit more credible, I'd possibly really like this album. As it is; two stars for an album that really, my collection would be just fine without.

Rating: Two Stars Favourite Track: Anesthetize or Sleep Together, I guess.

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Send comments to TGM: Orb (BETA) | Report this review (#228144)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a disappointment.......

The best prog bands have delivered albums without relevance as well as albums full of brilliant music that illuminate the path of many other bands. Porcupine Tree is one of these bands. With Deadwing as their peak (for the time being?), but with Fear of Blank Planet they missed me completely. Despite the positive reviews and ratings, and despite many attempts from me to try to understand this album I simply have to conclude that I dislike the heavy signature of the music. I can´t find nice melodies nor good songs. And it seems to me that Steven Wilson and co took the worst from prog metal to include it in their songs. I gave this album even a try to visit a gig in Tilburg during their FOABP tour. But this also turned out to be a disappointment, the songs remained too dark, the good musicianship buried under heavy riffs and dominant drumming It seemed that the band also did not really liked their music. There was almost no contact between the members of PT, not with the public. The soul has gone and I keep my fingers crossed for their next release within a few months. I dare not give up, so I will give it a chance.....

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Send comments to Keet (BETA) | Report this review (#228728)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars This is the first time PT released an album that stayed close to the preceding one, both in style and in sound. At least that's how I hear it and for once I won't complain about it. First of all PT is one of the few bands who have brought something new with every album so they have done their load. Secondly they had achieved such a strong and personal eclectic style with Deadwing that we can be very happy indeed to have another album perfecting what was happening there.

Where Deadwing has a few dips in the song writing, this album is very coherent and unbelievably strong throughout. At least in song writing, the execution sometimes leaves room for improvement. Especially the two closing tracks fail to engage me. They sound too flat and studied. Especially when comparing them to the live renditions that ended up on Ilosaarirok, they seem to drag and stray a bit.

While I initially opted for 5 stars, I knocked one off after revisiting the entire Porcupine Tree catalogue. As on all their 21st century studio album, I miss a bit of bite and spontaneity amidst all the sonic perfection. 4.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#236621)
Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars "I need to know that someone sees that There's nothing left I simply am not here"

Porcupine Tree's most grim and apathetic album is also their finest. The album aptly named "Fear Of A Blank Planet" reveals a side of Porcupine Tree that's heavier than "In Absentia," more epic than "The Sky Moves Sideways," and more entertaining than a Bruce Willis flick. Whether you're headbanging to the title track or in deep reminiscence over "Way Out Of Here," you'll realize that Steven Wilson & Co. attempted to stretch their musical boundaries and create a piece of music that would separate them from their spacey 'Floydian' roots. The record, clocking in at around 54 minutes, contains industrial, metal, psychedelic and atmospheric elements that blend together to create an album that is not only inspirational and thought provoking, but also an emotional masterpiece. The lyrics, considered by some to be shoddy and third rate, might actually be the highlight of the album. The description of teen angst, drug abuse and the fixation of electronic entities in today's modern age sets the tone for the entire album. The writing may seem linear, but in reality Steven Wilson's ability to describe these issues in a direct manner is a blessing. No concealed metaphorical meanings or pseudo-intellectual philosophies, instead this album is able to transcend the need for explicitness and give its listener the opportunity to hear something more genuine.

Did I mention that musically the album is utterly superb? Steven Wilson has once again proven his musical craftsmanship is the pinnacle of progressive music. Each song flows seamlessly; every transition is fluid, every chord and synth a purpose. Each song seems to portray a different emotional element, whether it's the title track's sense of hopelessness and neglect, Sentimental's rendition of reminiscence, or the yearn for something different in Way Out Of Here. The variety of songs is spectacular, considering that every song flows in somewhat of the same vein, and each song has a glowing characteristic that sets it apart from the rest of the album. Fear Of A Blank Planet might be the catchiest song in progressive music, My Ashes serves as a soft ballad-esque precursor to the epic Anesthetize, where the band is able to combine metal, industrial and psychedelic elements in addition to superb transitions in what might be their best song ever. Sentimental may at first look seem like simply another slow-paced melody, but it couldn't be farther from the truth, as the haunting piano and synthesizers create a haunting atmosphere. Way Out Of Here, the weakest track, still has it's perks. The majority of the song takes on a somewhat sluggish pace, but it is followed by an explosive chorus. Sleep Together is the last track, and most definitely Porcupine Tree's best album closer. Beginning with memorable synths the song quickly evolves into a classical masterpiece, with raving violins and powerful drumming by Harrison by Harrison to finish the record.

Many might find this album too heavy for their taste, it represented Porcupine Tree's departure from the alterna-rock stage to a more industrial and metal focused band. The album truly epitomizes modern progressive perfection, and ultimately should go down as not only one of the best albums of the decade, but also as one of the most influential. Wilson and the rest of the band really solidified their place in progressive stardom with this record, as their ability to blend influences and genres, their individual musicianship, beautiful songwriting and surprising eclecticism all reached the pinnacle of flawlessness with this record, "Fear Of A Blank Planet" really is an indisputable work of art.

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Send comments to Qboyy007 (BETA) | Report this review (#244708)
Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Pehaps one Porcupine Tree's biggest releases yet, as well as one of it's heaviest, it has been met with much praise in the last couple years. When I first heard this album I really quite liked it, but the magic wore off more quickly than it should of, and I found myself comming back to it less and less. I'm not really sure why, but it didn't keep me as interested as Wilson's other releases. However the music isn't bad at all and should deserve a few listens from anyone that is a fan of his work. The concept behind the album is still very well done and you can tell a lot of time was put into working on this album. It's not bad enough to the point where I won't come back to it anymore, but not good enough to the point where I can listen to it at any time. Good, but non-essential.

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Send comments to CH1390 (BETA) | Report this review (#246912)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow. Deadwing was quite a dissappointment (only by PT standards that is), but this one's much better. Maybe even better than In Absentia?[edit: no it is not] It's probably their heaviest album to date. It's best to listen to in one go, since the songs kinda flow together and create a 50-minute entirety.

The title track starts quietly and slowly gets heavier. Verrry nice chorus, and some memorable moments. My ashes is a beautiful acoustic track, sound like it could be from the 70's, with a modern twist. The masterpiece Anesthetize is the centerpiece of the album, a 17-minute epic of pure awesomness. Everything about it is just comletely perfect. It could be divided into three sections: the first one is kinda spacey an cool, reminds me of the early days but still has the "new" PT sound. There's also a solo by Alex Lifeson. The next section is probably the heaviest thing PT have and will ever accomplish.The last part is very mellow and calm, opposed to the the middle section. Sentimental is a beautiful track. Is very piano driven, and has kinda distorted sounding drums, that really fits the mood. It also shares the chorus with Normal, wich in my opinion is a better track than this one (but I agree with SW, this one fits better here). Next up is Way Out of Here, the other masterpiece of the album. It's a depresssive and dark track. My favourite parts are the chorus and the whole end part, where it just keeps getting heavier, and it really suits the feeling and the lyrics (wich appear to be about suicide if I'm not comletely mistaken). Nice. The closer, Sleep Together, is probably the weakest track here, still very good though. It starts with an eerie section thet gradually turns into a hard rock song, with some cool strings that really adds some color to the otherwise kinda samey song.

I can't think of a single bad thing about the record, and that's usually the sign of a very good record. The production is great, as on all PT albums. This is almost a masterpiece of prog so it will receive 4 stars from me.

Fans of this record, make sure to check out Nil Recurring. The songs there are just as good as these ones.

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Send comments to idiotPrayer (BETA) | Report this review (#247955)
Posted Tuesday, November 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fear Of A Blank Planet is the ninth full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Porcupine Tree. I´ve been very interested in the band´s releases since In Absentia (2002) when they changed their sound and began incorporating progressive metal elements. Deadwing (2005) was another excellent release IMO, so I had great expectations to Fear Of A Blank Planet when it was released. Most releases by Porcupine Tree have a tendency to take me a long time to appreciate. Not because the band´s albums are inaccessible, but more because the melodies take time to sink in. The melody lines almost always seem simple and a bit dull on first listen, but continue to grow with every listen.

Fear Of A Blank Planet continue the musical development that started with In Absentia which means that Fear Of A Blank Planet is the third album in a row that has a somewhat similar sound. A mix of alternative pop/ rock, psychadelic rock and progressive rock/ metal. People who crave development with each release will scream that this is a generic release, but personally I´m still not bored with the style so I can´t complain. There are six songs on the album. One of them is the 17:42 minute long Anesthetize which is a great track that in addition to some excellent atmospheric parts also feature some of the most intense progressive metal riffing the band has done so far. The title track is also a favorite but all tracks are of high quality.

The production is a bit more organic than the sound on Deadwing and I´m still undecided if that´s a good or a bad thing. No matter what it´s an excellent production that suits the music very well.

Fear Of A Blank Planet is an excellent release by Porcupine Tree and now after three consecutive great releases you´re allowed to call me a fan. A 4 star rating is well deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#249257)
Posted Monday, November 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars 3.5 stars would be much more accurate

Until a few days ago I had only bought two PORCUPINE TREE albums ("The Incident" and "In Absentia), and the reason is that I don't like the sound of the band, but in the same way I rated both albums with two stars because I honestly believe are extremely weak, I have to give a positive opinion about "Fear of a Blank Planet".

With this I don't say it's a great album, still I believe it's momentous and lack of versatility, but at least is not as depressive and boring as the other two releases I rated. The band at last gives signs of life and not just a gloomy robotic repetition.

"Fear of a Blank Planet" opens the album in a frenetic way, the band attacks the listener with from start to end with a nice blend of Hard Rock and Prog (to be honest, it's the first time that I listen something really Prog by this band). Even though the song is mostly the repetition of a single passage, there are interesting and radical changes that break the monotony.

Sadly in "My Ashes" they return to their usual long depressive and sleepy tracks, every sign of life seems to vanish, as if they performed the track by inertia. Don't expect variations, because the track is again extremely monotonous and boring, with no changes or surprises, the song flows gently but predictably to the end.

"Anesthetize" starts soft and with Alternative tendencies, a delicate use of Mellotron rises the level of the track trough a calmed passage, but the first change comes, leading to a, more aggressive passage where the guitar takes the lead role never leaving the spacey atmosphere prevalent through all the track.

From this point, and strangely for a band that loves long repetitive songs, "Anesthetize" presents several interesting changes and instrumental breaks until the soft and melancholic end. Very good song, 17:40 minutes of good Progressive Rock.

"Sentimental" must be one of the most beautiful tracks by PORCUPINR TREE, even when it's soft and gloomy, the vocals are outstanding and the general mood is so dramatic that maintains the suspense and interest in the listener.

The tasty use of acoustic guitar with soft distant voices creates a very delicate atmosphere, unusual in this band.

"Way out here" is like two songs in one, soft and with a strong Indie influence until the second minutes when all the band comes alive and give another dramatic performance, very good song that prepares the listener for "Sleep Together", even when different and more pompous by sections keeps the attractive atmosphere created in "Way Our Here", a good closer.

Very good album by a band I don't usually like, but the golden rule of a reviewer is to recognize the quality over the personal taste,and "Fear of a Blank Planet" has quality, three strong stars that could be a little higher.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#249848)
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars My history: 1971 - Bowie 1974 - 1979 Yes, Genesis, etc 1980 - now mainly Classical music.

This is the first album for 30 years from a new band that I rate highly. It's fairly bleak stuff though not depressing (like late 70's Pink Floyd). I'm giving it 4 stars because of Steve Wilson's desire to rekindle some of the old prog rock traditions. I felt tempted in giving it 3 stars for the following reasons: 1. sometimes heavy metal guitars just for the sake of it. 2. at times they run short of ideas. 3. i found it a tad boring after about 8 listens. However, I gave it 4 stars because it has some inspired moments particularly in tracks 1 & 3. I do understand that my knowledge of music at this time dwarfs my knowledge in 1980 but I feel this is a fair judgement.

I've stretched myself, now stretch yours:

Chrome - Alien Soundtracks (1978) Half Machine Lip Moves (1979)

Shostakovich at 29 years old - Symphony No 4 (Prog rating off the Richter scale)

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Send comments to BLACKWINDOWS (BETA) | Report this review (#251246)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars What has always bothered me with Porcupine Tree is the amount of songs they cram into each release. I mean, strength in number is all well, but when you put 16 tracks on an album you are bound to either have a strain of monotony or schizophrenia, I think both are apparent in most of the works of Steve Wilson and his incredible band. Fear of a Blank Planet is therefor welcomed with open arms by me; finally a record with a reasonable amount of songs and a sound that remains consistent throughout the entire listen. This is really the one album of Porcupine Tree to get, since it's the most wholesome of their releases to date.

I don't think there is much else to add really. Anyone who listens to more than two minutes from any of their releases will understand that this is both virtuoso instrumentalists and top notch songwriting.

A fantastic record! 4/5

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Send comments to Lezaza (BETA) | Report this review (#251863)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 10/10

"Fear Of A Blank Planet" is so far Porcupine Tree's most accomplished and most refined effort.The must have Heavy Prog album of the last years.

After eighteen years of music, after eight wonderful albums, here comes Steven Wilson's masterpiece. Released only in 2007, "Fear Of A Blank Planet" is so far Porcupine Tree's most accomplished and most refined effort, an unforgettable album where all the musicians reach their highest peak, technically speaking and also for songwriting.

"Fear Of A Blank Planet" is a concept album about a kid, concerning today's problems of adolescence, which are basically isolation, the massive presence of technology in their lives, the insecurity, and the depression. The album is very well structured: six songs, with alternated moments: from tense, heavy riffs, with some violent moods, to nice, memorable ballads, spacey soundscapes, and interesting experimentation here and there. This is "Fear Of A Blank Planet". The first and last time excluding this that we've seen a six song PT album, was "The Sky Moves Sideways", a hymn to the most sincere ambient and psychedelic music. In this new album, the style is completely different. After 2002's album "In Absentia", the band reached a new sound, which reaches the highest point in this album. So, in a way, this album has new elements for the sound, and at the same time it comes back to the origins somehow.

The album starts with the title track, where after the brief intro starts with a tense, but catchy guitar riff . When the rest of the band comes in, the sound is even more tense. Great chorus, a repetition of the verse, and then comes in the middle part. We find here some mild jazz influences in these thirty seconds or so, until the song explodes once more with a heavy hook, until the finale arrives, where the mood is more relaxed, yet with always a tense feeling, as Wilson sings the last piece of the lyrics of the song. The track overall is amazing, surely one of my favorite tracks by PT.

"My Ashes" is a wonderful, mellow ballad, with many memorable moments. Great chorus, great keyboards, the main instrument in this track, and surprisingly good, haunting vocals by Wilson, accompanied by John Wesley. Definitely a song that you wouldn't want to miss.

"Anesthetize" is the epic, 17 minute piece, one of PT's best song and one of their highest peaks of their long career. Basically it can be divided in three big parts. In the first, which goes for five minutes, is a little builder, with interesting keyboards, and with another great performance by Wilson on vocals. This part increases in tension, an a solo comes in, until the second part starts. Now we a one note riff by a crunchy, heavy guitar that initially lays in the background, and meanwhile we hear a keyboard/ drum jam that starts. Right after that, the second part officially starts, with a heavy and powerful riff, and right after the main riff starts. Now the atmosphere is definitely tense. There's a chorus, a repetition of the verse, the chorus again, and then a middle part, that turns into a brief solo by keyboards, the middle part is then repeated, until it get's really heavy when he some crazy drums, with a powerful double bass section, and guitar, and then the chorus repeats. After a few moments, the second part is over.The third part starts with some fascinating keyboards, followed by a very mellow mood played with guitar mainly. The vocals make an interesting but fundamental contribute. It goes on like this until the song ends. Brilliant, epic masterpiece.

"Sentimental" is an enjoyable ballad, with a beautiful keyboard section, and played with a drum machine most of the time. The verse is nice, the chorus is very melancholic and kind of sad sounding. The middle part however is more cheerful and hopeful, thanks to the great melodies brought to you by an acoustic guitar. Overall a very nice, enjoyable song that is worth the listen.

"Way Out Of Here" starts with some electronic soundscapes, played by a surprising Robert Fripp, accompanied shortly after by the rest of the band, playing a mellow and sad sounding tune, until the chorus explodes, a beautiful and haunting melody, and then the song gets a little more enlivened. After a while, we hear a pretty good guitar solo, and then the song becomes calm again, and only guitars and keyboards are playing a nice, delicate tune, until suddenly a heavily distorted guitar dominates the scene, a brief repetition of the chorus, and then again a masterful Harrison shows how amazing his drumming can be, since the heavy part is still playing. After this, the aftermath: a nice, relaxing mood comes, with a great Fripp part. Shortly, the song ends.

"Sleep Together" seems to be too underrated. It's one of my very favorite songs of PT. One of the catchiest songs of the album, it starts with some electronic, wild sounding soundscapes, and Wilson comes in a little after. The chorus is very catchy, enlivened, and kind of violent, and very explosive. The song overall is fantastic, and a great closer for this album.

"Fear Of A Blank Planet", like I said, is the best and most refined PT yet, despite the many masterpieces the band has put out in their career. A perfect start for whoever wants to give the band a try. The must have Heavy Prog album of the last years.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#263250)
Posted Friday, January 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an odd record for me to try and review. On the surface, I like it a lot, as all six songs are really good, but for whatever reason, it is a struggle for me to listen to from start to finish. It just doesn't flow as well as the rest of the CDs the band has done. Steven Wilson is a master of crafting a well-flowing album, so it almost seems a bit weird that he missed the mark so much with this one, at least in regards to its flow.

Getting back to the songs, "Way Out of Here" and "Anesthetize" are the clear-cut standouts, while "My Ashes" and "Sentimental" are not far behind. The title cut and "Sleep Together" are both good, but for a band that usually delivers knockouts in the form of great openers and closers, both are a bit underwhelming.

Overall, it is a good CD, but not essential. I find everything the band has done since the mid 90s to be far superior to it. But most bands should be so luck as to have one of their two or three least best studio albums be this enjoyable!

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Send comments to Biff Tannen (BETA) | Report this review (#266937)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree, the band i've heard lots about over the years but only recently got into them. I haven't heard them at their earlier psychedlic/space rock stage or even the two poppy albums. I found this album at a really cheap price which is totally surprising.

First of the cover is kinda strange (though I kinda get from the artist Lasse Holie's work with the band that it would be) of the child's emblazed blue face staring out at you. Looking through the manual the weirdness continues, and at the back I noticed in the credits that Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp were involved too and that it would be even better.

It starts off with the title track FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET, (which conicidently was the first song I heard of theirs) its a upbeat track supported by the subtle vocals of Steven Wilson, its a really good intro to the album. MY ASHES, it cuts back the speed and the guitar goes all plucky. I really like the vocals on this song, ANESTHETIZE, onto this the epic 17 minute song which is probably my favorite Porcupine Tree song, I love the way it goes, how it proceeds along at a nice pace throughout. And with the solo of Lifeson adds a little Rush flavour to the mix. SENTIMENTAL, back to a shorter song again with its strange lyrics of not wanting to grow old and staying as a kid (a Peter Pan moment if I do say so myself). WAY OUT OF HERE, the soundscape that Fripp produces adds a nice touch to this song (took me a few listens to get used to it and enjoy it in all its glory. SLEEP TOGETHER, the final song and which is not to shabby, closes the album with continuously consistent songs and the mood of a dull future for children in this digital age.

4 stars

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Send comments to deathlifereborn (BETA) | Report this review (#267163)
Posted Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5 stars well earned!

I've been a fan of PT since I got into prog rock and one of the first prog CD's I've bought was In Absentia. I thought they couldn't possibly record anything as good as IA and for a second there I thought I was right because Deadwing was ok, but I didn't measure up to IA. But when I got my hands on this album I was blown away from the first second and I still am. This is as good as modern prog rock gets. The haunting atmosphere, the ambient keys, the faster metal moments, the sophistication and the drums. Gavin Harrison has pulled an excellent performance on this album which gave him the opinion of one of the best drummers out there. Anesthetize is one of those tracks that are fairly long but you simply can't be bored while listening to them. This album is packed with emotions and ideas that made this album a masterpiece.

The conclusion is simple, this is easily the best album of 2007 and one of the best in the XXI century.

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Send comments to Wolf Spider (BETA) | Report this review (#275740)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I must say I differ from most people's opinion of this album. For people new to Porcupine Tree I believe this is not their finest moment.

Over the years the band have floated away from their electronic roots to a more evenly blended guitar and keyboards sound offering superb musicianship on all levels coupled with Steven Wilson's ever growing excellent vocal ability. With the previous 2 albums In Absentia and Deadwing PT had adopted a much heavier sound and to me reached their finest moments with Deadwing as well as the live album Warszawa. With Fear of a Blank Planet PT clearly reverted back to an electronic focus, but with a darker heavier sound.

I'm not against the band changing styles, it's what makes them unique and fresh. Indeed, the following album The Incident which again is largely electronic and softer is a superb return to form. But Fear of a Blank Planet was an average album at best, and a poor PT album.

Why? Simply put, every song sounds like the last from beginning to end. There is little variation and often droning boring rhythms for minutes on end. The only real standout song seems to be Anesthetize. The rest of the album really holds little interest.

For collectors it's clearly a must have, and isn't so dreadful that it's not worth a listen. Compared to the likes of Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, Deadwing, Warszawa, and all of PT's other masterpieces, this is a collection of B sides at best.

People new to the band, don't be discouraged. Grab a copy of Warszawa for a great overview of PT's finest moments, or In Absentia or Deadwing if your comfortable with heavy music, or even the bands latest album The Incident.

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Send comments to Ramma (BETA) | Report this review (#276247)
Posted Sunday, April 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the alternative rock years, and slowly evolving their sound into a more malleable metal sound, Porcupine Tree's 2007 masterpiece came out as this.

I heard of the band many times and being a fan of Opeth, I was advised to get some of their albums (they were nowhere to be found).After mistaking them for Screaming Trees (Dust, it was actually a very good album), I found this in HMV (before going to see The Reaping in the cinema) Went home, turned it on, and was blown away.

This album just is so different in so many ways, but still keeping that raw Porcupine Tree sound, with a few more metal like approaches.

1. Fear Of A Blank Planet - A song about todays teenagers. I was disagreeing with him at times (some pop culture mistakes), but he was able to display the complete pathos behind us teenagers (I am one, but I like prog, so I have a personallity). Amazing guitar parts and kick ass moments.

2. My Ashes - A lovely ballad like song. Amazing chorus and it really shows how good of a singer Steven is.

3.Anesthetize - Wow, what a song. The amazing slow part is very eerie and atmospheric with an amazing guitar solo from Alex Lifeson (the nazi from Rush). The metal part kicks ass and is one of my favourtie things to play on guitar. The last part is amazing with some monumental sounds from Mr. Barbieri. One of my all time favourite Porcupine Tree songs and one of my all time favourtie songs of all time. What a piece.

4. Sentimental - It's a bit overated (apparently), but yea, still a great song. I prefer Normal, the Nil Recurring version.

5. Way Out Of Here - In my opinion, the album should have ended with this song. What atomsphere, provided by Robert Fripp (he was allowed out of the home for a few days, and look what he does). The ending is so metal, metal parts are always bettter when they happen now and then.

6. Sleep Together - I love the dark electronic sound in this song. I prefer Way Out Of Here as an ending, but this one was pretty good nontheless.

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#276601)
Posted Tuesday, April 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I was tremendously surprised by the popularity that Fear Of A Blank Planet has achieved in the mainstream media. Although when you put all the puzzle pieces together it would have made less sense if Porcupine Tree didn't received this type of attention any time soon.

Fear Of A Blank Planet had reached the Swedish top 40 album chart position in 2007 which was unheard of for any Progressive album to achieve and I know for a fact that some of my younger friends that haven't previously heard of Porcupine Tree bought the record and enjoy it immensely. But what is it that made this particular release such a huge commercial success from Steve Wilson and his band? Just like with anything else, there are numerous factors well worth considering but judging from the reaction of my surrounding and the concert I experienced at the time there is definitely a strong connection to the album's subject matter.

It is as if Steve Wilson managed to tap into the 21st century's teenagers frame of mind and made a package experience that excited them while making everyone else see it as a public distress call. Personally I don't really buy the whole concept that this album has to offer and to me it comes off more as 40 year old men trying to imagine how teenagers of today must feel. This doesn't sound as something genuine to me and I'm really surprised that this message have become so widespread. At the end of the day this is not the reason why I listen to Fear Of A Blank Planet.

Musically the album is a very disjointed affair that reminds me a lot of the popular Rush album Moving Pictures. Actually I just wanted to create a plausible segway into the fact that Alex Lifeson contributes one of his trademarked solos on the epic masterpiece called Anesthetize. This 18 minute monster of a composition consists of three noteworthy sections that all are far superior than anything else that the album has to offer and it's ultimately what makes this album worth a while for me. It also definitely helps that the album's running time is only 50 minutes making it an easily digestible trip to undertake in one sitting.

Fear Of A Blank Planet is a surprise hit and miss on my part that in the end still comes up on top thanks to the strong performance on the album's longest track. I definitely don't enjoy it as much as the two previous Porcupine Tree efforts but we all knew that this band had to evolve at one point or another and its great to see that their music has now become noticed by a whole new generation of fans.

***** star songs: Anesthetize (17:42)

**** star songs: Fear Of A Blank Planet (7:28) Sentimental (5:26) Sleep Together (7:28)

*** star songs: My Ashes (5:07) Way Out Of Here (7:37)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#277882)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This release was my introduction to Porcupine Tree. SInce I picked this up I have purchased 3 other CD's of theirs. I find I return to listen to this one the most. However, I have yet to find that any P Tree albums are perfect- they just seem to have weak points, to my ear at least. On this release, I find myself losing interest along about the time of the last 2 tracks and I usually skip them and skip back to the monster of "Anesthetize". Wow! This track is worth the price of admission to the entire album. It has become one of my favorite prog epics and I never tire of it. I won't discuss it in detail, this has been done by many others before me, but I will say that it holds it's ionterest after MANY listens for me. As far as the album as a whole, it is a solid 4 stars, like every Porcupine Tree release is for me. Man, I'm still waiting for their "perfect" album.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#279967)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Fear of a Blank Planet will always occupy a special place in my biography, as I literally get the album the day before my comprehensive exams as part of doctoral study. As you may imagine, I experienced plenty of powerful emotions during that time, from frustration, regret, sadness and general confusion. As you also may imagine, this made me perhaps more susceptible to some of Fear's emotional themes. (Primarily the confusing and unbridled angst of the title track and this innocence of My Ashes...fortunately much, much less so for the suicidal ideations of Sleep Together!).

I doubt I'll convince anyone who already thinks Fear is a great masterpiece or conversely a trite sellout compared to previous glory days, so I'm not going to try. I will say that only two tracks really have had any staying power for me: the title track and Anesthetize. The former is a heavy, upbeat rocker with entertaining, sarcastic, and angsty lyrics; and Anesthetize is a solid epic (probably in my top 50 all-time epics) that is admittedly imperfect (perhaps overkill on the drums and grunge riffs), but with lots of great material (Lifeson's solo, the pensive intro, and the poignant conclusion to name a few).

As for the rest, I do appreciate the clever details, double entendres, cover art, guest contributions, and overall theme, but I just don't see the songs (particularly Way Out of Here) as progressive masterpiece quality.

It's angsty, it's clever, it's coherent, and at times it's very good musically. Even if it doesn't live up to your particular hopes or expectations for Porcupine Tree, Fear of a Blank Planet makes a valuable contribution to the progressive rock collective conscience.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#282891)
Posted Friday, May 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was not expecting to like this release 'Fear of a Blank Planet' by Porcupine Tree, but having read so much about them, I knew I had to get into them somehow, and this seemed like a good entry point; it had an interesting title and the cover seemed to echo the sentiments hinted at in the title

This album is a tad short of a masterpiece. Porcupine Tree have left the past far behind; they have no hint at Yes or Gabriel-like vocals or any of those sought of characteristics that tend to make up most modern prog, at least the neo-prog. This music tries to come up with genuinely interesting and original takes on modern music. It's hard to categories this music, but alternative art-rock wouldn't be a bad start.

The album starts with the title track 'Fear of a blank planet', a thoroughly addictive rocker with a run down of some of the worst trends in modern society. One of the few albums to acknowledge the faults with the modern world. The song 'My ashes' is a brief ballad with a good arrangement, some nice tones on that one. It's followed by 'aneasthetise', this album's 'epic', clocking in at 17 minutes. Now a lot of long prog songs, well when they make them it's kind of "Right, this song has to be at least fifteen minutes becaue we're a 'prog' band you know", but 'aneas...' is totally worth it's 17 minutes. The first six minutes build up the tension, there's the catchy bit with the line about '...empathy from the pills in me...' and then the last five minutes is a wind down. The other great song is 'Sleep Togehter', a very artistic song with a very addictive bass and dramatic string arrangements that gradually build up to a climax of strings, strong beat and a dark aura. This song has a slight Eastern feeling to it.

With 'Fear of a Blank Planet', Porcupine Tree showed me they are a very innovative and artistic band, perfectly capable of originality and capable of creating emotionally affecting music. However, the album isn't varied enough to be truly inspiring and there are so many DEATH-METAL riffs that feel as though they have been inserted in post-production, for the sake of being metal, cause that's 'cool' these days. Also, I felt the band 'Estradadsphere' was more original, so I downgraded the original rating of 4 to a 3, for Porcupine Tree

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Send comments to Brendan (BETA) | Report this review (#283175)
Posted Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It is with a certain lament that I write this review. Porcupine Tree is probably my favourite band at the moment, and have released some truly stellar work. But this is not one of them. Fear Of A Blank Planet (hereafter shortened to FoABP), was a release that many waited on with bated breath, but for me it failed to deliver - not for a lack of effort, but for an inconsistency that left me feeling cold.

I'll get this off my chest early. I consider the title track to be lyrically and musically stale. I find the lyrics to be facile, boring, and frankly quite terrible. The sound is overly polished for my liking, and lacks a certain lushness that PT usually oozes. Having said this, My Ashes is a lovely track, and develops a better developed sense of depression and introversion. Anesthetize, so often held in high esteem by my contemporaries contains some nice moments, especially from Harrison's well placed fills and flourishes. The outro is also quite nice and echoes PT's lush past. Sentimental is a nice acoustic track, but I would have much preferred Normal to be included instead, the former lacking the interesting instrumentation that the latter develops. This brings me on to Way Out Of Here. I cannot honestly see what people like about this track. Again the lyrics are angsty and leave me feeling emotionally cold, the instrumentation also fails to engage me in the same was as some of the earlier tracks have. Sleep Together is a much more amiable affair, I especially like the pseudo-classical outro, something which finally gives FoABP something to roar about.

In conclusion, FoABP is a very patchy record, that seems to skip between cold, boring instrumentation and lyrical development with warmer and more engaging movements. This album could easily have been a masterpiece, but because it fails to fully engage the listener in the same sense that an album like Up the Downstair or even it's predecessor Deadwing did, it simply lacks a consistent emotional hook. I fully understand what Steven Wilson was trying to achieve here, but this is nothing he hasn't done better before in a more engaging and succinct manner.

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Send comments to Any Colour You Like (BETA) | Report this review (#290709)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars From what I've listened from Porcupine Tree, this is one of their best. Unless the album has a couple of tracks wich are stunning. I could divide the album in two groups: The hard but still melodic tracks and the soft ballads. Of course I prefer the first group in which the tracks are based on hard guitar riffs and a great bass-drum work. Here is the title song, a fast number with a superb chorus in which the riff and the Wilson voice creates a great moment. The highlight is the epic Anesthetize. The song starts in the way of a ballad and then gets into a really heavy sound, very agressive. Really outstanding. The guitars and the drum shines everytime, and the voices too. The other one is the only one composed as a group effort call Way out of here. Shorter than Anesthetize, has a similar feeling. Really good. Both songs could be called progressive rock. The ballads are My Ashes and Sentimental. The first one is a very good track, the other not so good, a bit boring. The album closes with Sleep together, a middle way betwen the two groups that I mentioned before. Because Anesthetize and Way out of here I think that this CD is a good addition for any progressive rock collection.

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Send comments to genbanks (BETA) | Report this review (#291248)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first Porcupine tree album, and still my favourite (and the only one I liked).

It was impossible for me to analyze each song individually, because this album should be considered as a whole. As a journey deep inside the depression, and feeling of a human. A human lost in itself.

I thought it would be a boring, monotone and empty record, without impact or power. But I was wrong. Fear Of A Blank Planet showed the emotion behind the emptiness, and the feeling behind the monotone spacey-guitar/piano passages.

Moreover, the album felt like a mountain with 2 peaks. Climbing up until you reach the climax in Anesthetize, but peaking again at Sentimental and Way Out Of Here.

If you get the CD, push play, and go do something else, it will be really hard to distinguish between the songs. That's one of the fundamental things of prog, and especially concept albums. Creating a theme. Something to be remembered as a whole, not for each section, which we use to call songs.

All in all, an exceptional album, that really moved me, but still had its boring seconds. I'll give it a 4, but a 4.66 should be the real mark.

Thanks Porcupine!

PS: Don't listen to this album while depressed, suicidal or similar state. We dont want to lose a prog fan.

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Send comments to TheOppenheimer (BETA) | Report this review (#292077)
Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fear Of A Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree is a concept album describing the life of an eleven-year-old child. The album is the bands take on modern society, lyrically dealing with problems affecting youth such as bipolar disorder and ADD, and also behavioural problems such as abuse of prescription drugs and social alienation. As a teenager myself I can relate to the lyrics, although the use of drugs in Finland is not a common problem. But problems like social alienation are very prominent at the moment.

Musically the album is a throwback to Porcupine Tree's earlier work with clear space rock influences (especially from Pink Floyd), but at the same time the album also develops their metal sound even further than in Deadwing but in a different way. The album retracts from Deadwing's heavy use of guitar and the focus is more in the overall performance of the band, also the emphasis on Barbieri's keyboard and synth are stronger than before. Although the album is widely claimed to be progressive metal I would still call it heavy prog, even with all the metal influences and the middle part of Anesthetize sounding like extreme metal, the focus of the music isn't nearly as technical as it is in metal. The clear highpoints of the album are Fear Of A Blank Planet and Anesthetize with Anesthetize being the first real epic since The Sky Moves Sideways. Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson) also make appearances in the album, with Lifeson playing the first solo in Anesthetize and Fripp doing the soundscapes for Way Out Of Here and having the lead guitar on Nil Recurring (part of the minialbum Nil Recurring sometimes issued with FOABP).

I thought of talking about all the songs on the album but I don't really have much to say about them besides that they're all more or less excellent, I'm only going to focus on Anesthetize now. As I already said Anesthetize is the first real epic PT has done in over 10 years. The song starts by building up tension with some very eerie moments and continuing on to the moment where the power chords come in, which is almost immediately broken by Lifeson's excellent solo. After the solo, the songs main section sometimes referred to as "The Pills I'm Taking" begins, with the tension still building up and finally climaxing at about 11 minutes with the extreme metal sounding part which I also mentioned earlier. After that the song calms down and we get some very eerie moments again until the song finally fades out.

All in all the album is one of PT's finest and delivers a very good message about the modern society, the album is just a tad short of being a 5 star album for reasons I can't really explain. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to Tursake (BETA) | Report this review (#293853)
Posted Monday, August 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars So, this is Porcupine Tree's 2007 release, Fear of a Blank Planet. Critically acclaimed, this album is also their best selling. Although the group is not very well known outside of prog circles, it is very popular among those who enjoy the type of music that Porcupine Tree plays (which draws from many styles -- eclectic). This album does not disappoint, and though I was fairly apathetic after first listen, the music quickly grew on me. In fact, I though that the epic Anesthetize was the weakest track on here, and now it's one of my favorites.

The music is still fairly ambient, but not to the extent that the group's earlier albums were. There's a nice alternative flair on the album, but there are still many prog elements. The album's theme is dark, and the music corresponds to the lyrics, which are the worst part of the album really.

Each song has its own unique twist and is high quality. The album flows perfectly from start to finish and has good transitions from lighter parts to heavier parts. Overall, I highly recommend listening to this album, but with an open mind because PT's music is not for everyone.

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Send comments to Mystery (BETA) | Report this review (#295308)
Posted Thursday, August 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I can´t say I´m a fan of Porcupine Tree, to say the least. This band is quite praised on prog circles ande I must admit I did try to listen and understand its music. In different time spans I had Deadwing, The Sky Moves Sideways and In Absentia. Non of them moved enough to actually sit down and write a review, at least at the time. So I was a little skeptical about Fear Of A Blank Planet, even though it was probably their most celebrated release so far. And rightly so.

I´m still a bit uncomfortable with that mix of psychelic, alternative rock and modern metal. However, I also can´t deny that this is also a very emotional, intelligent, strong and convincing work. The sheer power of the songs is amazing. It is all very well done and the musicanship here is used to great effect and economy: no more no less then what the songs asked for. Sometimes they reach near the sublime with tracks like Anesthesia (a real masterpiece in its 17 minute musical trip) and the title track, but all the tracks are inspired and worth to be heard carefully. Clever, insightful, lyrics. A top notch production and some nice guest appearances of Alex Lifeson (on Anesthesia) and Robert Fripp (on Way Out Of here) complete the picture.

Was I converted to PT´s cause? I don´t know. But I´m sure I will have to listen to their other works again. For this one is really a remarkable and outstanding efford. To listen without prejudices. Rating: 4 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#298012)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Heres the one that did it for me. All the tracks are great, except for maybe the final one. To me this is PT's most acommplished album. Even people who don't like it will agree that anesthetize is brilliant. It's one of those epics where every second is essential to the song. They made a perfectly polished song in anesthetize. As for the others, I like the title track but that might just be because of my age, as I can relate to it. My ashes is a nice little song with good keyboards and a good lyrical performance. Way out of here is great and my second favorite on the album. Gavin Harrison is in top form on all the tracks, and hearing him in top form is something else! in my opinion he is one of the great modern drummers. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to Billy Pilgrim (BETA) | Report this review (#301230)
Posted Thursday, September 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Eh...

This album is the epitome of why I prefer older PT to new PT. I still love new PT, I just love old PT more. This album just seems to magnify all the reasons I prefer older PT.

A description of the music: The title track opens the album on a fairly high note. It features some nice riffs, solid drumming, but the lyrics are absolutely terrible (this will be the only time I will use this comment, but it applies to every song on the album). "My Ashes" is a slightly depressing song, and rather boring and forgettable. "Anesthetize" on the other hand is an absolute winner. It redeems the album slightly and features amazing drumming, great riffs, and some nice changes in mood. "Sentimental" is another depessing track, but its pretty good and features a nostalgic reprise to "Trains" from In Absentia. "Way Out Of Here" starts out great, but goes downhill very fast as I found the heavyness later on was pretty uncalled for and it would work better going down the path of the beginning. "Sleep Together" is a track that would be good if it was shortened. It features quiet verses, with a heavy chorus. The string section in the final stretch of the song is absolutely gorgeous.

PROS:

Drumming: This album has no shortage of amazing drumming. Gavin Harrison pulls off many great drum lines with ease.

Melodies: This album features many great catchy melodies. Especially in the choruses of almost every song in the album.

CONS:

Lyrics: The lyrics in this album are just terrible throughout. Too straightforward and no lyrical magic whatsoever.

Prog?: This is a lot more of an alt rock album than a prog album. The only truly prog track is "Anesthetize".

Mood does not change: We have the same monotonous mood present throughout the whole album. It's all just a solemn depressing mood that seems to carry on throughout the album.

Song ratings: Title track: 7/10 My Ashes: 2/10 Anesthetize: 10/10 Sentimental: 9/10 Way Out Of Here: 4/10 Sleep Together: 5/10

Recommended for: Alt rock fans. Fans of dark music.

My rating: 2 stars. I struggled whether to rate it 3 or 2, but after I got enough into my review, I decided for sure that it deserved 2.

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Send comments to DisgruntledPorcupine (BETA) | Report this review (#301721)
Posted Sunday, October 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Admin
4 stars Damn those wretched teenagers! (harumph, says the old man)

It's pretty obvious with Porcupine Tree's newer release that Steve Wilson hates teenagers. The theme is obvious throughout the entire album. Musically, the album is spectacular, and vocally, the album is good, but not spectacular. There are many fantastic and memorable parts, and some that could be easily dismissed. Let's go track by track.

Fear of a Blank Planet is one of my favorite tracks by PT and by any prog metal band. That classic riff and those timely lyrics (the only track on here that I will call "timely") about some of the more pathetic actions of the Millenial generation. Drugs, pills, sex, music, porn, he just shoves it all in a nice 7 minute time capsule. The drumming is fantastic, but that's because, well, it's Gavin Harrison. The instrumental section is downright impressive, also. Just a great, great track.

My Ashes changes the mood from angry to sad, with nice melodies and a bit of a theme change (but not really). The rotary organ sound in the intro is nice, as are the classic "Porcupine Tree" chords that Wilson is so deft at creating. The track is good, but is a little cowardly in comparison to that fantastic intro.

Anesthetize may be the only long track that I will ever give a bad review for. Me, the lover of lengthy songs, thinks this song drags. And it's only 17 minutes! The track is alright, but that's it. The melodies are sub-par, the riffs are for the most part constant, and the instrumental sections can put you to sleep. The track has an apt name-- it'll anesthetize you alright!

Sentimental speeds up the tempo a little bit with a nice piano intro and some great melodies. It's not as upbeat or exciting as the first track, but it is a nice song. It has a nice rhythm, and that overshadowing theme is obvious in the lyrics. The verses can drag, but the chorus is a beautiful melodic piece that really beckons you to sing along with all your heart, even though that may drown out the quiet melodies!

Way out of Here is a more ambient track, even though all of them are really ambient at heart. It does pick up for some of the chorus and instrumental sections. The rhythms are nice, as are the melodies. The dynamics of the tracks are good, as are the mood changes within verses. That overlying theme is there again, spitting on teenagers. But I'll forgive Wilson for that nonetheless. Overall, it is a good track.

Sleep Together is the ambient and "trippy" ending. It opens with that electro-ambient synth piece with some nice melody. Although the first 2 minutes or so a little slow, the chorus is a crushingly amazing dynamic, as the verses ever-so-slowly crescendo into the sweeping distorted first beat of it. The synth "solo" is a nice orchestral switch for the album. The track is a nice ending and is one of the closest of the 6 to come close to that opener.

ALBUM OVERALL: Fear of a Blank Planet is a good album. It's an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection on some conditions: you don't mind long interludes that can be boring, and can wait for few amazing and epic parts that can blow you away. The first track sets you up for what you would expect to be an upbeat, rock-your-head album, but it drops with Anesthetize on the third track, which slows the album to a near halt. The album is great, with many pros, and almost but not quite as many cons.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#306641)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars As with all of Porcupine Tree albums, they need time. They tend not to repeat themselves and that angers many. It's a bit like the pre and post Darkside of the moon Floyd fans. They were arch enemies! Floyd have sold out!!! What a load of rubbish eh? Porcupine Tree are one of only a handful of bands that I can just play them all night and never get bored. I just turn it up and up and put the albums back on again. I loved this album from day one. I'm glad that others finally got it too. seeing them play Anesthetise on the live DVD is just amazing! I can't rate tracks, it's an album and it is one of the true masterpieces of this decade.

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Send comments to Bee Atles (BETA) | Report this review (#320826)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Okay, so. This is my first review, and I've selected this to be my first review because it has meant so much to me. But that's another story.

Fear Of A Blank Planet (10/10) I remember sitting in my bedroom late at night the first time I listened to this. The typing in the beginning came on. My ears pricked up. Then the guitar came in to welcome me to this beautiful piece of artwork. The song progresses forward and builds up only to collapse (in a musically mellifluous manner) as one would imagine the subject of the song doing. It's a piece that gets right into you, but you accept it as you. (Sorry for the cheesiness, but) You become one with the piece.

My Ashes (9/10) And it leads you forward into My Ashes. A wondrous song. It floats you through. It brings you on its wings only to let you back down into Anesthetize.

Anesthetize (11/10) My favorite song out of any song ever created. This piece will blow your mind and then blow all the little pieces of your mind. The music video does that times infinity. It is amn epic that would take me much longer to describe than to listen to the song. I had the pleasure of seeing part two of this piece live. I will never forget them opening up and me freaking out. Anyways, Anesthetize, I love you.

Sentimental (10/10) A beautiful piano in this one. The vocals are touching, and support the piece with extreme power.

Way Out Of Here (10/10) Many people will put this down as the worst song of the album, however I find it a crucial point of the album. The ambience may seem to stretch on for much too long, but this is only because it needs the time to build up to one of the hardest riffs I've ever heard. The foundation of this song is incredible, as well as the more visible parts.

Sleep Together (10/10) Never have I seen a song that completes an album so well. The lyrics are sharp and emotionless, and lead into a spiral of instrumental, with Steven Wilson's vocals acting as an instrument more than a voice for the majority of the piece. The climax is the most amazing orchestral sound that has ever graced my ears. It leaves me wanting more. Not because it lacks anything, but because it is perfect. It is the epitome of awesomeness (for lack of a better word). Listen to it. You'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Overall: One of the best albums of all time, if not the best. Buy it, and buy it now.

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Send comments to PorcupineThief (BETA) | Report this review (#327588)
Posted Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is the testimony of a generation. A generation dominated and imprisoned by technology that turns their eyes to the screen electronics and becomes oblivious to the world around.

It is also the Porcupine Tree album I've heard in full. And though not my favorite band (a title that now belongs to the wonderful In Absentia) is certainly a masterpiece of the decade. It was not easy to get to this classification, however. If there was an album where I was constantly changing the classification between 4 and 5 star, this one. But I guess now I'll give you a definitive vision (hopefully).

Fear of a Blank Planet does not show a change in the band's sound, or the addition of new sounds. It is "more of the same", but is done so unique that it is competent and one of the best albums of the band. Fortunately, it's a step ahead of the disappointing Deadwing (I did not entndo what people talk so much about this album) and features what is perhaps the best song the band ever.

And this song is Anesthetize. Oh God, this epic is incredible. It is divided into three sections, each corresponding to a song. The first is calm, with the typical not-so-melancholy vocals by Wilson riff that explodes into a killer and still has a master's Alex Lifeson solo. The second part is the best after a few vocal music enters a chilling instrumental section! The third part is the calmest of the three, with vocal settings and reflective passages.

The rest of the album is not for less. I mean, except for the title track and Sleep Together (which does not really appeal to me) the other three songs are espetcaulares! My Ashes is perhaps the most beautiful ballad that Wilson has written, Sentimental is another lovely song with some guitar riffs that remind me of Trains and Way Out of Here is one of the best songs ever PT threatening environment with passages interspersed with very heavy sections but who is guilty of wasting the talents of Robert Fripp (another teacher) to create effects expendable and barely be heard.

Indeed Fear of a Blank Planet is a masterpiece, and it is still early to tell if it's their second best album (I'm listening to and analyzing the band's albums from 1991-2000), but I know he does not surpass In Absentia . However, it is a fantastic masterpiece, so I give 5 stars just once.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#378128)
Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5/5

Buy this album. Get it now.

Okay, maybe I need to go into a bit more detail here. It's like this. Every once in a while I take a few minutes, and ponder over that eternal and burning question: if you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only take ten of the greatest albums in your collection, which would they be?

Now, why we believe these albums are masterpieces--why they touch us so deeply--is another, far trickier question, and one could easily wander off into an extended exposition on musical taste and the value of rating systems...but I won't do that. I'll only say this, for context: I do not assign "masterpiece" status lightly. Such an album must have something more than, say, excellent writing and inspired performance: there has to be a quality where, upon listening to it, the emotional resonance makes the universe seem to shift just slightly. Yes, I set the bar pretty high. And I think it should be set high, otherwise we risk devaluing the notions of genius and masterpiece.

That said, among those rarest of five-star gems is Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet. It is also the newest entrant into that august list, in fact it is remarkably recent given the average age of what I consider to be the truly great prog (and other) albums that I own. But after many listens it became clear that the album really does merit the description "unqualified masterpiece", at least according to the arcane and mysterious biochemistry that drives my personal musical taste.

Porcupine Tree was well into its "metal" phase when this album came out, a phase that began with In Absentia and was well underway on Deadwing. Steven Wilson had immersed himself in the metal gestalt with the production of an Opeth album, and brought those ideas over to Porcupine Tree. A lot of long-term fans did not seem to like this new and heavy aspect of the band, but to my mind it represents the very best and most creative phase of Porcupine Tree's long and varied existence.

Fear of a Blank Planet is a transcendent piece of work. Each individual track is exceptional and compelling, and there is a lyric thematic arc of teenaged isolation, angst, and social disconnect that unites all the songs, but even beyond that, when the album is listened to from first note to last, it transforms into an organic, immersive musical experience, reaching a level of artistry and inspiration that far exceeds the sum of its parts.

It is difficult to pin down exactly why, but I suppose that is part of the magic of a truly masterful creation. I know this: for the first and only time on a Wilson release that I am aware of, the choice and order of tracks is flawless. Each song leads perfectly into the next; the ebb and flow of mood and feeling evoked is absolutely authentic. And the performances by everyone involved verge on collective genius--it is hard to see where anyone puts a foot wrong.

I'm not going to examine the tracks themselves, there has been plenty written about them already, and really--what can be said about that astonishing, 17-minute monster of a song that is "Anesthetize", that has not already been said? It is widely considered to be one of the great epics of modern progressive--or any--rock music, an extraordinary achievement the like of which was supposed to be the purview of the mythic prog giants of the past. Clearly that is not the case--just listen to the damned thing.

It seems somehow petty to point out that this is not in fact a perfect album. There are brief moments, such as the sag between the second and third parts of "Anesthetize", when we are reminded that mere mortals created it. But the experience in its entirety elevates the album so far above the average that a few minor flaws can in no way detract from the experience of hearing it.

So why should you buy this album? Fear of a Blank Planet represents Porcupine Tree at the height of its powers; it is the culmination of Wilson's huge creativity and never-ending absorption of ideas, and the sheer virtuosity of the band behind him implementing those ideas. It is an incandescent legacy that will remain even if they never record another note as Porcupine Tree.

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Send comments to ergaster (BETA) | Report this review (#484294)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
obiter
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars OK more up beat happy clappy Steve. It always baffles me why he wasn't a born again revivalist preacher.

Shock horror he's singing about mogadons being depressed and miserable. Pulls it off wihtout depressing us too much in the opening track. But come on Steve you know you can bring us down. My Ashes .. oh yes that's more like it .. i'm misreable before you even start singin. Classic lyrics .. wasted .. wanting ... problems ... notihin expected .. rejected ... I suppose the celebration pary is off then? I wonder if there's any more fun? What's the next track : happy go lucky? the world's your oyster? Nah ... this is porcupine tree ... it's Anesthtize. Nuff said.

For those of us retaining the will to live we are treted to : ... wait for it ..Sentimental

Seersly, If this wans't the band that gave me Coma Divine, Deadwing Voyage 34, Lightbulb Sun, Stupid Dreams and In Absentia I would ahve flung the Cd into the trash can (nah that's wasteful it could be a beer mat ... or i wonder how it would fare in the midrowae ???

As you can gather not for me..

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Send comments to obiter (BETA) | Report this review (#500786)
Posted Tuesday, August 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lots of great reviews here, but still, couldn't resist to add mine! Admitted, it is very difficult to come up with an original piece of music nowadays. Everything is already played once. It is very hard to get out of the shadow of the masters, or even yourself. It is even harder than to write an original review for an album that is released almost a year ago. Indeed, there are a lot of reviews of Fear of a Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree. Check for example Dutch sites dprp and progwereld. And now as well, Steve Wilson did not succeed to create something really original. The record stays on the same line as it's predecessors. But, it is so much better! Typically, but this time I agree with the authors of so many "best of 2007" prog-lists on the net, with Porcupine Tree above.

But first a few small but may be interesting facts. 1. There are a few interesting collaborations again on this record: this time it's Alex Lifeson (Rush) en Robert Fripp (King Crimson). The contribution of Fripp with his soundscapes is actually not really irreplaceable, but the formidable solo of Lifeson should be there, it ads a new dimension to the epic Anesthetize. 2. The music was first played live. And just after quite some gigs the band went to the studio. The temptation is great to say, that exactly this fact influenced the high quality of the album. But no, I personally think that Steven just wrote an excellent piece of music. And above that, he was this time really critical to the ratio quality/(length+number) of the tracks.

Once again, that sort of facts gives absolutely no guarantee for a good record, but it creates a certain atmosphere of expectation. Once more, the expectation is this time surpassed, even more after a little disappointing Deadwing.

After the heavy start of the title song the album goes on in the famous Porcupine wave stile. There is enough space for thrill and relaxation. The ballads are melancholic and invite for daydreaming. Well, you think now and then that you've heard them before, but it really doesn't matter now. The heavy, Opeth-like pieces come at precise the right moments and are always quite welcome. The fantastic solo of Alex on Anesthetize puts you in the midst of Permanent Waves. By the way, this long number is not really a sympho track. It seems to exist of three different pieces which are put together to complete the story. However, they are put together musically clever as well, they flow one to each other as pieces of one whole. Well, that's why they are put together, I suppose. After this epic comes more, fortunately. All the songs get 10 from me, as well as the arrangement and production of the whole. After 50 minutes listening the record ends with a well thought-out combined play of pulsating synthesizers of Richard Barbieri and The London Session Orchestra Strings. Actually, it ends to early.

This is an album with lots of good music, nice poetry and it's own specific atmosphere.

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Send comments to justaguy (BETA) | Report this review (#510644)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars "I dream of escape, but a song comes onto my i-Pod..."

This concept album has certainly made an impact in the prog community, hailed as one of Porcupine Tree's finest and for good reason. There is so much on offer on this excellent project. The actual concept of the album was heavily influenced by Bret Easton Ellis' novel "Lunar Park", a story told from the perspective of a father, and the difference here is the album tells the story from the perspective of the 11 year old son, Robby. The lyrics are often taken directly from the novel, focussing on the themes of two typical neurobehavioural developmental disorders that affect modern teenagers, namely bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. As I work with some kids with these disorders the album definitely touched a few chords with me. A member of my family has suffered in one of these mental illnesses and I know how hard it is to cope with this even from a third party perspective. The lyrics also deal with the youthful aspirations of attempting to escape by turning to drugs, or X box games, I-pods and technology that cause social alienation. The mass media gets a real serve on this album as the cause or part of the cause of this disassociation and I think the album has some potent remarks on the harm that is being done with the mass appeal of technology based infomedia.

The album begins with the killer title track that pounds along at a brisk pace and has some absolutely wonderful melodies. The song is unforgettable and is the best on the album. I always liked how the lyrics mention X Box as a symbol of techno addiction.

'My Ashes' sounds like 'No Quarter' by Led Zeppelin at some point, perhaps noticeably the keyboard sound encapsulates the psychedelic atmosphere. It is a song filed with pathos and pain but with dark beauty. The lyrics are quite downbeat as is most of the content of the album. There is a melancholy feel throughout, and it really punches a hole into the consciousness as one listens to the album. It seems to get darker and more intense in mood from track to track. 'My Ashes' is a homage to the last chapter of the novel where the ashes of Bret's father are scattered effectively burying the memories of his life.

'Anesthetize' is the multi movement suite masterpiece that drew me to the album in the first place. A 17 minute epic with incredible guitar interplay and powerful synth lines. The melody is brilliant and the lengthy instrumental section is prog bliss. A track to be heard over and over.

'Sentimental' is a very gentle sad song with sweet melody lines, similar to the chords used in 'Trains'.

'Way out of here' is another of the masterpiece songs that deal with some very tough issues. The lyrics are full of mystery and intrigue; "Out at the train tracks, I dream of escape, But a song comes onto my i-Pod, And I realize it's getting late, I can't take the staring, And the sympathy And I don't like the questions: "How do you feel? How's it going in school? Do you wanna talk about it..." These sentiments seem to capture the teenage angst experienced in adolescence when one does not feel understood and loses track of communication with others. Steven Wilson explained partially some of the content of the album in "Revolver" music magazine when he stated, that the protagonist of the tale was a "terminally bored kid, anywhere between 10 and 15 years old, who spends all his daylight hours in his bedroom with the curtains closed, playing on his PlayStation, listening to his i- Pod, texting his friends on his cell phone, looking at hardcore pornography on the Internet, downloading music, films, news, violence." This is why the lyrical content mentions these technological mediums, though it does not attack them as much as one may expect, at least not as much as Wilson who has infamously smashed i-Pods and MP3s many times.

'Sleep Together' is a popular live track and although I look upon it as one of the weaker tracks here it still works as a good way to close the album, putting the protagonist to rest as he searches for love in an interminably cold faceless world.

My final thoughts are that this is an album that gets better over the years like a fine wine. On first listen I was impressed with about 3 tracks but the rest kind of washed over. Later on returning to the album after a long break, I began to appreciate the material as a whole concept which is hauntingly melancholy and bleak, and yet imbued with an uplifting ray of hope entrenched within. It certainly is one of the best albums of 2007, even winning Collaborator's album of the year on this humble site, and it is a thought provoking master work from a brilliant band.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#554013)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5 stars. I don't consider myself one for metal, but this album really hits the spot. The very first time I heard the title track I was blown away by the raw energy mixed in with excellent musicianship. Anesthetize is amazing as a stand-alone track, but when you add in the rest of the album, Porcupine Tree delivers one of the most memorable albums of the decade. Steven Wilson portrays the adolescent male very accurately in the title track, and I feel like I can connect to this album on a deeper level than say, connecting with Procul Harum or even King Crimson (blessed be thy name). I find I connect with this album much in the same way I feel I can connect with Radiohead material, especially OK Computer. After a terrible day, I usually do not want to listen to something joyful and uplifting, but rather wallow in my own existence. This album is perfect for anyone who feels the same way.

Some highlights for me are the title track and Anesthetize. The both have great energy. My ashes brings a fantastic softer side to the album, while Sleep Together ends the album wonderfully. I agree with Steven Wilson on his albums. They are much like a Pink Floyd album. They need to be listened to from front to back in order to gain a full comprehension of the work. This album works the same way. Listen from the beginning to end, and you won't be unimpressed with this fantastic work of modern heavy prog.

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Send comments to bb1319 (BETA) | Report this review (#717697)
Posted Sunday, April 08, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is their third album in a row to take the approach of In Absentia - in that whilst there are sufficient metal aspects to it to appeal to the prog metal crowd, there's also plenty of the space rock aspects which have always been an aspect of the band's sound, as well as indie-flavoured crossover moments reminiscent of Stupid Dream or Lightbulb Sun.

By this point in time, Steven Wilson had well and truly become prog aristocracy - when people like Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp are guesting on your albums you know you've become a big deal in the prog world - but far from resting on his laurels, Fear of a Blank Planet is a tighter and more carefully constructed album than Deadwing, and testament to the consistently high quality of Porcupine Tree's studio albums. I'd say it's the recommended next stop after In Absentia.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#719364)
Posted Monday, April 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my humble and poorly educated opinion, this album is as flawless as an album could ever get. It's certainly the pinnacle of the PT evolution as well. The Incident surely also is an excellent concept album, but not quite on par with the FOABP.

Why flawless:

1. Immaculate musicianship. There is not a single riff, passage, chord or sound out of place or of less than excellent quality (if it weren't so, I doubt Mr. Lifeson and Mr. Fripp would have been interested in guesting on this album). 2. Sophisticated, complex and heavy (at times), but nowhere near as chaotic or frenetic as some of the best ELP, King Crimson or early Yes. Therefore, VERY EASY to listen to. 3. No fillers. All 80 minutes is solid, meaningful, sterling music (we have the 2LP version). 4. Relevant, sharp, to-the-point lyrics. No fillers here either 5. Exemplary quality of recording and sound engineering. 6. Great variety of musical delicacies and flavors, in an organic combination - not just an eclectic collection 7. 'Anesthetize' is 18' of pure pleasure 8. I have already mentioned the outstanding musicianship ... which would be an understatement if you look at the drumming. Mr. Harrison is second only maybe to Mr. Peart in terms of music-weaving gift and sheer stamina. 9. Best concept album in prog rock category, period.

The only thing I don't like on it is Let's Sleep Together. I understand why it's there, and why it's relevant for the narrative of the album, but still I don't quite like it.

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Send comments to Argonaught (BETA) | Report this review (#765747)
Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I will start this review by saying that this masterpiece is IMO the best Porcupine Tree album.

The album starts with the badass song 'Fear of a Blank Planet', the song that names the album. This is an album that I really enjoy to listen, there are very pleasent songs such as Ansthetize, Fear of a Blank Planet, My Ashes and so on... I will start by reviewing Fear of a blank planet, the song. So, this is a song that has a lot of feeling and power, those first notes are perfect to start an album. The song sounds very badass! Steven Wilson's voice fits perfectly. After that powerfull song, it's 'My Ashes'. A very touching song, the voice, the lyrics... It's so peaceful and relaxing, I really love it! 'Ansthetize', the masterpiece. I love the intro to this song, it's just like a takeoff of an airplane, and then you are already flying through the clouds, having a great time listening to this masterpiece! It's so well composed, so relaxing, I just love every second of it. There are very touching moments in this song, one of them is when he sings "Only apathy from the pills in me..." that verse. Almost in the end, the song enters into a different atmosphere, it's kinda trippy, I love it! The bass line in the song is just amazing, and as you can see by my last reviews, even being a guitar player, I just love bass, and Porcupine Tree have awesome bass lines!!! The ending of the song kinda gives me the image of an airplane drifting away and disapearing with the distance, or just someone leaving... I don't know. The next song, 'Sentimental' begins with a beautiful piano melody, which I love! Then the drums kick in and you can hear an acoustic guitar, but at a very low volume. The song is very touching, very 'Sentimental', I love the chorus! 'Way Out of Here', the next song. At the first time I didn't care for this one, but now that I listened to it with more attention, it's brilliant! The bass line and the drums at the end are fantastic. 'Sleep Together', the last song. This is song is amazing, I love everything in it, it's definately one of the best songs in the album! I love the keyboard in this song, and the vocals just fit perfectly!

I'll give this album Five stars, It's amazing from the beginning to the end, I can never get enough of this! The whole album is like a book, and I love that! This is clearly Porcupine Tree's best work, Steven Wilson and the boys really nailed it.

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Send comments to ThrasherPT (BETA) | Report this review (#780840)
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars

Fear of a Blank Planet was my first taste of Porcupine Tree, and boy, was I impressed. The music I was hearing was a solid combination of everything I looked for in music: power and ambience. Most bands I've listened to before leaned toward one or the other, but Steven Wilson has managed to find a solid medium between the two, and he goes about it so well.

Fear of a Blank Planet starts the album off with a punch. Right away you can tell that this is a darker, heavy album. The lyrics aren't progressive-style lyrics, being extremely straightforward and easy to understand (lol), and while some may detract from Porcupine Tree for their lyrics, I find it refreshing. I listen to so much prog, sometimes my mind needs a break.

About six minutes into the song, the power drops off, and the overall "echo" theme of the album sets in. This is why Porcupine Tree is excellent - their skill with simply jamming. Most jam sessions are tiring to listen to. Not Porcupine Tree's.

The ending jam flows excellently into My Ashes, which is the polar opposite of the track before. This song is slow, steady, ambient, and almost depressing. The balance that is displayed here is tremendous in its effect. You'll have albums like Muse's Absolution that have hard songs and soft songs along beside each other, and it simply doesn't work the way they plan. But this album isn't one of those. My Ashes is an excellent listen.

Anesthetize picks up the pace. This song is easily the best song on the record, and is one of my most favorite songs of all time. Who could say no to this song? It's a near- eighteen-minute monster. I'm about to rant for a long time about this song, so if you want the TL;DR version... IT'S INCREDIBLE! The first section displays that ambience and jamming that Porcupine Tree is so good at. One thing I never noticed until really examining these songs is the skill of their drummer Gavin Harrison (forgive me if the last name is incorrect). He keeps the beat going forward even though the music seems like it should go slower. It's fantastic. The guitar solo from Alex Lifeson is terrific as well, as it goes excellently with the rest of the secion. Six minutes in, one last fast drum fill leads you into the second section, a heavy section reminiscent of the title track. This section is what makes Anesthetize. Sometimes I'll find myself skipping the first section just to listen to this one. The sluggish riff at the beginning really sets the mood for the section well, and the verse is excellent, but the chorus is really what impressed me. This is easily one of the best choruses I've heard, it's powerful, emotional, and excellent. But it doesn't end there: after the second chorus, a little jam breaks out that's truly excellent music. If more music was like this jam, the world would be a better place to live. I mean it. After this, the whole band goes crazy, before repeating the chorus, and fading into the third section. The third section could be a whole other song, but whatever. It's the best vocal performance from anyone, I believe. The counterpoint employed here is of the utmost excellency, and the verses are like unicorn milk.

Sentimental is not a song I was too familiar with until recently, but it's an excellent song in its own right. The ambience from the third section of Anesthetize flows over into the whole of this song (and a bit of the next, I might add), and is truly music at its best. There's really not much I can say about this song that I've already said about the rest of the songs on this record. I'm running out of adjectives.

Way Out of Here is a powerful song in the vein of the title track. This is a great song, and there's not much to say about it, except that its chorus is almost as good as the one from Anesthetize I like so much.

So, after all this harping about how excellent these songs are, you may be wondering why I've rated it four stars. The answer lies with Sleep Together. I don't know what my beef is with this song, but it just doesn't cut it like the rest of the album does. It's a decent enough song, yes, but as far as the album as a whole goes, it doesn't fit. For one thing, it seems that this song doesn't end the album as justly as it should. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I simply don't like Sleep Together.

In conclusion, Fear of a Blank Planet is an excellent album. If you haven't heard this or anything else by Porcupine Tree, you're definitely missing out.

- Planklin

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Send comments to Planklin (BETA) | Report this review (#781641)
Posted Tuesday, July 03, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupines Tree's impressive run of strong albums continues with Fear of a Blank Planet, which is arguably their most progressive effort. This is pretty much sonically identical to their past two albums, so their isn't much to discuss regarding the style. Instead the interest is in the individual songs.

The title track Is the metal anthem of the album, much as 'Deadwing' was for the previous. It contains a steady, rocking, and powerful drum groove with a driving bass and heavy guitar riffs. By now this is a standard Porcupine Tree tune, but is engaging from beginning to end.

'My Ashes' has a strong Pink Floyd undertone to it, as well as Zeppelin's No Quarter-like opening. It builds fantastically with a dramatic section filled with strings and Wilson singing a melodic vocal line. This is probably one of Porcupine Trees more serious attempts at symphonic prog, and it works perfectly.

The real treat here is the epic 17-minute 'Anesthetize.' The song is very structurally diverse and the parts are quite different from each other, yet as a whole mesh so wonderfully. You get the tense, dark opening, an Alex Lifeson guitar solo, a Pink Floyd-esque jam-like section, a heavy, Metal riff oriented middle, and the beautifully flowing ending atmosphere all in one song. This is without a doubt the band's strongest song of their entire catalogue, and of the progressive rock genre in general.

'Sentimental' also has a dramatic and symphonic undertone to it, including a flawless build-up which makes this one of their more emotionally charged songs.

'Way Out of Here' is a very dark song with some deep bass lines and a few heavy riffs. The powerful synth-filled chorus is heard throughout by Wilson, who also has some tasteful guitar solos.

The album concludes with the very dark and ominous 'Sleep Together,' which is probably one of the most unique and interesting songs the band has done. The song is built around a drone melody that repeats throughout the entire song. The build-up is very good in this one, with the climax being a dramatic strings melody.

Overall, I would say this is just as strong as the band's last two releases, and is probably the proggiest one at that. I remember an interview where Wilson said he rather liked the shorter album length of about 50 minutes, as it keeps the attention of the listener longer. No doubt he was correct in this regard, as this is 50 minutes of amazing, thoughtful music.

9/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#880606)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is their third foray into prog metal. Some of this I really like A LOT. Yet there is some that I can easily live without. The band is stable, with Wilson on guitars, vocals, and some piano, Barbieri on keyboards, Edwin on bass, and Harrison on drums including guest spots by touring member John Wesley (vocals) Alex Lifeson from Rush (guitar on Anesthetize) and Robert Fripp from King Crimson (soundscapes on Way Out of Here).

I really like Anesthetize, Sentimental and Way Out of Here, I think these tracks are some of the best work by the band. Absolutely essential. I wish they had included Nil Recurring and Normal from the EP Nil Recurring, recorded at the same time as the rest of the album, and to me, would have left the album better off with their inclusion. However, they didn't - they put on My Ashes and Sleep Together, two of the bands weaker songs in my opinion. The title track, at times strikes me as boring, and at other times as thrilling - I can't pin it down, it depends on my mood.

All in all, I enjoy the album, but I don't find this to be amongst the Tree's finer efforts.

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Send comments to wehpanzer (BETA) | Report this review (#912619)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Fear of a Blank Planet" kind of surprised me cause it's an album that took me such a long time to get into. I think it's because it has a lot more longer songs on it than the other albums. I ended up getting into this album a lot because I acquired so many Porcupine Tree albums so fast that I would just throw them all on shuffle. "Anesthetize" was the first song that really caught my attention. It was long, but at the same time it has so many transitions that it really feels like 3-4 songs in one. In particular, the lines "We're lost in the mall, shuffling through the stores like zombies. But what is the point? What can money buy?" caught my attention, dragging me into listening to the entire album straight through. The song "Fear of a Blank Planet" also caught my attention because the music is pretty similar (although not exact) to "Anesthetize" and from there on I just grew to love it more and more, giving it the number 3 spot! Favorite song: This was almost a tie between "Fear of a Blank Planet" and "Anesthetize" but "Anesthetize" won because it was the first song I loved on this album and the music is just epic! Least favorite song: "Way Out of Here" I just don't feel like it has the same "oomph" as the other pieces, but it's still a song I enjoy to listen to.

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Send comments to almostreal (BETA) | Report this review (#937519)
Posted Sunday, March 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oddly enough, FOABP was the album that started my love affair with Porcupine Tree. I had heard 'Deadwing' briefly and enjoyed a couple of songs, but some reason had never sat down to listen to it properly. After hearing 2007's FOABP, I was compelled to hear the rest of the PT back catalogue and have never looked back.

The album kicks off with the title track, and one is immediately struck by the hard-edged riffing and Steven Wilson's fantastic lyrical delivery. As the song closes it ebbs away with a softer melody that works beautifully into the second track.

'My Ashes' is the voice of an adolescent who can already see his life mapped out before them, that it is empty and will always be so. That it is unchangeable. They can see the end before they have even started. It is a stunning, memorable track.

'Anesthetize' is the magnificent centrepiece of the album. It is like five great songs seamlessly interwoven into one. The syncopated, chugging riff section that begins at 5 minutes is one of my favourite PT moments ever. The song reaches a crescendo shortly after, then drifts towards a final, wistful passage that is achingly beautiful. As the title would suggest, 'Anesthetize' documents a state of stupor and disconnection through the use of prescription drugs, very much the central theme of the album.

'Sentimental' is another of the softer, keyboard driven tracks on the album. As we follow the journey of the album's protagonist, we find that he is now struggling with the thought of growing old in this useless, wasted life. Once again a haunting, stirring track.

'Way Out of Here' and 'Sleep Together' close out the album, and if you've been following along so far, it's not hard to understand where this journey is headed. In the final track the protagonist muses 'Switch off the future, let's leave forever.'

A masterpiece in all respects, 'Fear of a Blank Planet' is the perfect fusion of music, lyrics and ideas to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It's possible to enjoy this album on so many levels, which is undoubtedly the reason why I keep coming back to it time and again.

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Send comments to bonestorm (BETA) | Report this review (#946112)
Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams
4 stars This is, without a doubt, my favorite Porcupine Tree album. No, I'm not a huge fan of the band. In fact, I prefer The Pineapple Thief (often compared). However, I think this PT album finally has something that is missing from some of their other releases: soul. Now, mind you, it's a dark soul. It's a disturbed soul. But it's there. Steven Wilson, in my opinion, is a very mechanical, cold composer, but on "Fear of Blank Planet" I feel that he finally gave us some emotion.

I had never heard this album until someone requested that I spotlight its lyrics for my Facebook page The PROG Mind. I agreed to do so, and ended up immersing myself in this album for some time. This is a concept album about a disturbed teen (possibly inspiration for Pendragon's "Pure"?). He's worthless. He's hopeless. And, most of all, he doesn't give a damn. He wallows in self- pity, TV addiction, and drug abuse. He lives for sexual release and his dimly-lit room full of distractions. Yet, PT doesn't leave us there. They explore his screwy upbringing and his exposure to a society full of fakes, artificial standards, and frauds. With all of this, would you have any hope? Would you have the motivation to make something of yourself? What have we done to the kids?

But enough of my preaching. This album features the best instrumental passages that PT ever created. From the epic "Anesthetize" to the truly interesting title track, this album simply rocks with tight arrangements, spacey elements, and strong songwriting. Other PT albums, such as "In Absentia" and "Deadwing", were really good, but I feel they were missing a certain something for me to grasp musically. This album, however, packs a punch full of awesome guitar work (both acoustic and electric), masterful drumming, and true atmosphere. It also has soul in its topic, but also in its music, too. These guys were firing on all cylinders when they made this album.

So, is this a masterpiece? This is my favorite PT album, but I won't call it a masterpiece. It is excellent in every way, but I feel that the last two tracks drop in quality and personality quite dramatically. That said, this is certainly a worthy album that offers plenty in the way of jaw- dropping moments.

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Send comments to Second Life Syndrome (BETA) | Report this review (#1092329)
Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album starts off with one of the band's most boring and plain parts but then it becomes something magical. Even classic prog dude, Rob Fripp is on it to add texture and it is amazing.

I think this is the first one Steven mixed himself or at least in a while cos I know he didn't do In Absentia. The art is amazing too, Lasse Hoil is incredible.

The long one "Anthesthetize" is the best track clearly and you can almost forgive the opening track being so tedious as the rest is PROG! "Sentimental" is also really good for the lyrics. My 3rd fav PT album and much preferred in a lot of way to most of his solo stuff apart from Raven.

82% - 4

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Send comments to ProgolateCookie (BETA) | Report this review (#1218747)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Difficult to contribute regularly by reviewing just the obscure stuff for the sake of popularizing it. Gotta move on to popular stuff... Well, what to say here. Has Steven Wilson become a grumpy old man? Singing about the apathetic generation? "Only MTV". When was the last time depressed teenagers watched it anyway? 1991 when Nirvana was on?

On Fear Of a Blank Planet Porcupine Tree move sideways from the more heavy/pop stuff of recent albums. This is more of a gloomy, synth atmosphere-heavy rock with occasional heavy outbursts. Given all the widely different stuff they've done - from psychedelia to electronica to metal - this seems like their niche. It suits well Wilson's average-guy vocals. Clearly this is one of their more conceptual albums. It's just that I felt more variety and excitement on other Porcupine Tree albums.

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Send comments to Progrussia (BETA) | Report this review (#1254279)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | Review Permalink

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