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PORCUPINE TREE

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Porcupine Tree biography
PORCUPINE TREE are incredibly hard to describe because their music doesn't fit into any one genre. I like the description on the back of the album "Signify" (one of my all time favorites). It says "Porcupine Tree have managed to defy genres and blend together numerous ambient, rock and avant-garde styles to create a musical landscape that is both refreshing and compulsively seductive". The great post-GONG revival which gave birth to OZRIC TENTACLES now brings us PORCUPINE TREE. The hypnotic rhythms, spacy synthesizers, glissando guitar and crazy voices which made the style successful are all contained here.

The band started as a solo project of singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Wilson who, back in the early nineties, released a series of increasingly spaced-out ambient excursions. PT is one of the most innovative bands in prog today combining intense musicianship, unconventional composition and superb studio production. They are unquestionably one of the UK's most inspired and inventive rock groups.

The bands 4th studio album from '96. "Signify" saw Porcupine Tree truly gell as a studio band producing a blend of psychedelia, heavy rock, melancholic pop, kraut rock, and wild experimentation that brought the best out of each band member. Their latest two albums ("Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun") move the band further away from their influences and into their own catagory, by which other bands eventually will be compared. But if you are a fan of progressive, thoughtful, briliantly executed and flawlessly produced music, you will do no better than PT.

PORCUPINE TREE's eighth studio album, "Deadwing", was released in March 2005 by Lava Records / Warner Music. Less rock-oriented than the previous album "In Absentia", "Deadwing" is partially based on a "surreal ghost story" screenplay written by Steven and sometime PORCUPINE TREE / NO-MAN art collaborator Mike Bennion. The 60-minute, nine-track album contains material varying from short airplay-friendly songs such as 'Shallow' to lengthier pieces like the 10-minute-plus 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here'. Most of the music was written by Steven but the album features the largest amount of full-band compositions since "Signify" in 1997. The album also features guest appearances by Adrian Belew (KING CRIMSON) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (OPETH).

In 2007 the band scored it's biggest chart success to date with "Fear Of A Blank Planet". Featuring contributions from Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp...
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In AbsentiaIn Absentia
Lava 2002
Audio CD$3.81
$0.21 (used)
AnesthetizeAnesthetize
KSCOPE 2015
Audio CD$13.99
DeadwingDeadwing
Lava 2005
Audio CD$6.93
$4.77 (used)
Fear Of A Blank PlanetFear Of A Blank Planet
KSCOPE 2012
Audio CD$7.88
$7.96 (used)
The IncidentThe Incident
Roadrunner Records 2009
Audio CD$9.35
$3.43 (used)
Octane TwistedOctane Twisted
KSCOPE 2012
Audio CD$6.58
$9.68 (used)
Up the DownstairUp the Downstair
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$10.73
$13.46 (used)
Stupid DreamStupid Dream
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$10.13
$9.12 (used)
SignifySignify
Special Edition
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$16.81
$9.15 (used)
Lightbulb SunLightbulb Sun
Import · Special Edition
Snapper UK 2008
Audio CD$10.05
$7.56 (used)
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PORCUPINE TREE
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PORCUPINE TREE shows & tickets


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PORCUPINE TREE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PORCUPINE TREE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 658 ratings
On The Sunday Of Life.....
1991
3.92 | 774 ratings
Up The Downstair
1993
4.07 | 1053 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
1995
3.81 | 936 ratings
Signify
1996
3.98 | 1060 ratings
Stupid Dream
1999
4.02 | 1177 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
2000
4.24 | 1957 ratings
In Absentia
2002
4.09 | 1612 ratings
Deadwing
2005
4.23 | 2001 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
2007
3.69 | 1257 ratings
The Incident
2009

PORCUPINE TREE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.45 | 382 ratings
Coma Divine Live
1997
3.76 | 71 ratings
Spiral Circus Live (LP)
1997
3.68 | 119 ratings
XM
2003
4.14 | 7 ratings
Live in Poland
2003
3.94 | 267 ratings
Warszawa
2004
4.05 | 119 ratings
XMII
2005
4.25 | 145 ratings
Rockpalast
2005
4.48 | 144 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
3.35 | 210 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
2008
3.65 | 104 ratings
Ilosaarirock
2009
4.26 | 165 ratings
Atlanta
2010
3.53 | 155 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

PORCUPINE TREE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.57 | 466 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
4.72 | 459 ratings
Anesthetize
2010
4.29 | 49 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

PORCUPINE TREE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.51 | 95 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
1994
3.21 | 313 ratings
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip
2000
4.17 | 317 ratings
Recordings
2001
4.22 | 218 ratings
Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997
2002

PORCUPINE TREE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.46 | 51 ratings
Tarquin's Seaweed Farm (K7)
1989
3.21 | 40 ratings
Love, Death & Mussolini (K7)
1990
2.98 | 37 ratings
The Nostalgia Factory (K7)
1991
3.45 | 22 ratings
Radioactive E. P.
1992
3.67 | 95 ratings
Voyage 34
1992
2.91 | 45 ratings
Voyage 34 : Remixes
1993
3.24 | 54 ratings
Moonloop E.P.
1994
3.83 | 151 ratings
Staircase Infinities
1994
3.81 | 42 ratings
Waiting
1996
3.30 | 74 ratings
Insignificance (K7)
1997
3.95 | 19 ratings
Ambulance Chasers
1997
2.83 | 39 ratings
Stranger By The Minute
1999
2.82 | 40 ratings
Piano Lessons
1999
2.88 | 40 ratings
Pure Narcotic
1999
3.79 | 15 ratings
Coma Divine II
1999
3.97 | 29 ratings
Stars Die - Rare and Unreleased
1999
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Rest Will Flow
2000
3.03 | 55 ratings
4 Chords That Made A Million
2000
3.20 | 49 ratings
Shesmovedon
2000
4.09 | 84 ratings
Transmission IV
2001
2.94 | 178 ratings
Metanoia
2001
3.00 | 2 ratings
Blackest Eyes
2002
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Sound Of Muzak
2002
4.00 | 3 ratings
Trains
2003
3.31 | 27 ratings
Delerium EP
2003
3.44 | 125 ratings
Futile
2003
3.55 | 103 ratings
Lazarus
2005
2.00 | 1 ratings
Shallow
2005
2.00 | 1 ratings
So Called Friend
2006
3.00 | 1 ratings
Way Out Of Here
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Normal
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet (Single)
2007
3.91 | 426 ratings
Nil Recurring
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Novak
2008
2.62 | 57 ratings
Time Flies
2009
3.99 | 62 ratings
Transmission 10.1 - Ilosaarirock
2009
3.80 | 5 ratings
Acoustic Session Jan 2010
2010

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Coma Divine II by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Coma Divine II
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by thwok

4 stars I consider it a tragedy that these 2 or 3 songs (I would call it 3) were not on the original COMA DIVINE album. The only reason might have been that they wouldn't fit on the CD. Luckily, that problem was rectified with the Delerium reissue. It obviously has nothing to do with quality. This is great music. I would guess that this EP hasn't been reviewed by others because these songs are easily available in other formats. I would also guess that a lot of people just don't bother with EP's or singles; I like the short format a lot.

I've used up enough words not talking about the music!. Anyone who listens to enough Porcupine Tree probably knows these songs, if not these versions, so I won't discuss them at length. I'm rarely effusive in my reviews (or in my life generally), but this live version of "The Moon Touches Your Shoulder" is amazing. The guitar playing is unbelievable. This version is one of the greatest listening experiences I've ever had. "Always Never" is almost as good. Only two considerations prevent me from giving COMA DIVINE II a 5-star rating, which is something I rarely do. First is my opinion that "Up The Downstair", as good as it is, isn't on the same level as the other two songs. The other consideration is the possible low interest level, which I alluded to earlier, of this EP for a lot of Porcupine Tree fans. IMHO everyone with an interest in Porcupine Tree would be well served by listening to this.

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 Futile by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.44 | 125 ratings

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Futile
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A great companion E.P. to "In Absentia" as it contains a variety of material from those sessions. This review is based on the digital version of this release. The other "hard copy" version contains another live track, and interview with Steven Wilson, an Opeth track from their "Damnation" album which SW helped co-write and produce and contributed to some of the instrumentals, and a promo ID from SW. This downloadable album makes more sense since it is more available than the original E.P. and is more consistent since it contains only music from PT.

It starts out with "Collapse" which is a very shortened alternative version of "Collapse the Light into Earth" from the original album. I love the original song and this acts as more of a intro to the E.P. and give you an idea of how the entire song sounds. It serves the purpose of being a great opener and only lasts a minute and a half. This was originally supposed to open the "In Abesentia" album, but was left off probably because of repetition, so it is used as an introduction to this E.P. From there, we go into the MOR song called "Drown With Me" which is also available on the European edition of IA as a bonus track. This one is very accessible and has a nice hook with a great chorus full of the signature PT harmonics. Following this is a hard edged instrumental called "Orchidia" which sounds more upbeat and even in it's current underdeveloped state, still is an excellent track. The title track of the E.P. is next and is also a harder edged PT song this time with vocals. Any of these outtakes would have fit quite well upon the original album, but who is to complain when you can add these extra songs yourself to an already excellent album.

The following track is a live version of the excellent epic song "Hatesong" performed in Philadelphia on July 26, 2002. This is a definite hard and heavy song in a live atmosphere and is one of the excellent highlights of the original album. The song transfers well to a live format, and you can hear some differences in the vocal harmonics and a slightly heavier sound with some pronounced keyboards in certain passages and also features an extended guitar solo. This gives a slightly more developed sound to the song, which remains amazing. The last track is another great outtake that isn't available on the hard copy of the E.P. or anywhere else before this called "Chloroform" which is a very moody mid-tempo song with an accentuated bass line, some amazing vocals from Steven Wilson and later develops into a hard instrumental break with an excellent guitar solo. This one lasts over 7 minutes, so you know it's worth getting the downloaded copy over the hard copy (which is actually just a promotional release which explains the strange addtions of the interview and the Opeth song).

Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson fans owe it to themselves to get this as it is one of their best E,P.s and it is worth the money to get the extra additions to one of the most loved albums in the PT discography. I can't call it essential because it really belongs together with the "In Absentia" album, but it is definitely excellent even at the 32 minute run-time. Excellent companion to the IA album by all means. 4 stars.

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 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.24 | 1957 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I've found as I've gotten older as a musician, a composer and a fan of listening to music in general, I've found my tastes in music change. As well as pretty much everyone does at one point in their life or another. Ever so slightly, but they do change. The most notable of mine which takes the form of moving slowly away from the more symphonic prog (Yes, Flower Kings, etc.) and moving more into more digestible, shorter tracks, but still filled with emotion and juicy stuff. I've hoarded onto Haken's entire discography for quite some time, yet haven't truly listened in depth to their stuff until just recently, and am also currently on a Porcupine Tree binge.

I've never been a fan of pop music, yet I'm always a sucker for a catchy lick, a cool lyric, and maybe once in a blue moon, a high pitched falsetto. My sheer addiction to electronic infused indie pop and rock music can attest to that, but PT fills that niche as well, believe it or not. I've had "Trains" on my driving playlist for quite some time, and it's become one of my favorite tracks ever. The beautiful simplicity to it, the complex rhythmic and yet completely accessible structure, and maybe just the overall mature sound of it is just hypnotic. It's the same case I've made for "Piano Lessons". Both are mature examples of a British prog pop sound.... I think. Or I could just be making stuff up, I'm not sure.

After all, the opening sentence of PT's bio on this site sums them up nicely; there is no one word to describe their sound or genre. Maybe it's just the smoothness of which their music is composed and performed. Or maybe it's their British accents. I am, after all, a sucker for British accents. Or maybe that's just to do with my love for famous British automotive television shows (RIP Top Gear).

Either way, Porcupine Tree as a subtle way with inserting catchy and sophisticated songs in between straight up hardballs with a subtle and rhythmic complexity that prog fans adore. Part of it falls to Steven Wilson's masterful composing skills, and part of it lies with the extraordinary drumming of Gavin Harrison. I personally believe as a drummer, Harrison is underrated. Each drummer strives to create their own unique sound: Bernard Pretty Purdie for the "Purdie Shuffle", Mike Portnoy with his chest-crushing bass sounds out of his set, Terry Bozzio with his 5-million tom drum set (or is it 5-million and 1? he might have added a few more, I'm not so sure). Point is, in every facet of life, you have to stand out from the crowd with a distinction completely unique to your self.

Harrison's greatest contribution is his ability to fool you. He doesn't focus on blistering solos around the kit or furious double bass onslaughts. He doesn't try to be clever and throw a 12/25 polyrhythm in 5/8 bar. His style is much simpler than that, yet is still clever. He throws accents on the offbeat, displaces it, relies more on syncopation. He'll play, for example, in 9/8 on a track in 3/4 and fool the listener it's just a standard 3/4 groove. You can never play in time with him because every time a rhythmic cycle turns around, he'll throw the snare on a different beat, add in an extra bass hit, throw in another fill, displace the beat not once, but TWICE in the same measure.

In short, it's genius, but subtle. Very subtle.

I recently bought his books "Rhythmic Illusions" and "Rhythmic Perspectives" for drumset, and it's both a fascinating read, and great to practice. First off, unlike most drumset methods books, he introduces every excercise or set of excercises with explenations on how to perform it and what illusion it emits or what it's supposed to convey. You get a feeling that he actually wrote the book himself, rather than just let the publication company rip off some of his beats from PT tracks and simply stuck his name on it. And that philosophy really echoes in his drumming style. You get a sense that he isn't just "rocking out". He's creating a groove, and then playing with it a bit. An extra snare hit here, a displace bass drum hit there. All resulting in a groove that you can feel and bounce to, but you can't air drum to it, simply because no two grooves are ever the same to him.

This frankly is what upset me with the disbandment of Porcupine Tree. Wilson and Harrison are like Yin and Yang, Lennon and McCartney, Hall And Oates (ok, maybe scratch that one). Point is, both cannot survive without the other, and yes, while I do still like Wilson's solo stuff, the drumming tends to be more static and less interesting sometimes, luckily without detriment to most of his music, but it still isn't the same. Harrison's solo stuff hasn't fared that well, where you stay for the drumming, but ignore everything else.

Maybe this is why I've been listening to more Porcupine Tree. I've had this stuff for so long, yet haven't listened it so much until a few years ago. Maybe it's for nostalgia's sake, I don't know. But In Absentia is one of those rare albums where you can't quantify it into a singular sound or motive, yet it's so distinctive and pronounced, you'd never be able to mistake it for anything else. Yes, it's a bit heavier than their previous work, less psychedelic and less jam band-y, but tighter, more focused, more concise, more mature.

This album really does have everything. From the ballad-like "Trains", to the instrumental "Wedding Nails", from the ethereal "Lips of Ashes" to the grunge-echoing "Strip The Soul". It's album that's a testament to the time of its recording, yet manages to be so much more that it's still a fresh and inviting listen each and every time, even 13 years later, and when you come across music like that, you know you've found a future classic right there.

Faults? The drums do sound a bit tinny at times, and the heaviest sections on the album, such as on "Strip The Soul" and "Wedding Nails" have a bit too much bite, and not enough sound, more of a gut punch than musical phrasing. Apart from that, the composition and songwriting is just mesmerizingly brilliant.

Now, is it for everyone? Admittedly, no. No prog album can be recommended to every prog fan. Even fans of progressive rock are divided in styles. Most fans of traditional symphonic prog will probably find it too depressing for their tastes. Some people I know actually loathed Porcupine Tree for phasing out of the psychedelic phase, to which I responded "Well, that's what happens when you mature; your tastes evolve". And frankly, I don't think there's any better evidence of maturity than In Absentia. It finally caps a superb trio of albums with Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun. Sure, In Absentia isn't the most accessible album. In fact, Stupid Dream has the most pop-like songs that PT has recorded. Yet, it's still a complete piece of music that just can't be ignored by any fan of music in general. It's unique, it's catchy, it rocks hard, and delivers a unique listening experience every time.

I may regret comparing Wilson and Harrison to Hall and Oates... or Lennon and McCartney.

At least I didn't compare them to Pinky and the Brain.

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 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.24 | 1957 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Terakonin

4 stars The first album in Porcupine Tree's metal phase, I personally think it is both the best and most original, and among their very best work, and a great example of what I believe Porcupine Tree do best- many relatively short (for prog) but great tracks. It has quickly become a favourite of mine.

The album opens with Blackest Eyes, a track full of rather malevolent guitar work and savage drums. It opens with some deceptively calm guitar work, but it's not long until the new drummer Gavin Harrison ramps things up, working with Wilson to belt out high quality, cutting hard rock sections interspersed with beautiful, drifting ambient passages for Wilson to sing over.While only five minutes long, there's not much missing in this song, and it feels longer. (10/10)

Following up the hard to beat opener is Trains- a beautiful acoustic track where Wilson's singing is more emotional than usual. Separated into two distinct sections that however share perhaps one of the greatest choruses in recent memory, and with stunning chords and melodies that alternate over its six-minute run time, it shares the number one spot on this album with Blackest Eyes. (10/10)

I said that Trains followed up a hard to beat opener, and held its own- but the next track, Lips of Ashes, has to follow up two of the best tracks of the album. It certainly manages to do so, with unusual instrumentation and bell sounds. Strange string-like arrangements and stranger percussion provide a backdrop to Wilson's self-harmonies. The introduction of the electric guitar at 3/4s provides an excellent contrast to the rest of the song, and is accompanied by Wilson's wordless vocals. (8/10)

The Sound of Muzak is a bass driven, slightly sinister track about the death of music and the industry. Perhaps just as important as the distinctive bass riff are the introspective and darkly humorous vocals. (8/10)

Gravity Eyelids, the longest track on the album at four seconds shy of eight minutes, is an atmospheric track, with instrumentation that sounds strangely muffled. The only sound unaffected by this effect seems to be Wilson's vocals, but then the strangely beautiful chorus comes in with piano chords, and even his singing gives way to the subduing filter on the music. When the next verse returns, his vocals are clear again, and the next time the chorus rolls around it plays over the top of the verse, which then disintegrates. A well handled track that is more complex that it appears. (8/10)

Following Gravity Eyelids is the hard rocking instrumental piece Wedding Nails, with incredible and intricate guitar work. Cycling betweenequally driving and distinctive riffs in the vein of King Crimson's Red, screaming guitar notes, atonal static, and sinister ambience, it provides a great heavy metal interlude to the vocal tracks. (8/10)

Just when you thought Wilson had run out of great riffs, he brings in Prodigal, with a melancholic riff supported by a thick bassline. The introspective lyrics deal with religion and finding oneself, from a glass-half-full perspective, typical of Porcupine Tree. As the track slowly increases in intensity, processed robotic vocals come in, interspersed with Wilson's wordless harmonies, as his electric guitar reaches new heights. (8.5/10)

The strong bass sounds evident in The Sound of Muzak return in .3, where they are much more prominent. Short bursts of rippling keyboard synths that can only be described as weird come in, providing a delicious counterpoint to the melody, just before the track turns into a softer, more ballad-like piece, with piano, acoustic guitar, and, once again, Wilson's melancholy vocals. After a while the keyboard returns, bringing the track soaring up. (8.5/10)

Ah, one of my favourites from the album. The Creator Has A Mastertape. An urgent, intense piece of music. The prominent bass continues and in this song it can only be described as paranoid. Wilson's vocals are distorted, accompanied with rising synth-string blasts and frenetic drumming. After the first chorus, the track becomes incredibly chaotic, before dropping suddenly into the next verse. The schizophrenic feel of this track and its mindblowing lyrics put it up there with Blackest Eyes and Trains. (8/10)

Heartattack in a Lay-by is a depressed ballad with clean but faintly jangly acoustic guitar work that controls the mood and direction of the song with ridiculous precision. Wilson's vocal lines interrupt each other, creating an ethereal layered effect that that rides over the top of the slow guitar riff. (8/10)

After a short absence (clever pun???) the bass returns in Strip the Soul, which, partnered with The Creator Has a Mastertape, is one of the two paranoid tracks on the album. The vocals and lyrics are menacing, as if Wilson has repressed homicidal tendencies. They are once again distorted, and accompanied an impressive variation of guitar lines that link the segments of the song into a coherent piece. Around halfway in, an acoustic chord progression comes in, with whispered vocals by Wilson that sound like he's breathing down the back of your neck. Dissonant guitar work enters and the rest of the song becomes a juxtaposition of the themes of the first half of the track, with melody lines swapping instruments constantly and faint snippets of a dialogue recording. (8/10).

Collapse The Light Into Earth is the finishing track. The piano chords, vocal delivery and lyrics seem to represent a catharsis, as if Wilson is recovering from the hellish psychological terrors of the majority of the songs on the album. It also has a faint love-song feel to it. Along with Trains, it is one of the more conventionally beautiful tracks on the album. A good finisher to a great album. (8/10)

The cover of this album and the lyrical and musical themes of the songs lead me to believe that this could be a semi-concept album about paranoia or something similar. Nothing I have said in this review can truly describe the excellent production and layered textures of this album. Porcupine Tree's masterpiece. 8.5/10.

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 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.69 | 1257 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Dead leaves at the end of the Tree.

There's something heartbreaking about The Incident that I've never quite been able to put my finger on. The story at the core of the album would probably like me to believe that it's the entire concept that puts a damper on each and every listen that I have of the album but that's just not it. If the album had actually achieved what it had set out to do by hitting my heartstrings in a way that made me feel for a character or concept the album would be a triumph - and that's not how I feel.

No, the heartbreaking thing about The Incident is that the whole thing feels lackluster. Half-assed. Effortless. Tired riffs and monotonous singing may have attempted to bring across an emotion that started with the rather nihilistic Fear of a Blank Planet but without the care and attention that was brought into each well crafted song. The 55-minute song cycle that makes up the first disc of the album has so few ideas stretched out over so long a time period that often times it feels like a drone album done by a drone band trying to expand into rock and roll without knowing how. The guitars clunk, the vocals whine and there are very few standouts that make my hair stand on end the way this band usually can.

Even Time Flies, the notable standout (and single) of the album is not without major flaws. Clocking at nearly 12-minutes it becomes the only song to actually leave a place in the listener's mind. However, any prog fan with depth to their catalog will not easily be able to dismiss the fact that it rings so heavily of the riff to Pink Floyd's Dogs that they will likely be put off of it.

The redeeming part to having made purchase of this album is the second disc. What a shame that is is only 20 minutes long! If they had combined this with the Nil Recurring recordings and released that as a kind of FOABP 2 they would have been met with much greater success! The odd tone and grumblings of Bonnie The Cat ring back to their Signify days while expanding on their current themes. Flicker is such a haunting melody that it DOES send shivers down my spine and Remember Me Lover takes us back to a darker version of Up The Downstair and finally ends off the hour plus long album.

In conclusion, The Incident is not without it's merits. It is simply unfortunate to see a band so lauded in the progressive, metal and alternative communities release an album that feels like an afterthought. Steven Wilson clearly had other things on his mind when the album was released, having already released his album Insurgents. His solo career has taken the music of Porcupine Tree to an entirely new level and continues to be truly progressive, but it's too bad he left the Tree to fall with no one around to hear it.

2 stars for an album that is worthwhile for the 2nd disc (a must for fans) but an ultimately disappointing, perhaps final, release by a once titan of the genre we adore. If you have not already become familiar with their music check out Up The Downstair or The Sky Moves Sideways if you are a fan of Floyd-flavored psych rock, or Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet for brooding Opeth style psych-heavy-progressive bombast, or Stupid Dream and In Absentia for top notch song-driven crossover prog with feeling. Avoid this release until familiar with what made the band an impressive force and solidified Steven Wilson as a demi-God of music.

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2001 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Wow this album has been reviewed a lot hasn't it? It does my heart good to see Porcupine Tree so popular here in the Archives and to see that a lot of people appreciate their music. Steven Wilson is no doubt a major force in progressive music and he keeps the dream alive for everyone. He has so much influence on many current progressive bands, whether if it's through re-issuing older albums by King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Yes and so on or if it's through production help as with Opeth, Anasthema, or Orphan Lands, or whether it's through inspiration as with I.Q., Archive, Pineapple Thief. Of couse, his most obvious influence is through Porcupine Tree or his own solo works.

So, this album is what I consider the 3rd and last in a series of heavier albums by PT, the first being "In Absentia", then "Deadwing" and now this one. These are the bands best albums in my opinion, I love the hard edge and how it gels so well with the softer passages in the music. These albums are the most inventive and dynamic throughout their discography (even though I love everything from PT).

This album is based on a concept of the fear of how electronics are influencing youth to lose individuality and social skills. It is comprised of 6 powerful songs that are loaded with progressive elements including excellent dynamic use, changing meters, non-traditional rock song structures and so on. The music isn't really challenging as you find in avant-prog music, but it doesn't have to be. If you want that, then check out Steven Wilson's work as Bass Communion or I.E.M. It is powerful music that is more advanced than your standard pop or rock music. There is plenty of beauty and harshness on every single track here, and it is also full of heavy, loud passages and in contrast plenty of soft and quiet sections, just like you have come to expect from the two previous albums from PT. 2 songs here are over 5 minutes, 3 are over 7 minutes and 1 is over 17 minutes, but they all seem to fly by quickly because there is so much to listen to here.

There are beautiful and tight harmonies on the more mellow tracks "My Ashes" and "Sentimental", there are the atmospheric guitar soundscapes of Robert Fripp on "Way Out Here", and there is plenty of darkness bubbling under all of the songs. On "Anesthesize" you get an epic 17+ minute 3 part song that features a bit of everything for everyone. There is something there that would make anyone happy and it all sounds cohesive which is quite a feat considering the many moods that it travels through on it's length. It is never boring and you are always on edge to hear where the song goes next. Alex Lifeson from Rush does a guest guitar solo in the first part of this track. This came about because Alex mentioned in an interview how he was a huge fan of PT, so SW called him and asked if he would like to play on this album. Of course, he jumped on the chance and SW re-wrote the song in order to include his solo.

There is no reason to write a longer review about this album because so much has been said about it already in the many reviews already written here. But since I am an avid fan of the band and of SW, I have to put in my own 2 cents worth and hopefully the few things I have said about this masterpiece of an album will entice someone else to listen to PT's music and enjoy it as much as I have. It is bands like PT that give me hope in music, that there are so many great bands still out there making the best music ever. PT inspired me to explore so much more, and though the music takes some work to find it, there are still countless bands out there that are as good as and sometimes even better than there ever has been. All I can do is hope my words and reviews of great albums like this will inspire others to search as I have and know that progressive rock is still alive and well! Oh, and this album gets masterpiece status.....5 stars.

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2001 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Porcupine Tree-Fear of a Blank Planet

'Fear of a Blank Planet' is the ninth studio album by progressive/alternative metal band Porcupine Tree. After the success of 'Deadwing', Porcupine Tree came back two years later with probably their most critically acclaimed albums. 'FoaBP' combines the prog/alt metal styling of the previous album, and the atmospheric space sounds of their early albums. The name of the album was inspired by Public Enemy's 1990 album 'Fear of a Black Planet'. It's a concept album, the concept being about today's society, the mass media, technology, drugs, and their effect on children.

The album begins with the title track, which is an awesome driving opener. After the drumming and electric guitar kicks in, this song really drives. By contrast, the chorus is very beautiful with great orchestral sounds. Soon the bridge comes in, with awesome crunching riffs and a classic metal guitar solo. Then the song ends very melodically, giving the song a melancholy end. The next highlight is the melancholy 'My Ashes'. When it begins, it will probably remind you a lot of Led Zeppelin's 'No Quarter', but it eventually turns into it's own beautiful song with great sad lyrics. 'Sleep Together' is another one of my favorites, with some awesome Nine Inch Nails-like Industrial influences included.

Of course, one of the highlights has to be the 17-minute long 'Anesthetize'. The song begins very melancholy, with great lyrics. After some industrial guitar, Rush's Alex Lifeson soon comes in with a kickass guitar solo. Later, the crunching riffs come in. During the middle of the song, Wilson gives one of his best vocal performances over some very Tool-like guitar. The end of the song moves to a very dream-like atmospheric sound, which ends the song pretty well.

The lyrics are perfect, matching the sad yet brutal music. The lyrical themes all revolve around the subjects that I mentioned at the start of this review. 'Anesthetize' probably has some of the most memorable, with the beginning having 'I simply am not here, No way I.. Shut up, be happy, Stop whining please'. The chorus has great lyrics as well: 'Only apathy from the pills in me, It's all in me, all in you, Electricity from the pills in me, It's all in me, all in you, Only MTV, cod philosophy'.

Overall, This is certainly Porcupine Tree's Magnum Opus. It's one of my favorite albums of all time, if not my favorite. Essential to any metal collection.

(Originally written for www.MetalMusicArchives.com)

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 Deadwing by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.09 | 1612 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars After the success of the previous album 'In Absentia', which was pretty consistently prog metal instead of the previous albums having a few metal songs here and there, Porcupine Tree decided to maintain the heaviness but Deadwing features a more alt metal-twinged sound in my opinion.

Deadwing opens up with the title track, which sets the pace of the album really well. Many well-performed transitions between heavy crunching riffs and mellower passages take place here. Unlike the previous album, Deadwing featured two singles that were pretty successful on modern rock radio; The heavy 'Shallow' and the ballad 'Lazarus'. 'Shallow' is one of my favorites on the album, with great heavy-soft transitions, an awesome Tool- like chorus, and a crazy bridge with tons of distortion. The concert-staple 'Halo' is another one of my favorites with a kick-ass bass-line by Edwin. Probably my favorite song on the album is the Tool-esque 'Open Car', which has some great riffing.

Of course I can't forget the epic 'Arriving Somewhere...but not Here', which has very beautiful lyrics and an awesome build up for some great guitar work. Also featured on certain editions of the album is a re-recording of the classic 'Shesmovedon' from 'Lightbulb Sun'. I actually prefer this version of the song to the original, it sounds cleaner and the production sounds better.

The lyrics on the album are very strong, 'Halo' having some of the best on the album. The lyrics of the aforementioned song are about using religion as an excuse to do cruel things and wage war, with such lyrics as 'God gives meaning, God gives pain' and 'I got a halo round me, I got a halo round me I'm not the same as you'. There have been plans for a movie based around Deadwing, not sure how that will turn out but it could be interesting.

Overall, Another Porcupine Tree masterpiece. I recommend this album to any fan of progressive metal or alternative metal. Porcupine Tree would come back two years later with one of their most critically acclaimed albums and rightfully so.

(Originally written for www.MetalMusicArchives.com)

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 Stupid Dream by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.98 | 1060 ratings

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Stupid Dream
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was the first Porcupine Tree album that was done over a shorter amount of time, or in specific sessions. All of the other PT albums up to this point had been done over periods of time and collected to put together an album. As a result, this album is definitely more focused and perfected, as the songs were all worked out and concentrated on until they were album-ready.

The budget for this album was also much larger than in the past, thus allowing them to spend the time in the studio to concentrate on the songs. With this budget, an orchestra was also brought in to give the album a richer, fuller sound. This was also a transitional album, even though some transition was seen in "Signify", this album confirms the transition away from psychedelic/spacey improvised works to more concise music which would be more accessible and would concentrate more on the songwriting skills of Steven Wilson but also on his instrumentation skills to keep things interesting.

So, listeners are going to notice a difference in this album compared to prior albums. I think PT did an excellent job of bringing together the changes and still making them sound like they weren't selling out to music corporation pressure. The idea behind this album is that people should think about their "Stupid Dream" of becoming a professional rock musician, because the glitz and glamour comes at a high price. The music you have to write and the fact that you bare your soul to the public in your music is very important and making your music personal is what music should be about. However, the price you pay for doing this is knowing that your music is going to end up on an "assembly line" and become a product. Also, you spend the rest of the time promoting and selling your music. All of this takes the personal aspect of the music away. Even though this is not a pleasant thought or task, it is a necessity and that is the hard and unpleasant work that comes with the job. Hence the art work of CDs being processed in a factory or industrial type setting.

The music here is excellent. Most of the songs deal with personalities with different eccentrics. Though it is not as well developed as it would become on the amazing albums "In Absentia", "Deadwing" and "Fear of a Blank Planet", it is still excellent. I don't want to go through track by track but I want to talk about the highlights a bit. The album opens up with "Even Less" which originally was a 14+ minute song (which is available on other recordings) that was pared down to 7+ minutes. Even cut down, this is an excellent song and introduces you to the new sound which promises you quality music which can be thoughtful at times and exciting at others. This one focuses on louder guitars. This is followed up by another excellent song "Piano Lessons" which has an excellent hook and a hard driving beat and is finished up with a wonderful guitar solo.

"Slave Called Shiver" and "Don't Hate Me" are actually songs about similar subjects. They both deal with characters that are obsessed with someone else, with the first one being more uptempo and the 2nd a more thoughtful slower tempo. "Don't Hate Me" sounds like the person is pleading with the subject of his obsession to accept him even though he has called her on the telephone and possibly stalked her but he raises her to a level far above himself. There is a nice saxophone solo here that sounds totally relevant. Excellent song and also the longest on the album.

"Baby Dream in Cellophane" is a moody beautiful song where the character is a baby thinking about whether he or she should accept the role that society is going to give to it. Genius. "Stranger by the Minute" is a wonderful song with the first instance of the beautiful signature harmonics we would hear a lot more of from PT in the future. Inspired by CSN&Y's harmonics as Steven Wilson admits he was listening to a lot of their music at the time (along with Soundgarden, Jeff Buckley, Todd Rundgren and Brian Wilson....now listen to the album and you can hear the influences). "A Smart Kid" is sung by a kid that is either a survivor of an apocalypse, though I think it is more in his imagination, that he is talking to an alien race pleading for them to "take him in". Maybe he is wishing in his mind that he would be better accepted in their society where they would understand him better. I love the processed vocals here that make it sound like the main character is alone in the universe and speaking inside his head, hence the idea that it is in his imagination.

"Tinto Brass" is named after an Italian movie director and the voice is Steven Wilson's girlfriend simply reading in Japanese a list of his movies. I bet you thought it was something more adventurous than that, but sometimes imagination is better than reality. Anyway, this is a hard driving instrumental that will get your heart racing. I love the way the song is mixed so that all of the instruments are heard equally even when the great flute solo and guitar solos come along, that they are not spotlighted so much as to drown out the excellent bass line and keyboards that are added to back up the solos. This way you can hear so much more of what's going on. The last track is one of Stephen Wilson's favorites. "Stop Swimming" is about the thought that we all have that we should stop swimming against the tide and just flow along with the current. This idea is not being promoted in the song though and Wilson said that you would never have to worry about him doing that which is why this is such a sad song since it is so tempting for us all to do this. But don't do it. Be yourself!

Anyway, you can hear the changes the band was going through and the approach to the masterpieces that were to come soon. I love this album, but it is not as good as what was to come. It is an excellent addition to your prog library and an important album for PT fans. 4 stars.

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 Deadwing by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.09 | 1612 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I have heard this album a thousand times, and from the first listen, I have loved the guts right out of this album. If ever there was an essential masterpiece of prog recorded in the new century, this is it. Hard, heavy, dark and beautiful, flowing, amazing....the strength in this album is in the dynamics all through the album and that is what I love so much about it....a masterpiece of dynamics. From the sudden crash of guitars after the electronic opening in the first track to the crazy guitar solo at the end of "Shesmovedon" there is no weakness or filler here....this is one solid chunk of progressive awesomeness.

Ok, so some of you might think I'm going overboard here....but face it, Steven Wilson is the current god of progressive rock and he saves his best works for Porcupine Tree and lately for his own solo albums. Each song on this album is well written. Each note in it's proper place, yet it plays through without any forced emotion or sound. It is so tempting to do a track by track analysis, but I usually avoid that and it's been done a thousand times here already. Just let it be said that the heavy passages blow me away everytime and the softer or mid tempo songs just flow beautifully. Just listen to the way on "Deadwing" when it comes to the long instrumental bridge, how it lulls you back into a hypnotic somewhat hypnotic pulse and suddenly the craziest guitar solo comes along out of nowhere accented by incredible percussive smacks and blasts you out of your chair. When you think you are safe from that first track, along comes another even heavier song "Shallow" and by the end of it your pulse is racing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the beauty of the amazing song "Lazarus" pulls you down to earth again and the emotion of all these moods just almost overwhelms you to the point of tears.

Next the dark heavy rocker "Halo" talks about the dark side of self-righteousness. Again the instrumental break is crazy, a roller coaster of crazy guitar interspersed with quieter yet still heavy percussion and bass. Then when the vocals start again, a piano is driving the song forward and you just sit there wondering where did that come from?

"Arriving Somewhere But Not Here".....my first song I ever heard by Porcupine Tree. What a masterpiece this song is. Everytime it gives my shivers the way it lulls you into what almost seems an uneasy calm, builds up the way it does, but when that explosion hits in the instrumental bridge, you find out that somewhere along the way things went completely out of control and all you want to do is push it faster and faster until you find out you have entered into black metal territory for a few minutes and you are loving it, but suddenly you emerge from the tunnel, still traveling just as fast. I can't tell you better than that what an amazing song this is. Of course, the first time I head it, I was sold. Suddenly, I could not get enough Porcupine Tree and I now know everyone of their albums and most of SW's other projects as well.

So, I started doing a track by track analysis anyway. I was afraid of that. But this music takes a hold of me every time. The rest of the album is just as good and maybe some of you need a little more time to get it, but to me it is pure music heaven. Just the right touch of hard, heavy and soft and beautiful. It's perfect! And it's a masterpiece! 5 major stars!!!!!

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