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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$4.56
$1.09 (used)
Fear Of A Blank PlanetFear Of A Blank Planet
KSCOPE 2012
Audio CD$8.79
$9.63 (used)
The IncidentThe Incident
Roadrunner Records 2009
Audio CD$8.98
$3.52 (used)
AnesthetizeAnesthetize
KSCOPE 2015
Audio CD$11.55
$11.88 (used)
DeadwingDeadwing
Lava 2005
Audio CD$6.96
$6.38 (used)
Lightbulb SunLightbulb Sun
Import · Special Edition
Snapper UK 2008
Audio CD$10.05
$10.59 (used)
Stupid DreamStupid Dream
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$10.58
$11.17 (used)
SignifySignify
Special Edition
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$10.58
$8.25 (used)
Porcupine Tree: AnesthetizePorcupine Tree: Anesthetize
Multiple Formats · AC-3
Kscope 2010
DVD$12.66
$9.97 (used)
On the Sunday of LifeOn the Sunday of Life
Import
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$6.44
$5.51 (used)
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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 | 671 ratings
On The Sunday Of Life.....
1991
3.91 | 788 ratings
Up The Downstair
1993
4.07 | 1070 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
1995
3.81 | 953 ratings
Signify
1996
3.98 | 1082 ratings
Stupid Dream
1999
4.02 | 1199 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
2000
4.25 | 1997 ratings
In Absentia
2002
4.09 | 1635 ratings
Deadwing
2005
4.23 | 2033 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
2007
3.68 | 1275 ratings
The Incident
2009

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

4.45 | 387 ratings
Coma Divine
1997
3.73 | 72 ratings
Spiral Circus Live (LP)
1997
3.67 | 121 ratings
XM
2003
3.75 | 8 ratings
Live in Poland
2003
3.93 | 271 ratings
Warszawa
2004
4.04 | 121 ratings
XMII
2005
4.24 | 145 ratings
Rockpalast
2005
4.47 | 147 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
3.35 | 213 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
2008
3.64 | 106 ratings
Ilosaarirock
2009
4.24 | 167 ratings
Atlanta
2010
3.51 | 161 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

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

4.57 | 475 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
4.72 | 469 ratings
Anesthetize
2010
4.25 | 52 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

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

2.51 | 97 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
1994
3.21 | 317 ratings
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip
2000
4.17 | 319 ratings
Recordings
2001
4.22 | 222 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 | 46 ratings
Voyage 34 : Remixes
1993
3.26 | 56 ratings
Moonloop E.P.
1994
3.83 | 152 ratings
Staircase Infinities
1994
3.81 | 42 ratings
Waiting
1996
3.30 | 75 ratings
Insignificance (K7)
1997
3.95 | 20 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 | 30 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 | 85 ratings
Transmission IV
2001
2.95 | 182 ratings
Metanoia
2001
3.00 | 3 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 | 126 ratings
Futile
2003
3.55 | 105 ratings
Lazarus
2005
2.00 | 1 ratings
Shallow
2005
2.50 | 2 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 | 430 ratings
Nil Recurring
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Novak
2008
2.62 | 57 ratings
Time Flies
2009
3.97 | 63 ratings
Transmission 10.1 - Ilosaarirock
2009
3.80 | 5 ratings
Acoustic Session Jan 2010
2010

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.25 | 1997 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Progkid

5 stars I am a huge PT man and this was the album that introduced me into the magical world of Prog( I was a huge PF fan tho but that was it till I heard this album). This album to me sounds like a concept Album, though there are people who feel otherwise, I'll try to say what I made out of this album

1. Blackest Eyes- 10/10 that riff at the start keeps you hooked to the song, it was just..magical.I actually didn't like metallic riffs till I heard this one..now for the concept, you see this album is about a killer but for me it shows the duality in yourself, which is the angel and the devil part, you get the idea from the lyrics that the main character has had a messed up life "I got wiring loose inside my head I got books that I never ever read I got secrets in my garden shed I got a scar where all my urges bled I got people underneath my bed I got a place where all my dreams are dead Swim with me into your blackest eyes" this song is basically the introduction of the character, you feel sad for him and the rest of the song is about how he looks at his childhood and wonders what he has become, the lines "A few minutes with me inside my van Should be so beautiful if we can I'm feeling something taking over me" reflects that he is desperately craving for killing, its when the bad side of you takes over the good one

2. Trains- 10/10: I wish I could give it 20, but well..my hands are tied..this song in one word is nostalgic..me and Steven share the same love for trains, which is not because they are powerful,fast and blah blah, its because we have memories attached to that, this is what the song is about, the killer looking back at the happy moments of his life, maybe his love life, "Train set and match spied under the blind Shiny and contoured the railway winds And I've heard the sound from my cousin's bed The hiss of the train at the railway head Always the summers are slipping away" this reflects that once he was a human, he had feelings 'always the summers are slipping away' means when you are with someone you love but no matter how much time you spend it feels short, and you want more..but can't get it, total desperation how you keep searching for a way to make it stay..the last four line describe, the sexual fantasies of him which later turns into obsession as the album progresses..overall its a pt classic and is about how desperate you fell when everything you had just goes away

3. Lips Of Ashes- 9/10 this one builds a scary atmosphere which complements, the theme and steven's voice perfectly, this is where our character first murders someone..and then fulfills his fantasies on the helpless human being, the line 'you and I connection failing' has got double meaning, one is the simple one where the victim is slowly dying...and the other to me seems is how you lose connection with the good part of yourself and 'drill down inside' of the bad part

4. Sound of Muzak - 8.5/10: this is the song that maybe doesn't fit well with the concept, its about steven's anger (or maybe the killers?) anger towards the music industry, how the untalented people are being millionaires while talented young people are forced to starve, how the music is engineered to suit you, which is something I believe should not happen, you discover music, its not the other way round

5. Gravity Eyelids- 8.5/10: this song bring backs us to where we left during lips of ashes, its the longest song on the album and lyrically similar to lips of ashes(I mean in concept), you can see the killer part of him has fully taken over, he is becoming a psycho who craves for sex, you can see how he talks to his victim in this song, how he asks her to smile and be calm(scary!)there is no much need to explain the lyrics much as I it straight in your face, with sexual lyrics and murder

6. Wedding Nails- 9/10 in one word, thunderous, just look at that guitar, but wait there is concept here too, what do you associate with wedding? bells right? wedding bells symbolize happy marriage, but the song contains nails, which signifies something is wrong, and he's not happy, maybe he tried to settle with his life but again the killer instinct of him takes over and he wants to murder again, you can see the anger explained through the music itself

7. Prodigal- 8/10 in this song we have aviv(co partner in blackfield) as a backing singer, he was also present in sound of muzak, lyrically its about how he tried everything to be his normal self,religion,smoking, but he was cheated, which only increase his hatred than anything else, he tells himself to close his eyes cause like all things in his life the rejection and disappointment will pass too

8 .3- 7.5/10: this song is 75% instrumental but yet brilliant, the lyrics reflect the modern day life, how you always fear that the atomic and nuclear warfare will eventually wipe out the human race and this is how the killer feels too

9. The Creator Had A Mastertape 8.5/10 "He captured and collected things And he put them in a shed He raised a proper family So he could tie them to a bed"

this song is about how he tortures his family everyday an the regret he feels but yet he can't help himself, he's helpless

"He worked himself into the ground And drove a spike into his head A voice said "Are you happy now? 'Your sordid home is running red"

10. Heart attack in a layby - 10/10 touching, imagine you loved someone all your life, and she hates you, still you kept loving, you did everything to make her happy only to find yourself depressed,insulted and suicidal..but one day she says she's sorry for everything and you're happier than anything, you just wanna go there,kiss her and grow old together, this is the song about but with a twist, you can hear the song is sad, inspite of the happy(somewhat) lyrics at the start, the girl says sorry to the guy and he's so happy that he decides to sit cause his body is aching, but he doesn't realize he's having a heart attack and dying, its like when you wanted something all your life, and in the end were fingertips close only to realize you still didn't get it....its like give one drop of water to the thirsty and then leave him to die #we'llgrowoldtogether

11. Strip the Soul- 9/10: this song is the climax where he eventually tortures his family to death, it has quite disturbing lyrics, "Spread it wide, my wife, my life, push the camera deeper" which gives details about his life

"This machine Is there to please Strip the soul Fill the hole A fire to feed A belt to bleed Strip the soul Kill them all"

he eventually kills them and buries them yet he believes they are with him

"They are not gone, they are not gone, they are only sleeping In graves, in ways, in clay, underneath the floor Building walls, overalls, getting bored, I gotfaulty wiring Brick it up now, brick it up now, but keep the bones"

12- Collapse the light into earth- 9/10: this is where the album ends, he finally finds the real self and the title of the song serves as the metaphor as how light wipes out all the darkness on earth

overall a good album to anyone who wants to check out porcupine tree

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2033 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Necrotica

4 stars Right from the beginning of its title track, it's clear that Steven Wilson was intending to return to a less straightforward sound for Fear of a Blank Planet. Fresh off the heels of the highly praised Deadwing, Porcupine Tree decided to tread back to a more immersive and atmospheric sound rather than the pop-oriented touches of their recent records. It definitely shows; the album is just dripping with despondent and cautionary imagery of alienation and hopelessness, all keeping with its theme of the issues affecting today's disaffected youth. The music that accompanies this bleak picture is just as bipolar and alienated as our main character, changing moods and styles while retaining its somber tone throughout.

While the ballads on Fear of a Blank Planet still contain some of Porcupine Tree's previous alternative rock elements, it's the longer compositions that shake things up in a big way. The riffs are heavier than ever, the different sections flow together almost seamlessly, and the progressive edge is more strongly defined here than it was on Deadwing or In Absentia. Of course, most of the attention goes to the centerpiece "Anesthetize," considering it's been years since any Porcupine Tree song has gotten close to this long. But beyond that, just look at all the song lengths; everything is more epic in length and the arrangements have become more elaborate as a result. However, "Anesthetize" truly is the highlight. It constantly weaves back and forth between moods and dynamics without ever sounding obnoxious or too obvious, and the ballad portion at the end is one of the most serene conclusions to any rock epic out there. There's even a guest solo courtesy of Rush's Alex Lifeson! But if any song comes close to this one, it's the brilliant title track. Comprised of a tense acoustic segment, too many good metal riffs to count, as well as a soft thought-provoking conclusion, it really sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

Many Porcupine Tree detractors have taken issue with Steven Wilson's vocals, usually with the complaint that they sound too unemotional or detached. If that's the case, then he seems right at home with the concept of this record. Lyrics like "Don't try engaging me; the vaguest of shrugs, the prescription drugs; you'll never find the person inside" on the title track sound so (ironically) powerful when sung through such a brick wall of monotone, as they fit the shoes of the bored protagonist perfectly. The same thing happens with the warped synth-heavy closer "Sleep Together," as it depicts sex with one giant shrug, as well as "Way Out of Here" with its depictions of isolation coming into the mix. Also interesting is the way that Wilson's disinterested vocals clash with the heavier riffing on the album, almost emanating a grunge-like vibe. However, when he does get emotional, it shines at just the right moments. "My Ashes" and "Sentimental" are both very touching pieces that show a more... well... sentimental approach to the main character's life. Richard Barbieri's keyboard work especially shines in these two pieces, his runs and chords creating both a bleak vibe and some glimmers of hope.

Fear of a Blank Planet is a bit of a weird record in Porcupine Tree's catalogue, as it seems to go the Signify route of capturing every era of the band while remaining its own entity. Regardless, its combination of great musical variety and wonderfully-conveyed concept are what allow it to overshadow so many modern-day progressive metal peers. The simplistic lyrics and low-key delivery of said lyrics can get grating at times, but it's a minor issue in an otherwise amazing experience. It's pretty unfortunate that Porcupine Tree went on their hiatus after The Incident, as it would be great to hear them top this one day with something even stronger. As for now, we still have this near-masterpiece to cherish.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 Signify by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.81 | 953 ratings

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Signify
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Necrotica

4 stars I've always been fascinated with music artists who frequently reinvent their sound and yet maintain quality and freshness in their work regardless. While so many artists fail to make waves in the commercial or critical department when slowly transitioning into new territory, others make a complete 180° turn and succeed greatly whether by knowing the musical landscape or by just pure luck. Then you have Porcupine Tree, who have had three radical reinventions and been very well-received for all of them. You have the psychedelic era (when they weren't even a full group yet), the alternative era, and the progressive metal era; as of now, none of the band's albums (even debut On the Sunday of Life) have been terribly received and most of them receive high marks. However, one album that never seems to fit into the grand scheme of things is the band's sole transitional album Signify; while considered by many to be part of the psychedelic era, the album seems to combine the past and future sounds of the group almost perfectly. True to this statement, the album also remains one of their best and most balanced works; it not only depicts how far Steven Wilson had come with his musical project, but also depicts a promising and vast future for a now-complete group.

As suggested by that last sentence, this is indeed the first Porcupine Tree album with a full band to perform with Steven Wilson. Right from the opening of the surprisingly heavy title track, there's a strengthened sense of unity and focus in the material; while the trippy arrangements and vast soundscapes of previous records return here as well, they aren't always the main focus this time around. As suggested by the shorter running times of the songs, a lot of musical fat is trimmed and the psychedelic aspects are a bit toned down, but instrumental tracks like "Idiot Prayer" and "Intermediate Jesus" play with the group's spacey side with extended atmospheric jams. One of the best things about this album (one thing that plagued previous records by the band) is that there's a great stylistic balance; the album combines multiple genres and sounds, but distributes them all very well. You've got the first real song "Signify" (the first track is just an intro) which kicks things off with a hard-hitting riff and gets the listener pumped, only to be followed by a beautiful ballad in "Sleep of No Dreaming" as well as multiple improvisational jams and other ballads. "Sever" is the track in which the harder-rocking sound comes back into play, and it's brilliantly placed in the middle as a good way to kick up the volume at just the right time. This is some of the best song placement I've ever seen/heard on a record, and it's great to hear so many well-done switches in the band's sound.

Beyond that though, the real treasure of this album is its appreciation of atmosphere. This is one of Porcupine Tree's darkest records, but the moments of hope (despite there not being many) come at the right moments. For instance, closer "Dark Matter" is pretty damn depressing in terms of lyricism, but the guitar solo that follows the verses and choruses is absolutely beautiful and even inspiring as the dynamics increase and the instrumentation becomes less isolated. "Sever" and "Idiot Prayer" are perhaps even more important dynamically, as the more aggressive moments are placed among softer moments to give the listener moments of reflection in between the heavier portions. Of course, the band still shine most when those trademark melancholic Porcupine Tree ballads rear their heads; "Every Home is Wired" is still the song that impresses me the most, making the most out of guitar and keyboard layering to bring out some gorgeous textures. The psychedelic jam that concludes the song never hurts either. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is also notable, featuring an organ-sounding keyboard performance from Richard Barbieri to illustrate the song's musical backdrop as Steven Wilson gives one of his most emotional vocal performances.

The only gripe I can think of is that, despite great song placement, there's not quite as much musical consistency as the band's best records. Interludes like "Light Mass Prayers" or "Pagan" aren't really needed and can kill the pace of some of the album. If that's the worst thing about the record, though, then there isn't much to complain about. This is a superb way to end Porcupine Tree's psychedelic era and usher in the alternative era of their sound. All in all, it's a wonderful transitional album.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.68 | 1275 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Necrotica

2 stars Porcupine Tree have always been known as a polarizing band, but who knew that their last release for the forseeable future would also be their weakest? Created two years after the acclaimed Fear of a Blank Planet, The Incident is perhaps the most ambitious work that Steven Wilson and co. have created thus far. The concept revolves around the topic of incidents and numerous traumatic events, and is connected by (technically) a 55- minute track. While the song is split up into numerous movements, it's clear that Wilson intended for this to be a full-fledged epic that would string together each piece of the concept. And all of this certainly sounded promising to say the least; the subject sounds like it would lend itself to some very powerful and emotionally resonant pieces of rock music. But there's the age-old question: did it all work? Well... no, it didn't.

Let's make something clear right away: Porcupine Tree have never failed at being technically proficient, precise, and atmospheric in their albums; this record is certainly no exception to that. Also, as with previous albums, Wilson has learned some new tricks this time around, mainly in the metal department. Opeth, Meshuggah, and even Nine Inch Nails could be cited as valid influences here, especially on heavier tracks like "Circle of Manias" and "The Blind House." Even the opening number "Occam's Razor" does it's job really well, its intense singular notes ringing out and exuding suspense and intrigue with each passing burst of distortion. But it's not long until things go awry, and it all starts with Steven Wilson's voice. I guess the best place to start, considering it's where almost everyone starts regarding this, is with the poppy song "Drawing the Line." Wilson constantly sounds out of breath during the chorus, which is a bit odd considering how he was able to belt out those high notes in "Shallow" just four years prior. But the real issue lies in how detached he sounds throughout the whole piece. Again, the guitar work, Colin Edwin's bass work, Gavin Harrison's drum work, and Richard Barbieri's keyboard work all sound good; however, why give a damn when you can't summon any passion with your voice and get people interested? The title track is the worst offender; Wilson's voice sounds nicely sinister during the industrial segment, but just sounds lethargic and lazy during the alternative rock- based chorus.

Unfortunately, this all leads to the bigger issue at hand: the whole damn album sounds very detached. No song on The Incident is bad by any means, but the problem is that it focuses on a bunch of different incidents of trauma and destruction rather than just one or two. How can people get invested in these people and their scars when Wilson's songs just fly by them and hurry on to the next topic at hand? The shorter songs like "Great Expectations" and "Your Unpleasant Family" are the absolute worst when it comes to this, because without any flow or emotional development to carry them, they just sound blatantly unfinished and utterly pointless. These issues also make many of the album's payoffs pointless, because they don't feel earned. That is, except for two masterpieces: "Time Flies" and "I Drive the Hearse." These songs are longer, more developed, and are absolutely gorgeous works that are actually somewhat reminiscent of the band's Lightbulb Sun days. These songs are clearly the highlights of this whole thing; "Time Flies" is especially notable because of a long drawn- out Pink Floyd-inspired droning section in the middle. It doesn't really fit the rest of the song, but it's a neat and inventive detour for an album that's honestly not as ambitious as its concept suggested. "I Drive the Hearse" is more of a standard ballad, but is still a beautiful piece and features some of Wilson's most delicate guitar and vocal work thus far.

It's a real shame when the rest of the experience is so damn mediocre and disjointed, though. Sadder, yet, is the fact that this is our last impression of Porcupine Tree for the time being and it has to be so weak. I remember the album initially having sort of a "wow" factor when I was younger, mainly because of the long- winded concept and (at least perceived) variety in the songs' tempos and dynamics. However, upon really peeling the layers of the record, it was proven to me just how bad its songwriting and ESPECIALLY its flow were. I guess I should briefly mention the second disc before signing out; honestly, it's not really worth discussing. The song's are decent, but don't pertain to the main experience and only serve to drag it out even longer. However, I will give a positive nod to "Bonnie the Cat" which has a cool sneaky atmosphere in terms of vocals and softer dynamics, as well as some impressive drumming by Harrison. Regardless, The Incident's ambition clearly didn't match the final cut. I really hope that Wilson brings the band back together for at least one more record, because we certainly deserve a better finale than this.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 Deadwing by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.09 | 1635 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Necrotica

4 stars Porcupine Tree have certainly gone through an interesting stylistic evolution over the years, but what's always been fascinating is that each shift is more like an extension of their previous eras. Think about it: Their first era was almost entirely built on psychedelic rock, albums like Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun are primarily alternative rock but contain elements of psychedelic rock, and everything after that has been progressive metal with elements of alternative rock and psychedelic rock. While Porcupine Tree are on hiatus right now, it would be interesting to see what they come up with next to add to their current range of genres if they do come back. But, like many fans of the band, I believe that the 2000s (barring The Incident) is the decade that holds their best work and their most natural evolution: the aforementioned shift to progressive metal. We still have the layered and beautiful soundscapes in abundance, but the band's songwriting got a lot tighter and gained a lot more direction... along with some wonderfully heavy and crunchy riffs to boot. So, with frontman Steven Wilson hard at work with his solo career at the moment, I think now is a good time to revisit the first Porcupine Tree album that hit the Billboard charts and reached a larger audience: Deadwing.

A lot of the songwriting elements that made In Absentia such a fan favorite are still here in spades, but there's a bit more emphasis on metal here than on their previous records. "Shallow," "Halo," and "Open Car" are all songs that one could imagine getting airplay on alternative metal radio stations; hell, "Shallow" actually made its way into the action movie Four Brothers! But despite the presence of intense and almost grungy riffing, the same old Porcupine Tree we all know and love is still on this record. Even the heavier songs have softer and more atmospheric portions to even them out, such as the beautiful piano-driven pre-choruses of "Shallow" or the drumless outro of "Open Car" which features some nice harmonized vocals from Wilson. Speaking of "piano-driven," Richard Barbieri was really given the chance to shine on Deadwing. He was always widely regarded as a great keyboardist, especially when he was in the new wave band Japan, but he was often reduced to just providing background atmosphere with his layered effects and sampling. But here, there's much more of a balance as tracks such as "Lazarus" and "Start of Something Beautiful" (mainly the second half of the latter) showcase much more traditional piano playing in which Barbieri displays his virtuosity a bit more. Bassist Colin Edwin and drummer Gavin Harrison are fantastic as usual, providing a very solid and proficient rhythm section for Wilson to work with.

But, as always, the compositions are what makes it all come together. This might not be the best Porcupine Tree album ever, but it might just have the best balance in terms of dynamics and track placement. What makes Deadwing so accessible and fun to listen to is just the sheer range of song lengths and ideas flying around. It may seem weird mentioning the song lengths, but to go from the shorter, punchier, (presumably) religion- bashing and tongue-in-cheek alternative metal of "Halo" to such a powerful and emotional epic like "Arriving Somewhere but Not Here" is just a taste of what makes Deadwing work so well. The way the more hard-hitting and the more emotionally resonant pieces come together makes this both a thrillingly energetic experience and an intriguing one. The title track and "Shallow" work in very much the same way, with a more long-winded and dramatic song rife with progressive passages paving the way for possibly the most distorted and brutal song Porcupine Tree have ever released. But the quality also lies in the songwriting of the individual tracks too, of course. Despite the seemingly simplistic nature of the music compared to other contemporary (or even classic, for that matter) progressive rock bands, there are a lot of little intricacies that drive each song. Songs like "Glass Arm Shattering" and "Start of Something Beautiful" don't feature ridiculous amounts of instrumental virtuosity, but instead use the band members' talents for a more layered experience featuring a heavy amount of atmosphere and dynamic subtlety. The same goes for "Arriving Somewhere but Not Here," whose strength is how well it builds up to its very heavy metal-oriented payoff with beautiful space rock-esque soundscapes and one of Wilson's strongest and most emotional vocal performances.

Balance is what makes Deadwing so complete and fulfilling. It's both highly accessible and moderately challenging, technically proficient but also economical in its instrumentation, as well as soft and delicate while also tending to be crushingly heavy at moments. if it weren't for the slightly boring and uneventful ballad "Mellotron Scratch," this would most certainly be the strongest record in the Porcupine Tree discography, even edging out albums such as Signify and Lightbulb Sun. But it's still fantastic, and between the varied songwriting and consistently well-executed instrumental work, it stands as one of Porcupine Tree's finest hours.

Recommended Tracks ---------------------------------------------- Arriving Somewhere but Not Here Shallow Deadwing Start of Something Beautiful

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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 On The Sunday Of Life.....  by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.02 | 671 ratings

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On The Sunday Of Life.....
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Billy900

3 stars This was my first PORCUPINE TREE album, and I was blown away when it came out. But looking back now, it's obvious that Steve Wilson has come a LONG way since then.

In retrospect, I'd say this is overall a good album:a solid three stars. I never feel the need to skip any tracks, and I still play it reasonably often. The album is mostly very experimental, trippy and comparatively low-budget, but with TWO outstanding tracks..

1) Radioactive Toy 2) Nine Cats

The sound is obviously dated, but these standouts wouldn't be out of place in a modern day Steve Wilson concert. Having just come back from the gig in Seattle (Jun 2015) though, I suspect he'd rearrange them for extra heaviness, and turn the volume up to 11.!

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 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.68 | 1275 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yet another great album from my favorite current progressive band and frontman Steven Wilson and once again, a lot of reviews for the album. This album obviously is not getting the love from the ProgArchives reviewers that some of the band's past albums received, and even though I agree it's not their best, especially following the last 3 albums, I don't believe it deserves the harsh criticism that it has received. I still find it an enjoyable album and definitely still at a higher quality than a lot of artists. The songwriting is still stellar, the concept is great, and the prog elements are all there. But, even with that, and with the album also coming in between some excellent albums also released by Steven Wilson as solo albums, this album does suffer from something. For some reason, the songs overall don't have the same impact on me, or just aren't quite as memorable as they have been on previous albums. The music is still leaning towards heaviness, but not quite as heavy as previous. There is still an excellent use of dynamics also. So where does it suffer?

The album is made up of a very long, multi-movement song cycle lasting around 55 minutes with 14 movements. The concept of the song cycle is an attempt to personalize the use of the word "Incident" to describe what would be a life-changing occurrence in someone's life. Even though an actual automobile accident inspired the work, SW wanted to make the concept more general to include any type of incident. The song cycle is made up of many medium to short tracks which are interesting and varied enough, but may be the reason for the slightly lower quality of the album because of a lack of development among the tracks. Some themes are recurring, but they are not necessarily catchy enough to remember right away, and it takes the listener a little longer to appreciate the album. This could be part of the reason why so many reviewers are harder on this album, and I feel is the reason why it has a little less appeal to me than the previous albums. But I'm not saying that I don't like this album, because I do. I still listen to it a lot, but there is a slightly lower amount of enthusiasm for it from me than on some of PT's other albums. There are a few longer tracks, namely "Time Flies", which is the centerpiece of the album at over 11 minutes, and definitely the most memorable track on the album, and also "I Drive the Hearse", which is still only just shy of 7 minutes. There are some great guitar parts in here, especially in tracks like "Circle of Manias", but I find myself wishing for more development anyway.

After the song-cycle is over, there are 4 more tracks unrelated to the main concept, and these make up the 2nd CD in the album which runs an additional 20 minutes. "Flicker" and "Black Dahlia" are both ok songs that don't stand out a lot. "Bonnie the Cat' is awesome and probably one of my favorite PT songs, but it is probably the most original song on the album. Finally, "Remember Me Lover" starts out as a slow burn and quietly, but the intensity increases as it goes on and develops into an excellent heavy guitar sound before calming again. A nice melody and it has the great development that helps give the tune the life that was present on previous albums.

So, anyway, it's not their best effort, but it's still excellent and still a worthy effort nonetheless. Many bands would do great to only have an album as good as this. But we come to expect so much from PT and SW, so when something is a small step back from previous output, then we tend to be a little more aware of a slight dip in quality. If you are just starting to explore PT, then make sure to start with "Deadwing" or "In Absentia" first, then you might venture to this album later. If you have a choice, make sure to pick one of SW's better solo albums over this one too, but don't just ignore this one either, because it is still an excellent addition to your collection. And it really is better than a lot of people have given it credit for. 4 stars.

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 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.25 | 1997 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is the first of the louder and harder PT albums. It is also one of the best of one of the greatest current progressive bands in the biz. Personally, my favorite is "Deadwing" which is the release after this one, but this one is so very close to being the favorite. It has been reviewed on this site so many times already, so there is really nothing new to say that hasn't already been said. So, I'll keep it short and sweet, but I still have to add my 2 cents worth since I'm PT junkie. If you are a progressive rock fan, then you should have heard this album by now, and if you haven't, then you have some work to do. While it is true that not everyone loves PT and not everyone thinks the lead man Steven Wilson is a prog God like I do, but you can't deny Steven's influence and his contribution to the genre in these current times.

This album is definitely one of the louder PT albums, and the guitar work and loudness of the album works very well. SW's lyrics have always been dark, even in his other projects, of which he has many. But that doesn't mean they have always been loud, in fact some are quite mellow and beautiful. But the harshness in this album and the following two releases is very well executed and drives home the meaning of the lyrics most effectively. The album starts out instantly very loud with the heavy introduction to "Blackest Eyes", but PT uses dynamics very effectively, so the music is constantly changing, even in their heavier albums. The contrast of soft and loud leans more towards the loud side in this album of course, but that really makes the contrast very noticeable and effective in all of the songs. The most beautiful of the contrasts occurs in the transition between the last two tracks; namely of the harsh and abrasive "Strip the Soul" and orchestral and expansive "Collapse the Light into Earth" which is soft and simply lovely with the repeating piano chords and the beautiful harmonies in the chorus. It's examples like this that make PT an album-oriented band and also makes them the masters of dynamics. If only more modern music artists could be this dynamic.

Anyway, after all is said and done, this is a masterpiece of prog rock especially in the use of contrasts and dynamics. It is essential and Porcupine Tree deserves to have it's name up there with the best of the best in progressive rock. Definitely essential. 5 stars.

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2033 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Review nº 226

Porcupine Tree - Fear of A Blank Planet

Simple music full of ornaments.

Come on, time for rebellion, a statement in opposition to a whole community thought. I'll tell you why. Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson are the most overrated artists from the progressive rock history. I'm an ecletic multi-instrumentist musician who listen to the most technical rock to the more noisy jazz and electronic ridiculous stuff. And as a musician, Steven Wilson is totally what I'm not. His songwriting is made of the most easy chords, and most of his songs could be played in power chords with an acoustic guitar, but the recording quality is superb, the arrangements are amazing. It's like an enemy thought. I don't give a flock to the recording or mastery quality, since most of my favorite musical geniuses never had any chance to record other stuff than poor cassete tapes at home. Even some friends into radio pop enjoyed Porcupine Tree. The guy obviously focus on the background and I keep digging him because I enjoy the concept behind his works, and most of the albums really carries a masterpiece track, as my favorite, Deadwing (from Deadwing, of course, also the only PT album I could rate more than 3 stars). That track is marvelous! But what about this album? There's some forgettable - even if you're enjoying at the moment, totally cliche - crossover metal/pop rock decorated with spacey keys, synth, mellotron, whatever, as a little fanservice for prog fans like him. Somewhat interesting concept about the children of our generation or something like that, probably taken from Lunar Park. Really? Does it really deserves to be on top charts? I would prefer some Radiohead there. Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm hurting anyone's feeling, including Steven Wilson, because I feel some sympathy for him, I don't know why, and I will always give him another chance.

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 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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