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Porcupine Tree - Deadwing CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.11 | 1982 ratings

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4 stars Porcupine Tree's follow-up to their widely acclaimed In Absentia does not stand quite as strongly, but nevertheless is a worthy album from the band.

The songs here are for the most part longer and heavier than on its predecessor. The gentle moments are there, but the metal is starting to take a much stronger hold over the band's overall sound by Deadwing. As always, the production is superb, and the sound quality bears the characteristic Steven Wilson mark of above-and-beyond. Unfortunately, though there are some clever melodies throughout this album, the overall level of songwriting seems just a notch down from Wilson's best. To make up for it, though, are some highly upbeat and heavy tracks, the like of which are basically unique to this album. And as it was in some fashion intended to deal with the soundtrack of an unfilmed Wilson movie project, the music here all bears a similarity to itself. In essence, this is the most cohesive Porcupine Tree album on the whole, just edging out Lightbulb Sun. In unusual prominence on Deadwing is the piano, which usually appears for moments but here seems to come the forefront in almost every track.

The album opens with the slightly inconsistent title track, kicking in with some intensely heavy style at points and at others striving for a creepy ambiance. A guest solo from Adrian Belew (of many things, but most notably King Crimson) fleshes out the ending of the track. Shallow wanders in next, and this time there is no inconsistency. The track is one upbeat, engaging, catchy half-metal hybrid tune. There really is very little to no prog in this track, but sometimes albums just need a simplistic and straightforward rock song to keep things balanced. And balance is quickly served with Lazarus in the form of a softer, more melodic song. In fact, Lazarus perhaps is the most popular and catchy soft songs from the band next only to Trains. The piano sparkles and dances on this track in a very non-standard way for Porcupine Tree, and in all it rounds out quite nicely. Halo enters next, another song in the vein of Shallow, though considerably more progressive. The bass plays a prominent role in this track, mixing with the drums and pounding out a solid groove for Wilson to insert creepy and dark lyrics over.

Arriving Somewhere but Not Here is the longest song on the album, but do not expect any form of a prog epic here. Instead, the track builds with a minimalist guitar part and a well-written vocal piece, culminating early on in a thickly harmonied chorus. The middle of the song sees the music take a dark turn, which rapidly becomes some heavy guitars. Likely the heaviest and most metal oriented portion of the album, this center section of the song grooves in full adrenaline mode for a moment before turning into a crafty guest guitar solo from Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt. The starting verse/chorus bit returns soon, and the song fades into Mellotron Scratch. For the first four and a half minutes of this song, it is a melancholic track somewhat akin to Lazarus, with beautiful harmonies and nice melodies. A couple of minutes before the conclusion, electric guitars kick in and temporarily override the piano, eventually prompting a complex vocal interplay that wraps up the track. Open Car is much like Halo. The Start of Something Beautiful is an interesting track, moving from haunting verses to distorted choruses. And in the middle comes the impressive acoustic guitar and piano duet, a surprise that seems to just fade into existence when it seems the song should have no room for it. Definitely a classic Porcupine Tree moment. Lastly, another song (Glass Arm Shattering), this one akin to Mellotron Scratch and Lazarus, wraps up the album with a touch of sadness and some pretty vocal harmonies.

This album has some very strong moments worthy of attention from most anybody who is a fan of the band at all. I would recommend starting perhaps with the fuller In Absentia or the more progressive Fear of a Blank Planet, but Deadwing is certainly a wonderful second or third step into the band's discography.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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