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Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.28 | 2838 ratings

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4 stars Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet

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

Now the music:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figglesnout | 4/5 |


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