Year Of Release: 2005
Record Company: Lava
Recommended for fans of: Tool, Opeth, Anathema, Radiohead and Muse.
1. “Deadwing” – 9:46
2. “Shallow” – 4:17
3. “Lazarus” – 4:18
4. “Halo” – 4:38
5. “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” – 12:02
6. “Mellotron Scratch” – 6:57
7. “Open Car” – 3:46
8. “The Start of Something Beautiful” – 7:39
9. “Glass Arm Shattering” – 6:12
Deadwing is the first ever Porcupine Tree album I heard, I had always wanted to check these guys out after I heard the track ‘Sever’ on a classic rock CD that came free with the magazine Classic Rock UK. Having checked the bands website I downloaded and watched the promotional video for the album which I enjoyed, watching Steve Wilson and Co mess around in the studio. So right after watching it, I thought the time is now and immediately ordered a copy, and I wasn’t let down when it arrived.Now there are two kinds of people [in my opinion] when listening to Progressive Music, the 1st would listen to the album once, form an opinion [usually a bad one] and move on. The 2nd person is like I am, an active listener and actually gives the album a chance by many a repeated listening. Truth be told I heard the album once, even twice and thought its alright, nothing special, but nothing could be further from the truth, for it’s essential to have many a repeat listening before it strikes you just how good this album is. Then the quality and production of this album really hits you!
‘Deadwing’ opens with some soft synth in a repeating rhythmic phase, it catches your attention because on the first listen you have no idea where the song is going, and this is crucial for the opening track. Then wham, straight into a hard-hitting progression that’s in drop D [gotta love lowering your bottom E!] it carries for a few measures and then, ‘what’s this you’re saying?’ it sounds like ‘Opeth’, yeah it does but with a bit of PT magic in there, SW goes crazy on the guitar and gives us a meaty palm muted riff. Then his voice enters ‘Something warm and sumptuous passed me by’ he softly sings, what can he be on about? More I must hear more! ‘My bleeding heart does not extend to charity…’ you can almost feel pain in SW’s voice, the lyrics in this song may be on the depressing side, but there’s something to relate to for everyone. Midway through the song the main riff is repeated with a mini-solo that sounds cool layered on everything else, and then the best bit of this track begins. It goes all quiet the synths come back, followed by a quiet guitar solo. Then the main theme comes back and the song finishes on the quiet side, it is a 9-minute mini-epic that is very cleverly written.
‘Shallow’ follows the title track, and is possibly the most aggressive [at least in the sense of all the way through] on the album, and is the most radio friendly, lets hope it gets some airtime. Nice killer riff is prevalent throughout. With gentler prechorus and consistent drumming. I’d like to think that this song is about how Shallow some people can be and take things at face value ‘it’s easier to talk to my PC’ and ‘All I know is on my own’ would seem to confirm this. The middle 8 of the song has a cool guitar based jam with some excellent sound FX’s and voice manipulation, it just screams ‘frustration’. This is a good track to show to potential listeners, as it will draw them in real fast! It’s not my favourite track on the album though, because it’s not as varied and progressive as the others.
The next song ‘Lazarus’ is a gorgeous acoustically led track, with some synth piano backing, it shows just how good a writer SW is, he can write soft tracks and hard tracks no problem [he combines the two perfectly in Arriving Somewhere Not Here] and this is a great chill out track. Has a sort of Banjo Solo near the end of the song that sounds sublime, only a short track but it has the desired effect. ‘Follow me down to the valley below, moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul’ beautiful! If Coldplay had written this song it would have been MASSIVE. So fans of the band should check this song out.
‘Halo’ starts with an immense bass line, backed up with some drums and synths, then a crazy bit of fast picking guitar line enters, as the lyrics continue. This song seems to be about the errors of religious fanaticism; the lyrics, especially the chorus is very catchy. I think SW is trying to imply that a lot of religious people seem to think they are better then non-religious people, when it doesn’t really matter. Still the song is awesome, nice heavy middle 8 with a crazy solo in it, before the main theme is reprised and the song ends.The 12-minute
‘Open Car’ is a track has grown on me a lot; at first I thought it was just a Shallow clone, but its actually better then shallow and a lot heavier in places. Opens up with the kind of palm muted riff that Tool or Opeth would use extensively with SW hitting you with strong lyrics. Then wham into a heavy metal riff, as the drums enter. The chorus is a little lighter on the ears at least till the end, killer riff and excellent vocal work by SW, ‘Hair blown in an open car’ he yells! I’m still trying to figure out what this song is on about; I think maybe it’s about things falling apart in your life. Nice song to rock to.
‘The Start Of Something Beautiful’ is at least initially the least accessible song on the album, at least for me; the music itself is very strong, what you would expect Porcupine Tree of delivering now. I particularly like the solos, which sound quite menacing in places. The main riff is good, and the piano that follows it is a bonus. The outro is very simplistic in the fact it’s just the main riff but heavier and some uplifting SW lyrics, about not giving a damn. I think this song is about being knocked down at the beginning of a relationship, when you in fact think it’s all right, but then after thinking about it not actually giving a shit about it. That’s cool.
‘Glass Arm Shattering’ is the final song on the album and its wicked, perfect for rounding off what’s been quite a trip throughout the whole of the album. Starts off with some static and some nice guitar, then some spacey synths enter [bonus!] before SW starts singing in an uplifting [as if he’s come to a conclusion about something] voice, which is very relaxing to listen to. The track progresses quite nicely, with a nice piano led middle 8. The song finishes after a heavier section more or less as it started, nice and mellow, the lyrics lead out to finish the song. Lovely!
So there you have it, it’s pretty much their best album to date as regards progression of their sound, since they have leaned towards a harder edge this time round, which is certainly refreshing. Be nice if the soundtrack could accompany a film of some sorts as SW originally intended. The futures bright for this band, you never know quite what you’re going to get and that’s what progressive music is all about.
Steven Wilson: Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Keyboards & Hammered Dulcimer.
Richard Barbieri: Keyboards & Synthesizers
Colin Edwin: Bass
Gavin Harrison: Drums & Percussion
Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) – Guitar & Vocals
Adrian Belew (King Crimson) – Guitar