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August Update


Hey All,

It’s been a while since my last update, most notably because of time dedicated to my new band Anvil Skies!

I’m thinking of things I can do with this Blog to breath some life into it, here’s a couple:

#1 – Random Album review – I review a complete random album [generated by google] of any genre from a completely unbiased viewpoint.

#2 – Classic Album reviews – I review albums pre-1990 from my collection [Rush, Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, Led Zep etc] say once a month.

#3 – Actually review new albums quicker and get the reviews uploaded on here with more regularity!

#4 – Have a Monthly article on something music related, for example the loudness war etc.

#5 – Live band reviews, for example saw Focus not so long ago, and should make it a regular thing to review live gigs!

Just a few ideas anyway!

I intend to get a review up of the new Demians album pretty soon, and then may also review a classic!

So stay tuned!

Cheers,

D.P

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June Update #1


Hi All,

Well I thought they’d be no better way of starting the summer then to let you read my thoughts on the new Anathema Album, so here you go:

Anathema: We’re Here Because We’re Here

I’ve got some more reviews to churn out before the months end so keep checking back.

In other news in case you didn’t know Rush have a new single out called Caravan. It’s pretty good and well worth checking out, you can be sure that I’ll review the new album which has been entitled ‘Clockwork Angels’  when it has been released. 2010 is a pretty good year for the old tuneage so far.

Cya Soon,

DP


Genre: Rock\Metal

Year of Release: 2010

Record Label: Kscope

Recommended for fans of: Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Mogwai.

Track Listing:

  1. “Thin Air” – 5:59
  2. “Summernight Horizon” – 4:12
  3. “Dreaming Light” – 5:47
  4. “Everything” – 5:05
  5. “Angels Walk Among Us” – 5:17
  6. “Presence” – 2:58
  7. “A Simple Mistake” – 8:14
  8. “Get Off, Get Out” – 5:01
  9. “Universal” – 7:19
  10. “Hindsight” – 8:10

Review

Ask any Anathema fan and they will tell you that this album has been a long time coming, the last time we saw a full studio album from them was 2003’s ‘A Natural Disaster’, admittedly the first ever Anathema album I got into. Sure we had ‘Hindsight’ in 2008 – a collection of acoustic arrangements of classic Anathema pieces, which proved an emotional soothing 50 minute ride, but we wanted something even fresher, we wanted something entirely new.

Well, what we have is a definite evolution of their sound; it’s hard to believe that these guys from Liverpool started off as one of the ‘Peaceville 3’ along with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost creating the whole death/doom scene in the early 90’s.

It’s no secret I’m not a big fan of the first few Anathema albums entirely because of this reason, I’m glad Anathemas original vocalist Darren White left the band and let the Cavanagh brothers take the reins and steer the direction towards what could be best described as Atmospheric Post-Rock.

This is a good thing in my opinion!

So what’s changed since 2003 then?

‘We’re here because we’re here’ [WHBWH] builds upon the strong song writing seen in the last decade of the band, and I would go as far as saying it’s their strongest ‘cohesive’ effort so far. That and it’s been mixed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. YES. HIM.

WHBWH opens up with ‘Thin Air’, arguably one of the standouts of the album, this song oozes atmosphere with its carefully layers guitars and echoey vocals. Vincent Cavanagh has never sounded so good! The lyrics make it plainly clear that this is a love song, ‘all that I know is that I love you, and all of the world is on fire, you’re just a whisper way’ albeit a carefully crafted and powerful one. The harmony vocals that kick in midway through the song are joined by some powerful drumming and the build up that is created is pure bliss!

Without giving you anytime to breathe ‘Summernight Horizon’ is next, Les Smith leading the way with some very fast keyboard flurries that Danny Cavanagh wastes no time into laying down some wonderfully distorted guitar onto. Lee Douglas has officially joined the band line-up full time as of this album, which is brilliant news; she has a beautifully haunting voice as evidenced on the duel harmonies with Vincent. ‘The world is like a jewel in your eyes…’ fantastic stuff

‘Dreaming Light’ is the ballad of the album, a gorgeous piano led piece. The great thing about music is the way it can make you feel and this song is so bittersweet, yet somewhat hopeful, it’s definitely about that kind of ‘fall in love’ in an instant type feeling we’ve all felt at some point – ‘…and you, shining silent, love steals my mind like the sunrise’. The instrumental section during this song conjures up a mind on fire totally besotted by someone.

‘Everything’ is a fast paced little number that makes you kind of restless just listening to it, with a chorus sounding not unlike ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ by Prog Legends Yes.  Massive emphasis is on the use of Vincent and Lee’s harmonies and duel singing, it is the defining attribute on this album indeed. ‘Everything is energy and energy is you…’ pure vocal genius.

‘Angels Walk Amongst Us’ is a song that is very personal and emotional not at least for the 3 Cavanagh brothers being about the death of a close family member, the song builds up just as I would expect grief would upon losing someone very close. When the distorted guitars hit the forefront of the layers, the anger and frustration can just be heard. A very good mid-album piece perfectly placed.

The next track ‘Presence’ acts as a segue piece; featuring a spoken sample if a man talking about his views of mortality, he says that ‘life isn’t the opposite of death, birth is the opposite of death, therefore life is eternal’. It’s food for thought definitely, and it fits in the piece aptly before Lee Douglas vocals can another chance to shine, before the build up into:

‘A Simple Mistake’, without a doubt the best song Anathema have ever written, this is a fantastic 8 mini-epic. It really does have to be heard. The song can broadly be divided into 2 sections, the first 4 minutes are largely ethereal in nature featuring one of the most beautiful choruses I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, the vocals and lyrics in particular are very strong. ‘Rise, be the master, cos you don’t have to be a slave’ – yeah stick it to the man and take some control over your life, despite any mistakes you might have made! The 2nd second is instrumental delight to the aural senses, starting with a distorted riff the whole band take off and proper go for it, John Douglas’s drumming in particular stands out here. The song builds up to a massive crescendo and then finishes abruptly leaving you for more. Powerful stuff!

‘Get Off, Get Out’ is the albums least serious piece, still full of energy and many fans have commented that it sounds very PT’ish. Coincidence seeing as SW mixed the record? The harmonies do have a very SW feel to them!

‘Universal’ is up next and is at least initially the most sombre piece on the album, introverted and retrospective, considering the wild ride we’ve had up to now it’s a welcome change to the ears! Danny Cavanagh’s solo is full of rich texture before… STRINGS are added to the mix, I am a sucker for String sections in rock music, and on this occasion they add so much depth! Closes the song off perfectly!

WHBWH closes unusually with a pure instrumental piece called ‘Hindsight’ which as mentioned above is also the name of the acoustic album they released a couple of years ago. Starting very much like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were with the addition of a radio tuning into randomness, this is then joined by a voice talking about what seems to be the overarching concept of the album ‘Love and Life’. Soon enough though the guitars, drums and bass join in over the dynamic keyboards. The song builds up in intensity and leaves us with the one thought that: ‘Life is Eternal…’.

It may have taken a while to record but WHBWH has been worth the wait, this is Anathema doing what they do best being emotional atmospheric rock music that makes you think. It is a beautiful album and it does pain me slightly that not everyone will hear it.

If I dare say Anathema need to build upon the success of this, be very proud of this release and don’t leave it so long before they get back into the studio again to work on the next album.  I for one will be there to ride the ethereal journey once again.

Lineup:

Vincent Cavanagh – Vocals
Daniel Cavanagh – Guitar
Les Smith – Keyboards
Jamie Cavanagh – Bass Guitar
John Douglas – Drums
Lee Douglas – Vocals

4.5/5

D.P

I’m Back!


Well, after a 2 year haitus [bad I know!] I’m back!

I’ve decided to be pro-active in my pursuit of my Musical Karma, so I belted out this little baby last night:

Porcupine Tree: The Incident

Enjoy!

I will now be uploading regular reviews, so please get commenting people! Any suggestions also welcome!

D.P


 

 Genre: Rock\Metal

Year of Release: 2009

Record Label: Roadrunner

Recommended for fans of: Tool, Opeth, Anathema, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack.

Track Listing:

DISC 1:

  1. The Incident                                      55:15                                        
  • I. “Occam’s Razor”
  • II. “The Blind House”
  • III. “Great Expectations”
  • IV. “Kneel and Disconnect”
  • V. “Drawing the Line”
  • VI. “The Incident”
  • VII. “Your Unpleasant Family”
  • VIII. “The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train”
  • IX. “Time Flies”
  • X. “Degree Zero of Liberty”
  • XI. “Octane Twisted”
  • XII. “The Séance”
  • XIII. “Circle of Manias”
  • XIV. “I Drive the Hearse”  

DISC 2:

  1. Flicker                                                     
  2. Bonnie The Cat                                    
  3. Black Delilah                                         
  4. Remember Me Lover                        

Review

Well, well, well!

I remember when I originally reviewed ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ 2 years ago thinking that whilst the album was pretty amazing, we only got 6 tracks of ‘pretty amazing’, admittedly one of those tracks was 17 Minutes long; being the epic ‘Anesthetize’.

So what does the band go and do for their follow up release?

They release a double album with the first side comprising of 1 track that is 55 minutes long! Awesome! Sweet! Amazing! You know what’s refreshing about this? If you read on I’ll tell you.

As history as shown since the late 1970’s the album as an art form has declined from the mainstream quite severely, entering the digital age has been both a blessing and a curse. Never before has music been so readily available for the consumer, however I would argue that the download single culture has been to music what McDonalds is to the meal: FASTFOOD!

What Steven Wilson and Co have done here is very brave, and indeed has been praised by the post/progressive/alt rock communities! A massive finger up to the mainstream norm, we don’t want your repetitive churned out nonsense anymore!

Now I don’t expect critics of the album as an art form to be reading my reviews, however I will admit that whilst The Incident is 55 minutes long, and is regarded as a single track, it has been split down into 14 interconnecting suites, all very varied.

The idea for ‘The Incident’ came along when Steven Wilson was driving along the motorway and came across a crash on the way, this got him thinking about how the various incidents happen in people’s lives and that we can feel quite disconnected from certain events if they are not affecting us directly, but nevertheless will be affecting someone else. So there you go, that’s the concept. I don’t want to examine this in any more detail, as I’m a big believer in interpreting music by what it means to you individually.

The Incident opens with the dissident metal thrashes of ‘Occams Razor’ that completely catch your attention, indeed this intro riff is one of the only musical themes revisited later on in the album, a rarity for many concept albums. Any Richard Barbieri fans amongst you are in for a treat as he really shines on this album; listen to the evil ambient synths on the opening track! So if ‘Occams Razor’ sets the scene, ‘The Blind House’ leaves no doubt about the presence of metal influences that PT have started to incorporate more into their music over the last 10 years.

‘Great Expectations’ is a wonderful acoustic led segue into ‘Kneel and Disconnect’ a keyboard led downbeat affair which closes this little trilogy of songs with ‘Drawing the Line’. I must admit that the latter is a song that I didn’t particularly like for a long time; the chorus is quite frankly too poppy sounding for PT! However one day it just clicked, and as part of the suite, ‘Drawing the Line’ is one of the stronger songs on the album.

The album gets a title track next in ‘The Incident’ and oh my gosh, has Steven Wilson been hanging out with Trent Reznor?  This track screams epic Nine Inch Nails style electronic merged with PT style songwriting. This atmospheric track is definitely one of the highlights of the album.

‘Your Unpleasant Family’ wins us round next with a tongue in cheek approach to that of nightmare neighbours, a special mention must be made about the sublime slide driven guitar solo on this track, one of Wilsons best solos!

Prior to the epic centrepiece of the album ‘The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train’ showcases Richard Barbieri going all Brian Eno on us, admittedly doing a better job as well! A gorgeous little ambient interlude which leads straight into…

‘Time Flies’, well PT you’ve done it again, written another long belter of a track, whereas ‘Anesthetize’ was a rollercoaster ride through the genres of modern rock, ‘Time Flies’ is a nostalgia inducing mellow-fest! That’s not to say it’s not beasty loud, it has some nice loud guitars in it, but the overall feel is one of bittersweet contemplation. Comparisons have been made to Pink Floyd time and time again with this track, and Steven Wilson has said it is a bit of a PF tribute, and it does contain some nice nods towards PF, certainly tracks on the album Animals in particular.

The song is reflective, time flies so make the most of it, the beautiful middle section is the highlight of this track which is positively screaming in raw ambient emotion – you can feel the time slipping away from your grasp and can do nothing about it! Sheer genius! Extra kudos to Colin Edwin on this track for some well played resonating bass guitar!

‘Degree Zero of Liberty’ is a connecting track that conjures up the raw chords of ‘Occams Razor’ indicating we’ve moved onto the penultimate part of the album. ‘Octane Twisted’ takes things back to basics with some almost classically played guitar and lovely multi-layered singing from SW.  Not too much quietness though as Gavin Harrisons drumming enters the fray and the raw guitars are back for the 2nd half of the song, pure electric excitement!

‘The Séance’ is another nice connecting piece, play special attention to the cleverly played acoustic guitar at the end of that segues into ‘Circle of Manias’ which is without a doubt one of the most brutal songs PT have ever composed. Not brutal as in Opeth style death metal, but hard rocking nevertheless. The definite ‘loud’ highlight of the album for me.

The album closes with the curiously titled ‘I Drive The Hearse’, whereas ‘Sleep Together’ on ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ was a delicious dark electro-rock closer, this time the Lads have decided to close the album with a far more downbeat number. The song fits into the suite perfectly and builds up pace before coming to a classic PT finish.

‘The Incident’ is by no means a perfect album, in complete honesty I actually prefer ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ as I found it a darker more satisfying experience. However ‘The Incident’ is a 55 minute road trip that you won’t be forgetting about anytime soon, the production is what we’ve come to expect from the London lads and the musicianship is once again 2nd to none.

I was actually lucky enough to see the album performed live in its entirety, an experience I am going to get again later this year in October when they play the Royal Albert Hall for a special gig, and the album works fantastic in a live environment!

CD 2

I’m conscious this is already an epic length review, so I will be brief in my discussion about the 2nd side of the album. These 4 songs are unrelated to The Incident in theme but were written at the same time. ‘Flicker’ is a wonderfully textured experience with more of that excellent Barbieri ambience that showcased much of the first side. ‘Bonnie the Cat’ is pretty out there, Messuggah style riffage and crazy lyrics abound ‘the cells divide and grow inside you, I know what will be’.

 ‘Black Delilah’ is a slow spacey balled, my personal highlight of the 2nd disc, it really is quite breathtaking! The 2nd disc closes with the ‘Remember Me Lover’. Ahhh a good old PT love song to bring the double album to a close. Whereas ‘shesmovedon’ from ‘Lightbulb Sun’ was about lost love and ‘The Start of Something Beautiful’ from ‘Deadwing’ about unrequited love,  this little opus is about that bitter, pent up angry feeling we’ve all felt at sometime in our lives when things just didn’t work out, and it works quite well.

Porcupine Tree have proven that they can consistently deliver the goods time and time again, whilst this is their 10th album they show no sign of slowing down, in fact I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that just like Rush they will be around for a very long time to come, and I look forward to carry on taking their musical rides until the end!

Lineup:

Steven Wilson: Vocals, Guitar, Piano and Keyboards.
Richard Barbieri: Keyboards & Synthesizers
Colin Edwin: Bass & Double Bass
Gavin Harrison: Drums & Percussion

4/5

D.P

Added ‘Nil Recurring’ Review


Afternoon!

Ok, in what’s to be the last ‘Porcupine Tree’ review for a while, I’ve added:

 Porcupine Tree: Nil Recurring

Hope you enjoy it! Any comment/suggestions/feedback regarding this blog, or the reviews I’ve covered don’t hesitate in using the ‘Comments’ feature!

I’ve got some important stuff coming up this week, however I’ll still try and find time to review at least 3 more albums, this time by all different bands!

Cya later!

D.P


   

 

Genre: Rock\Metal

Year Of Release: 2007

Record Label: Transmission\WHD\Peaceville

Recommended for fans of: Tool, King Crimson, Anathema, Opeth, Robert Fripp and Nine Inch Nails.

 Track Listing:

  1. “Nil Recurring” – 6:08
  2. “Normal” – 7:09
  3. “Cheating the Polygraph” – 7:10
  4. “What Happens Now?” – 8:23

Review

This will be my last Porcupine Tree review for a while, with the addition of this one, I’ll have the last 4 releases done and dusted. The PT back catalogue can wait for a while whilst I concentrate on other bands and artists from my collection. I feel like a swan about to take up flight and spread his wings!

First off ‘Nil Recurring’ is not a full album, a brief look at the track listing above will tell you this! What ‘Nil Recurring’ is, is a mini-album containing 3 tracks that were written during the ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ sessions, and 1 track that was originally going to be on the album, but later dropped in favour of ‘Way Out Of Here’.

This is not a bad thing though, these tracks are not ‘rejects’ at all, its just they didn’t fit onto the 50-minute conceptual album that became ‘FOABP’. Instead of letting the tracks rot away in some dark corner of Hemel Hempstead, the band decided to show them off in this E.P release! Quite rightly so!

There is no messing around either, the title track ‘Nil Recurring’ which is entirely instrumental, starts off with some nice guitar-work. Robert Fripp, [who also guested on ‘FOABP’] plays the lead guitar in his instantly recognisable style, whilst the rest of the band plays around his licks. The metal riff sounds a whole lot of fun, and the layering of the instruments is very well done. The quieter middle section, which features Colin Edwin’s groovy bass playing, is almost a nod to the bands improvisational days last witnessed on ‘Metanoia’. The track ups its ante for the last 2 minutes and finishes on a high, one of the better instrumentals the band has produced!

The next track ‘Normal’ is almost like a companion track to ‘Sentimental’ from ‘FOABP’. In fact the chorus is almost identical, however I actually prefer this track to the effort on ‘FOABP’. It has lots of energy, a typical ‘lets catch the listener off guard’ section before some thrash metal is injected into the mix. The vocal harmonies in this song are almost as good as the ones in ‘Drown With Me’. The guitar playing is quite complex mostly because of the tempo, lets just say that Steven Wilson had a little trouble playing the part, so much so he rang Robert Fripp up for technique advice!

‘Cheating The Polygraph’ was originally debuted with the rest of the ‘FOABP’ material on the fall 2006 tour, yet wasn’t as well received by both the fans and the band. ‘Way Out Of Here’ ultimately replaced it on the final edit of the album, which was a good choice. Not that ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ is a bad song at all; it’s just its like biting into more chocolate cake, after you’ve already eaten too much. It’s terribly sweet on the old ears, the guitar solo whilst initially sounding awesome goes on for too long, and everything is just drawn out for too long. The main riff sounds like ‘Futile’, a PT song that I’m not exactly thrilled about. It all adds up…

However despite my criticism, ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ fits very nicely onto this E.P instead of being forced onto ‘FOABP’. A brilliant decision to include it really!

The E.P closes with ‘What Happens Now?’ that features a frequent collaborator of SW, in the form of the very talented Ben Coleman. Fans of this song might want to check ‘No-Man’ one of SW ‘other’ bands! Mr. Coleman features quite prominently on a lot of ‘No-Man’ material. Whilst this song has some lyrics in, its largely instrumental and it closes the E.P off quite nicely indeed. Richard Beriberi’s talents are used alongside Colin Edwin’s during a wonderful elevated middle section that almost seems to make you float along with it! Echoes of ‘Anesthetize’ appear soon after, which is a nice nod to the epic centrepiece of ‘FOABP’ before the song finishes with a rather crushing melody and disjointed sound effects. It would seem at the moment, gone are the days of ‘Stop Swimming’ and ‘Feel So Low’ type album closers, rather the band are finishing heavily and abruptly. Loving it!

Now, recent scouring round the old internet has shown me that ‘Nil Recurring’ has been getting very positive reviews everywhere; [for an E.P that’s tremendous] I don’t want to upset anyone with my score for this review, but it might be slightly lower then you expect it to be. This is because:

  1. I don’t want to get into the habit of giving every PT release top marks, just because they are my favourite band.
  2.  It’s an E.P not a full album so should get scored accordingly.

Ok, so that’s the disclaimer out of the way! ‘Nil Recurring’ is a worthwhile addition to your PT collection, and if you were going to pick up a copy of ‘FOABP’ I’d get ‘NR’ as well, because they complement each other very nicely. Very nicely indeed…

Lineup:  

Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards
Richard Barbieri – keyboards and synthesizers

Colin Edwin – bass guitars

Gavin Harrison – drums, percussion, tapped guitar on “Nil Recurring”

 

Guests:

Robert Fripp – lead guitar on “Nil Recurring”
Ben Coleman – electric violin on “What Happens Now?”
 

Score: 3.5/5.0 

D.P


Evening all!

Well It took me a couple of hours, but I managed to get this review churned out, I think I did it justice, of course I could have rambled on for hours, it really is that good of an album! Here you go:

Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Blank Planet

That just leaves me to write the ‘Nil Recurring’ review, which I’ll do tomorrow. Then I’m gonna lay of off PT reviews for a while [although, I will eventually write all the back catalogue up] and concentrate on some other bands.

Expect to see reviews of Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’, Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘On The Leyline’, Nine Inch Nails ‘Ghosts I-IV and Rush’s ‘Snakes and Arrows’ in the weeks to come!

Laters guys!

D.P


      

 

 

 

Genre: Rock\Metal

Year Of Release: 2007

Record Label: Roadrunner

Recommended for fans of: Tool, Opeth, Anathema, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and Massive Attack.

 

Track Listing:

  1. “Fear of a Blank Planet” – 7:28
  2. “My Ashes”– 5:07
  3. “Anesthetize” – 17:42
  4. “Sentimental” – 5:26
  5. “Way Out of Here” – 7:37
  6. “Sleep Together” – 7:28

Review

 

This is possibly my most listened to album at the moment [as of early 2008] and I guess I’m going to give it a rest for a few months or so; therefore now is the best time to write the review, seeing as I’m retiring it for a while! Now the clever ones amongst you will notice that since it has been my most listened to album lately, then it must be a good one. It is, in fact its that good that it’s the first review I’m going to give full marks for on this site, and believe me when I say that I won’t be handing out full marks that often. 

Before ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ was released, it was probably the most eagerly anticipated Porcupine Tree album yet, the fact that the band were playing the album in its entirety live during autumn 2006 added to the excitement. I was present at one of these ‘preview’ gigs, when the set was divided into 2 parts, the first part was ‘FOABP’ albeit in a pre-studio form, and the 2ndset comprising of mostly stuff from the previous 2 albums [Deadwing and In Absentia] with some classics thrown in.  I have to say on hearing the material in its early form, I was both overwhelmed and delighted, the freshness and complete unfamiliarity with the material was fantastic, and fan reaction was very favourable. So after this batch of tour dates, PT went into the studio and recorded the penultimate versions that you hear on the final album, and what an album it is! 

Now, ‘FOABP’ is a concept album, I don’t want to go too in-depth about the concept, rather add little slithers here and there when I see fit. SW was heavily inspired by the novel ‘Lunar Park’ by Bret Easton Ellis. The novel is written from the perspective of a father, what SW has done is turned things on its head and made the story in ‘FOABP’ from the fathers sons point of view. That of a terminally bored kid with little to do other to sit in a darkened room playing playstation games, watching hardcore pornography whilst being addicted to prescription drugs. The album is very much ‘this’ kids view on his life as he see’s it.  If you need further clarification, all you have to do is read the lyrics. What is equally as important as the lyrics, is the music, this album is one of the best albums for production and musicianship I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to! 

So the album opens up with the title track ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’after what sounds like someone typing on a computer keyboard [the kid, possibly googling for pornography] a vibrant fast paced guitar enters which is soon joined by Gavin Harrison’s immense drumming. If you though GH sounded good on ‘Deadwing’ you’re in for a treat, his drumming on this album is fantastic. The song is joined with some great rhythmic singing from SW, which opens up the song and sets the scene for the next 7 minutes. The song features some nice playing by all the band members, and it’s a fantastic album opener which draws you in from the very start, the metal section mid-song is awesome, and the outro section bringing a change of pace for the next song. All the tracks on ‘FOABP’ merge into one another, SW has said that he wanted the album to be heard as one continuous piece of music, the transitions are wonderfully done.

So when ‘My Ashes’ appears next you are ready for it. This could be described as the ‘Lazarus’ of ‘FOABP’, with lush acoustic guitars and SW’s soothing voice leading the way. What I like about this song though is the soundscapes provided by Richard Barbieri, they really add a punch to the song in creating a delectable atmosphere. This song works really well in luring the listener into a false sense of security because the next track is possibly the best Porcupine Tree song ever created, at least in my opinion.  

Before the album tracks were officially named, the 3rdsong on the album was affectionately known my fans as ‘The Beast’ and quite rightly so. ‘Anesthetize’ is one hell of a 17 minute ride. Now I don’t initially dismiss long songs  as being pretentious, or overly bloated like many people would do, that’s not to say that some aren’t. ‘Anesthetize’ certainly isn’t, it could be described as being divided into 3 distinct sections, the 1stsection features Gavin Harrison’s drumming at its best, a georgous chorus plus a fantastic guitar solo provided by Alex Lifeson. [Rush] The 2ndsection comprises of a lengthy instrumental part followed by a vocal part that’s so full of texture and hidden depth it comes bursting out of the speakers by the bucketload. The talent displayed by each band member during this section is a delight to hear. The 3rd section is what could be best described as total sweetness for the ears, completely contrasting the other two sections that came before it. The vocal harmonies are out of this world, and overall I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to end the song. Perfection.

 The rest of the album is still fantastic, although nothing comes close to beating the 17 minute centerpiece, the next song ‘Sentimental’is sort of a companion song to ‘My Ashes’. It has some wonderful piano in it, and even manages to give a sly wink to ‘Trains’ off of ‘In Absentia’. The only thing that I didn’t like about this song at first was the weird Banjo solo [if it is indeed a Banjo] that is played over the ‘Trains-like’ riff. I’d hate to listen to the song without it now! 

‘Way Out Of Here’is a little bit of a anomaly, you see this song wasn’t originally debuted with the rest of the album back on the 2006 fall tour. The reason being that a song called ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ was in its place. SW either decided that ‘CTP’ wasn’t good enough to make the final album or just didn’t fit in very well, so the band got together and wrote ‘WOOH’ to fill the void. Good choice because its miles better then ‘CTP’ which actually ended up on the ‘Nil Recurring EP’. The song also contains some rather inspired soundscapes by none other then the legend himself Robert Fripp [King Crimson] who is actually a very good friend of SW. These soundscapes fit lovingly into a section of the song before a big chunky metal riff comes in and rips everything apart. I love the interplay on this song, and the outro features some fantastic bass work off of the wonderful Colin Edwin. 

The album closes on ‘Sleep Together’. One of the best PT album closers yet, normally a PT album closer is a fairly downbeat affair such as ‘Stop Swimming’, ‘Feel So Low’ or ‘Glass Arm Shattering’. Not in this case, what could be best described as Nine Inch Nails meets Massive Attack meets ELO is the meal of choice. I’m an absolute sucker for dark electronica, more-so for strings, you meld the two and oh boy what a result! The outro section is one of the most memorable pieces of music I’ve heard in a decade. 

‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ is without a doubt the best PT release yet, only one other PT album in my opinion would score the same, that being ‘In Absentia’, and I’ve not reviewed that one yet! If you like to lose yourself within the dark corridors of your mind for 50 minutes, and indulge yourself in a reverse ‘Lunar Park’ then I can highly recommend you order this work of art immediately. You won’t be disappointed. 

Lineup: 

Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards
Richard Barbieri – keyboards and synthesizers
Colin Edwin – bass guitars
Gavin Harrison – drums  

Guests: 
Alex Lifeson (Rush) – guitar solo on “Anesthetize”
Robert Fripp (King Crimson) – soundscapes on “Way Out of Here”
John Wesley – backing vocals 

Score: 5.0/5.0 

D.P

 

 


Good morning guys, spent the morning writing this:

Porcupine Tree: We Lost The Skyline

 I’m going to try and get reviews of ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ and ‘Nil Recurring’ up as soon as possible as well!

Enjoy!

D.P