|5. Arriving Somewhere But Not Here|
|6. Mellotron Scratch|
|7. Open Car|
|8. The Start Of Something Beautiful|
|9. Glass Arm Shattering|
Based on ideas from a ghost film script (not a full-blown concept album though) written by a friend of front man Steve Wilson (No Man, Blackfield, and many more projects), Deadwing is one of the more diverse albums the band has recorded, with more creative input from Colin Edwin (bass), Richard Barbieri (keyboards) and Gavin Harrison (drums) this time around.
The title track starts the experience with an electronic intro which leads up to the feet tapping main-riff. The band has carried on the heavier rock sound of 2002's In Absentia, but it's more blended into the overall sound this time. The track features some fantastic vocal contrasts, unlike any the band has done before.
Shallow, as Steve Wilson describes it, "is a big dumb rock song, done the Porcupine Tree way". It's probably the one song that will divide the long-standing fans opinion. Not the best on the album, but has received favourable radio airplay over in the U.S.
After the all-out-rock of the first two tracks, Lazarus calms things down; it's a really beautiful song, full of pianos and slide guitars. It really wouldn't sound out of place on mainstream radio alongside current pop acts like Keane and Coldplay.
Halo bring the sonic experience back into heavy rock territory, it's obviously a track Colin, Richard and Gavin gave a lot of input to - the drums, keyboard effects and bass are really prominent here.
Arriving Somewhere, But Not Here is my highlight of the album, it's pure perfection, all 12 minutes of it. It really showcases Steve Wilson's writing and vocal talents.
Mellotron Scratch suffers from coming directly after Arriving Somewhere.... It's by no means a bad song, it just hasn't quite grown on my yet.
Open Car, the shortest track, is a bit of a schizophrenic song, altering between hard riff and sublime sing-a-long chorus.
The Start of Something Beautiful starts exactly that, beautifully, and carries on; one of Barbieri's showcases. At the 4m50s point the song gets even better, entering into a more traditional PT sound heard on some of their previous albums.
And so we come to Glass Arm Shattering, which carries on the PT tradition of ending an album on a relaxing high, full of luscious harmonies, pianos and sound effects.
Now that we've addressed the songs, I suppose we better address that little word beginning with a P in Amazon's current description of the album.... Progressive.
This isn't progressive as in 70's Prog Rock. These days the term refers to music and bands which aren't afraid to stray from the 3 minute verse-chorus-verse structure. In that respect, yes you could describe this album as having progressive features. Some songs flow into each other, some don't.
It's probably at this point where I should say, you'll like this album if you're a fan of blah blah blah. I could do that, but the list would be far too long.
If you're a fan of intelligent rock music, and aren't afraid to stray beyond the mainstream 3 minute single, give this album a chance. Be warned though, as any PT fan will testify; One album is never enough. You'll soon find yourself hunting down their entire back catalogue, then all the side projects and then all the albums Steve Wilson has produced with other artists, and then dear reader, Mr Wilson will have you hooked for life!
You have been warned!
The album is a masterpiece. Somehow this band, with the possible exceptions of The Sky Moves Sideways and Lightbulb Sun (though these are both excellent albums that should grace any music lover's collection) manage to keep improving with each release - an outstanding feat considering the consistent high quality of their output.
Based upon a film script written jointly between PT leader and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson and Mike Bennion (who directed the band's Piano Lessons video from the Stupid Dream album of 1999), the album is a complex and intelligent work of power and beauty. The undoubted highlight of the album, the centrepiece Arriving Somewhere But Not Here, clocks in at just over twelve minutes and flows between a smooth haunting beauty to an almost metal-esque structure and back without losing a sense of flow. The same can be said for the rest of the album, with harder tracks such as Shallow balanced out by mellower tracks like the excellent Lazarus and the emotive Mellotron Scratch. The switch in styles mid album is incredibly effective and in no way seems uncomfortable - the layout of the album is remarkably cohesive and well thought out.
Put simply, there is not a weak track, or even a weak point, on the album. With any justice, this should be the album that sees Porcupine Tree hit the major stage in terms of worldwide audience and success, although it is an almost predictable certainty that this will not happen, as the majority of the music buying public continue to follow the whims and demands of the moguls of the "music" industry. This is a crying shame, as it is the work of artists such as Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson that keep real music alive. I would strongly urge people with a love of real, intelligent music, of whatever style, to take a chance to discover this incredible band. I would challenge anyone to be disappointed with what they find.
This album should be in everyone's collection. Buy it now and let yourself be seduced by their finest album to date, and undoubtedly one of the releases of the year. Glory in its perfection! And struggle to consider how it may be possible for Porcupine Tree to improve on this master work for their next album!
Afterword - also keep an eye out for the forthcoming limited edition version that will be released on 26th April (coinciding with the general US release date of Deadwing) in hardback book format with 72 pages. Furthermore, on 10th May Deadwing, as happened with previous album In Absentia, will be released on the DVD-Audio format mixed into DTS5.1 surround and complemented by extra tracks. In the meantime, do not deprive yourself of this amazing album and buy the standard version today.
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