on 21 March 2005
As classic rock magazine recently said, Porcupine Tree are the most important band you've never heard of; Now onto their 9th studio album, their second on a major label, the band seems on the verge of bobbing above the commercial rock surface that they've floated just underneath for so many years.
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!
on 8 May 2005
Ok, so first of all I'd bought In Absentia after hearing Blackest eyes, and I was very impressed by it...
I saw Deadwing in my local cd store and at first I didn't wanna pay for it as I was into a different sort of mainstream rock at the time.
So I got my girlfriend to buy it for me!
I decided to give it a whirl and homed in on the 2 singles, Lazarus and Shallow. Shallow immediately caught me with its catchy beat, and although Lazarus took a little while longer to get me swooning, after a few listens I soon found myself unconsciously singing it at work.
So I soon set about playing the rest of the cd, and that was it, it soon was repeatedly played in my car, at home, online, anywhere! Even got my girlfriend into a few songs (and she hates most of my music!)
*This is an absolutely stunning album!*
Track 5 especially is an absolute masterpiece, reminiscing the Pink Floyd animals sort of music. It lasts over 11mins and still u think it could go on!
Every track on this cd will move you in some way, either jumpin up and remembering u're alive, swinging the emotions back and forth, or just wishing you could crunch up the volume to levels worthy of a U2 gig!
This is a cd that will constantly find its way back into my heart I feel and I can't help but now feel thirsty for more porcupine tree music, old and especially, new!
on 5 April 2005
Another month, and another batch of releases from the prodigious Mr Wilson, this the most recent from his long running, and criminally under-rated Porcupine Tree outfit. Hot on the heels of the excellent Dronework, released under his Bass Communion moniker, and the equally high quality Continuum Volume I (Continuum being a collaborative project between Bass Communion and Belgian soundscape artist VidnaObmana), the latest addition to the huge, albeit mostly deleted, Porcupine Tree catalogue does not disappoint. Quite the opposite.
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.
on 30 July 2007
This album is quite simply the best album of the 21st century. Porcupine Tree are the best modern band around (although Arena run them close). All their albums are superb AND THIS IS BEST OF THE LOT. A classic variety of Great songs. Sweeping prog, Rocking prog, Haunting Prog. Stand out tracks are...all of them. It's PROGTASTIC. Buy it!
on 9 July 2006
Take a good, hard look at this album, because it's arguably one of the best you'll ever see. Presumably you're here because you're either a fan or Porcupine Tree, or you're looking to get into them- firstly, let me congratulate you on making a sound choice. :P And this is probably the best album to get for someone looking to get used to Porcupine Tree. Many would find their earlier work slightly too psychadelic and weird, but Deadwing strikes an awesome balance between every aspect that you could want in an album. It's just...excellent. Steven Wilson has been somewhat criticised for moving towards a more mainstream aspect, but this is partly what makes the album so accessible, and in the end, it makes for great listening too! Far lighter and more melodic than it's predecessor, In Absentia, Deadwing has a fine balance of songs to capture the interest of many types of fans.
1)Deadwing- The title track, in my opinion, ties for best track on the album. I'm a huge prog fan, so for me, it's a good opening. From the cool little melody at the start to the solo-ridden ending, everything about this song screams quality, and the distorted vocals of Wilson work so well with the overall tone of the song. Dark lyrics, mind.
2)Shallow- The undisputable rocker of the album, right from the heavy riff at the start, Shallow really hits the mark after the very balanced Deadwing. The cacophonous section in the middle of the song will either be loved or hated, but overall, the song's a pretty good effort at a mainstream single. ;)
3)Lazarus- Possibly the best song when I went to see them live, this is just as good on the CD. One of the most beautiful piano melodies in recent memory, this is perfect for just listening to in awe- just don't listen to it if you're feeling sad, or depressed. You're almost guaranteed to cry. You can really hear the emotion in Wilson's voice as he churns out the vocals here, making the hair-raising ballad one of the highlights of the album.
4)Halo- At first, I didn't like this song so much, because of the fairly funky chorus. But after a while, it grew on me, and now it remains a worthy song! However, the bass riffs in this song totally rock, one of the bass highlights. I think this song suffers slightly from being sandwiched between two of the best songs on the album. :P
5)Arriving Somewhere But Not Here- Tied with Deadwing for best track on the album, though I personally might give the title track the edge. The song begins hauntingly, with Wilson's chilling vocal messages clear for all to hear- ("Never stop the car on a drive in the dark..."). The song just keeps on building and building, with continued vocal brilliance from Wilson, until the guitar soloing kicks in at around 4 minutes. From then, the song keeps rattling on, until it changes pace completely and radically, turning into basically a heavy metal section, which is surprisingly cool. Then the song winds up again with the guitar...it's an amazing song.
6)Mellotron Scratch- The scratching of a mellotron...beautiful. That's what this song is. Placed in the same category of emotion that Lazarus rules, it's another cracking vocal performance from Wilson here.
7)Open Car- The closest Porcupine have gotten to a real lead off single since Blackest Eyes, it doesn't disappoint. With two alternating sections throughout most of the song, one light and pacy, the other heavy and distorted, it's a real mixed bag- but a good mixed bag. The chorus is one of the better ones, too.
I'm getting tired now, so I can't do the rest- but it follows a similar trend of awesomeness. Whether new to Porcupine, or a fan, this is an almost essential purchase.
Ok, let's cut to the chase on this one. This is without a doubt Porcupine Tree's defining moment so far. Everything they have done in the past has led to this recording.
With their last album "In Absentia", Porcupine Tree turned an important corner. Not only was that released on a major label, but leader Steven Wilson took the band in a more heavier direction, reflecting his interest in bands such as Opeth, Meshuggah and Tool. That led to a more rigidly structured album, with less room for more atmospheric based songs or extended pieces. With "Deadwing" the metal elements have become seamlessly integrated with the more languid style familiar from earlier albums such as "Signify" and "Stupid Dream". The results are stupendous!
This album is so assured and full of confidence and doesn't let up for a single minute. Highlights for me are the epic 12 minutes of "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here". This moves along at a steady, but rattling pace building up to the fantastic metallic guitar onslaught which really does raise the hairs on the back of your neck. "Open Car" is so infused with a cold sensuality, the lines "hair blown in an open car, summer dress slips down her arm" are so unbelievably evocative! "The Start of Something Beautiful" is my absolute favourite. Great chorus and another superb instrumental build up. The whole album is a winner though. A satisfying culmination of everything Steven Wilson has been striving for with the band. Where they go from here is anyone's guess, but for now this is pure gold!
on 3 March 2012
Let's get this out the way first.
THIS IS MY FAVOURITE ALBUM OF ALL TIME. EVER.
This is one of those rare albums that you can never get bored of. Yes, I have had a break from listening to it, but that just makes it all the more special when you start listening to it.
There is nothing on it that isn't perfect. That's how brilliant it is. Yes, Porcupine Tree's hardcore fans who've liked them from the start may say it's nothing like Porcupine Tree should be. But I don't know what they mean. This is the epitome of Porcupine Tree's discography. It is in no way mainstream (I've heard that before), and includes signs from their old days and a more modern interpretation of their sound.
Let's make this easier (but more wordy), I shall now review each song.
Deadwing: A brilliant way to start off the album. This album-titled song gives a real good idea of what's in store with the rest of the album.
Shallow: Starts off with a really cool guitar solo. This adds to the catchiness of this song. This is one of the most catchy songs on the album. A real head-nodding song, if that's not strange in any way. 'Scissors cutting out your anger' is a really well sung and sounding line; a highlight of the song. Must listen to this with good headphones to really appreciate the sound of this line.
Lazarus: A lovely, soothing song. This is infact my most listened to song of all time! (closely followed by Halo). A perfect combination of light acoustic guitar strokes and flowing piano parts. Also a nice song to learn on piano, as once you've learned it, it sounds perfect.
Halo: Personally, I don't like the start of this song. A bit to 'phunkeh' for my liking. But get to 0:58 into it, and it's another catchy song.
Arriving Somewhere But Not Here: The longest track to the album. It's 1:40-minute introduction really gets you into it, and narrows the song down to one beautiful masterpiece. This mixes up modern Porcupine Tree (6:00) with some funky bass (6:08) a soothing introduction (from 0:00 to 1:40), calm vocals (2:46) and a cool heavier side to Porcupine Tree (7:00). A great combination of all Porcupine Tree's talents and a great representation of all of their albums so far.
Mellotron Scratch: Another soothing song. This also includes very nice layers that go really well with eachother (I love the ending to this song). There is also some heavy side shown, but is mainly a calmer song after some parts of Arriving Somewhere.
Open Car: Another heavier song. Starts of with a simple 2-note alternation of Wilson's voice, but that quickly transfers into a funky guitar tune. Lovely harmonies shown in this song too.
The Start Of Something Beautiful: This is quite different to the previous songs. Previous songs have various different parts of them showing different sides to Porcupine Tree. This one is more of a repeated song,like some older material, as there are less distinguishable parts. I love the 'The Eagles'-sounding part from 5:00 into it.
Glass Arm Shattering: Here is a song that could be considered boring on a first listen. But you have to remember, they need to calm the album down, with this being the last song, and they found a great way to do it. This classic scratchy-record melody really calms you down after an enjoyable listen. 'Shaddadomdom, Shaddadomdom' <- listen out for that. It's almost a bit of humour in my ears.
Well, thank you for reading this far. 'Definitely buy it' is all I'm saying.
on 11 September 2011
When I first received this album I was filled with expectation.
I had only recently discovered Porcupine Tree because of having to cover "Blackest Eyes" from the In Absentia album for a little gig and loved it straight away. It was the perfect blend of alternative and pop with a dash of prog for good measure, more importantly: it was original! I was blown away. So I got In Absentia and was very surprised to discover the range of styles that the band were able to play and blend and mold into their sound. I wouldn't even dare do this band the disservice of classifying them into a particular genre or another, not after listening to the whole album. For one thing it would be unkind and for another I wouldn't know where to start. So it was through perseverance and dedicated listening I became a fan. An acquired taste to be sure.
Imagine my anticipation as I waited for Deadwing to arrive! When I finally got my hands on it I made sure to wait until a day when I would have enough time to give it my full attention. I pop it into my hifi and wow! "Deadwing", the opening track, is a near-ten-minute intro that catapults you into another world. It is full of effects, elements of electronic music, elements of trance, of ambiance, of metal, of progressive rock, of alternative pop and seemingly everything in between. But more importantly you immediately get an idea of the mood for the entire album. You get a sense that it is other-worldly, a little frightening, a little mysterious and because of that, quite beautiful and dangerous. It's easy to get carried away. And if that doesn't draw you in then the technical prowess of the musicianship should. And while Wilson's voice is not exactly out of this world, he also has a style that I've grown to quite like. I won't get bored of this track for a long long time. Next is "Shallow". If you're a guitarist like me, then you will love this track. Holy guitar riffs Batman! This is head-banging material if I ever heard it, possibly my favorite on the album. Then comes the mellower "Lazarus" with its beautiful understated intro and piano line that builds up tastefully into something sweet and peaceful that only the afterlife could evoke.
After these first few songs I have to run to the office but I take the album with me thinking of listening to the rest of it while I work. I pop it into my PC and... nothing. iTunes doesn't cooperate. At first it doesn't even acknowledge that there's a music CD in the driver. After much persistence I force it and it manages to import the first song. Badly. It's full of crackle and white noise.
So to conclude: if you don't mind not being able to listen to this album on your computer or iPod then go ahead and get it, it's fabulous. Otherwise, don't. This is the ONLY reason I'm giving it 3 stars and not 5. I cannot express how disappointed I am by the fact that it is not copy friendly. I can listen to it at home at least but I will do my bit and hope that this review will serve as a warning to others. Lord knows I wish I had been told.
on 27 February 2008
Porcupine Tree is a truly outstanding band. It doesn't make much sense to compare them to other bands because they mix a range of styles on a given album and indeed even within the same track. Personally I can't see the often-described comparison to Rush but there are definite Floydian elements in there at times. The musicianship and level of composition are fantastic. If you choose to listen to them, the lyrics are often depressing or full of anger..
The opener Deadwing although a good track is probably the weakest on the album. From there on it soon gets very impressive with the slow and melodic 'Lazarus', the very catchy 'Halo' and peaking at the epic 14 minute masterpiece that is 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here'. This particular track epitomises PT, mixing a number of styles but moving effortlessly from one section to another and including anything from beautiful keyboards and acoustic guitar sections to thrashing metal like riffs. The second half of the album includes the lovely and melodious 'Mellotron scratch' and other classics like 'Open car'. There definitely isn't a bad track on the album and overall it is stunningly brilliant.
PT have to be one of the best bands to emerge in recent years and if you haven't heard them yet it's time to give them a shot. The band members although now rather mature, are truly accomplished musicians. What they can do with their instruments especially Steve Wilson on guitar almost defies belief sometimes with the ability to play straight-classic rock but also to improvise and generate some more creative and unusual sound when necessary. I'd also recommend the `Somewhere But Not Here DVD' which demonstrates these abilities wonderfully.
Overall Deadwing is probably the best PT album although `Fear of a Blank Planet' is also truly excellent with `In Absentia' close behind.
on 9 August 2014
Another masterpiece from Steven Wilson's Porcupine Tree - Why aren't this band MASSIVE?. Perhaps not as immediately accessable as some of their other work, so if Steven Wilson and/or Porcupine tree are new names to you, then I'd recommend that you try the simply superb 'Lightbuld Sun' as a starting place, or possibly Steven Wilson's stunningly good solo abum 'Grace For Drowning'.Although starting here wouldn'tbe that bad an idea.
If you haven'got a copy of Deadwing yet and are considering getting one, then this version is very definitely the one to go for.; because as with most other DVD audio disc I've got this album sounds so much better in 5.1 surround than it does in stereo. (And I've only got a conventional Blu-Ray player and so have only ever listened to either the Dobly or the DTS sound tracks , if as is claimed 'proper' DVD Audio is that much better it must be amazing.)
The mian thiing is that when surround sound discs as mixed properly, and if Steven Wilson is involved it will be, it' simply a case of 'more is better - much better.' The bonus here is that the HQCD really does sound better than the conventional cd. On a back to back listen everything was just that little bit sharper and clearer.