8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2007
Wow, this is my first 5.1 Surround Sound album and I must say that I was completely blown away. The album sounds great in stereo, but in 5.1 just sounds utterly incredible. Go on splash out the extra cash, you won't be disappointed.
As for the album, it is absolutely amazing! Although I've only been listening for a couple of days there is something that instantly grips you! The songs just have an amazing sound and their arrangements are impeccable. Like others have noted PT haven't changed their sound for this album, but it does seem like they have taken everything from Deadwing, Stupid Dream, In Absentia and Signify to create in my opinion their most complete album to date. One thing that Porcupine Tree I feel have lacked in the past is creating a complete album, individually the songs stand out but as an entire album fail to hit the mark. Something that has definitely been corrected on Fear of a Blank Planet. This is an album and should be listen to as one suite.
One song that does stand out on the album is Anesthetize, in fact I would go as far as saying the album price is worth it for this 17 minute track alone! It is definitely one of the most amazing pieces of prog rock or even rock you will ever hear. The 5.1 DTS surround sound version is just utterly amazing and takes you through an incredible journey each and every listen!
This is a must buy and is maybe even PT's best and for sure most complete album to date!
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2007
The latest Porcupine Tree album shows a slight change of approach compared with the previous two. A concept album dealing with the bleak existence of neglected modern youth, it manages to be heavier and proggier (in some places) and lighter and simpler (in others) than both Deadwing and In Absentia. It also fits the tradition of a concept album by being best listened to in a single sitting. The songs are still great by themselves, but each benefits from being enjoyed in the context of the whole.
As usual, the band explores a variety of shades of heaviness and complexity. A larger-than-usual proportion of slow, soft sections (including a couple of whole songs predominantly in this style) might cause some fans of heavier Porcupine Tree to lose interest, but to me the album never becomes dull and is kept alive by Steven Wilson's haunting vocal lines and imaginative soundscapes. In contrast, the album also incorporates the heaviest music the band have recorded, and they pull it off brilliantly.
The album can be quite slow-moving: ideas are never hurried, but allowed to develop over many minutes. The chorus to the longest track, Anesthetize, doesn't kick in until some seven minutes into the song, but the build-up of the introduction adds to the impact of the memorable vocal line when it arrives. There are numerous classic Porcupine Tree moments on this CD which will keep existing fans happy, and although each song is perhaps not as striking as, say, the tracks on Deadwing, there is still plenty of interest here with unique musical and vocal ideas which Wilson manages so well.
In summary, although Fear Of A Blank Planet is a slightly more challenging listen than the previous two albums it's definitely up there in terms of songwriting, atmosphere and performance. Wilson has tweaked the formula a little, and the resulting album -- while perhaps not quite matching the pure brilliance of Deadwing -- is a success well worth checking out, and a very welcome addition to the Porcupine Tree catalogue.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2007
Firstly I totally agree with the previous comments that this band has earned its deserved reputation through a lot of hard working years in the industry. What is most incredible is that the quality of their output is constantly of such a high standard, and if there are any cracks they certainly aren't visible here. When you finally prise Deadwing from the HiFi you'll be greeted with a killer acoustic riff that signifies the next stage in the journey.
Definitely a "concept" album (cough...) but in perfect Porcupine Tree style, there's some very clever weaving on display here with lots of musical references to previous PT songs and shed loads of cheeky hidden reminder riffs throughout the 6 new songs. A genuine musicians paradise, but still very accessible throughout. I take my hat off to MR Wilson yet again, this could well be my album of the year and its only April.
As predicted, "Fear of a Blank Planet" is my current fav but only because of its familiar warmth (Deadwing 2?) and superb lyrics. "My Ashes" is the vocal showcase vehicle for those signature harmonies and provides a chance to gather your thoughts before diving into the main course that is "Anesthetize". This may well be referenced as the "Arriving Somewhere" of this album but to comment at this early stage would be denying the song its chance to fully unravel. I will say that its 17+ minutes are a thing of beauty. Sombre and reflective in places, and brutal in others. The intro alone had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. You know you are in for a ride and pay off is worth its weight in gold. Long songs can be a mixed bag but thankfully PT have the experience and skill to fully justify its lengthy running time. "Sentimental" was already lost in a sea of new information that simply can't be processed in such a short time. I did note the reference riff from "Trains" and I'm sure this one will be a grower. "Way out of here" starts on a misleading downer before hammering in with one of the best riffs on the album. After the first chorus the tempo is upped and we're right back on track with yet another crowd pleasing anthem. This theme is then carried over to the final track "Sleep Together". Its pounding bass lines and synth's are put to full effect and round off a fantastic album that will have you wondering where that 50mins disappeared to and skipping straight back to track 1 to start all over again.
For those new to Porcupine Tree this is truly a great time to be introduced. Fans of Deadwing and In Absentia will see this as the natural progression of an already accomplished and criminally underrated band. I strongly urge anyone interested in this genre to give them a try. They're the UK equivalent to Tool and that's highest praise I can offer.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2007
This album is truly one of the best of the 21st century. The continuous piece of music begins with the Deadwing-esque title track, Fear Of A Blank Planet. My Ashes is a melancholic ballad with a rich, layered soundscape, Richard Barbieri sharing joint writer's credit with Steven Wilson. The album arguably reaches its finest moment in the middle of the 17-minute masterpiece, Anesthetize, a heavy yet at times haunting track, comprising three sections. Sentimental is a beautiful piano-driven track. Way Out of Here is another excellent track, featuring a guest appearance by Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame). The album culminates in the brooding, mainly electronic track, Sleep Together. This album fully warrants the full 5 stars.
For fans of Opeth, Dream Theater and Nine Inch Nails.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2007
Following the classic Deadwing was not going to be easy. And to be honest I was not that impressed on first listen. But like a lot of prog it takes a few spins to get into. I put it onto my mp3 player and listen whilst I am working. Now it blows me away. Some of the lyrics can be a bit depressing but some are funny. The music is all classic Porcupine Tree without sounding too much like its predecessors. Do yourselves a favour and buy it. If you haven't heard Porcupine Tree yet......where have you been?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2007
Interesting mix of reviews before mine. Having owned all of PT's albums and seeing them several times in concert, I feel justified in saying that the band is definitely evolving. It would have been easy for Wilson to have produced another classic prog rock album but instead this album offers a departure in places from that and the emphasis is more on some pretty hard guitar work, akin almost to some thrash bands. Don't let that put you off though because some of the more mellow tracks really complement the harder tracks and does make the album more complete. It takes a few listens to appreciate the latest offering but it is certainly a worthwhile purchase and should be applauded for it's deviation from previous albums.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2007
I got into Porcupine Tree by chance, i was at a club night and they were doing some promotions for this cd and through out the night they played every song from the album. I just loved the sound of it. So when i got home i had to order this cd straight away!
Needless to say i was not dissapointed one bit! Although theres only 6 tracks on the album, it could be as many as 15 with all the transitions the songs go through. A song can start off with acoustic guitar and then before you know it theres more metal influenced riffing etc. A good example of this is the 17 minute epic 'Anesthetize' which is just jaw dropping!
This is truly beautiful music, and brilliant from start to finish.
You must own this record!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2007
What a great album this is. It has everything one might expect from PT: excellent musicianship; enough light and shade to keep you interested throughout; and no happy ending.
Other reviewers have gone into detail about each track, so I can't add a great deal. Anesthetize is certainly a stand-out track by dint of its length as well as the superb guitar work by Alex Lifeson of Rush, but the rest of the album is so beautifully crafted it bears repeated listening from the off.
It's interesting to read other reviews and, as with every other band, PT are damned if they do something different and damned if they don't! Purists don't like Deadwing and In Absentia because they are so different to The Sky Moves Sideways: 'Why do they have to change?'. Now there are complaints because they have made an album with tracks that draw too much from previous albums: 'Why don't they change their style?'... I think it just depends what you want from Porcupine Tree.
Whether you're new to this band or already a fan, I wholeheartedly recommend Fear Of A Blank Planet.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2012
Firstly, let me say that the picture of the boy on the cover of this album is perfectly aposite in relation to the contents within. Many of the tracks have been written from a teenager's viewpoint (instead of from Steven Wilson's - the writer's viewpoint) which I believe makes for a much more cogent lyrical statement. Why? Because if written from the viewpoint of a 40 year old white middle class male it would just sound 'preachy' and condescending. Secondly, the music is fantastic and quite rightly won the reader's vote in the 2007 Classic Rock Magazine albums of the year. It can be described as a cross between Rush and Radiohead with maybe some Metallica thown into the mix as well. The one thing they avoid (which applies to Rush as well) is overlong meandering instrumental sections which is why any comparison with either Dream Theater or King Crimson would be wide of the mark. There is an 'edginess' to this album which is rarely found in most prog rock which I think is due to the conviction that Steven Wilson feels in the concept of this album. What is the concept? Basically the problems associated with the youth of the western world. The first track is an aggressive Rush like statement on how teenagers have so much these days that they no longer really appreciate their lives, resulting in boredom and a lack of perspective. Underlying this though is the problem of bad parenting which is dealt with on the next track 'My Ashes', whilst track 3 'Anaethetize' is a drug fuelled 'teenage wasteland' statement of neglect and hopelessness. With 'Sentimental' this theme is continued with lyrics like "Sullen and bored the kids stay, And in this way they wish away each day, Stoned in the mall the kids play, And in this way they wish away each day" - depressing yes, but the riots last year were also depressing and this album does try to look at what is going wrong. Does it offer solutions? No, but that's a question for the politicians! Next up is 'Way Out of Here' which is apparently a true story about a PT female fan that committed suicide by walking onto and into an oncoming train. Finally 'Sleep Together' sees the 'sexualisation' of our youth as an inevitable consequence of all this neglect with promiscuity becoming one of the ways in which our youth can find some 'escape' from their unfulfilling lives. Great music if you give it a chance.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2008
The more I delve into the utterly daft but still hugely popular 'prog' sub-genre, the more I feel manipulated and ever-so-slightly seduced. It's all very glamorous and mystical of course, and the more I hear of it (as if the music's important!), the more I feel myself being gradually, insidiously initiated.
It's like art-quicksand: the more you resist and deny, the further you get ever-so-gently pulled in.
Thing is, I'm enjoying myself immensely. The music just comes in floods, sweeping me along deliriously. I feel like a grinning Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked from the security blanket of my punk, indie and art-rock, but loving every second of the isolation. My dreams are now in colour too....(yeah, I know).
So far 'Inner Marshland', 'Going for the One' and the grand 'Blues for Allah' have entranced and mystified me; I feel like I'm passing tests and now this Porcupine Tree are another challenge on the horizon..
So, deep breath, 'FOABP' (yes, and I'm not a bit shocked..) is outstanding in every department. It's fierce, gentle, haunting, cinematic, brazen(lol!), profound etc etc.
It's like a good-music intravenous as I lay dazed and confused in the Garcia Clinic for people who thought they were years ahead...but are really just catching up.
'FOABP' is SO good (in a modern sense) it's almost un-reviewable. If it was born in the 70's lets say, I'd be standing on my tail on this very page, telling you how they don't make `em like this anymore. Another satisfactory category for 'FOABP'.
It's got fiery rock guitar; vast banks of whirling string-synth; staccato drumming; and a vocals-man, who obviously understands the lunacy of it all, singing brilliantly tongue-in-cheek lyrics with deadpan seriousness.
An irresistible combination that takes some topping.
If prodded with something sharp, I'd say 'My Ashes' is my favourite song on 'FOABP', but it's a close run thing. (Important point here pop kids, 'FOABP' deals in the song side of 'prog', not like that utter waste 'the Wall', that deals in pretension and regressive self-congratulation.) The 17 minute (feels like 5, you just don't want it to end!!) 'Anesthetize' is obviously the centre-piece and HAS to be superb to fend off all the other goodies which are attacking it from all sides. And 'Sentimental' is another classy ballad; sort of 'My Ashes 2'with ethereal piano driving it along to a strutting conclusion.
I really can't fault it (and believe me, I've tried!), and this is no knee-jerk notice. I've inhabited said Blank Planet for a good two months now, each sojourn bringing new, previously undiscovered jewels. Yes, it does THAT as well.
So,(breathless reviewer pulls himself together.) must go. Things to do, life to be lived etc. Everything doesn't revolve around `FOABP' y'know. Ha.
Just one more spin.....