Review Summary: The man that adds mellotron to everything and thinks afterwards "man I'm sick of that fucking mellotron" brings us yet another of his side projects, but this time, it's a mellow album. But can Steven Wilson take apart the ghost of Porcupine Tree?
Bias, among other things in life, determines our views on things. Such thought in mind leads tojes to believe that the more you listen to a certain person, the easiest the endeavor of reviewing becomes, since you have more of a comparison stance in order to tell others how you feel about a certain album. When it comes to Blackfield, you are basically judging it under the “Steve Wilson” lens. That is, based on his work as a producer of Opeth
(featured in Blackwater Park, Deliverance and Damnation), and the leading-master-mind-visionary-crack head of the really good band Porcupine Tree
. Now, for many it may seem like there’s no point in making this side project, Blackfield, since Porcupine Tree’s sound is, for the most part, very mellow and tender. Well… then?
Actually, Blackfield’s sound is heavily Steve Wilson sounding. The mellotrons, the soft drums, the nice but subtle lyrics … awww. Well, everything is there. So what makes the project itself different? The addition of an extra vocalist, of course. Aviv Geffen, who allegedly, is a rock superstar in Israel (confirm please) who appears every now and then here, but the main vocal performances are by Mr. Wilson. I’d have to say the best moments vocally are the harmonized vocals between the two singers, because they have very nice, suiting voices which fit together excellently, much like all the harmonies in Damnation, the softest observation by Opeth.
Musically, sounds a lot like toned-down Porcupine Tree, as I stated before… I think. Maybe I didn’t, but I mention it again because I feel like it. Bitch. Ahem… as I was writing, aside from Once
, which is probably the “hardest” song in the album, and I’m talking about a semi-fast-paced drum beat in the bridge and some distorted guitar, but that’s as heavy as it gets. The best the band has to offer though is in the softer side of the album, which is maybe 90% of its content. There are plenty of keyboard instruments, and the use of mellotron abounds here and there, but not so much as the leading instrument, but instead behind a more present piano sound, for example, so I like the fact it doesn’t sound like Nintendo all the time. Unlike Porcupine Tree, the songs in the album are not extremely lengthy, and of course that makes them highly enjoyable.
And as I stated in the last paragraph, the songwriting is excellent, as expected from Steven Wilson’s behalf. He has a great control over how things are supposed to sound when they have to sound sad, or extremely emotional, or when he has to create crescendos to end a song. It’s sheer beauty, to add up everything.
is a very radio-friendly song, because it’s hard, and will be released as a single, and has all the elements that would make a good pop-rock song a good! pop-rock song, so everything is there. Mildly good lyrics. 1,000 people
sound extremely cathartic, especially with all the “I wanna die”, which in the beginning sounds stupidly repetitive, but the chorus makes up for it. Miss U
is one of those songs that you think “man, my girl and I really relate to this song”, nonetheless, it’s not my lyrical thing.
My gift of silence
, as some other songs in the album is amazingly executed, it pretty much comes together very nicely, just as Where is my love?
is also in the “louder” part of the songs of the album, and well, it’s nice. Christenings
is a soft song that I didn’t enjoy rightly, except for the chorus. The chorus is great.
is probably the song with the most epic sounding song, due mostly to the very present keyboard sound. Epidemic
’s deep, harsh vintage piano sounds are very potent in the beginning, and has a very nice ring to it, also faster-paced than most of the Blackfield songs. The added female vocals are really ace, but the little scream is kind of out of place (around 3.00 or so) but who cares, really? OK I do mildly. But who can judge the emotion while recording a song? Well I do as well, so >:[
Nonetheless I have to say there are more than two moments in which things are not beyond and above human comprehension, as I’ve made you think up to this point of the review. This Killer
for instance, is not particularly my favorite song of the album, nonetheless I must point out the vocal harmonizations are excellent. Oh yeah, and the clean guitar solo is very emotive, I must point out. End of the World
, the final track of the album, closes magnificently. The chorus would work well in the regular music market, I suppose. Normal people might enjoy it. Geffen’s part is very good in this song.
Lyrically I don’t really feel the album is up to the standards of say, Deadwing, by Porcupine Tree. “Miss U”, for instance, is pretty meh lyrically, but as many songs by Wilson, there are very nice shards of lyrics here and there, but they are too scattered for me to say “This is the
motherfusting album, ROCK AND ROLL”, nonetheless it’s not bad, in it’s simplistic, sexy way of being.
So comparatively with other Steven Wilson’s work, this has his special brand right up its rectum, there’s an undeniable influence of Wilson in this observation, nonetheless, the addition of Geffen to the project kind of gives it variety, especially in the vocal section. Musically, the album is Wilson-esque, which cannot be hidden. So there are two judgments this album can be put through. One as any album, and another as a Wilson album. As any other album, this is really, really entertaining. Some may find annoying the fact that in order to make up for the lack of instrumentation there’s an abusive use of keyboards (I noticed at least 4 or 5 different keyboards going, from mellotrons to grand pianos to regular pianos to synthesizers. Don’t ask me the brands/types because I don’t know them) so in a way it hinders musically diverse-wise, but you don’t really notice it that much unless you are the kind of people that overanalyzes things (say me, for example). Then, if you put it along other Wilson albums, this is… pretty meh. I enjoyed Deadwing much more, and it isn’t really that different from things he’s done with Porcupine Tree
really, and even there the album is subpar to Porcupine Tree. Nonetheless, that same excess of keyboard instruments makes it sound lightly different to PT, but in some parts it just sounded stupidly like Deadwing, especially in the softer/harder parts. If you want to see this as a diagram, you can put Porcupine Tree’s softer parts along to Blackfield’s harder parts, and then polarize the rest of each band which makes them different.
Now after this random soliloquy on who’s better than who, I think I left plenty for all people, that is you, to make your sexy judgement. It’s a great album, nonetheless, but since I didn’t enjoy the lyrics a lot, and it isn’t really that different to even consider it a “side project”. But considering I’ve been listening to very poppy music, I really hope this goes to the mainstream and becomes a hit (I mean, even more), because it both has potential, and an excellent back-up to say that good musicians are behind it. So yeah DOWN WITH THE MAINSTREAM! UP THE COMMUNISM! MELLOTRONS FOR EVERYONE!
- tojes reviü crü