Porcupine Tree
Deadwing


4.5
superb

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
July 12th, 2007 | 99 replies | 6,520 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


9 of 9 thought this review was well written

Every musician tries to attain perfection within his music. They try to play better, more crushing riffs, or use more intricate melodies, smashing vocal lines, whatever is the artist or band's style. Music is continually driven by a search for perfection, leading to radical departures in a band's sound or sometimes the more subtle nuancing of previously muffled elements in a band's sound. Steven Wilson over the years has embodied this musical sentiment, and let it culminate on his band's 2005 outing, Deadwing.

And whatever can be said about this album is, one of the things you can never claim here is that it contains no variety. Deadwing spans almost the entire musical spectrum, going from ambient background noises to cute pop ballads to crushing metal riffs only to return for some rocked out grooves. The band got pigeonholed with the progressive rock movement, which the band itself has denied, but in the very definition of the word lies the true meaning, and the implication of moving forward and thinking outside the boundaries is something that Porcupine Tree embodies to the full extent.

Opener Deadwing is already a brilliant example of this musical kaleidoscope the band seems to want to attain. In fact, Steven Wilson has said he actually has to limit himself to genres, since his music taste is so varied that if he tried to inject everything into it the band would become so eclectic it just simply wouldn't fit. However, this song contains just enough elements for it to work. Electronic noises open the song only to give way to a nicely conceived rock groove, which enhances the atmosphere just to bow into some metal riffing reminiscent of famed death metallers Opeth. The band continues to surge forward and backwards on the whole song, making the nine minute opus always interesting to listen to as every new twist and turn brings another previously unheard sound to the table.

Of course, you can't have an album that contains 6 of such 10-minute monsters, and sometimes Steven Wilson and comrades forego their epic musical scape in favour of concise metal anthems (Shallow), dreamy pop ballads in the vein of Coldplay (Lazarus), or Pink Floyd-esque senses of etherealism (Glass Arm Shattering). The band even manages to marry those Floydish influences with crushing metal riffs recalling Swedish math-metallers Meshuggah, on their 12 minute monster Arriving Somewhere but Not Here. And surprisingly, the dynamic qualities of the song, going from slow mellotron parts to full out instrumental blasting, work so well the sense of duality in velocity is given a new meaning.

Steven Wilson himself has said he does not fancy himself as a musical virtuoso despite the tendency of the band to be labeled prog rock. And indeed, despite guest appearances from prog heroes Mikael Akerfeldt (who provides some guitar solos and backing vocals) and King Crimson's Adrian Belew, the definition of prog in the sense of instrumental virtuosity does not fit the band's album. Indeed, most songs tend to be rather restrained in the sense of epic guitar solos and 3 minute long indulgent keyboard excersises. It is rather, the songwriting that qualifies this band as a progressive one: the songs never degenerate into a display of musical showoff artists, but pride themselves on always giving way to exactly the right riff or melody at just the right moment, without repeating it ad nauseam.

And that is why this album comes so close to perfection in its own simple way. It is not merely a technical display of musical proficiency. It is also not over-reliant on one musical formula honed to perfection. It does not rely on pure glossy production to cover the shortcomings of the band. Instead, it marries appropriate technicality, excellent songwriting and intelligent dynamics with different musical branches and a perfectly mixed and well-produced sound to form one coherent musical whole which indeed, when looked at, becomes more than the sum of its parts. And that radical reinvention of the so oft misleadingly thrown around word "progressive" is what elevates this album to bigger heights than their previous ones, and in fact, many other bands that share this subgenre. And in that sense, Porcupine Tree and album are more representative of the term than any band that previously shared the tag.



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user ratings (2068)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Altmer
July 12th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been a bit lacklustre with reviewing lately, so I thought I'd step up my game a little here.

cSsteFa
July 12th 2007



47 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review, digging Amaranth FTW m8

Fort23
July 12th 2007



2474 Comments


It took some time for me to appreciate this, and I still am, but good job on the review.

Kage
July 12th 2007



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The production on Porcupine Tree records is too slick.

Altmer
July 12th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I find it sounds pristine. Maybe that's SW's producing skills..

Kage
July 12th 2007



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The sound is so clean and produced that it loses its edge after a while.

Despite the fact that there are some really heavy riffs on this in theory, it never really gets heavy because there's no abrasiveness.

Wilson never lets the sound grow out of his control.This Message Edited On 07.12.07

Altmer
July 12th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, but it's not meant to alienate... and I still think the riff on Arriving Somewhere but Not Here is crushing.

FR33L0RD
July 12th 2007



1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the best Porcupine Tree album (i think)

Confessed2005
July 14th 2007



3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think it ties with In Absentia for their best.

PayneTiger777
January 18th 2009



4387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A lot of people think FOAP or In Absentia is their best album, but to me this is their most complete album. Every song is amazing.

Fugue
January 18th 2009



7352 Comments


Absolutely amazing review. Just started getting into this band, I like Fear of a Blank Planet, so would I be correct in thinking I'll like this as well?

IAmInsect
January 19th 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

all their stuff i've heard is great (this, foabp, in absentia, nil recurring).

Essence
February 7th 2009



3578 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mellotron Scratch is one of the best songs I've heard.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2009



7021 Comments


"Arriving Somewhere, But Not Here" is my favorite PT song.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Waior
September 14th 2009



11425 Comments


Didn't enjoy this nearly as much as I thought I would but "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" was a good listen.

qwe
September 14th 2009



302 Comments


yeah thats the best off this

darksunwithin
September 14th 2009



100 Comments


Didn't enjoy this nearly as much as I thought I would

was the same for me but just give it a few more spins and see what happens.

darksunwithin
September 14th 2009



100 Comments


seriously though if one cannot see the excellence in mellotron scratch one doesn't know what good music is.


qwe
September 14th 2009



302 Comments


oh shut the fuck up thats such a bullshit thing to say

FadeToBlack
September 14th 2009



10913 Comments


well his avatar is the album cover...



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