Review Summary: An amazing collection of four outtakes from the Fear of a Blank Planet sessions that should have been included in the final project.
Certain things just shouldn't happen...perhaps, like the outtakes of an album being better
than the album itself. That shouldn't happen in this day in age-the record companies should be smart enough to pick the bad music from the good music, and correctly choose which songs deserve to be on the final product. Porcupine Tree dives headfirst into this thing that just shouldn't happen, because this four-song EP is quite simply better than the actual album itself, Fear of a Blank Planet. Don't mistake what I'm saying; Fear of a Blank Planet was a good album-but Nil Recurring is just, well, better. Honestly, I didn't think Porcupine Tree could outdo themselves with Deadwing, and Fear of a Blank Planet affirmed this, but Nil Recurring proves me wrong. While it's just an outtake album, it's four songs that seem to be miscellanious B-sides and outtakes from previous albums tinged with a bit of heaviness and Fear of a Blank Planet mentality...spanning from Stupid Dream to Fear of a Blank Planet.
Are you a big fan of the dark 'vibe' of Fear of a Blank Planet? Well, most certainly listen to Nil Recurring and Normal. These two tracks take advantage of Wilson's fondness of simplistic, acoustic guitar tracks setting the mood; and definitely makes these songs feel like something off of Fear of a Blank Planet. Turning the tables a bit, Cheating the Polygraph definitely feels a lot more like something off of Deadwing, while What Happens Now? definitely feels a lot like Stupid Dream-era music with a lot heavier and aggressive guitar work. This provides a worthwhile and enjoyable EP that shows how much creativity is spewing from Steven Wilson's maniacal brain. And, so while the album is only four songs that are worthy outtakes from Fear of a Blank Planet, there is some really, really good music here.
The tracks Normal and Cheating the Polygraph make this album worthy of the name Porcupine Tree. Normal takes advantage of some driving guitar tracks backdropped by some dark, enveloping bass lines. The track is like an upper-class version of the title track to Fear of a Blank Planet. The song is excellent, fast, yet slow, heavy, and switches rhythms well...the verses are kept together by a beautiful atmosphere and some wild bass lines. The acoustic guitar backdrop is addicting, and the guitar track is the catchy part of the song. Wilson's vocals are also impeccable, and they seem to whine at times and have a definite angry feel to them at others. You can definitely tell this is from Fear of a Blank Planet-era Porcupine Tree, and now, there's some more Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree sounding music next on the album, Cheating the Polygraph. Cheating the Polygraph, was I believe written during the Deadwing Tour, to give fans live a little taste of what was in store for them with Fear of a Blank Planet, and there's a definite feel of that here. Not saying it doesn't fit, either, because it's still an excellent track to say at the least. Opening up with a short, quick and fast riff, the title track to Deadwing screams at you in similarity here until the chorus where Wilson breaks out into an all-out heavy chorus which definitely shows you how much heavier Porcupine Tree has become since they began.
This is the heaviest material Porcupine Tree has released-but its still the 'Tree we've come to know and love. Wilson's guitar work has taken itself to a new level, the bass work is incredible, the drumming screams Opeth, and the heavyness is something I like with Porcupine Tree's newer experimentations. From the opening instrumental Nil Recurring, Wilson lets you know this isn't the Porcupine Tree that released the highly-melodic On the Sunday of Life and The Sky Moves Sideways...this is the next incarnation of Porcupine Tree, filled with heavy hooks, progressive solos and influences, and almost metal epics. Four tracks, over six minutes long a piece, and one excellent heavy-tinged Stupid Dream-like track clocking in at over eight minutes. This isn't for any Porcupine Tree fan to love and enjoy, this is for any progressive r...no, any rock or metal fan to enjoy. Do yourself and your musical taste a favor-go out and buy Nil Recurring as soon as your local music story carries it...you won't be sorry.
Cheating the Polygraph
What Happens Now?