Review Summary: Is that Porcupine Tree I hear???
I buy most of my music online, because it’s more convenient then having to drive anywhere for it. One of the cool things they have on there is a “recommended albums” area based on stuff I’ve already bought. I’ve found some cool things in there, so when this band was recommended I checked them out. Based on the 30 second samples of each song, there was only one thing that came to mind; these guys were totally copying Porcupine Tree
. So, what does one do when they find a band that is completely copying the sound of another band? When the band being emulated is one of your favorites, you forgive them for their lack of imagination and you buy the album. When I finally had the chance to listen to the complete songs I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my initial impression was only about half right; there is enough originality in these compositions to almost give them their own identity.
The easiest way to describe Abigail’s Ghost
, would be to say that they sound like In Absentia
era Porcupine Tree, but without the meandering mellow parts and Psychedelia. In their place is a much more Metal-style in the riffs and with a few slight Industrial influences in their use of beats and some of the vocal processing. Opening track, “Close” is a perfect example of that description. It starts out with a dark keyboard sound and a heavy riff, but it soon mellows out. When it calms down and they begin using a clean guitar sound, and their vocalist comes in, that is where they sound exactly like Porcupine Tree. The song continues to move back and forth between the heavy riffing sections and the mellower Porcupine Tree style sections to great effect.
An even more blatant emulation of Porcupine Tree’s style would be the song “Cerulean Blue”, which is pretty much “The Creator Has a Mastertape”. It starts out with a fast bassline, accompanied solely by the drums and spacey keyboard effects. When the vocals come in it seems fairly obvious that they didn’t even try to hide their theft of the song, but that changes about a minute and a half into it. At about that time, the song suddenly switches gears and a dark, heavy riff comes in with highly distorted vocals, and double bass before breaking into a catchy chorus reminiscent of The Galactic Cowboys
, after which the drummer is replaced by a Drum&Bass-style beat and synth. After a few moments it returns to the original “rip-off” style the song started with, but only for a few moments before changing again by alternating between a funky bassline, a heavy guitar riff, an aggressive solo, and much more double bass.
Earlier in the review it was mentioned that these guys weren’t entirely just ripping off Porcupine Tree, but it really hasn’t been emphasized since then. Abigail’s Ghost has quite a few moments of originality within their songs, mainly in their use of heavier sections and subtle Industrial Influences. Another defining characteristic would be their drummer who seems to be much more technically proficient then Porcupine Tree’s drummer, or he at least likes to show it more. The song that best reflects their originality would be “Love Sounds” which is simply eerie keyboard melodies played over a slow, distorted beat and slightly processed vocals in the verses and harmonized vocals in the chorus. About three-quarters of the way through the song the distorted beat is replaced by the bass player and drummer coming in with a chill groove, before breaking into a heavier section and a loud, fast guitar solo to end things.
If a band can successfully copy Porcupine Tree and add a few original elements then that should be a recipe for success, but that isn’t entirely the case. For one, the vocalist really does sound like he is trying to copy Steve Wilson’s voice, which causes his vocals to sound forced and weak in some places. The other thing is that when you hear music that so closely resembles Porcupine Tree, you expect the great production that comes with it, but this doesn’t have that. The production is good, just not to the high standards of the band they’ve taken so much influence from. Despite the glaring lack of originality, and the few minor qualms mentioned above, this is still a pretty good album. If you’re a fan of Porcupine Tree or even Riverside
then you’d probably like this as well, and hopefully the band will expand on their original ideas and release the excellent second album they seem to have the potential to release.