Porcupine Tree
The Incident


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rob Heald USER (6 Reviews)
September 14th, 2009 | 52 replies | 8,405 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Extremely talented and absolutely professional, Porcupine Tree releases another strong album, but lacks the true inspiration that has made them one of the most successful bands working in "progressive" rock.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written


Porcupine Tree, The Incident-

Steven Wilson- Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Richard Barbieri- Synthesizers, Keyboards
Colin Edwin- Bass Guitar, Double Bass
Gavin Harrison- Drums, Percussion

Due to some error in schedule or just a general nonchalance about release dates, I received my pre-order of The Incident several days before the official date of September 14th. I listened to it several times through and immediately found things that I really, really liked, but I realized I was very rarely moved beyond typical enjoyment. When I sat down to begin writing my review, I wrote an incredibly long, overly wordy introduction about how Porcupine Tree has arrived at this unique place in their history...how unnecessary. The more I thought about the album, the more I realized it’s quite a simple album to sum up, requiring little prerequisite knowledge of their discography. (Though obviously it would help)

 Simply put, The Incident is an accessible album (which is surprising considering it’s mostly made up of one 55-minute song), that reviews the careers put forth so far by four talented and professional musicians. This professional nature, however, supplies its share of good and bad traits. The good: the writing, playing, and production all have wonderfully deft touches that remind you that; yes, they are very good at this, and the bad: professional musicians can make somewhat uninspired-work sound much better than it would be otherwise (see most of Dream Theater’s recent releases).

Steven Wilson, who is like a man with eleven hands in eleven different cookie jars, has always had a genuine and rare ability to translate his eclectic tastes into Porcupine Tree’s unique sound. In writing The Incident, it seems he has pooled together all of his interests (including electronic-driven industrial, pop-fueled alt/rock, and Meshuggah-crunching metal) to write a summary of what and who his career as a musician has created. Though the music ranges greatly in intensity, mood, and genre, there is a constant atmosphere of nostalgia and mindfulness that exists through the album. And The Incident, which is divided up into 14 extremely diverse movements, absolutely needs that constant sound in order for the feeling of unity to carry through, and fortunately it was provided.

The songs themselves do a fantastic job of highlighting Porcupine Tree’s greatest strengths. Steven Wilson’s knack for melody and choral vocal harmonies is found on almost every track. Gavin Harrison once again proves that he is a uniquely talented and creative drummer, and the overall performance of the band and production of the album would be astounding if it all wasn’t so expected. Movements themselves build and release, but the band seemed quite conscious of the arc of the album itself. There aren’t any redundant statements or too many climaxes; instead, they build tension slowly until the middle of the album. When they reach Time Flies, the centerpiece of the experience, it oozes with so much atmosphere and provides a guitar solo that screams and cries so much, you’d be surprised David Gilmour himself didn’t write it. It is one of the few moments designed to give a release that extends beyond the track itself, and may be the most satisfying moment of the The Incident. The range of the album provides enough variety in the songs to let this lack of climatic events from getting too boring. With so much room between the spacey “The Yellow Windows on the Evening Train” and the heavy-handed, electronic dirtiness of “The Incident” and “Circle of Manias”, the band is left to explore almost every sound Porcupine Tree has ever used. Steven Wilson (and the band as a whole) draw from different parts of Porcupine Tree’s evolution and fit them together in a way that is familiar on a song level, but strikingly unfamiliar in context of a full album.

My largest criticism for this album is the lack of anything truly new. Every Porcupine Tree album seems to have a new evolution in sound, and while The Incident has maybe a little bit more industrial influences, nothing reaches out and stuns the listener. Wilson has never been particularly good at writing interesting guitar rifts, and the production, as beautiful as it is, keeps the sound too controlled to let things get really exciting. This may be most evident on the disc 2 tracks, where the atmosphere of the large scale project disappears. Although four very enjoyable (even excellent) tracks, they lack the inventiveness which defines Porcupine Tree’s best work. As a whole, it is fantastic and professional work, but very rarely does it catch that special, genuine quality that separates an album from the rest of the pack.

The members of Porcupine Tree have reached a point in their careers where it will be difficult to keep things fresh and new. This album, similar to a watching a great movie for the hundredth time, can be fun and enjoyable, but it still misses that sense of wonder and suspense one gets from something totally new. Having evolved so many times before, the choices for expanding their sound into new territories are becoming fewer, especially when taking into account the tastes of the members themselves. I can’t imagine Steven Wilson getting the desire to write a country album, but you can bet that it would be the one of the most exquisitely played, beautifully produced country albums of the century.



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other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
    The Incident is another solid entry into the Porcupine Tree discography despite some lackl...

    Cragorio (3.5)
    Not the best, not the worst. A very good Porcupine Tree album....

    YoYoMancuso (2)
    "The Incident" is just 76 minutes of ambitious songwriting that feels more like a demo tha...

    Mike Allen (3)
    Porcupine Tree attempts to continue their trend of outstanding concept albums, but trip ov...

  • Benjamin Bland (4.5)
    A culmination of fifteen years as the world's most relevant progressive rock band....

    Nosferatwo (2.5)
    For the first time, Porcupine Tree tread water....

    Jorn van Schaïk (3.5)
    Porcupine Tree's new album is extremely competent, emotionally harrowing, but ultimately l...


Comments:Add a Comment 
MorningView425
September 14th 2009



162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Pretty surprised there aren't 15 reviews of this by now...love to hear some criticism from you folks

WhiteWallStargazers
September 14th 2009



2647 Comments


Isn't this not out yet? Unless it is or its streaming somewhere it will get taken down so save it

Romulus
September 14th 2009



8411 Comments


He says he got a preorder, so he's good I think

MorningView425
September 14th 2009



162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Their website says it is out now, and like I said I had my copy mailed to me days ago

JizzInMyPants
September 14th 2009



2368 Comments


thats because this site goes by the release of the USA date, despite the fact that people has been getting hold of this album like two days ago..but whatever

ya i heard the album numerous times and it is def a grower,

CD 1 = 4
CD 2 = 3

so this is prob getting a 3.5 from me

"Your unpleasant famly smashed up my car....perfectly uncalled for..."

WhiteWallStargazers
September 14th 2009



2647 Comments


are there pauses between the sections or is it one really really long song?

MorningView425
September 14th 2009



162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Each section flows into the next, but there are definite moments where one song ends and another begins

TheGreatD17
September 14th 2009



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's split up into a bunch of tracks with a handful of clearly defined sections. It doesn't even really need to be one song, I would have just thought it was a concept album if I didn't know better. The second half of "The Incident" and "Flicker" are good, the rest just bores me.

pizzamachine
September 14th 2009



12571 Comments


I regret that I can't get into this band.

Knott-
Emeritus
September 14th 2009



10194 Comments


I can confidently say I find this band overrated; I have their entire discography, and Deadwing is fantastic, Fear Of A Blank Planet is excellent, and the rest doesn't do enough to stand out for me. I'll give this a listen though.

fromtheinside
September 14th 2009



17656 Comments


this may be my first time trying to get into these guys but i'm kinda not wanting to.

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Knott-
Emeritus
September 14th 2009



10194 Comments


try Deadwing, amazing record.

Romulus
September 14th 2009



8411 Comments


Try Fear of a Blank Planet before this.

Oh look, strikey beat me to it with different advice.

Knott-
Emeritus
September 14th 2009



10194 Comments


haha

i think FOABP is more difficult to get into / more likely to put you off. first track of deadwing though is basically porcupine tree in a nutshell (although by no means the album's best song)

Waior
September 14th 2009



11425 Comments


fromtheinside, get Fear of a Blank Planet.

WhiteWallStargazers
September 14th 2009



2647 Comments


Yeah FOABP is really good..but thats all I've heard

pizzamachine
September 14th 2009



12571 Comments


Heard the first song off it and didn't like it.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 14th 2009



5784 Comments


I kinda like In Absentia. "Collapse the Light into Earth" is ace.

I've heard this is somewhat disappointing

JizzInMyPants
September 14th 2009



2368 Comments


get in absentia first....thats pretty much all of PT in a nutshell

Knott-
Emeritus
September 14th 2009



10194 Comments


Actually yeah, why did I forget IA



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