Review Summary: Steven Wilson. Nothing more need be said.
Porcupine Tree is a hard band to pin down. Forming in 1987 and fronted by the ever active Steven Wilson, the band is one of the most respected groups in the entire rock and metal scene. Their catalog is filled with diversity, showing influences by psychedelic rock, progressive rock, trance and alternative also.
Since the early 2000s the band has seemed to move towards a more alternative and progressive rock sound. ‘Deadwing’ was released in 2005 and is their 8th studio album. The album went on to became Porcupine Tree bestselling album to that date, but it’s follow up ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ surpassed it.
‘Deadwing’ is a heavy but sad record, a dark and beautiful surreal ‘ghost’ story. The lyrics resonate with the listener and the musical composition highs and lows create an emotional feeling that classical music and only a selected few musicians have been able to construct.
This album has something for everyone, from the aggressive metal song ‘Shallow’, to the beautiful and commercial sounding ‘Lazarus’. ‘Deadwing’ is a mix of emotional slow burning tracks like ‘Mellotron Scratch’ and ‘Glass Arm Shattering’ and heavy progressive tracks like ‘Deadwing’ and ‘Start of Something Beautiful’.
The title track opens up the album and the sets the setting for the remainder of the album. It’s one of heavier tracks on the album, but the song has numerous break downs and synths are also added to add to the atmosphere of the track. King Crimson’s Adrian Belew guest stars on ‘Deadwing’ and ‘Halo’, and his solo on the title track really add to an already brilliant track. ‘Halo’ has some of Wilson’s best singing on the album, sounding almost like Stone Temple Pilot front man Scott Weiland during the chorus. It’s one of the simpler tracks on the album, but still very addictive.
‘Open Car’ sounds like it could have been a hit single, with a fast riff, and a beautiful pre-chorus musical break down. ‘Lazarus’ is the song that most casual listeners know, showing the diversity the band can cover. The piano takes central stage for the song, as Wilson’s angelic voice sings to the radiohead-esque track. The lyrics are beautiful and melancholic; as the song seems to be about a dead mother talking to her son.
The best song on the album has to be the 12 minute epic ‘Arriving Somewhere but not here’. This song is not only the best of the album, but could easily be Porcupine Tree’s best ever song. At one moment the listener is sitting back with their eyes closes and their minds drifting in a far and not totally inviting place as soft melodic guitar strings accompanies Wilson’s soft voice, but a second later the whole world has changed as an aggressive composition takes over and the listener is forced out of his solitude as Wilson sings about what one expects to see when they die. The solos are near flawless as the listener is left entranced for the full 12 minutes.
Some album versions have bonus tracks assigned to them. ‘So Called Friend’ and ‘Half Life’ are both brilliant tracks that could have easily made it on to the full record, but due to the brilliance of the rest of the songs were left out. Porcupine Tree followed up ‘Deadwing’ with the just as potent ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ and then the less acclaimed, but still solid, ‘The Incident’.
The year is now 2012 and the musical world once again waits to be swept off its feet as Wilson collaborates with Opeth’s own Mikael Åkerfeldt for Storm Corrosion’s self-titled debut, an album that will almost undoubtedly serve as yet another reminder of why we love music.