Review Summary: Even after eight studio albums, the band still hasn't run out of amazing musical ideas.
After twenty years in the music industry, it’s safe to say Steve Wilson really knows how to put out one great album after the other. He fronts his band with his charismatic guitar playing and interesting song writing along with the aid of Gavin Harrison’s often amazing drumming performances. After releasing In Absentia, it was really difficult to see whether or not the band could release an eighth album that was worthy of the masterpiece that In Absentia was. However, once the subtle ambiance of the title track gives way to a ingenious guitar riff and fantastic drumming performance, it is clear that Porcupine Tree has done us no wrong when it comes to delivering a successor worthy of In Absentia.
Wilson never actually revealed the concept of the album because he had the intention of making Deadwing into a feature film one day. While it is not exactly clear what the album’s concept really is, the album’s lyrics point to a sort of ghost story and people communicating with the dead. There are many points on the album where you hear strange, eerie, and inhuman noises that indicates that a ghostly presence is near. The beginning of the title track contains lots of noises like that. Lyrically, songs like Lazarus and Halo also indicate this. Lyrics like My David don't you worry/this cold world is not for you/so rest your head upon me/I have strength to carry you, really reveals what the album really could be about. The eerie yet beautiful piano melodies and Wilson’s soothing delivery really sells the mother’s desire to connect with her dead son. Halo is the darkest song on the album and it is actually quite humorous at the same time. Under a distinct bassline and a subtle driving guitar riff an angel is actually bragging about how great being an angel is to another person. It’s quite an enjoyable song and also quite an intriguing one.
With the exception of Open Car, the second half of the album is a lot less heavy than the first half. Mellotron is driven by a simple yet effective piano tune and psychedelic vocals. The electric guitar picks up towards the end, but nothing too memorable. In fact, the latter half as a whole is not as unforgettable as the first half, but The Start of Something Beautiful is one of the best songs on the album. It’s not every day that Wilson’s voice is the highlight of the song. He really shines in this song as he sings about a parent reminiscing about their dead child. Once again, his guitar riff dominates and Gavin’s unique time signature doesn’t disappoint. Glass Arm Shattering is the most psychedelic song on Deadwing with Wilson’s mesmerizing vocal performance. However, the song as whole is quite boring because nothing substantially interesting happens in it. It’s not a bad song in any way, but The Start Of Something Beautiful would have made a better closer.
Out of every single outstanding song on Deadwing, the one that stands high above every other is Arriving Somewhere But Not Here. It’s the most progressive song on Deadwing and also a demonstration of the band’s musicianship as a whole. The entire song is one giant crescendo. It starts out slow and steady with ambient keyboards playing as the acoustic guitar builds in the background. It finally explodes into an inspiring rhythm with a droning guitar in the background. Wilson’s guitar solo around the 6:30 mark is one of the most memorable he has ever done and it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. The song fades out with another droning guitar note in the background. It really is one of the best songs the band as a whole has ever created and they should be proud of this crowning achievement.
It’s assuring to know that even after their eighth solo album, the band is not running out of ideas for making music. Even after releasing In Absentia, they managed to release something that almost matches the wow factor of it. The album has it’s shortcomings like having a lackluster closer and some cringe worthy lyrics on Open Car, but those flaws are easily overlooked by how amazing the complete package is. Any Porcupine Tree fans who have not heard this yet or fans of progressive music should definitely give this a listen. There are many moments where you will been amazed and mesmerized.