Porcupine Tree
Signify


5.0
classic

Review

by Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (82 Reviews)
October 31st, 2013 | 166 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Porcupine Tree embraces their atmospheric side in an unforgettable experience of vast soundscapes, fantastic production, and sheer emotional power.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no record in the Porcupine Tree discography sounds the same. Every time you come to a new record in their expansive history it is an entirely new experience. However, as someone who heard Stupid Dream right before this, I didn’t expect this. With Signify, you don’t get the polished sound of In Absentia or the accessible sound of Lightbulb Sun or Stupid Dream. No, what you get is something entirely different and staggeringly more engaging than anything succeeding it. Signify is an amazing experience of catharsis filled with an ominous atmosphere, beautifully written instrumentals, and masterful vocal harmonies. Rest assured, this album is a one of a kind experience from top to bottom.

The band has always had atmosphere, but what makes Signify different is the way that the atmosphere is conveyed. “Bornlivedie” starts off the record with a creepy burst of swelling ambience and strange voice recordings. It sets the tone for the entire album and lets the listener know that the experience will be quite a bleak one. The album soon explodes once “Bornlivedie” transitions seamlessly into the heavy metal title track. The weight of the guitar blatantly apparent as Steve Wilson ruthlessly picks away one of the band’s heaviest guitar riffs and the sound of Chris Maitland drums really adds to the effect. Not to mention that his drum rolls really give their current drummer, Gavin Harrison, a run for his money. Oddly enough, this song is actually a cover of a song made by Neu! and a damn good one at that.

Make no mistake that the brilliance continues into the psychedelic “Sleep Of No Dreaming.” It actually could feel right at home on Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun because it is indeed more accessible than the previous tracks. However, its accessible nature doesn’t take away from the effect of the album’s overall atmosphere. The song is quite sorrowful in its lyrical content and the way that Wilson’s voice sounds in the soaring chorus is breathtaking. Believe it or not, he actually demonstrates a very decent vocal range in this song. His vocal performance it quite fitting for the experience. He showcases more vocal finesse on the beautifully disturbing “Sever”. The song begins with a drawn out guitar note that almost sounds like a horn from a steam ship and believe it or not, it is quite unsettling. The chorus features stunning vocal harmonies and the lyrics are incredibly, well, out there. They are hypnotically delivered and they really come across as describing a world where people are heavily controlled like zombies. “No sense of time/Sever tomorrow/Exitless mind.”

Another fantastic trait of this album is the brilliant use of tribal drum beats. In the cornerstone of the album, “Waiting,” they play an essential part in building the mood. It’s split up into two phases and phase one is the more poppy side of it. Wilson’s sings about yearning for something new to happen and being on the verge of depression and according to the lyrical content, drugs are one of the solutions to this problem. After a few minutes the song then breaks into an absolutely wonderful guitar solo. However, the real stunner actually happens to be the instrumental second half that is phase two. The song is essentially an immense build up with ambience and it utilizes the tribal drums incredibly well. Phase two soon explodes into a crescendo at the four minute mark that you won’t soon forget. Words almost cannot describe how much you will moved at the sound of all of the textures beautifully mashing together. The guitar solo is inspiring, epic, emotional, and borderline tearjerking. It really showcases to sheer and overpowering effect that music can have and if you can listen hard enough, you can hear the very faint strings pecking through that add to the emotional effect.

There are often times on this record where Colin Edwin’s bass guitar is the driving force of the song and he is the real star of the show on “Idiot Prayer” and “Intermediate Jesus”. Once again, “Idiot Prayer” utilizes tribal drum beats and is another build into an extremely masterful bass riff from Colin. He sets the stage for Wilson’s guitar that comes in shortly after. People often say that the bass is just there for the sake of having it, but this is not ever the case with Porcupine Tree because Colin really opens your eyes to how powerful of an instrument the bass can be. His bass riff in “Intermediate Jesus” only adds to the extremely experimental mood of the song. The song boasts provocative voice recordings about religion, psychedelic guitar riffs, and a really jazzy drumming performance from Chris.

The album ends with “Dark Matter” and it is the perfect song to end on because it describes how this has become a full time career for Wilson, but it preaches about all of the hard work it took to get to where they are. The negative side of the song then turns itself around with another inspiring guitar riff until the very end. Once it ends, you will only want to start it over again. The record’s fantastic sound, very vast soundscapes, and sheer emotional power will never leave you and it is truly the essence of an unforgettable experience. This sure has become a full time career Wilson, and for that we thank you.



Recent reviews by this author
Deftones Diamond EyesAnathema Judgement
Low Roar 0A Slow Descent Secrets of a Melting Moon
Opeth Pale CommunionDeftones Saturday Night Wrist
user ratings (832)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Really happy with the way this turned out. It finally happened, this surpassed In Absentia for me :D

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


16023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice rev, my fave PT, gonna put idiot prayer on now on repeat for 2 hours, pos

Digging: iamthemorning - Belighted

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha thanks man. Seriously, that bass...

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


16023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea jamming it right now head bobbing

KILL
October 31st 2013


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great job album rules

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks man. What songs don't you like off this?

KILL
October 31st 2013


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

none of em

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh really? 4 usually indicates songs you think are lackluster, at least that's how it works for me.

KILL
October 31st 2013


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dude 4 is a high ass score but i dont find this as great as the sky moves sideways n shit

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

True that is very high. Would you say that Sky Moves Sideways is more Floyd like?

KILL
October 31st 2013


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea def, there isnt too much in them but i prefer the vibe of sky

the title track is just too good

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I have their whole discography sitting in my itunes so I listen to their first three soon. I'm kinda scared to listen to Sunday though haha

KILL
October 31st 2013


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sunday has some diamonds in the shit, nostalgia factory n radio active toy are great

i find it more interesting than the incident

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh really? Read the default review for it and sounds weird as fuck. Whatever, I still plan to try it all.

johnnydeking29
October 31st 2013


9099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent album, Dark Matter is one of the bestest songs ever

Digging: Dark Tranquillity - Character

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2013


3450 Comments


Here's some brief criticism:

Every time you come to a new record in their expensive history it is an entirely new experience


Aside from that, this is a really good review. Your first paragraph is super strong and although there are some kinda faulty sentences it generally works well. Saying things like "the band has always had atmosphere" is kind of silly, but paragraphs like your third really flow well and work quite nicely. I can point out specific sentences that don't work if you'd like, but overall this is nice.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks so much man! So good to know I've improved I love doing this. Corrected that by the way. And can you point out some sentences that don't work?

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
October 31st 2013


3450 Comments


Sure, here you go:

You really feel the weight of the guitar as Steve Wilson ruthlessly picks away one of the band’s heaviest guitar riffs and the sound of Chris Maitland drums really adds to the effect. Not to mention that his drum rolls really give their current drummer, Gavin Harrison, a run for his money

the switch to "you" feels weird

Oddly enough, this song is actually a cover of a song made by Neu! and a damn good one at that.


The song begins with a drawn out guitar note that almost sounds like a horn from a steam ship and believe it or not, it is quite unsettling.


just to pick out a few

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2013


10247 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ok man thanks I'll change that when I had time later

Parallels
October 31st 2013


6641 Comments


"4 usually indicates songs you think are lackluster, at least that's how it works for me."

A 4 for me means I usually love every song. If I thought a few songs were lackluster I'd probably give it a 3 or 3.5, depending on how much room they take on the album.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy