Review Summary: The Incident is another solid entry into the Porcupine Tree discography despite some lackluster lyrics and its bloated length.
Not many people can suddenly come up with an idea from nothing. Steve Wilson did exactly this while sitting in traffic waiting for a deadly accident to be cleared off the road. Wilson felt as if the presence of the victims were sitting in the car with him almost like he could look in the mirror and see them sitting in the backseat. It's from this experience that the idea for this ambitious yet ultimately flawed concept album was born. The album features a collection of incredible songs that belong on a later greatest hits album while at the same time features some of the worst the band has ever done. The album as a whole is not bad by any means, but this is way too inconsistent and will not hold your attention for the entire listen.
The Incident is a concept album about events and “incidents” that have happened in the world such as a raid on a farmhouse that housed a cult in Texas. Most of the lyrical content is very compelling and songs like The Blind House really showcases Wilson at his lyrical best. Preceded by a series of chilling yet extremely repetitive chords in Occam’s razor, The Blind House is a hard hitting account of the cult in Texas. Wilson’s fantastic lyrics, intense guitar riff, and exceptional drumming really sells the heart breaking account of these poor teenage girls. The song is passionate in its vocal delivery and it is the definite highlight of the album. Most of the first half of the album actually modeled after The Blind House so you’ll hear lots of basslines and soothing guitar riffs that sound very familiar. In fact the whole first half of the album is the most consistent despite the most abysmal song on this record Your Unpleasant Family being in the first half. Kneel and Disconnect is absolutely beautiful and shows Porcupine Tree at its psychedelic best. The vocal harmonies and soothing nature of the song is breathtaking. Another highlight is the title track whose first half sounds like an incredibly eerie Nine Inch Nails song. However, the second half turns into something more Porcupine Tree like as Wilson delivers “I just want to be loved” over and over again under a soaring guitar riff.
It wouldn't a Porcupine Tree without at least one incredibly progressive epic and that epic this time around is Time Flies. It’s one of the most inspiring songs the band has ever created because of its lyrics about living for now because time does in fact fly by faster than people realize. It boasts creative guitar riffs scattered throughout and the masterful bipolar transition from lighter music to dark music that Porcupine Tree is known for in its new style. It’s followed by a tweaked rehash of Occam’s razor which is an extremely strange discussion and it would have been best to not include Degree Zero of Liberty at all. Thankfully we get the exhilarating Octane Twisted directly after it that uses bits and pieces of The Blind House as a recurring element along with Gavin’s amazing drumming performance and Wilson’s inventive guitar riffs.
Unfortunately the latter half of the album including the four songs on the second disc separate from the album flow is full of songs that are completely forgettable with the exception of I Drive the Hearse and Circle of Manias. Thankfully I Drive the Hearse is incredibly catchy, has amazing guitar riffs, and stays in your head for quite a while and Circle of Manias is a masterfully explosion of metal music. Unfortunately the latter half can’t be saved from its lack of creativity and very lackluster lyrics. This lyrics are actually scattered throughout the entire album and Drawing the Line are the worst offenders. Your Unpleasant Family is terrible and is basically about how someone’s neighbor is annoying the hell out of the other. Wilson sings about taking control in Drawing the Line and the lyrics aren't any better. He also sounds like an overwhelmingly amateur singer because of how seemingly out of breath he becomes when delivering the chorus. Considering that the record is eighteen tracks long, some of these tracks definitely could have been removed altogether.
The Incident is definitely not Porcupine Tree’s best record to date. It is incredibly bloated clocking in at an unnecessary 76 minutes and has some terrible lyrics plaguing it. If some of these songs were removed it would have made the experience a lot more enjoyable. With that said, it still is not a bad record overall because it features many memorable songs like The Blind House, Time Flies, and Octane Twisted. The Incident is sure to not bring in any new fans, but any longtime fan of Porcupine Tree will definitely enjoy it.