UG Team, on october 08, 2009 2 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: The ever-prolific Porcupine Tree must have soiled a few pants when they announced that their latest offering, The Incident', would be a beefy two-disc album. Sure, it's not actually a double album but the generous dollop of songs on top of the 55-minute centrepiece is appreciated nonetheless. Let us start at the beginning though, with the monster itself. Porcupine Tree haven't written a really long song since The Sky Moves Sideways' so it's interesting to see the way its approached considering the stylistic changes they've made in the 14 years since Sky', from freeform psychedelic freakouts to an approach based more on artistically stretching conventions rather than ignoring them completely. Right enough, the first disc is split into fourteen tracks; this is presumably for accessibility purposes but really The Incident' is a collection of songs that simply flow into each other naturally.
These songs are definitely a mixed bag; straight out of the starting blocks things seem pretty confidently laid down, and the first song-proper The Blind House' plays on recent fan acclaim for the band over injecting that extra bit of heaviness. It doesn't half make their sound easy to segregate, though. The divides between heavy', poppy' and proggy' are more evident than ever so when those moulds are broken up with different things (The Yellow Windows Of The Evening Train', The Incident') it is greatly welcomed. The album's similarities to Fear Of A Blank Planet' are a little unsettling, as that album seemed to be the result of some very special sessions, but lo and behold on The Incident' the same sort of imagery is back and the social-conceptual lyrics are back. Thankfully the Woah dude, this sounds like Meshuggah/Opeth!' factor is not as painfully exploited as it could have been; instead the album takes a lot of its cues from Blackfield and Steven Wilson's recent solo effort Insurgentes'.
The four standalone songs that make up the second disc of the album are naturally easier to digest, but stylistically do not differ massively from the first disc. In fact three of them are in the downtempo ballad style that the band has always excelled at. The best song of the four though is the mechanical and dark Bonnie The Cat', which lulls you into an odd false sense of security before biting viciously. The sad thing is that all of The Incident', good or bad, comes from similarly good or bad points from all of PT's work. It's always going to be worth listening to Porcupine Tree, because their vocal melodies are always memorable and their songs are never offensive. Not to mention, the altar of drum maestro Gavin Harrison is still there to be worshipped at. Still, the acoustic jangling of Time Flies'; the calculated riffing of Circle Of Manias'; the, erm, acoustic jangling of Great Expectations'; it's all come from somewhere else in the band's catalogue and that makes this entire work seem somewhat complacent when it comes to creativity. // 6
Lyrics: Lyrically The Incident' is a great success. Being such an obvious continuation of Fear Of A Blank Planet', this one ran the risk of appearing to be very corny. This has been side-stepped with ease though, as Wilson tackles very real stories to construct the concept that weaves together the first disc. The idea is to try and humanize stories that are filtered through the media in the form of information which is obligated to lack empathy. Unlike Fear's overtired sex, drugs, screens and hoodies' theme, the quick passing of the baton onto different examples helps each individual song become its own piece of the finished puzzle. Particularly special is the closing I Drive The Hearse' which features a mysterious narrative that leaves affairs on a thought-provoking note, both musically and lyrically.
As I said before, it's easy to enjoy Steven Wilson's vocals and at times when little else really seems to be there he can carry a song single-handedly. He applies a disappointingly small range of tones however, which occasionally actually bars segments from getting any higher up the quality ladder than the point pleasant'. // 8
Overall Impression: Considering the band's consistently excellent output for the last few years, The Incident' can easily be seen as the band taking a well-deserved rest before they really start to push themselves again. It obviously takes a very different form to their other records but it doesn't feel like anything new has really been done, and that all the effort that's been put in has been to make the ambitious first disc work'. Don't get me wrong, it does work and the pieces move together very well, plus pieces like I Drive The Hearse', The Incident' and The Sance' are beautifully composed and executed; the primary issue here is with weak links and sadly that's what The Incident's role will probably become in Porcupine Tree's discography. // 6
A Modern Myth, on october 08, 2009 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Incident is hard to describe simply. It has both the old-skool PT sound of ethereal dreaminess, the newer sound of crashing guitars, and a brand new, more electronic sound present throughout both discs. The entire album sounds lighter in places than the last offering, Fear of a Blank Planet/Nil Recurring, and at times, sounds a lot darker (The title track, Circle of Manias, Bonnie the Cat) than before, creating an interesting medley of sounds present throughout the album.
The indefinable PT sound is almost always present throughout the album, and it is pleasant to hear a lot more vocal harmonies this time around as compared to Fear of a Blank Planet. However, some of the riff sounds seem to be recycled at times, and are heavily influenced by Opeth and Meshuggah. Some may not like this, whilst others do. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics this time around are mostly better than Fear of a Blank Planet's lyrics, being more widely varied, and yet at the same time, show a homage to the previous album during some songs. There are a few songs which are very bad lyrically, Your Unpleasant Family springs to mind as does Flicker, which makes no sense lyrically yet sounds very pretty, as does Bonnie the Cat which has a sense of dark brooding desperation up until the point where you hear "I hold your birth control to ransom", and begin to wonder exactly what the song is about.
However, this album does have better lyrics than Fear of a Blank Planet, but does not reach to the same heights that In Absentia and Deadwing managed to carve out. Steven Wilson's voice this time around sounds a lot more natural as well, and doesn't sound forced when compared to previous songs such as Trains or Anesthetize. // 7
Overall Impression: This album is a very strong album, both when looked at as a whole and individually, as there are very few bad songs on it. The most impressive songs on the album in this writers opinion are The Blind House, Drawing the Line, Kneel and Disconnect, Time Flies and I Drive The Hearse, which once again proves Steven Wilson's mastery for choosing an amazing ending track.
Overall, a better album than Fear of a Blank Planet, and definitely in the top 3 albums of this writer. If stolen, would hunt down the thief and end the thief and take the album back, because it is that damn good. // 8
tommyg_99, on october 08, 2009 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: First impression based on listening to Porcupine Tree's new studio project The Incident: wow.
The album is structured around Steven Wilson's creation of a 'song cycle' of a magnitude that he has not attempted before. The title track 'The Incident' has a running time of just over 55 minutes, and it holds the listeners attention for just as long. Along with this comes a second disc featuring 4 tracks that Wilson felt did not fit with the theme of The Incident.
The style is no doubt a return on Porcupine Tree's previous works, seeming to be almost a mixture of the last 3 albums with the darker elements of Fear of a Blank Planet (The Blind House, The Incident) and the lighter touches of In Absentia (Kneel and Disconnect, Remember Me Lover) with the heavy grandeur of Deadwing (Circle of Manias, Time Flies).
Wilson seems adamant to give each song its own individual feel (with the exception of Occam's Razor and Degree Zero Of Liberty). The sound is often reminiscent of the Signify days, but the whole of The Incident is like an indulgent spin on what Anesthetize (from Fear Of A Blank Planet) could have been.
With elements of the art/prog rock that Porcupine Tree are known for, with the recent metal touches from Fear Of A Blank Planet, and a twist of industrial influences that call on Steven Wilson's recent solo effort Insurgentes, The Incident is a magnificent escape into Wilson's world, and once again, it ticks all the points of what makes a good album. // 10
Lyrics: 'I wrote about the evacuation of teenage girls from a religious cult in Texas, a family terrorizing its neighbors, a body found floating in a river by some people on a fishing trip, and more. Each song is written in the first person and tries to humanize the detached media reportage,' says Wilson.
As can be seen in the limited edition boxset (which includes an amazing 116 page hardcover clothbound book featuring photography by always dependable collaborator Lasse Hoile, a 48 page collection of drawings by German artist Hajo Mueller) the photographs and the lyrics seem to reflect these situations and although generally speaking, his lyrics are quite often complex and obscure, the said stories can be extracted.
Steven Wilson's vocals are once again close to flawless; his distinctive tone and delivery sharp and clear in the mix. There are less vocal effects on this album, which give it a slightly more personal tone. Wilson has one of the most soothing and powerful voices in the industry today.
Some favourite lyrics include:
'Kneel and disconnect and waste another year
Fill the application, start a new career' - Kneel And Disconnect'Driving by on my way to somewhere else
I fill my lungs with a noxious burning smell
There is weed and grey concrete like this for miles
Dead souls in my rear view mirror hitch a ride for a while' - The Incident'You see there's something wrong here
I'm sorry if I'm not clear
Can you stop smoking your cigar?' - Time Flies'Under gas light, the joining of hands
Chanting a name over and over
The table tilts, the circle is broken
Doubting no more
They pay what they owe her' - The Seance'And silence is another way of saying what I wanna say
And lying is another way of hoping it will go away' - I Drive The Hearse'There are three things that I would die for
But I am sure you're not one of them' - Bonnie The Cat'I didn't wanna feel like a slave to your mood swings
And I'm not saying anything I wouldn't say behind your back' - Remember Me Lover // 10
Overall Impression: Most albums, I would never give 10 from 10, but this is definitely an exception. A voice inside me tells me that getting the limited edition box set has had quite an influence on how much I enjoy listening to the album, although to be honest, I don't think it has to a large extent.
In comparison with other albums from Porcupine Tree's back catalogue, I have to say it stands a fair chance of being the best of the lot, and that is definitely saying something.
The most impressive songs from the album to me are The Blind House, Kneel And Disconnect, Drawing The Line, The Incident, Time Flies, Circle of Manias, I Drive The Hearse, Bonnie The Cat, Black Dahlia and Remember Me Lover. And I love all of the ones I didn't mention as well.
This is one of the best albums I have heard in a long long time. If it got stolen, you have no idea how pissed I would be. No idea. Bravo Porcupine Tree, you've done it again. // 10
Normul, on october 08, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Incident is a monster of an album. The sound quality is the best in the business and the music is some of the most innovative and progressive music to date. Steven Wilson's writing style has always been very album based, but he truly stepped it up a notch with this record. The entire first disc is, arguably, one continuous piece of music. The songs were written in the order they appear on the album and some segments are revisited. Wilson's ultra-precise, seemingly obsessive production and mixing style assures the listener a clean, continuous flow of music.
01. Occam's Razor: a brief, but dark and heavy instrumental that leads into the first whole song of the album. The guitar tones are very reminiscent of a certain Swedish death metal band Steven Wilson has been known to associate with.
02. The Blind House: a surprisingly catchy and flowing song, considering the 5/4 time signature. The heavy aspect of the album is very much still alive in this track. Near the end, a very drifting and ambient section leads into to a brief section the heavier riff from earlier in the same song.
03. Great Expectations: short, melodic, useful and a reminder of the "Stupid Dream"/"Lightbulb Sun" days. The acoustic guitar sound here is magnificent.
04. Kneel And Disconnect: a very peaceful, quite brief piano ballad. Colin Edwin plays some subtle, but fantastic fretless bass on this track.
05. Drawing The Line: the second verse/chorus track on the album. A floating and textured sound sets a nice atmosphere during the verses. The choruses are quite contrasting; a pulsing, distorted guitar carries over Gavin Harrison's jazz influenced tom drumming and Steven's most outwardly aggressive vocal track to date. This is sure to be one of the most popular tracks from the record.
06. The Incident: the title track is centered around a synth loop, an eerie, whispered vocal loop and cooperation between Mr. Harrison and a drum machine. The spontaneous and rhythmic distorted guitars add a heavy, noisy side to the latter half of the song. By far the strangest, most experimental track on the album.
07. Your Unpleasant Family: a drum machine beginning in the end of the previous track carries into this single-verse song. After the only vocal melody in the track, an ambitious and quite impressive guitar solo from Steven drifts into the next song.
08. The Yellow Windows Of The Evening Train: a short, ambient, deceivingly layered mood piece that serves as a passage way to what could be considered the second half of the album.
09. Time Flies: the monstrous, nostalgic and quintessentially Porcupine Tree song "Time Flies" visits many aspects of band's musical repertoire and spans nearly 12 minutes in length. It features a pulsating and aggressive acoustic riff, strummed quite rapidly in 6/8 throughout most of the song. A lengthy instrumental interlude appears in the center of the track and revolves around a finger picked acoustic part that is also a reminder of the Opeth association.
10. Degree Zero Of Liberty: this instrumental revives the riff featured in the opening track and sets the album up for the final 4 tracks.
11. Octane Twisted: "Octane Twisted" is an unpredictable and puzzling song. It starts in a very peaceful manner, especially in relation to the intense song that proceeds it. This peace doesn't last long, however. The second half of the song has a very 'twisted' 5/4 riff and a certain Gavin Harrison making his big mark on the album. His dynamic, intricate and tasteful drumming is becoming an essential aspect of this band's sound.
12. The Seance: this song shares it's intro riff and chorus melody with the song before it. Richard's ambient textures, combined with Steven's vocal harmonies make for a solid track. An extremely tasty acoustic section, once again in 5/4, arrives near the end of the song, leading into the 2nd to last track.
13. Circle Of Manias: the last instrumental of the album, this track is intense and serves to contrast the song it proceeds. Strange time signatures throughout, combined with shifty, distorted guitars make for a near "Meshuggah" sound.
14. I Drive The Hearse: Mr. Wilson really knows how to set up an album, and this record is no exception. A stereo-heavy chorus of acoustic guitars and fretless basses carry most of the weight for the first half of the song. The last half, and the last 3 minutes or so of the album, features the entire band fading out and another solid guitar solo from Steven. Perfect coda for this album. // 10
Lyrics: This album bares very few lyrical similarities to Fear Of A Blank Planet. Interestingly enough, nearly the entire album is written in first person. A few lines really standout. The title track has my personal favorite line of the album: "When a car crash gets you off you've lost your grip. When a f**k is not enough, you know you've slipped." Overall, far more abstract and psychedelic than anything the band has done since Signify.
Wilson's vocals haven't changed for the most part. There are many brilliant vocal harmonies and the singing isn't the most impressive in the world, but he makes it work and it wouldn't be Porcupine Tree without it. Look to "Drawing The Line" as the most impressive vocal track on the album. // 9
Overall Impression: This album is fantastic. That's the bottom line. This band is yet to disappoint, each release seems to build on the previous and this is, in my opinion, the best album they have made. It has certainly topped my album of the year list and is well worth the money. In a world where bands are releasing singles on iTunes and Amazon, it is refreshing to see a band go back to the true art of making an album. // 10
nicksword87, on october 08, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The newest installment from the Brit Progressive Rock band Porcupine Tree. It is technically one massive 55 minute song. It starts with some strong metallic guitar chords which pull you into the album, flowing nicely into the first melodic song. It really is a lot different to their previous record (Fear of a blank Planet) in which it isn't quite a metal influenced. Although don't get me wrong, it still has their distortion effects from high pitches to low rumbles. It is really remarkable how Steven Wilson goes from heavyish guitar to flow directly into a really relaxing piano part with acoustic guitar. Anyway, there is so much about this album it is getting quite hard to describe it. Apparently the album got it's name when Steven Wilson was driving and came upon a car accident and there was a sign which said "POLICE - INCIDENT" and he reflected on how cold the phrase Incident was and looked into other "Incidents". As per usual, they have got their Radiohead influence showing but have also got some very Muse like moments in the middle of the album as well as some Nine Inch Nail style guitar and drum beats. Also the Album is mastered for 5.1 surround to give it that extra something for people who appreciate the production half of the album. Also, this album comes as a 2 CD pack with an EP with 4 more stand alone songs on it. I have been listening to this since it came out a few weeks ago and ever time I listen to it I constantly hear something new. // 10
Lyrics: This album is not as lyric orientated as what FOABP was. It is more about the instrument parts and the way it was all put together. Almost as if PT created the music and Steven Wilson put the lyrics over the top. A few good parts but it is very basic lyric writing. Although on the other hand, Steven is a talented vocalist and brings some very good harmonies into it and he is one of the few people that can pull of a falsetto voice. // 8
Overall Impression: This is a huge step forward for PT, in my opinion, to get them back to the days of "In Absentia". And it is also getting a bit more publicity now that PT are with Roadrunner Records so a lot more younger people are getting into them more these days now. Their single type song "Time Flies" is a great song even if it sounds like Pink Floyd's "Dogs" from "Animals". "Great Expectations" is another brilliant song which goes from a soft guitar drive to high electric guitar to mellow piano and acoustic guitar with a beautiful vocal harmony. I love how everything is connected in this album and the start is brought back half way through to have a sense of theme and remind the listener that this is the same song essentially. The other members of the band also give their inputs like Gavin Harrison's little simple yet effective fills and complex drumming patterns. Also the inclusion of the EP gives the listener something else to look forward to when they have finished the initial album. If it were Lost or Stolen I would buy this again and again without the thought of downloading cross my mind. This is an exceptional album and highly recommend it to anyone regardless of musical taste. // 10