Sound — 10
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.
Lyrics — 9
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.
Overall Impression — 10
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.