Porcupine Tree - Closure/Continuation
Music For Nations
Progressive Rock
7 songs (48:01)
Release year: 2022
Porcupine Tree, Music For Nations
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

It has been a long decade since the unsatisfying ending to the Porcupine Tree story that was The Incident. Steven Wilson has seemingly been focused entirely on his solo career since then, initially to deserved praise as he explored his progressive influences, perhaps less so recently with difficult "adult pop" forays Hand Cannot Erase and The Future Bites. It's easy to be cynical and see a Porcupine Tree reunion as a response to that - solo projects failing leading back to reunion tour territory as often as A leads to B - yet apparently Wilson has been working secretly on new Porcupine Tree material over the last decade alongside previous collaborators Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison! If not bassist Colin Edward; the roots of the album came from jam sessions with Wilson on bass, and he apparently felt it unfair to ask Edward to play music he hadn't contributed to. The rest of the album came together over various sessions between the three, operating together deliberately to avoid similarities with Wilson's solo material. And it was finalised thanks to Covid lockdowns giving the members enough time to finish rather than label pressure, meaning the band could write for themselves and take their time.

For of course, that album title speaks volumes. Porcupine Tree needed a proper ending, a closure, and yet the material here is fresh enough - and, obviously, good enough - that a continuation is entirely possible. We're at the mercy of Mr Wilson, who is currently preparing for his latest solo album's 2023 release. If this is the end, then it's far from a disappointing one, and easily a better finale than The Incident. Where that was bloated, this is stripped down; feeling like a back-to-basics kind of album focused around the prog/alt rock of Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet, if not as heavy and metallic as the latter. It's definitely rock where Wilson's solo material has strayed into pop terrain, however, even with guitarless proggy electronic piece Walk the Plank; the album deliberately written to avoid singles and radio play in favour of the whole. And it's also not a concept album, flowing well yet without that overreaching theme that ties the whole together. Closure/Continuation feels very much like a record that could have come out years ago, resuming the Porcupine Tree story after ...Blank Planet much better than The Incident did.

The closest comparison is actually probably Tool's Fear Inoculum, Closure/Continuation sharing that feel of a mature work from an aging band without also feeling so watered down and weary. Sure, it worked for Tool, but there's steel in the spine of Porcupine Tree yet. Opener Harridan is strident and proud, kicking off with a downright Rush-ian bass noodle, ominous separated vocals from Wilson and a technical and intricate drumbeat from Harrison before one of the more immediate choruses on the album. Those big, groovy riffs that we expect from later Porcupine Tree are present and correct with a touch of Tool-esque drama in the atmosphere, particularly in the latter half when the instrumental sections wander away on their own, or the vocals are only accompanied by acoustic guitar. It's infectious and arresting as an eight minute opening song, even though it follows plenty of other tracks here in not really ending so much as passing away, bourne aloft on soft strums and ambience.

And the songs that follow are just as good; critics often accuse Porcupine Tree of being emotionally detached but it's simply untrue. Ballad Of the New Day is full of indignant riffs and heartfelt lyrics about starting anew and dealing with the past, and there's schoolboy angst on the downright beautiful and distinctly Pink Floyd-esque Dignity. Sure, the alien invasion paranoia on Herd Culling is a leftward swing, perhaps one of the weaker songs present with a repetitive structure at over seven minutes long but it is effective while it lasts. And this is all alongside more metallic fare in the enjoyable Rats Return, a nervous bit of prog switching between heavy, jittery Opeth-like riffs and languid singing, both backed by Harrison's jazz-tinged beat and subtle keyboard inflections. The nine-minute plus Chimera's Wreck is especially impressive, opening with delicate acoustic plucks that build up with vocal wordless harmonising into a more technical guitar-led rocker that keeps you hooked throughout. And several excellent bonus tracks are worth hearing, including Rush-ian technical workout Population Three, all pent-up tension and melodic interplay, and Never Have's intricate balladry especially impressive. You do wonder why any of them weren't considered up to the task of main album listing... Even without them, however, Closure/Continuation is a more than solid album and comeback for Porcupine Tree, and as much as we would all like the band to continue indefinitely, if this be the end, it's an end that Wilson and co can be proud of.

Killing Songs :
Harridan, Of the New Day, Rats Return, Chimera's Wreck
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Porcupine Tree that we have reviewed:
Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Porcupine Tree - On The Sunday Of Life reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Porcupine Tree - The Incident reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Porcupine Tree - Deadwing reviewed by Boris and quoted 89 / 100
Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream reviewed by Khelek and quoted 94 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jul 19, 2022 6:59 am
View and Post comments