Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet
Roadrunner Records
Progressive Metal
6 songs (50.53)
Release year: 2007
Porcupine Tree, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Album of the month
The latest offering by England’s masters of modern prog is a hefty combination of their acidic, smoky beginnings from the likes of Up The Downstair and the more metallic, slightly simplified leanings displayed on later records like In Absentia. The hype beforehand led me to believe that Fear Of A Blank Planet would be the heaviest thing PT has ever done. This isn’t the case overall. The heaviest parts are devastating but in contrast, the mellow parts are more soothing than ever. The album is a classic case if both extremes taken to new levels.

The whole album, as the title and cover art reflect, revolves around a theme of children who are growing under the influence of drugs and assorted technological devices from TV to X-Boxes. Especially the lyrical thematics paint a grim picture of our future leaders and the young generation as a whole, which is getting desensitized and numbed by the current busy, consumerist culture. It is easy to take head honcho Steve Wilson’s words as a bit preachy and oversimplified, but I think they are very accurate in their thoughts and occasionally superfunny – in a black humour-sorta way. Being also a hypocrite who loaths the current state of popular culture, yet revels in many aspects of it, I ate the theme and story right from the start. The story of these kids - who occasionally sound like extras from a George Romero-flick – is very thought-provoking. Needless to say, our current western culture and the people engulfed by it get an earful on this record.

The opening title track mixes acoustic guitars with very metallic riffage and awesome rhythmics courtesy of Gavin Harrison, one of the most respectable drummers of our time. My Ashes is a classic piano-with-walls of strings-ballad that is extremely touching. One would have to be a stone cold cynic (which I often perceive myself as) not to be touched by the song.

Anesthetize takes proggy madness to another level again, as the whole juggernaught takes 17 and a half minutes to build from an eerie tribal intro into full blown, tempo-shifting insanity. The riffing and flurries of drumming in the middle of the song easily bring me vibes of Meshuggah, even though this is not that heavy. No 8-string guitars used by PT if I am not mistaken.

Sentimental is a slightly rocking ballad, which oddly borrows a chord passage and the rhythm part from Porcupine Trees own song, Trains. I consider this “steal” very clear, that it has been done intentionally and knowing that we fanboys are puzzled by this similarity while the songwriters laugh all the way to the bank. Along with the proggy metal and very pop-esque string sections and melodies, there are many elements of ambient mood music that blends in brilliantly with the organic sounds. The closing track Sleep Together is a prime example of this.

The playing on this record is super tight and even the bass lines are very varied and challenging as it should be with music like this. Wilsons voice might still turn some people off but he captures the desperate/numb/depressed/angry atmosphere of the songs marvellously. The production is top notch as every instrument pounds away with mighty force. I can only imagine what the 5.1. Surround mixing would sound like if I just had the right equipment.

Every fan of Porcupine Trees later works should adore this album and I firmly believe that the record could also bring in many new PT-fans. A must-have for friends of heavy, progressive music and very recommendable for everyone else as well.

Killing Songs :
Actually, all of them
Aleksie quoted 91 / 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 9 reviews click here
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