Lava Records, 2005
REVIEW BY: Sam Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/2009
Porcupine Tree has always been the type of band where each new release is unpredictable and unconventional, yet always fresh and unique; Deadwing maintains this trend. The album manages to intertwine the surreal, spatial sound of the band's earlier work with the heavier, metallic sound from their previous release In Absentia, and in doing so creates an experience that any fan of prog rock will drool over.
Steven Wilson, frontman and the group’s head songwriter, crafts a melancholy tale of death, isolation, religion, and ghosts of the past, in such a way that the experience is almost dream-like. The songs range from heavy rockers like “Shallow” and “Halo” to the beautiful ballads of “Mellotron Scratch” and “Lazarus,” while the title track and the epic centerpiece of the album, “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here,” manage to combine the two effortlessly, creating a style and sound that is truly progressive in every sense of the word.
Wilson mans lead guitar and vocals, which remain the highlights of the album. The vocals serve as the framework of each piece, delivering trance-like textures and emotional cries that are one of a kind, while the guitar work is no less than stunning, whether it’s in the booming riffs, acoustic ballads, or angelic melodies. On keyboards and synthesizers is Richard Barbieri, whose dreamy progressions and otherworldly backdrops have given Porcupine Tree their own unique sound. His work on Deadwing is an essential part of the whole package; the captivating piano melodies in “Lazarus” and synth work throughout the rest of the album is nothing short of magical. Manning the rhythm section is Gavin Harrison on drums and Colin Edwin on bass; together they guide the album with rolling beats and unique rhythms, completing the masterful package.
Nearly every track on this album is spectacular in its own right, but there are several songs which will likely stand out the most for listeners. The title track serves as an overture for the album, giving you a taste of everything that is to come and combining the different styles of the album flawlessly. “Lazarus,” the album's second single after “Shallow,” is easily one of the strongest tracks on the album, a piano ballad that combines beautiful lyrics and harmonies effortlessly. The epic twelve-minute track “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” serves as the centerpiece of the album, switching from spacey and melodic to heavy and searing at an incredibly smooth and natural rate; with the addition of several beautiful guitar solos, this song stands proudly among the band's very best. Serving as the coda of the album is “Glass Arm Shattering,” an auditory work of art that will leave you speechless. After five minutes of silence, the album truly ends with a remixed version of “Shesmovedon,” a classic Porcupine Tree hit that was originally released on the Lightbulb Sun album.
As an avid fan of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson's unique, genre-transcending style has never ceased to amaze me. And with Deadwing, this remains as true as ever. The songs manage to be very accessible to new listeners, while still pleasing the more serious fans with incredibly deep lyrics and song structure. Whether you are a fan of Wilson's work or not, this album is a must have and makes a wonderful addition to any collection. Music fans of every type will find something worthwhile in this package, and I guarantee this album will be heralded as a masterpiece for years to come.