2007 saw the release of Porcupine Tree’s Fear Of A Blank Planet. This concept album is made of six songs dealing with the problems and fears of today’s youth and has a melancholic but also very aggressive sound.
The opening (also title) track starts with the clicking of a computer keyboard and suddenly a hectic melody kicks in. This song simply rocks hard and fast for seven and a half minutes, similar to the previous album’s opener Deadwing (which is the album’s title track as well, surprisingly) and segues into the orchestral ballad My Ashes which features great vocals by Steven Wilson
The next song is the nearly eighteen-minute-long Anesthetize featuring a guitar solo by Rush’s Alex Lifeson. This track is a tour de force, starting off in a nervous way with rather high speed again. The band creates an enormous tension during the first minutes with slight rhythmical and textural changes. The chorus is first heard at circa eight minutes and the tension is still rising until the pressure is released in a heavy passage at eleven minutes with a lot of thrashing. After that the song transforms into a slower ballad with layered vocals, ending with a synthesizer soundscape that fades away. Gavin Harrison’s drumming is very good on this track as he can finally “let it all out”, so to speak.
Sentimental is another ballad, this time with a very reverberative sound, followed by the psychedelic song Way Out Of Here. King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp’s soundscapes are featured on this one. The band bursts out into another metal passage in the second half but the song ends with ethereal strings sounds and the rhythm section still playing.
The final track Sleep Together begins with industrial-like synthesizer arpeggios and a similar drum beat. Above that the band starts creating a tense atmosphere, especially during the chorus. In the middle of the song an orchestra joins in and rises the tension with a great crescendo after which nearly everything stops. Only the arpeggios and the drums continue until the band and the orchestra top the song off with another epic and even longer crescendo. This is by far the album’s best track!
Although there are many similarities to the previous album Deadwing, Porcupine Tree still managed to develop their sound on Fear Of A Blank Planet by adding more metal and orchestral elements, once more creating a very powerful and great album.
written by Wolfgang Merx