With their usual penchant for creating absolutely wonderful sound-scapes coupled with thought provoking and emotionally driven lyrical themes, Porcupine Tree
has created a near-masterpiece with their 2009 double CD release “The Incident” This review covers part one of that album.
Musically, “The Incident” is a tightly connected concept album that effortlessly and seamlessly flows throughout by using both contrasting movements and repeating themes. With the former, five tracks are acoustically driven, while four tracks are headlined by heavy guitar riffs. This applies to structures within some songs as well, like the soft/hard verse/chorus structure on “In The Blind
House”, the acoustic 1st verse and heavy electric 2nd verse on “Time Flies”, and the spacey interludes that appear in a number of songs like “Drawing The Line” and “The Incident”. Concerning the latter, the opening overture, “Occam’s Razor
” appears a second time on the later track, “Degree Zero
Of Liberty” and “The Séance” is basically a part 2 to the prior track “Octane Twisted
” by way of the same main theme.
What holds the entire project together (including the arguably filler tracks to round out the main musical pieces) is the expertise level of musicianship that all of the members possess. The result of these kinds of abilities not only transforms mere sounds into impressive music, but evokes such a wide range of emotional reactions that adds to the listening experience as well - from uneasy and moody to trippy, eerie, spacey, and other-worldly. The interlude “The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train” is a perfect illustration of that with its peaceful lull led by a synthesized female vocal line. Another impressive example is the variety of resounding percussional sounds on the third movement of “Octane Twisted
Lyrically, the notion of “The Incident” being a concept album becomes a little bit less clear. Although there are repeated lines and themes in some areas, other songs are a little harder to tie into a supposed main idea, which centers around the life of a man who joins a cult of the David Koresh variety. To be sure, many parts will whiz over the heads of those trying to understand the concept completely, but it isn’t confusing or misleading - just complex, perhaps to a fault.
What saves “The Incident’ from flying too far out of reach is the number of songs of simple construction that succeeds in hooking the listener with main choruses that resonates in the ear afterwards, including possible best track “I Drive
” with it’s finale type feel and “Drawing The Line” - possibly the most engaging song with its Hammond solo, muffled trumpet line in the intro, and spacey (once again) drum segments. Even “Time Flies”, with it’s obvious and possibly intentional echoing of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” proves it’s strength with it’s reverberating bass line, powerful lyrics, and aggressive acoustic strumming of which the main theme is delivered by.
The only legitimate criticism that can be made of “The Incident” can someday be it’s greatest aspect - that its an album of considerable genius by default due to the complex nature of the overall concept. However, if one were to just sit back and let the music of “The Incident” be the guide, Porcupine Tree
will deliver in providing a most wonderful journey. Nonetheless, it is one of the most creative and amazing progressive metal albums to have come out in 2009.