PORCUPINE TREE — Fear Of A Blank Planet

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PORCUPINE TREE - Fear Of A Blank Planet cover
4.20 | 76 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 2007


1. Fear Of A Blank Planet (7:28)
2. My Ashes (5:07)
3. Anesthetize (17:42)
4. Sentimental (5:26)
5. Way Out Of Here (7:37)
6. Sleep Together (7:28)

Total Time 50:48


- Steven Wilson / Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboard
- Richard Barbieri / Keyboards, Synthesizer
- Colin Edwin / Bass
- Gavin Harrison / Drums

- Alex Lifeson / Guitar (track 3)
- Robert Fripp / Soundscapes (track 5)
- John Wesley / Backing Vocals

About this release

16 April 2007
Roadrunner Records, Atlantic Records

Dvd-A Edition (Transmission 6.1) has the following tracklist:

1. Fear Of A Blank Planet (7:28)
2. My Ashes (5:07)
3. Anesthetize (17:46)
4. Sentimental (5:26)
5. Way Out Of Here (7:37)
6. Sleep Together (7:28)
7. Nil Recurring (6:08)
8. Normal (7:09)
9. Cheating The Polygraph (7:10)
10. What Happens Now? (8:23)
11. Blank Planet (short film) (5:03)
12. Fear Of A Blank Planet (uncensored promo video) (4:56)
13. Anesthetize (live film) (17:13)

Total Time 99:50

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman for the addition and J-Man, bartosso, Lynx33, adg211288, Bosh66 for the updates


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Porcupine Tree is definitely a band of many words. Fronted by the one and only Steven Wilson, it's hard to guess what their next sound (although usually temporary) will be. This sort of way of musicianship is rather homogeneous with Wilson's acts, which range from noise and shoe-gaze to art rock and experimental rock. Very interesting man as well as the band he occupies. When asked, people in our present society may have partially forgotten PT, but those who do have an inkling of what they are know this album is their proclaimed best effort.

This band, as I stated before, has obvious similarities between Wilson's releases and their own in the fact that you don't know what they're going to do next. Antecedent to it's release, Porcupine Tree had already well moved on from the alternative spacey prog rock that was present on albums such as Lightbulb Sun. In Absentia of 2003 was most likely the turn-point of the bands musical ideology, moving into whole different sounds that contained heavy crunching riffs. The thing that was clear is that the band liked the new sound they developed, and quickly became one of the flagships of the progressive metal industry along with giants like Dream Theater and Opeth. But this album is something else. It balances both the anger of In Absentia and Deadwing with Lightbulb Sun-esque art rock, making for a decent mix.

My thoughts when I first heard this weren't that great. I've never been a huge fan of progressive metal in general, as stated in my previous reviews. Snark-y art metal seemed inane to me, and wasn't enjoyable in the least. I will admit that coming back to this, however, was actually much more impressive than the first. Wilson's monotone vocals coincide awkwardly with his own guitar and Edwin's base at times, though the quality and care put into the tracks outright redeems it pretty quickly. As an overall effect, this album does extremely well. I give kudos to Wilson and friends; they've impressed me this time.

(rating rounded from 3.5 to 4)
Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is their third album in a row to take the approach of In Absentia - in that whilst there are sufficient metal aspects to it to appeal to the prog metal crowd, there's also plenty of the space rock aspects which have always been an aspect of the band's sound, as well as indie-flavoured crossover moments reminiscent of Stupid Dream or Lightbulb Sun.

By this point in time, Steven Wilson had well and truly become prog aristocracy - when people like Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp are guesting on your albums you know you've become a big deal in the prog world - but far from resting on his laurels, Fear of a Blank Planet is a tighter and more carefully constructed album than Deadwing, and testament to the consistently high quality of Porcupine Tree's studio albums. I'd say it's the recommended next stop after In Absentia.
Many people would call this Porcupine Tree's masterpiece. Is it PT's best album? Perhaps. Is it a masterpiece? Well, at least one song is.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy this album very much-so (or else I wouldn't give it 4 stars), I just feel like there is one song that shoots way above the others. I find this album suffers from Octavarium syndrome, if you will (not everyone will agree with that, I know). I feel like there are obvious flaws in every song but the one. Obviously not too many flaws to get this rating, but some nonetheless. I'm sure most of you know what song is the one I am referring to, but let's just start a track by track review in cause you can't quite guess yet.

Fear Of a Blank Planet - A very solid intro to the album. Sometimes the lyrics can get a bit direct and cheesy, but the singing itself is pretty great. And also that being said, there are also some fantastic lyrics in this song. It's pretty hit-or-miss for me with Steven Wilson most of the time. That being said, the instruments are quite solid to good drumming to good tone with the guitars. With this song you know you're in for an excellent album with awesome musicianship and production.

My Ashes - Pretty straight forward, a nice short and sweet song that fits the concept of the whole album. If you're not emotionally invested in the album it's just going to be a snore-fest, but if you are and agree with the concept (stupid teenagers, basically) that Steven Wilson is trying to portray, then this should just be another enjoyable song on an enjoyable album.

Anesthetize - Yep. The Masterpiece. If every song was like this one, this would be one of my top 5 favorite albums, but alas, not every song is. Everything about this song is great. The production is great and the thoughts and ideas that come into this song are awesome. The more metal riffs or just the slower parts, everything is fantastic. It has a great mix of complexity and emotional, one of my all-time favorite songs.

Sentimental - Did you like My Ashes? Well, you'll love this! It has the same sort of chilled factor that My Ashes has, but I just think the piano works a lot better with the mood. Also, the lyrics are great on this song. Once again, you have to be emotionally invested to listen to this song. Not one of those where you can just turn on this one song without hearing the context of the whole album. I mean, I'm sure some people have turned it on and liked it just from this one song, but I'm sure the vast majority learned to appreciate even more when they finally "got it."

Way Out Of Here - Besides the lyrics at the start being the apex of Steven Wilson's cheesy and direct nature, it's a good song. But yes, the intro...those lyrics just don't do it for me. It just seems silly, but not in the good way. And to be honest, the lyrics don't get much better as the song goes along, it's the instruments that save this song. I love the part that switches from the heavy riff to the chorus multiple times, that part is very well done, and there are no lyrics. Besides the occasional "Waaaaaaaaay out, way out of here!" jargon smargon. And yes, on this part the lyrics are used well, just everywhere else is kinda...bleh. But the instruments are exquisite. This song is still fantastic, just could have been better.

Sleep Together - The worst song on the album. I mean, it still has good production and everything, it's just that nothing really shines on this song for me. I suppose the grand violin solo is a nice way to go out, but ehh...the lyrics are poor and it's just one song I don't get into. Usually when Steven Wilson goes into a chorus on this album I am reminded on how good it is, but not here. The good news about this song is that the last 2 minutes or so are quite excellent so the album doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Would I recommend this album? Of course! Is it their best? Best song, but not a consistent album. If you want to hear an album that's consistent all the way through, but doesn't quite have that awesome high-point, I'd give In Absentia a listen. Don't like that either? Well I'd give up, I guess some people like Deadwing a lot, but I just see so many flaws in that album that I don't get how others compare it to FoaBT or In Absentia, but that's for a different review, I suppose.

In conclusion: Highly recommended if you want like prog-rock/metal with a bit of emotion. Or if you hate those angst-filled teenagers.
After the alternative rock years, and slowly evolving their sound into a more malleable metal sound, Porcupine Tree's 2007 masterpiece came out as this. I heard of the band many times and being a fan of Opeth, I was advised to get some of their albums (they were nowhere to be found).After mistaking them for Screaming Trees (Dust, it was actually a very good album), I found this in HMV (before going to see The Reaping in the cinema) Went home, turned it on, and was blown away.

This album just is so different in so many ways, but still keeping that raw Porcupine Tree sound, with a few more metal like approaches.

1. Fear Of A Blank Planet - A song about todays teenagers. I was disagreeing with him at times (some pop culture mistakes), but he was able to display the complete pathos behind us teenagers (I am one, but I like prog, so I have a personallity). Amazing guitar parts and kick ass moments.

2. My Ashes - A lovely ballad like song. Amazing chorus and it really shows how good of a singer Steven is.

3.Anesthetize - Wow, what a song. The amazing slow part is very eerie and atmospheric with an amazing guitar solo from Alex Lifeson (the nazi from Rush). The metal part kicks ass and is one of my favourtie things to play on guitar. The last part is amazing with some monumental sounds from Mr. Barbieri. One of my all time favourite Porcupine Tree songs and one of my all time favourtie songs of all time. What a piece.

4. Sentimental - It's a bit overated (apparently), but yea, still a great song. I prefer Normal, the Nil Recurring version.

5. Way Out Of Here - In my opinion, the album should have ended with this song. What atomsphere, provided by Robert Fripp (he was allowed out of the home for a few days, and look what he does). The ending is so metal, metal parts are always bettter when they happen now and then.

6. Sleep Together - I love the dark electronic sound in this song. I prefer Way Out Of Here as an ending, but this

CONCLUSION: I saw this album in a second hand cd shop. I thought to myself, who would dare give this away!
Phonebook Eater

"Fear Of A Blank Planet" is so far Porcupine Tree's most accomplished and most refined effort.The must have Heavy Prog album of the last years.

After eighteen years of music, after eight wonderful albums, here comes Steven Wilson's masterpiece. Released only in 2007, "Fear Of A Blank Planet" is so far Porcupine Tree's most accomplished and most refined effort, an unforgettable album where all the musicians reach their highest peak, technically speaking and also for songwriting.

"Fear Of A Blank Planet" is a concept album about a kid, concerning today's problems of adolescence, which are basically isolation, the massive presence of technology in their lives, the insecurity, and the depression. The album is very well structured: six songs, with alternated moments: from tense, heavy riffs, with some violent moods, to nice, memorable ballads, spacey soundscapes, and interesting experimentation here and there. This is "Fear Of A Blank Planet". The first and last time excluding this that we've seen a six song PT album, was "The Sky Moves Sideways", a hymn to the most sincere ambient and psychedelic music. In this new album, the style is completely different. After 2002's album "In Absentia", the band reached a new sound, which reaches the highest point in this album. So, in a way, this album has new elements for the sound, and at the same time it comes back to the origins somehow.

The album starts with the title track, where after the brief intro starts with a tense, but catchy guitar riff . When the rest of the band comes in, the sound is even more tense. Great chorus, a repetition of the verse, and then comes in the middle part. We find here some mild jazz influences in these thirty seconds or so, until the song explodes once more with a heavy hook, until the finale arrives, where the mood is more relaxed, yet with always a tense feeling, as Wilson sings the last piece of the lyrics of the song. The track overall is amazing, surely one of my favorite tracks by PT.

"My Ashes" is a wonderful, mellow ballad, with many memorable moments. Great chorus, great keyboards, the main instrument in this track, and surprisingly good, haunting vocals by Wilson, accompanied by John Wesley. Definitely a song that you wouldn't want to miss.

"Anesthetize" is the epic, 17 minute piece, one of PT's best song and one of their highest peaks of their long career. Basically it can be divided in three big parts. In the first, which goes for five minutes, is a little builder, with interesting keyboards, and with another great performance by Wilson on vocals. This part increases in tension, an a solo comes in, until the second part starts. Now we a one note riff by a crunchy, heavy guitar that initially lays in the background, and meanwhile we hear a keyboard/ drum jam that starts. Right after that, the second part officially starts, with a heavy and powerful riff, and right after the main riff starts. Now the atmosphere is definitely tense. There's a chorus, a repetition of the verse, the chorus again, and then a middle part, that turns into a brief solo by keyboards, the middle part is then repeated, until it get's really heavy when he some crazy drums, with a powerful double bass section, and guitar, and then the chorus repeats. After a few moments, the second part is over.The third part starts with some fascinating keyboards, followed by a very mellow mood played with guitar mainly. The vocals make an interesting but fundamental contribute. It goes on like this until the song ends. Brilliant, epic masterpiece.

"Sentimental" is an enjoyable ballad, with a beautiful keyboard section, and played with a drum machine most of the time. The verse is nice, the chorus is very melancholic and kind of sad sounding. The middle part however is more cheerful and hopeful, thanks to the great melodies brought to you by an acoustic guitar. Overall a very nice, enjoyable song that is worth the listen.

"Way Out Of Here" starts with some electronic soundscapes, played by a surprising Robert Fripp, accompanied shortly after by the rest of the band, playing a mellow and sad sounding tune, until the chorus explodes, a beautiful and haunting melody, and then the song gets a little more enlivened. After a while, we hear a pretty good guitar solo, and then the song becomes calm again, and only guitars and keyboards are playing a nice, delicate tune, until suddenly a heavily distorted guitar dominates the scene, a brief repetition of the chorus, and then again a masterful Harrison shows how amazing his drumming can be, since the heavy part is still playing. After this, the aftermath: a nice, relaxing mood comes, with a great Fripp part. Shortly, the song ends.

"Sleep Together" seems to be too underrated. It's one of my very favorite songs of PT. One of the catchiest songs of the album, it starts with some electronic, wild sounding soundscapes, and Wilson comes in a little after. The chorus is very catchy, enlivened, and kind of violent, and very explosive. The song overall is fantastic, and a great closer for this album.

"Fear Of A Blank Planet", like I said, is the best and most refined PT yet, despite the many masterpieces the band has put out in their career. A perfect start for whoever wants to give the band a try. The must have Heavy Prog album of the last years.
Damn those wretched teenagers! (harumph, says the old man) It's pretty obvious with Porcupine Tree's newer release that Steve Wilson hates teenagers. The theme is obvious throughout the entire album. Musically, the album is spectacular, and vocally, the album is good, but not spectacular. There are many fantastic and memorable parts, and some that could be easily dismissed. Let's go track by track.

Fear of a Blank Planet is one of my favorite tracks by PT and by any prog metal band. That classic riff and those timely lyrics (the only track on here that I will call "timely") about some of the more pathetic actions of the Millenial generation. Drugs, pills, sex, music, porn, he just shoves it all in a nice 7 minute time capsule. The drumming is fantastic, but that's because, well, it's Gavin Harrison. The instrumental section is downright impressive, also. Just a great, great track.

My Ashes changes the mood from angry to sad, with nice melodies and a bit of a theme change (but not really). The rotary organ sound in the intro is nice, as are the classic "Porcupine Tree" chords that Wilson is so deft at creating. The track is good, but is a little cowardly in comparison to that fantastic intro.

Anesthetize may be the only long track that I will ever give a bad review for. Me, the lover of lengthy songs, thinks this song drags. And it's only 17 minutes! The track is alright, but that's it. The melodies are sub-par, the riffs are for the most part constant, and the instrumental sections can put you to sleep. The track has an apt name-- it'll anesthetize you alright!

Sentimental speeds up the tempo a little bit with a nice piano intro and some great melodies. It's not as upbeat or exciting as the first track, but it is a nice song. It has a nice rhythm, and that overshadowing theme is obvious in the lyrics. The verses can drag, but the chorus is a beautiful melodic piece that really beckons you to sing along with all your heart, even though that may drown out the quiet melodies!

Way out of Here is a more ambient track, even though all of them are really ambient at heart. It does pick up for some of the chorus and instrumental sections. The rhythms are nice, as are the melodies. The dynamics of the tracks are good, as are the mood changes within verses. That overlying theme is there again, spitting on teenagers. But I'll forgive Wilson for that nonetheless. Overall, it is a good track.

Sleep Together is the ambient and "trippy" ending. It opens with that electro-ambient synth piece with some nice melody. Although the first 2 minutes or so a little slow, the chorus is a crushingly amazing dynamic, as the verses ever-so-slowly crescendo into the sweeping distorted first beat of it. The synth "solo" is a nice orchestral switch for the album. The track is a nice ending and is one of the closest of the 6 to come close to that opener.

ALBUM OVERALL: Fear of a Blank Planet is a good album. It's an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection on some conditions: you don't mind long interludes that can be boring, and can wait for few amazing and epic parts that can blow you away. The first track sets you up for what you would expect to be an upbeat, rock-your-head album, but it drops with Anesthetize on the third track, which slows the album to a near halt. The album is great, with many pros, and almost but not quite as many cons. 4- stars.

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