Porcupine Tree Continues Its Modern Prog Flair With Intricate ‘Closure/Continuation’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo by Alex Lake

After the prog/metal band’s bestselling album, 2009’s The Incident, Porcupine Tree went on hiatus with rumors that the English outfit was done forever. Recorded in secret, Closure/Continuation is the group’s surprise return and the title is a clue that they are in a state of flux as some things evolve and some remain the same on the seven-track offering. 

The biggest change is that the comeback album was recorded as a trio with Steve Wilson (vocals, guitars, bass) Richard Barbieri (keyboards, synthesizers), and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion) having parted with longtime bassist Colin Edwin. The outfit has also scaled back the heavy metal, digging more into prog, psych-rock, and experimental as they navigate the sounds.   

The opening “Harridan” is the densest offering spanning eight minutes and multiple genres/feelings. It begins with Wilson’s funky bass and Harrison’s drums before shifting into cinematic flights and a soothing mid-song break, only to return with dramatic metallic crashes, a propulsive climax, and an acoustic finale; this is Porcupine Tree summed up in one track. 

There are many prog-rock influences that the band proudly tips their proverbial cap to as “Of The New Day” recalls Pink Floyd ballads complete with multiple time signatures. The expertly heavy ebbing/flowing of “Herd Culling” brings to mind Tool while “Rats Return” uses metal, percussion, and keyboard fluttering in the vein of Rush. All these efforts pay homage but stand clearly on their own as the trio seems to be in lock step if never flying beyond the genre. 

Things are more interestingly experimental on the guitar-less “Walk The Plank” which eerily pulses with vocal effects, key bleeps, bass thumps, and percussion before the track shifts into a dance-laden beat complete with programmed handclaps. The more typical “Chimera’s Wreck” wraps up the album, beginning with an acoustic guitar intro before slowly building with electric riffs/shredding, thumping bass work, and layers of vocals to end the album on a strong note. 

A few bonus tracks round out the Special Edition release, the groovy/spooky instrumental “Population Three”, the soaring rocker “Never Have” and “Love In The Past Tense” which uses pulsing sounds and big drums/percussion.

Porcupine Tree are not sure where they are headed as a band after this release and while Closure/Continuation doesn’t contain the triumphs of past efforts, it is a rewarding listen from start to finish and adds another medal around prog-rock ambassador Steven Wilson. This dexterous trio appears delighted to deliver for their core audience to whom what they hope is a new beginning. 

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