Consider the fact that progressive rock band Porcupine Tree has found itself testing the waters of almost every related genre. From their early pulsing trance induced tracks to spacey Pink Floyd-like psychedelic rock to their later heavy metal influenced work, the band has woven itself a collective work as vast as one could imagine.
And then listen to The Incident. In what can only be described as a great culmination of their works, the band’s latest album, which works as a 55-minute song cycle, draws from a bit of everything the band has been known for.
The album does replicate the feel of the band’s last few albums more than anything else, and there’s certainly nothing as strange as what’s found on the first cassette founder and front man Steven Wilson ever released, Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm, but the legacy and groundwork of this band can be found in some way or another all across this ambitious and surreal concept album.
Wilson found the concept for the album after realizing how detaching the commonly used word “incident” was for situations that were really so destructive and traumatic for the ones involved. The strong theme carries straight through all 14 parts of The Incident as each song, although very different, has apart of another inside it as the entire 55-minute experience seamlessly flows by.
The album certainly has its inspirations, perhaps most prevalent on the album’s longest track, “Time Flies”, which feels a lot like Pink Floyd’s “Dogs” right from the start. Of course, the two songs are very different, as each are made up of a different kind of musicianship. Meanwhile, instrumental “Circle of Manias” is about as heavy as the album gets, and perhaps draws from experimental progressive rock artists like Meshuggah. And rightly enough this track goes right into the deliriously beautiful “I Drive the Hearse”, a contender for best somber Porcupine Tree song. Self titled track “The Incident” might very well be the most impressive track on the album while the preceding track “Drawing the Line” hits hard with a powerful refrain from Wilson.
Playing as tight-knit as they ever have, the musicianship of Porcupine Tree continues to be one of their most impressive aspects. Drummer Gavin Harrison continues to prove why he deserves to be considered one of the best and most influential drummers alive and Colin Edwin’s bass and Richard Barbieri’s keyboards and synth fill up the atmosphere. And it can almost go unsaid, but Steven Wilson is still himself with guitar in hand, his spacey but heavy riffs give the band a true identity.
Dare I say that The Incident is Porcupine Tree’s undisputed masterpiece? It just might be. While I’ll forever always love the band’s early and mind intruding work such as The Sky Moves Sideways as much as anything else the band puts out, The Incident could be looked at as being their defining work and perhaps as the greatest example of their brilliant musicianship when all is laid to rest.