Porcupine Tree fans, who typically experienced the band's active days in their twenties, are now more or less seasoned 30- to 40-year-olds. For the hard core of these fans, the new album of the rather unexpectedly resurrected band should be a nice surprise after so long. At the same time, one must obviously expect unexpected actions from Porcupine Tree since the very beginning. In any case, there was the success of the band, founded in 1987 by Steven Wilson initially more or less for fun, which went through numerous reshuffles and then their equally unexpected end at the zenith of their career at the end of the performance at the Royal Albert Hall on October 14, 2010, which Steven Wilson announced to the astonished audience without having informed the core trio of the band beforehand. One can vividly imagine the shock in the audience and in the band. What now twelve years later, during which Wilson continued his career solo, led to the fact that thereafter a Porcupine Pine album was released every now and then, is not verified. In any case, there is a certain prospect that the latest album Closure/Continuation is a sign that Porcupine Tree will now return to the stage. This is at least supported by what Steven Wilson said to The Guardian, "I genuinely don't know whether this is closure or the start of another continuing strand of the band's career". So, it could also be that the new album represents Porcupine Tree's final swan song. The uncertainty of Porcupine Tree's fate is palpable when listening to Closure/Contiuation: the album sounds like the decade of estrangement of the band members is being worked through in real time, giving the songs an oppressive, anxious tension.
A shrill bass riff introduces the album opener, "Harridan." When the vocals kick in, Wilson sings in a meter that seems to live completely outside the song, "Gold man bites down on a silver tongue/Takes a deep breath and blows the candle out." It sounds quite pessimistic and not exactly like continuation, and the song's ending doesn't help lift the mood either: "And what of us?/And what of me?/And what is left without you?" The subdued mood continues in the ballad "Of the New Day." "Rats Return" and "Herd Culling," based on nervous bass lines, confirming the restrained pace of "Harridan." Only with "Walk the Plank" a light comes into the album. The will for continuation, however, manifests itself only in "Chimera's Wreck", a song running over 10 minutes, which with its entangled structure, complicated rhythms, twitching drumming, crashing riffs and dynamics pushed to the extreme, most closely recalls the band's heyday.
Conclusion: Porcupine Pine still knows how to deliver first-class prog rock. Whether the band will take off again with Closure/Continuation and even perform live again, however, is not certain, since the new album spreads the mood of Closure rather than that of Continuation.
Steven Wilson, vocals, guitars, bass
Richard Barbieri, keyboards, synthesizers, sound processing
Gavin Harrison, drums, percussion