KILL or KEEP: In Absentia

Published: May 28, 2024

KILL or KEEP Vol.14

Porcupine Tree – In Absentia

If there has ever been an, uh-huh, point to the KILL or KEEP series, odds are it’s been to dip into controversies still simmering, tracklists still disorganised, arguments still raging, and offer some passing aggregated opinionated stab at a Decisive Verdict – and if not a firm verdict on this/that/the other should-should-not be here, then at least a decisive snapshot of an argument still ongoing elsewhere in the world and (one hopes) interesting enough to be worth snapping to begin with.

This band/album/songwriter package has absolutely none of those. Nobody argues about Steven Wilson and the Porcupine Trees anymore. Everyone has chosen sides. The received wisdom of how much to listen to it if inclined (sparingly but intently) or if not (not at all, or else psychedelic ’90s years only!) is very received. The man’s music does not have the charm to sway indecisives – you either take it on his terms, or not at all. We all know what this means with prog rock. In Absentia was Wilson’s first metal album and has one of his stupidest concepts (I think we can all rejoice that auteurs tend no longer to mistake serial killer narratives as a cheap supplement for artistic clout). Here are thoughts.

In Absentia


The starting team was johnnyoftheWell, Koris and TVC.

Gatecrashers were welcome to this KILL or KEEP and we are grateful that they did indeed crash us.

Every song must either be KILLed or KEEPed.

There is no minimum KILL threshold. 

Every time a song is KEEPed, the KEEPer must choose an equally charmless frontman who could have carried the song had Steven Wilson handed them the mic. We did not observe this rule very much, but would encourage you to do so from the comfort of your own home.


Starting Impressions

jotW: Look, I’m fucking sorry, I was 14, had just accepted Pink Floyd as the peak of music and discovered Dream Theater on Guitar Hero – it was time to go prog. So, uh, I went prog. I stuck as close to my pallid pre-teen britpop roots as I possibly could, and I let Steven Wilson onto my iPod in between City of Evil and Octavarium. I was ready to be revolutionised, and although the Porcupine Tree discography was ultimately a healthy stepping stone (especially Up the Downstair, which was unlike anything else I’d heard at the time), In Absentia always sat a little flat as a starting point. I now know why. I now see and smell that dreariness and dead air for what they are. I now laugh openly at whichever review described the balladry as “Nick Drake-like”. My resolve is strong. I am ready to KILL.

TVC15: I remember when I actually gave this album a 2.5 way back when and the only Stevie W and the Spikey Trees I listened to was Fear of a Blank Planet. I thiiiiink I was like maybe 13 when I first heard Fear of a Blank Planet? I just remember it was the only PT CD at my library and Octane Twisted had a front page review. Then for whatever reason I got really into PT my last year in college and In Absentia really clicked for me, save for a couple songs in the middle. I get why this is probably their most popular album, but I’d take Fear of a Blank Planet, Lightbulb Sun, and Stupid Dream over this. Also the bonus tracks are like much better than some of what landed in the main album lol. So not taking into account bonus tracks this currently sits at a solid 4.5 just with a couple songs that are good but aren’t as good as the rest (and maybe one or two clunkers). 

Koris: Once upon a time, In Absentia was one of my favorite Porcupine Tree albums. I was still in my teens and just getting into prog rock/metal, with IA being one of my first true exposures to the metal side of that coin alongside Deadwing. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s held up quite as well as many of PT’s other records – even the band’s other metal-adjacent ones. I guess it’s ok for a first stab at this side of their sound, but many of the alt-metal riffs are incredibly dated and Steven Wilson is at his worst lyrically (Fear of a Blank Planet notwithstanding, I guess). Still, there are several quality moments here as well, and Gavin Harrison is one hell of a talent on the drums. I’ve had the album at a 3.5 (verging on a 3) for a while now, and I honestly don’t see that changing after this. But we’ll see! (seriously though, get ready for some spicy takes)

(1) Blackest Eyes


TVC: this intro always sounded like Tool to me. But still better than anything Tool did. Idk Tool never clicked for me for whatever reason. 

jotW: Oh wow I hate that I agree with most of that take uh. The riff starts very hi-Tool, ends very hi-Soundgarden.

Koris: Oh yeah, gimme those early 00s alt riffs!

Koris: and then… abrupt transition!

jotW: SW storytelling really do be mother sings lullaby to child / sometime in the future boy goes wild / […] / erotic makeup runs / jangle_chorus.jpeg

Koris: Don’t forget all the trains (yay foreshadowing!)

TVC: Still better than anything I’ve heard by Nick Drake too. 

jotW: Damn, you’ve never jammed Nick Drake?

TVC: I’ve heard like 5 Leaves and the one with the funny faces coming out of the peach or whatever. 

Koris: Check Bryter Layter. You won’t regret it

TVC: Is that the one that copied the Boris album cover?

jotW: Yes lol. Trying to imagine this song without a single metal riff and, uh, it’s tbqh really easy [just think of the good bits only]. Gonna have to KEEP for one of Steven Wilson’s catchier choruses, but a lot of this is piecemeal. I nominate Axl Rose as a charmless frontman to carry it for Steven Wilson.

Koris: Mild KEEP. It sets the tone nicely for the rest of the album, and the metal bits are honestly kinda fun. I just wish the transitions were less jarring and more natural. Uh, I guess I’ll pick Maynard James Keenan as the frontman for that one, considering the Tool influences/comparisons. Not saying he’s COMPLETELY charmless, but… eh.

TVC: Nah this song needs thicc riffs. Hard KEEP. Iconic song with goated chorus and goated riff. I like how Porcupine Tree just sounds like the best of Tool mashed with the best of britpop Radiohead. Hey Axl Rose is great wym charmless. Uuuhhhhh idk I’ll go with Liam Gallagher, I think I’d like to hear Oasis do this song. 

(2) Trains

jotW: Chord progression is a lot more satisfying than I remembered ngl. Chorus hook is still whatever, but the bones of this one are a decent track. Barbieri keys kinda make this for me?

Koris: Still one of my faves on here tbh. Awesome chord progression, and some of Wilson’s best vox during this era.

TVC: I always thought this song would slap as the closing credits song to some coming of age film. 

jotW: Not sure what that says about whatever stage of maturity the protag has supposedly attained. Also really not huge on either the la-didi-da vocalise bridge or the banjo part. Why are they here what are they doing fuck you progressive schmeh.

TVC: The ladiddas make the bridge. Still think it’s hilarious the whole band doesn’t like this song when it’s like the fan favorite. Gavin didn’t even bother talking about it in the In Absentia anniversary documentary lol. 

Koris: Always enjoyed the bridge. It does kinda come out of nowhere, but I think it fits that sentimental/wistful vibe Wilson’s going for.

jotW: Wilson doing wistful la-didi-das is like a postcard covered with sepia piss to me, and I’m not buying into it. 

Koris: Gavin going off in this outro. And yeah, this one’s still a strong KEEP for me. Probably overplayed/overexposed in the PT world at this point, but it’s for a reason. 

jotW: Yeah lol, electric guitars joining at the end would be stale and token otherwise imo, but he upstages them so hard that the mini-climax lands. This song has never been a favourite but I don’t mind it I guess? KEEP for the chord progression, bet Ed Sheeran would sound great over that.

TVC: I could not imagine this song not ending with the acoustic riff becoming translated to thicc riffs. It just makes sense how else would you end it lol. 

jotW: This is your brain on Katatonia

TVC: Hard KEEP. Always will be one of the goated PT songs. 

(3) Lips of Ashes

Koris: Spacious and dreamlike… lovely stuff, and another one of my favorites here. Gotta admit, this album does start off strong (but just wait until the next song lol)

TVC: I like this one. The atmosphere is so cool. Richard is such an underrated member of the band. 

jotW: This is one of those classic Steven Wilson songs where I vaguely like the idea and feel it would sound great if an artist with better taste made it. Boy is too tightly wound, can imagine this being beautiful if a looser psych band like, idk, Pram had been on duty. Feels stale to me.

TVC: Pramst whomst

Koris: Not normally a big “la la la” guy, but I think they’re employed well here

jotW: The la la la -effect goes well with this, but I just don’t think he carries them. Maybe this song should have been made around Sky Moves Sideways or Signify era? I feel he rode this vibe a lot better then

TVC: I honestly didn’t even realise this ended with a bunch of la la las lol. KEEP

Koris: Yeah, this would have worked well on Signify as well. Anyway, still a KEEP for me.

jotW: Tepid track, KILL.

(4) The Sound of Muzak


Koris: Spoiler alert: KILL.

TVC: Kill the song all ya want but I mean… he’s not wrong

jotW: KILL for wonder / blunder alone tbqh. Ugh. He is so wrong. He is so arrogant. And pasty. And blinkered (though I think has mellowed somewhat since). Imagine making a living tied – voluntarily! – to a genre so endangered that you’re insecure enough to make a song like this. Music is so much bigger than you and your 70s record collection, Steve baby.

TVC: I quoted the second verse of this in a review for Pink Floyd’s Russia protest song on RYM and it’s currently my highest rated review on there lol. 

Koris: My biggest problem with it is that it just doesn’t fit the album at all. We have this whole album about serial killers and shit, and then Wilson just lets loose with a “meh, modern music bad” song that has no relation to anything else. And even then, he doesn’t even explore that concept in a way that’s new or interesting. 

jotW: For real lol, although that hard pivot is decently representative of his usual narration style in its own dysfunctional way.

TVC: I honestly like the song, especially compared to like Four Chords that Made a Million from Lightbulb Sun. But if I could substitute in the bonus tracks (which are not only better but fit the serial killer theme) I’d probably KILL

jotW: If English were, like, my fifth or sixth language tops, I could maybe tolerate this a little. UNFORTUNATELY goodbye KILL KILL KILL.

Koris: The music is also just bland as hell. A few funny time sigs don’t save an otherwise dull lightweight alt-prog song. KILL.

jotW: Yes lol is the muzak-factor on this meant to be satirical? Did he think he was, I dunno, gunning down the fucking Pussycat Dolls or whoever had their gig in the early ’00s while he was noodling that shit over his guitar. DESTROY.

TVC: Iirc Steven in the In Absentia doc said this and Collapse the Light Into Earth were about 9/11 so take that however you will. 

jotW: Maybe he just thought music was dying because Chop Suey wasn’t allowed on radio, idk.

(5) Gravity Eyelids

porcupinetheater: [guest-KILL]

Koris: oh boy, let’s get (kinda) industrial up in here!

TVC: Spoiler: KEEP. Easily one of my favorites on here and one of my fav PT songs. 

jotW: This first verse minus the vox reminds me of Laika wow I would never have put those together or expected that before now. Thank you Steve, you were a good stepping stone after all

TVC: I hear more trip hop than industrial lol. Although I guess maybe I could hear this beat in a Silent Hill game?

jotW: Yeah exactly lol

Koris: That’s why I elaborated “kinda” lmao. But yeah, definitely trip-hop influenced too (I’ve still got my electronic training wheels on!)

jotW: I don’t think I care for the chorus here ngl – ascending melody feels kinda hokey/uninspired to me. But oh okay it’s time for the bridge now the NIN worship starts? Is this where it starts? There’s definitely a little on the album

Koris: It’s descending in this case. But yeah, I see what you mean

jotW: Rising between phrases schmescending. What is that – an ascended modulation?

Koris: I meant like the chord progression descending, lol. That was all I was referring to

jotW: Ah right lol – literally just mean that he raises the note for the second gravity eyelids iteration wow this is such a prog discussion I hate it

Koris: Wilson brings out the theory nerd in all of us!


Koris: Bring on the metal!



jotW: The riff no one expected and literally no one needed?

TVC: Still wipes everything on Lateralus. Also lol the laser gun sounding guitar solo. 

pizzamachine: pewpew

Koris: KEEP. Not the best on here, but still pretty good.

jotW: Fuck Tool. KILL. First verse is good, rest is a wasted epic flop

TVC: You’re a wasted ebip flop

(6) Wedding Nails

jotW: Oh man I did use to go v hard (well, like 6/10 by normal standards) to this at the time.

TVC: Ok this is a wasted epic flop. I have no idea why they left this on the album. I never liked this song lol. 

Koris: This could potentially have been a KEEP if not for the last few minutes of dead air. But yeah, that shit does indeed exist… not looking forward to that part, lol

jotW: This is an unpretentious set of phrygian fuck riffs that do nothing but jam. There is no songwriting. The band is free.

GhandhiLion: Where do songs go when they are killed?

pizzamachine: KILL cuz I want something a little spicier. 

TVC: KILL. Can we SKIP pleeeeaaasseee?????

Koris: I wouldn’t mind skipping honestly. At least when we get to that stupid faux-experimental section at the end that goes nowhere

jotW: Wtf, so you’re happy to kick back from the phoned-in bullshit riffs in Gravity Eyelids, but now that there’s a song that actually engages with them in a non-token capacity, it’s suddenly off the cards. Vetoed. Have no memory of what happens later on, so will q probably U-turn on this.

pizzamachine: tsk tsk 

TVC: I don’t need a masters in music theory to know this song blows lol. 

pizzamachine: riff starting in at four minutes equals too long a wait 

Koris: Don’t worry, I have a KILL for later in the tracklist that’s really gonna rile up the thread, lol. Anyway, I guess we can see this one through to the end. But yeah: KILL

jotW: Riff at 4:30 is probably the hardest on the album so far? Barbieri making his keys glitchfart over it is an inspired touch, love that guy.

TVC: Richard is def about as goated as Gavin. 

Koris: And here’s the part I was referring to earlier… yay

jotW: What the hell was the anti-hype on this outro, this is fine. Wouldn’t jam a whole album of this, but a single minute of vaguely (but not overbearingly!) creepy ambience is honestly preferable to half the choruses we’ve had so far. Band would have benefitted from more spacious touches like that. KEEP, didn’t realise this album had a pleb filter – would love to hear um idk the guy from Editors mumble over this.

pizzamachine: agreed, it’s fine, but no Horizon’s End

TVC: Listens to Nurse With Wound once. 

Koris: I’ve only heard one Editors album (whichever one was from 2018), but it was hopelessly boring. Maybe I should check out the rest of the discog and see if it’s any different.

(7) Prodigal

jotW: Fuck I love Coldplay.

TVC: I really like this song, but it would’ve been much better suited to like Lightbulb Sun. 

jotW: Yeah agreed, this feels like a spillover from the last era – still don’t love SW’s vox on it, but this chorus is well-crafted even if the verses are big glum.

jotW: Can I just highlight that we’re seven songs into a fucking concept album that I’ve heard at least twenty times in my life, and I still have no idea what this song means for the development of whatever unfocused serialkillery shit is at play here or how we are supposed to feel about it arriving at this point. 

Koris: The verses are the big millstone for this song imo. The chorus is decent enough, but the verses have that same melodramatic faux-depressive energy that Sound of Muzak revels in. Still, I like the heavier post-chorus (bridge?). 

TVC: I forgot how hard this post-chorus goes. 

pizzamachine: this is a nice Genesis song 

TVC: Been a minute since I heard Genesis, which Genesis sounds like this?

Koris: Uhhh… I guess Calling All Stations is the closest comparison. But that’s not exactly a compliment, lol

jotW: Post-chorus is pretty tight, dunno how I feel about that vocoder but hmmm the vocal harmonies it settles on are lush.

pizzamachine: take me to the congo song. Calling All Stations is underrated 

TVC: Man this whole outro slaps I just only realised that. KEEP

GhandhiLion: This is a nice prog jeff buckley song

jotW: Could go either way, so I guess this is a soft KEEP? No fuck that – no post-chorus can save those verses! KILL it, don’t even need to KEEP to wonder how Chris Martin would handle those verses

Koris: Very mild KEEP for me, mostly due to the chorus and ending solo section. Still don’t like the verses at all though.

pizzamachine: hard KEEP tbh, sounds nice and has a chill vibe

(8) .3

jotW: Lowkey the best song on the album?

Koris: And here comes my biggest hot take, because I don’t like this one at all. I understand what he was going for with the atmosphere and such, but I think it’s just a fucking slog.

TVC: Bass and atmosphere slap but otherwise eeeehhhhhhh. That was your hot take??? I never was a big fan of this one either lol. 

Koris: Believe me, people on Sput fucking LOVE this one. It’s usually regarded as one of the best, if not the best on the album. And I’ve never understood it.

jotW: I deeply appreciate how easy it is to jam this and forget it’s a Porcupine Tree song. Could almost pretend it’s a Blue Lines b-side for the first couple of minutes. So much looser and more attractive than his usual hands-on songwriting. Band should have kicked back more.

pizzamachine: this is a cool soundtrack for a mini golf experience. This is a nice Bjork without Bjork track

TVC: This kinda sounds like Steven attempting to recreate a The Fragile instrumental and then slapping some britpop in the middle for no good reason. 

Koris: ^ I feel like that describes so much of this album, lmao

jotW: Yeah, for a bunch of other tracks here that is v valid. This is much more psyched out (in an acid way, not an aggro way) than any of the ratboy shit on The Fragile though, think this sound was always the best look for him. Closest this album gets to The Sky Moves Sideways. KEEP. Richard Ashcroft is charmless enough for this, and he’d make a killer cover.

pizzamachine: nice song, but also SKIP this shizz pls and KILL cuz I’m falling asleep 

Koris: Unfortunately a KILL for me. Even when I was a bigger fan of IA as a whole, I just couldn’t get into this. 

TVC: KILL but that’s not to distract from Richard being the real MVP of the song. 

(9) The Creator Has a Mastertape

TVC: Gavin goes so unbelievably hard on this song that I really don’t care how much hate this song gets lol. 

jotW: Incredibly fortunate because everything else about it is absolute bullshit. Fuck this one. 

Koris: At least this one actually sticks to the topic of the album, I guess 

jotW: Nine songs in is too late for a topic reprisal – and let’s not pretend the topic does this album any favours to begin with.

Koris: Sadly I have to agree there. I guess that makes this album the Kilroy Was Here of the 00s (just with better songs, of course).

pizzamachine: that groovy bass line

jotW: This is such a not a good riff post-chorus. Drums and keys are carrying hard.

GhandhiLion: nice Ozric Tentacles worship

TVC: I love this riff so much lol. It just comes crashing in and sounds so disorienting. And then abruptly comes back to the weird but funky bassline. 

Koris: Ngl, I do love the disorienting, offputting vibe of this one. And yeah, Gavin absolutely rips on it.

jotW: stared into the void tonight / the best dream I ever had is so close to being a decent lyric, but damn the boi sounds like he’s reading a horoscope manual and I’m not buying it from him.

pizzamachine: crazy chainsaw guitar sound kinda reminds me of Muse a bit

TVC: I’ve always loved the last stretch of this song. Musically, I think this song best captures the actual contents of the lyrics. KEEP. 

Koris: For some reason, I never noticed that the guitar follows his vox in that part. Nice little touch there.

jotW: KILL, cringe concept cringe lyrics awkward metal great rhythm section absolutely not a song Steven Wilson should ever have performed himself.

Koris: KEEP. Kinda cringe in parts, but I do enjoy the atmosphere and performances a lot regardless.

GhandhiLion: KEEP Pharoah Sanders

pizzamachine: very entertaining song, I’m KEEPing it

(10) Heart Attack in a Lay By

porcupinetheater: [guest-KEEP]

TVC: I lowkey wanna kill this song solely cos it’s not a serial killer song. 

Koris: This one could honestly go either way for me. I like the melancholic vibes, but I do feel as though Wilson lays them on a bit too thick. Not to the point of self-parody, but enough to make the whole thing a bit too dreary and dull.

jotW: Yeah this is incredibly lyrically artless, but somehow quite touching regardless? I remember this one being so close to outright terrible but then somehow quite touching and therefore an instant highlight by default. Oh damn yes, the pre-chorus don’t feel too good all the good Steven Wilson ballads should sound like he’s on the verge of death.

pizzamachine: very memorable song for me. The lyrics and opening atmosphere get you hooked

TVC: This is a really nice song. I prefer the vinyl tracklist that has Chloroform in between Creator Has a Mastertape and this one. 

jotW: Chloroform is secretly the best track on the album, but this clears the air from the Creator Has a Mastertape faster so hooray

Koris: I will say, I like the acoustic guitar during the choruses. They complement the overall soundscape very nicely.

jotW: Think this is very easily my favourite track vocally so far.

pizzamachine: beautiful song so far, something like Tool making a Christmas album XD. Those pretty acoustics! KEEP mo fo

Koris: Very, very slight KEEP. And again, it could just as easily be a KILL on a different day.

jotW: Obvious KEEP, give Jonsi a vocal feature.

TVC: Eh alright I’ll KEEP this one. 

(11) Strip the Soul

jotW: I don’t know if any other track has ever summed up everything wrong about its parent album as comprehensively as this one does.

TVC: For whatever reason this is the one song that randomly gets stuck in my head most out of all the songs on this album. 

Koris: We get it Steven, you listened to Tool!

pizzamachine: this bassist is incredible 

Koris: Yeah, Colin is underrated as hell. Shame that he couldn’t make it to the PT reunion.

jotW: Newest PT record really suffered from him not returning for sure, he has such a smooth style and SW (rightly) didn’t even try to imitate it. Vital part of the band.

pizzamachine: and then that AC/DC riff lol 

TVC: This chorus riff goes so hard lol. 

pizzamachine: true!

TVC: I’ll still take this over whatever Tool ever did. 

jotW: Just scrolling through a list of mildly-ominous Oceansize songs I’d infinitely rather be hearing right now than this tepid bridge.

Koris: Sadly, the second half of the song never really did much for me. It just kinda meanders aimlessly.

pizzamachine: this sounds a lot like Tool to me

TVC: Hey the doom outro makes the song! Wait we’re not there yet nvm. 

jotW: Oh no why did he make it acoustic why is he still playing it why why whydtheyputthedickinthepussy fuck you steven turn that fucking wah pedal off right fucking now I am furious

Koris: This part’s like a porn soundtrack if the actors were fucking in weird time sigs

TVC: The acoustic version of this riff is so awesome lol. And combined with the wah and whispered vocals sounds so disorienting in a cool way. 

pizzamachine: funky dunky

GhandhiLion: Miley Cyrus faux prog album when?

jotW: KILL a thousand times over, splice Trent Reznor and Wayne Coyne’s genomes together as a dumb experiment (that would probably yield a concept album far more interesting than this one) and make the foetus sing the chorus. I’ll be the mum if that’s what it takes. Terrible song. Terrible zeitgeist.

Koris: I do enjoy this doomy part at the end, but otherwise, I have to KILL as well. This one’s actually gotten worse for me over the years.

pizzamachine: this could be a great prog crunkcore song 


GhandhiLion: Needs more Barbieri

pizzamachine: it’s aight enough — KEEP

(12) Collapse the Light into Earth

Koris: Oh boy, my other big (potential) hot take. Not a fan of this one either. 

TVC: This has got to be my favorite PT ballad. 

jotW: The good ballad on this album that isn’t Heart Attack, let’s go I guess? Wow his voice does sound like cold feet I am touched yet again.

TVC: Thom Yorke could never. 

jotW: Not going to dignify that lazy fucking bait with a response do better please

pizzamachine: like cold chicken feet? 

Koris: For me, this is another case of the song not matching the theming or overall framing of the album at all, but at least Sound of Muzak kinda fit the album from an atmosphere/vibe standpoint. This is such a bizarre way to end the record, and on top of that, I just think it’s a really dull and uninspired piano ballad as well. 

TVC: I mean you technically did respond 😛

jotW: Shut up, prog rock

GhandhiLion: This is a good one! Brian Eno vibes

jotW: Perfect intersection between Brian Eno and Snow Patrol ngl

GhandhiLion: Also kinda accurate. The strings ruined it

pizzamachine: would be a great middle of the album song. KILL for inaccuracy of placement cause I can 

jotW: I’m not convinced this album has earned an ending yet. What the hell has the progression been? What meaningful change of vibe/narrative have we heard since Blackened Eyes? I feel Heart Attack and – much as I hate it – Mastertape kinda pushed the boat out, but otherwise it’s been straight muchness (aka the polar opposite of what a concept record is supposed to deliver). These strings at the end are corny. Do I dislike this now? Ugh.

TVC: I honestly can’t see this album ending any other way than with Collapse the Light Into Earth. It especially sounds that much tender coming after the doom outro of Strip the Soul. Very beautiful song and eternal KEEP

Koris: Honestly, as flawed as Strip the Soul is, I wish the album ended on that devastating, ugly note. A song like this would have been better suited for something like Lightbulb Sun (especially with the strings), but even then, it would be one of my least favorite songs on there. KILL

pizzamachine: nice Enya song, unexpected ending and I want a riff 

GhandhiLion: Bless Enya, this could do with some bagpipes

jotW: For real lol. Fully expected to KEEP this, but stolid sequencing and kitsch finish earn it a very marginal KILL (but Brandon Flowers would have been my pick to sing it lol). Goodbye In Absentia

pizzamachine: go like Korn and do bagpipes for sure

TVC: You brits have no soul. 

jotW: 67 minutes of this album are about the most conclusive argument ever made to that end, so just for today, [2] sure we don’t

Koris: I just realized that we completely dropped the whole frontman comparison thing, lol

Closing Remarks

TVC: Album is bloated and the weak links could’ve easily been replaced by at least some of the bonus tracks (namely Drown With Me and Choloroform). But by and large I still stand by my 4.5. Very enjoyable album that encapsulates the most appealing parts of latter Porcupine Tree in songs that can easily stand on their own. OK I gotta go to work now I’ll re-edit anything here that needs to be later. 

jotW: It had been probably 10ish years since I last jammed this in full, and I hope to have extended that margin next time around. This is a bad album – but! Many, maybe most of the songs on it are vaguely decent. I think homogenous pacing, weak conceptualisation and an unimaginative take on the early ’00s alt-metal bands they were ripping from aplenty here hamper it more than any given example of songwriting. Most of the songs I dislike are at least half-representative of how inept the record is at selling its atmosphere, and most of the songs I like are either atmospheric lacunae, or straight-shooters that don’t piss around with the aesthetic and sound like distinct tracks. Going to 2.5 it for posterity and move the hell on – will be back for the songs that matter individually, everything else is best left in the past.

pizzamachine: Totally relistenable album that I come back to now and then. Overall pretty pleasant if dragged out, but I dig prog. I’m more nostalgic for Fear of a Blank Planet because it introduced me to the band. Great albums from this band, though this one I keep returning to.  

Koris: My opinions really haven’t changed too much. I still enjoy In Absentia quite a bit despite all of its faults, but… yeah, it’s got quite a few faults. I think there could have been a great 45-50 minute album here, but there’s so much bloat and flab that even the peaks lose some of their impact. With that said, the performances are fucking stellar – I’m so glad they got Gavin onboard from here on out, because he was such a step up from Chris Maitland (no shade though, Chris is great as well). I just think this new version of PT needed to iron out some big kinks before moving onto bigger and better things. And, as we discussed earlier, the concept is incredibly loose and – honestly – barely even there at all. I know Wilson hasn’t considered In Absentia a formal concept album, but there’s clearly some sort of theme or subject matter he was trying to get across here. I just don’t think enough focus was applied there, sadly. Anyway, this is still a 3.5/5 (though probably closer to a 3.3) for me. And of course, it will always hold a special place in my heart for helping establish my music taste during my formative years. But if I’m compelled to listen to metal PT, Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet will do just fine. :]

GhandhiLion: It’s ok despite being an alt/prog crossover album . Only one or two weak tracks. I prefer their pre alt and metal stuff. Textbook 6/10 album 

Final KILLstats

jotW: 7/12 (58.33%)

Koris: 5/12 (41.67%)

pizzamachine: 3/7 (42.86%)

TVC: 3/12 (25%)

Surviving Tracklist

The following are the remaining songs that not one competitor elected to KILL.

They constitute the new, official version of the album:

1. Blackest Eyes

2. Trains

3. Heart Attack in a Lay By

KILL or KEEP will return very soon.



Vol.1: Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie…

Vol.2: Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile 

Vol.3: Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion

Vol.4: Deftones – White Pony

Vol.5: Nightwish – Once

Vol.6: Tavito Nanao – Heavenly Punk Adagio

Vol.7: Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain…

Vol.8: The Beatles – The Beatles

Vol.9: Taylor Swift – Red

Vol.10: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Vol.11: Weezer – Pinkerton

Vol.12: Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

Vol.13: Sufjan Stevens – Illinois

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