In my view, this is one of the most undervalued bands in history. Is not that they are not successful. Up to some extent they are, and at least many know that they exist. But they are SO GOOOOD that more people should take a while to listening to them. And by a while I am actually saying something like 6 months in which this band would have to be your main choice whenever you feel like listening to music.
They are a progressive rock band which began making some music very similar to Pink Floyd. However, they changed into progressive metal, using some pop structures now and then. Their last two CDs are master pieces which combine very well the progressive part and the metal part. The hole atmosphere they have managed to create in this two records is absolutely marvellous.
You may think that I am exagerating a bit but I am not. To begin with, they have composed Fear of a Blank Planet, which is the best CD of the last 30 years or so. The only ones that I would say may compite are OK Computer and Achtung Baby. I personally would choose Fear. This is a record that talks about all the crap that is inside a teenager´s head these days. But what really counts is the music. I want to highlight the third song, called Anesthetize, just because is the best song I have ever heared after Shine on you crazy diamond, Echoes or Innuendo. It lasts about 17 minutes and it´s like three songs into one. The magic thing is that you don´t notice the changes. Everything flows so smoothly and perfectly that you only have to sit down and let yourself be transported through the tension in the song. The first section features a solo by Rush´s guitarrist, Alex Lifeson. The third section is one of the most beautiful things ever produced by a human being. If you consider yourself to be a fan of music YOU HAVE TO LISTEN THIS SONG, and the entire album, of course.
The second reason is named Gavin Harrison. He is the best drummer I´ve ever heared and he redifines what playing drums means. He joined the band in 2002. The former drummer was very good as well, but Gavin is god playing drums.
Third, they have one of the most prolific composers in rock history as a leader. He is also the singer and leading guitar of the band. He works in two more main projects called No-Man and Blackfield, but he has edited some solo works and has been part of other groups. He must be involved in the writing of something like 30 CDs. Plus, he is a distinguish producer. He has worked with Dream Theater and he has been in charge of the remasterization of King Crimson´s CDs that has taken place in the past 5 years. The adjective "genious" falls short to describe him.
Another albums that I would like to recommend are:
- The Sky Moves Sideways. If you like Pink Floyd, you will love this one. Get the 2 CDs special edition from 2006 because they have some extended versions and an extra song.
- Signify: it also has a “floydean” touch but is more different that The Sky. The songs are shorter. It has a more common structure.
- Deadwing: the metal period of the band began with their 2002 album, In Absentia. It is a bit too crude for me. In this one, from 2005, they managed to “control” all the power that metal has and combine it with more of progressive rock, classical rock and even some chords that sound like pop/rock. Being not a metal guy, this record is a good way to get in touch with this music style.
- The Incident: it is their last work. Its really, really, really good. Not as much as Fear or The Sky, but it´s very original, maybe their most unique and distinctive CD. It´s an excellent combination of rock, progressive rock, progressive metal and some pop flavour now and then. The first time you listen to it you may find it difficult to like it, but after a couple of times you will love it.
Dark Matter (from Stupid Dream, Live)
The Sky Moves Sideways
Steven Wilson (vocals, guitar, synthesisers, piano and many other things. He is a bloody genius)
Richard Barbieri (keyboards, synthesisers and piano)
Gavin Harrison (drums)
Colin Edwin (bass guitar)
John Wesley (guitar and backing vocals on live presentations only)
Chris Maitland (drums)
1991 – On the Sunday of Life
1993 – Up the Downstair
1995 – The Sky Moves Sideways
1996 – Signify
1999 – Stupid Dream
2000 – Lightbulb Sun
2002 – In Absentia
2005 – Deadwing
2007 – Fear of a Blank Planet
2009 – The Incident