Artist: Porcupine Tree
Title: In Absentia
Once upon a time, a friend handed me a burned copy of this CD, saying "You like Tool, right? Check this out." That was my introduction to British prog-rockers Porcupine Tree. While the comparisons to Tool are fair, PT is a little poppier and a great deal more mellow. I went with Trains for the embed because it captures a little bit of both worlds of what I like about this album. It's got a little of the precision math-rock chicanery, but a little of that smooth atmospheric low-key vibe as well, despite its brisk tempo.
The hardest-rockers are this album are probably the single Strip The Soul and the mid-album instrumental Wedding Nails, and they're also my least favorite songs (not bad songs, but my least favorite). The best songs are Trains, Collapse The Light Into Earth, Blackest Eyes (as solid an opener as any album could ask for), and the self-aware almost-parodies The Creator Has A Mastertape and The Sound Of Muzak. And I'll throw out some love for super-atmospheric downers Gravity Eyelids and A Heart Attack In A Layby.
Further Listening: I tried to listen to the follow-up Deadwing and just couldn't get into it. They have a well-regarded album called Fear Of A Blank Planet that I need to give a shot, though.