Yes, I know this is the third Porcupine Tree album I've picked, but considering (a) they've been one of my favorite bands since 2005 and (b) Steven Wilson has always been a believer in the album as an art form, you'd expect them to have several outstanding albums.
In Absentia marked a radical change in direction for Porcupine Tree. Steven Wilson had just finished producing a couple of Opeth albums, which are, of course, progressive death metal. Wilson cited this experience as something that rekindled his love of metal, so what we got here is the first "metal" PT album, and one that alienated a lot of older fans, but was very well-received in the prog metal crowd.
The great thing about this album is that, despite its easily being the loudest PT record in existence, it is still as melodic, if not more melodic, than their previous work. The guitars are much louder and in-your-face, and the drums are more technical (thanks to the addition of drummer Gavin Harrison), but there are still cool bass grooves, layered vocals, and lots and lots of atmosphere.
Besides the overall sound, it's just a great collection of songs. Some of them could have been hits if they had a record company with deep enough pockets.
- The Sound of Muzak