Porcupine Tree In Absentia

Well, it took a while but someone at a major label finally noticed that this British art-metal project, the brainchild of one Steven Wilson, has been not so quietly selling hundreds of thousands of records and developing quite the cult following in their native England. Their proper North American debut is a melding of throwback prog-rock flourishes, contemporary hard rock and nu metal that makes them sound like Alice in Chains, at times, ("Strip the Soul”) and Yes, at others, ("Trains,” "Lips of Ashes”). But when they mix those elements ("The Sound of Muzak”), they are at their best. Repeated listens also reveal similarities to Spock's Beard and Galactic Cowboys, and that's not bad company to be in. (Lava)