Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Few bands veer between a very English melancholia and psychedelic wig-out with such panache."
Octane Twisted, the first album by Porcupine Tree in three years, is a double-live disc recorded at Chicago's Riviera in 2010 during The Incident tour. It also includes highlights from the band's concluding concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Recording a concept album is fraught with danger as well as possibility; a touring one is an exponentially greater challenge -- especially when the studio recording is a chart success. The Incident went Top 30 in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Disc one features The Incident in its entirety. The studio album was presented as a seamless 55-minute suite. It gets tossed out the window almost immediately here. Opener "Occam's Razor" gives way to "The Blind House" easily enough, without interruption, but as the latter track concludes, Steven Wilson breaks the spell by greeting the crowd. Most cuts here closely adhere to the lengths of their studio counterparts, with one great exception: "Time Flies" allows the improvisation to go on more than a minute longer to excellent effect -- the distortion and guitar pyrotechnics are remarkable. As a whole, Octane Twisted contains less of a dynamic and textural range than The Incident did, but that proves to be a positive because it more than makes up for it in pure rockist force and drama. Check the raw emotion in "Drawing the Line," the metallic bass throb in "Circle of Manias," and the increased tension between Richard Barbieri's keyboards and Wilson's guitar in the title track for examples. The second disc does contain a live performance of "Bonnie the Cat" from The Incident's bonus disc, the remainder is performances of songs from the band's catalog. Its highlights include an extended reading of "Hatesong," a 15-minute medley of "Russia on Ice/"The Pills I'm Taking" (the latter is the second part of "Anesthetize"), and the cosmic single "Stars Die." Set closer "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here," which originally appeared on 2005's Deadwing sends it all off in grand, sprawling style. Beautifully recorded, Octane Twisted offers live proof that The Incident stands as one of rock's most ambitious concept works. ~ Thom Jurek