Review Summary: Pain of Salvation strip their music off ALL "prog fat", yet once again they deliver an overwhelming listening experience.
In an interview for the Hellenic Metal Hammer, Garm, a founding member of the avant-garde act Ulver, commented on the band’s abrupt transition from metal to electronica in Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
, by saying:
“At the beginning of our musical endeavors, we felt that black metal was the best way to express ourselves. However, from a point further, black metal simply wasn’t working for us, so we evolved, baring no second thoughts
Pain of Salvation changed from album to album, baring no second thoughts as well. However, these changes were not as abrupt as Ulver’s previously mentioned crossover. Their work initially shed new light to hidden territories in the so-called “progressive” metal (Entropia
-The Perfect Element pt I
) and eventually defied the norms of traditional (sic) “progressive” metal (see Remedy Lane
). With their minds dedicated to perpetual progression, Daniel Gildenlow and his crew issued Scarsick
as the second part of the The Perfect Element pt I
. However, 4 years after its release, in an interview for the Hellenic Metal Hammer, Daniel will confess that he didn’t felt bold enough to fully realize what he really had in mind for Scarsick
, in terms of both production and song writing.
What did he mean?
Listening to Road Salt One
, part of what Gildenlow meant is illuminated. Scarsick
brought the band’s well cloaked rock attitude on the surface, but the scratching under it, reveals that its straight rock aura was somewhat imperfectly balanced with the band’s previous musical legacy on a significant amount of songs. In this album, Pain of Salvation strip their music off all the remaining "prog fat" Scarsick
had, finally leaving the pure heavy rock “muscles and bones” to "lift the weight". The songs’ arrangements are nothing but optimum minimalism, always with great care for each song’s basic melody and rhythm. The drums, the bass, the guitars and the keyboards work for the song, not for themselves. The production is optimum as well, as the songs feel as if they had been recorded in the 70’s but with the right sonic depth.
The vocals of Daniel Gildenlow deserve a separate description. Is it really necessary to say that he is one of the top rock vocalists of his/our time? It is hard to describe with plain words the emotional depth of his voice. The minimalistic song-writing approach contributes even more in highlighting his seminal vocals in the album. As for his lyrics, they are cryptic. So is his fruitful criticism about the dilemmas of the individual in its endeavor towards perfection.
The mood of each song is carefully tailored. Cheerful polyphonic Queen-like a Capella singing, gives in to passionate/dark heavy rock and blues tunes. Musical stimulae for inner self introspect, swap places with passionate prayers in the same vein. Melodic rock n’ roll is followed by a gloomy stroll under the sounds of a waltz.
Except from the good music, this record succeeds big time in making the anticipation for the second part, Road Salt Two
, even more intense. No one knows what to expect. Isn’t that the very essence of prog music after all?