Review Summary: A little more squalor" ... all creation comes from an urge to understand oneself, and time is just a place through which we move in order to be able to perceive change."
Gildenlow's ontological interpretation from the concept notes of "Be"
seems to be echoing still. Through all these years, Pain of Salvation embraced mutability as the driving force behind their music. Depending more on the ever changing mood or the latest interests of their mastermind, the band tried many different things while at the same time kept its consistency. The arrival of the new decade, found them far from their highly poignant and progressive past, anchoring to new (shallow?) waters with a more straightforward rock attitude. This constant unsettledness raised the question: Has their tendency to change become a duty or is it still a natural initiative? Now, a year after Road Salt One
the question still remains unanswered.
Not a step farther from its twin brother, Road Salt Two
continues the legacy of the new-born, hard-rocking and pretty looking Swedish progsters through the grounds of groovy and nostalgic hard rock. It has all the elements that made Road Salt One
what it is: raw guitar sound, excessive use of mellotron and 70's reminiscent keys, conventional song structures, dark and sometimes mellow lyricism. Yeah, nothing seems to have changed, and that's not something to worry about, 'cause Road Salt's Two
predecessor was a good and enjoyable album. Having kept the unique recorded-live-from-the basement-like production, the band tries to take flight with no further additions to their sound, depending mainly on the songwriting. We get the usual mid-tempo pieces like "Softly She Cries" or the riff-driven ones like "Conditioned". Then we have the melodic, yet angry "Mortar Grind" and the blues'y "Eleven" to add some diversity and edge. We also get the usual screaming outbursts and the mellotron carpets, featured in most of the songs, which as in the case of Road Salt One
never managed to become memorable pieces.
The album's main flaw is its uncertain character. Gildenlow's mind seems to have been baffled about the direction he wanted to follow. Road Salt Two
is not the groovy, catchy and quirky album that quickly catches your attention. It's neither the deep, demanding and poignant one, that will keep you home at midnights with a hot cup of coffee and the booklet on your hands. Its music feels unsettled and diffident at times, flirting both with its angry and emotive nature, finding its ultimate manifestation to neither. However, glimpses of the band's true capabilities can still be heard in songs like "The Physics of Gridlock" where riffs and melodies brilliantly entwine with Daniel's singing to a big and strange crescendo, or in the softer pieces like the optimistic and beautifully arranged "To The Shoreline".
Having a handful of brilliant LPs behind it, Road Salt Two
is doomed to be labeled, together with Road Salt One
, as the band's most inconsistent work - a judgement only relevant to the band's high standards. It is an album of some few highlights, that never goes bad though. Infused with an aura of plain sadness, mellow grief and anger, it slightly exposes PoS's squalid, new face. Whether this face is one of progress or not, is clearly another question.