Pain of Salvation
Scarsick


2.0
poor

Review

by asheroth USER (9 Reviews)
February 22nd, 2007 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: High expectations fail to be met with Pain of Salvation's new, simpler and ultimately disappointing effort.

To be honest, it’s hard to tell whether Scarsick is truly a bad album or whether it’s just disappointing by Pain of Salvation’s usual impeccable standards. Daniel Gildenlow and crew have a fairly lengthy list of credentials to live up to; their previous albums ranged from the guitar-based, dark and gritty Entropia to the wildly diverse Perfect Element Part One to the ridiculously overblown and symphonic Be, and above all the group has become known for operating outside genre boundaries, both musically and lyrically. A new album was always going to carry the weight of expectation, and in the case of Scarsick the problem is either that the quality is genuinely low, or that the expectation was just too high.

In the end I think the album suffers from a combination of both factors. Scarsick just feels like too much of a step back for the band in all areas – I expect a certain degree of complexity from Pain of Salvation, and this album fails to deliver in that department. Let me explain why.

After the sprawling, pretentious album that was Be, the band promised that their next album, Scarsick, would be more stripped down and band-orientated. They delivered on that promise, but overdid it; in comparison to Be, there’s just nothing here. The main focus is on the guitars, which are dirty and close in the mix, and by ordinary Pain of Salvation riff-standards this wouldn’t be a problem. However, the band resorts for the most part to downtuned and uninspired chug-chug nu-metal riffs, or aimless noodling that fades in and out; see the title track for examples of both. The extended song lengths, once a strength of the band, become a stumbling block, as Gildenlow and company find themselves unable to sustain interest throughout their compositions – Scarsick and Spitfall damage the start of the album by being altogether far too long, and Idiocracy could benefit from a two-minute pruning.

Several times the band approach their former heights, only to be let down in one way or another. Cribcaged is a song about the shortcomings of the American upper class which features an interesting, western-inspired introduction, and is quite a strong song for the first half. But for some reason Gildenlow completely drops the ball lyrics-wise; the chorus starts with ‘successful people, dressed up people, smiling people…’ and then continues to drop adjectives ad nauseum. Another section sees Daniel start every line with the word ‘fuck’. ‘Fuck their lack of originality’" Hypocrisy if I ever saw it.

In short, the variety that powered previous albums is conspicuously missing here, bar a few examples. America’s frantic, folk-punk inspired stylings are a welcome refreshment from the blandness of the two opening tracks, and the song brings back some of the flawless syncopation that characterised former albums. Enter Rain is appropriately majestic for the album closer, although it’s not a patch on the title track from The Perfect Element Part One. And then there is Disco Queen.

Disco Queen is literally a disco track, one that goes for eight minutes. It opens with a dance beat and an incredibly cheesy yet catchy vocal hook, and continues on its merry way, shamelessly emulating the 80s all the while. The chorus sees Daniel putting on his silliest voice and chanting ‘My Disco Queen!’ while the backing vocals shriek ‘Yes Disco!’, as if to aggravate the listener’s acute sense of outrage. The song is so ridiculously out of place on the album that it’s impossible to take seriously, and once I got over the whole ‘OMG WHAT ARE THEY DOING’ factor, I realised that it’s actually quite good, if a little too long.

So while Scarsick is enjoyable in places, in the end the number of flaws makes for an underwhelming listen. The band drops the musical, lyrical and conceptual complexity that they do so well (the ‘concept’ is more of a tired rant on the state of modern America than anything else, touching on the obvious points of capitalism, consumerism, religion, corruption, idiocy and all the rest). The album just isn’t as engaging as their previous work, and it’s hard to judge the disc by itself, given the quality of that work and the expectations surrounding the new album. Disappointing. 2/5

Recommended tracks
America
Cribcaged
Disco Queen"



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user ratings (338)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
e210013 (4)
The second part of two music conceptual pieces around the childhood and adolescence. This is another...

Altmer (4)
...

scissorlocked (4)
Pain of Salvation show their new face,with the second part of the unforgettable"The Perfect Element"...



Comments:Add a Comment 
asheroth
February 22nd 2007


130 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm not sure about the rating yet, it could be a little too harsh. We'll see.



Man this was difficult to review.

asheroth
February 22nd 2007


130 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

That's exactly how I feel. I'm a massive fan of The Perfect Element and Be, and this is just nowhere near as good.

Tyler
Emeritus
February 22nd 2007


7925 Comments


Well here's hoping TPE Pt.2 won't be this bad. I heard only one song off this and knew instantly I wouldn't be getting it.

Syncratic
February 22nd 2007


756 Comments


According to the liner notes, this IS TPE Pt. 2

Tyler
Emeritus
February 22nd 2007


7925 Comments


I refuse to believe that.

asheroth
February 22nd 2007


130 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm fairly sure that's not true, Syncratic.



EDIT: Fuckin' fucks, it's true.



*despairs*



[quote=PoS Website]The first pressing of the album sold out in less than two days, and the many fans who spent weeks and weeks discussing the possibility of this album being The Perfect Element Part II were finally able to say "What did I tell you" when the official copies reached the stores, ending a long wait and putting an end to the obligatory interview question "When will TPE2 come?" (or rather just replacing it with "When will TPE3 come?").[/quote]This Message Edited On 02.22.07

Tyler
Emeritus
February 22nd 2007


7925 Comments


. Recent interviews with Daniel have revealed that Scarsick is, in fact, the second part of The Perfect Element, confirming the speculation of many fans.




Syncratic
February 22nd 2007


756 Comments


Sorry to burst everyone's collective bubble.

Just listen to Part 1 or BE if you don't like this.

jrowa001
February 22nd 2007


8752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i think this album is pretty good but fails in comparison to BE or any of their other releases. i cant stand america or disco queen, the rest arent as bad as you claim them to be

Tyler
Emeritus
February 22nd 2007


7925 Comments


Well, at least POS finally live up to their name...

Stalusk
February 23rd 2007


90 Comments


I had read some really good reviews of this, but was disappointed when I heard it. I haven't checked out their earlier work so that sounds like a better place to start.

JamJar
February 28th 2007


16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Am I the only person who isn't dissapointed with this album in any way at all. I think that its up there with all of their other efforts. I really don't get all the hate for it.

markshell
March 2nd 2007


16 Comments


What the fuck? Can you watch this without cursing Daniel?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=f6Q0Br0A-y0

Chrome54
May 23rd 2007


10 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

You're not alone JamJar, I get this album too.



When I first got this album, I didn't really like it that much either, as seems to be the case with most of you. But then I realized that this album is different from all other Pain of Salvation albums in how it creates a mood. While they used to use strings and keys to create feelings of sadness, now we have a slower, more doomy approach, and if you really listen, it's pretty effective. Also, the album shows the more eccentric side of Pain of Salvation, which we don't really see more often. I like America, and I (and all my friends) LOVE Disco Queen, even though I absolutely hated it at first. Who knows why they made it, maybe just paying homage to Abba or something.



The only parts I don't like on the album are the rapping in Spitfall (I was going to say Daniel Gildenlow shouldn't rap, but he did a good job in 'Used,' so I'll just ascribe this one to missing the mark), and Idiocracy and Flame to the Moth don't really do anything special for me. The rest of the album, however, I think is great. Give it a chance, it'll grow on you.

eug008
June 3rd 2007


97 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This album has probably been the biggest letdown of 2007. Especially after releasing BE, which was bloody amazing.

Altmer
June 7th 2007


5701 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I love this album. Just got it, it absolutely blew me away. but if it's this bad, I need their other stuff. @_@

Meelk
June 7th 2007


126 Comments


pain of salvation are pretty good.

Doppelganger
June 7th 2007


3124 Comments


Altmer, get The Perfect Element, Part 1.

Altmer
June 7th 2007


5701 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hmm, the store I usually shop for cd's in doesn't have any PoS albums other than this one. I might shove out some money to order it over the internet. Just not right now, I think.

ryaen462
June 10th 2007


3 Comments


I'm new to the band, and I'd have to say this is a pretty good album, not as good as their previous efforts, but good. stop comparing it to past albums and try to enjoy the new direction the band is taking



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