Review Summary: It's the same old song.
Peter Tagtgren is one busy man. In 2007 he released Psalms of Extinction
, then he toured for that album, then now the new Pain is out already, and apparently he's doing production as well as the new Hypocrisy on the side; he must be some sort of workaholic. Anyway, Pain's newbie comes hot on the heels of its predecessor, and with such a short time between the release date of that one and the previous record, you might think that even Peter, who is apparently always busy, had made a rushed job of this record.
You couldn't be more wrong. This record sounds like everything else Pain has done; it's neatly organised, the song-writing is in perfect order, there's a suitable production, the vocals sound like they're supposed to. In short, Pain isn't really inventing the wheel on this one. Apart from a couple tracks, which don't deviate that much from the Pain formula but throw in some new stylistic changes, this band sounds like it always has. There's still those typical choruses and heavy grinding Pantera-esque riffs.
They don't really need to, either. This caters to every fan of the band. Pain have always sort of sounded like old Rammstein with an English-speaking vocalist and more in-your-face lyrics. You know how the old Rammstein stuff sounded really heavy and groovy, with a simple rhythmic backdrop and some keyboard melody to underscore the whole thing" Well, this album works pretty much on that formula. It's just that slight bit angrier, and it has less of a weird techno thing going on. Pain fans will dig that sound, and Pain haters that think Peter should stick to the real death metal in Hypocrisy will keep thinking this.
And Pain pretty much always sounded like that: this album fits squarely between Rebirth
and Nothing Remains The Same
. The production is a bit rawer on this album, making it hark back to the older Pain era a bit. There is no doubt that album opener "I'm Going In" would fit next to an old classic like "On and On", or "End of the Line". The guitars also seem to have slightly less of that heavy tone they have on the previous one; it's a bit more melodic than we're used to, but with Pain always being pretty melodically focused, it just works even better with the material on offer. Don't worry, there's still some pretty angry stuff: "Don't Care" comes to mind as one of the angrier Pain songs to surface in a while.
There are a couple of experiments on here though: "Have A Drink On Me" features a Pain song channelled through a cowboy with a guitar, which is an endearing sound for a one-time experiment, but not something you want Pain to venture into repeatedly. Lead single "Follow Me" and "Feed Us" feature guest vocals from none other than Nightwish siren Anette Olzon, whose melodic pop-rock voice gives the choruses of the respective tracks another boost. And some of the drum and bass tracks were laid down by session members of the live unit (the rest of the recording is all done by Peter himself), which doesn't really change the songwriting, but gives them a different flavour playing-wise.
And even though some of the songs feature Peter's voice through a bit more distortion (his vocals on I'm Going In get dangerously close to Marco Hietala territory), Pain still continue on that typical sound of theirs, preferring a slight bit of evolution over a large revolution. It may be a bit odd for someone as esoteric as Peter to play it safe on an album like this, but then again Pain always was built around this formula, and it seems to bring them success. And with the recognition that Peter Tagtgren deserves (were it only for his work in Hypocrisy alone), and the quality of the songwriting on offer, that success doesn't seem really out of place.