Review Summary: Silent Gold
A lot can be said about a band's sound through their name. Although many acts choose a name based on having a good ring to it, many prefer to express the message of their Songs at the introductory stage. Such is the case of Swedish Prog Rockers, Pain of Salvation, and the relationship between their name and their most recent release, "In The Passing Light of Day".
For long time fans, the story of Daniel Gildenlöw's traumatic bout with a type of flesh eating bacteria that all but took his life is the stuff of lore. The fact that this event happened after the departure of long running members Johan Hallgren and Fredrik Hermansson meant things were not looking good for the seminal Prog band. But lo and behold, Daniel made a recovery, introduced Sign Frontman Ragnar Zolberg as new permanent member and co-Songwriter, and went right back to where the band left off after the two part "Road Salt" albums.
"In The Passing Light of Day" is very unapologetic about its sound. Opener "On a Tuesday" carries a bittersweet vibe of "The Perfect Element I" while maintaining an accessibility not heard since "Remedy Lane". "Full Throttle Tribe" kicks in with an almost Djent off time influence, bringing back Metal elements which make "Scarsick" come to mind.
But the absolute center of attention all across the album is the magnificent duality and contrast between Daniel and Ragnar, not only on their Vocal harmonies but more importantly on their Songwriting approach. On his main project Sign, Ragnar has a very youthful tendency towards a cheerful kind of chaos, but perhaps out of spending time with a still-recovering Gildenlöw, his writing feels more melancholic, more vulnerable. Likewise, Ragnar's influence can be vividly heard on Gildenlöw's approach, with a delicious and almost sexual fearlessness, one that can only be expressed by someone who's looked Death in the eye and instead of backing down, chose to dance with Death instead.
Birth and death are both provocatively explored, not so much thematically but sonically, infused by the youthful decay of Zolberg and the lone wolf indulgence of Gildenlöw. And at the end of the day, maybe there's not so much difference between birth and death. Perhaps they both carry unimaginable suffering and yet endless possibilities of the unknown. To bring that dichotomy into a cohesive whole seems to be one of this album's (& Music in general) main purposes.
A Prog masterpiece and strong early contender for album of the year, "In The Passing Light of Day" is the most clear expression of a band finding salvation in pain.