Pain Of Salvation - Remedy Lane
Daniel Gildenlow: vocals and guitar
Kristoffer Gildenlow: bass and vocals
Johan Hallgren: guitar and vocals
Johan Langell: drums and vocals
Fredrik Hermansson: keyboards
Remedy Lane is the fourth full length album from Swedish progressive group, Pain Of Salvation. Led by the multi-talented Daniel Gildenlow, this album marks another huge step for PoS to the point of being one of the leaders of the current progressive scene. Although having toured with Dream Theater and the like in the past, let me warn you now that this is not prog in the same over-the-top self-indulgent vein as Dream Theater or Symphony X, the 'prog' elements are much more subtle, with the band putting more emphasis on emotion than technical showcase. In fact, this band's style is probably closer to bands like Opeth and Katatonia, minus the death vocals though. That said, all instrumentalists here are more than capable of being technical when the situation calls for it - witness the strange-at-first contrasting rhythms between drums and voice on the chorus of Fandango
- but don't let it get in the way of the flow of the songs.
Another thing to note is that this is a semi-autobiographical concept album. It is obvious from the lyrics that Daniel Gildenlow put his heart and soul into telling the world about these particular events in his life. The story centres on time he spent in Budapest, with various references throughout the album. I'm still not sure the whole concept of the album, but in some places it is obvious what is going on, and as such very striking - A Trace Of Blood
is his reaction to losing his child to miscarriage, and it really expresses his pain and dismay. I'd also like to take this opportunity to say how impressed I am with Daniel; he is an incredible young talent and one of the most dynamic vocalists I have heard in a long time.
Anyway, onto the actual music on show here. The album opens with Of Two Beginnings
, a nice introduction to the album, starting quiet but soon after everything comes crashing in, the vocals giving a good indication of what's too come. It's a dark track which broods along to the real start of the album, Ending Theme
(notice the paradox"). This comes in strong with a simple melody, but soon quiets down to simple guitar as Daniel introduces the story. Later on there is a massive, memorable chorus, re-introducing that starting melody. Another aspect of this song is when Daniel goes into a sort of freestyle rhyme, instead of singing conventionally, and his voice sounds like that of a man with too much running through his head at once, frantically going over everything ('to be honest, I fear I just don't know'
). Following Ending Theme comes Fandango
, a dark song filled with odd rhythms, diminished melodies and Gildenlow singing like a man possessed, going through what sounds like changes of personality as the dark mood continues to change. Overall, it's a good progressive song, albeit quite strange, but it doesn't quite prepare you for the next song.
A Trace Of Blood
for me is the jewel in this album's crown, a song of immense proportions and one of Pain Of Salvation's best ever. The intro puts a smile on my face every time, it's big and beautiful, but soon after we descend into Daniel's dark mind again. Again, the verses do go on for quite a while to portray all the lyrics that tell the story, but the wait is totally worth it for the chorus, another staggering show of the emotion in the subject matter ('I never knew your name but I will love you just the same . . . I never saw your face but now you're gone without a trace'
). You really have to hear this song for yourself, very intense, emotional and just great. The intensity of this song is countered nicely with the next song, the ballad This Heart Of Mine
. By all means a love song, less complex than the others but with evident beauty, and a great second section. It all builds to an emotional climax, then diminishes as it leads into the next song, Undertow
. The whole song is based around a minor melody which conveys the emotion of despair, and the song builds up very gradually with more and more sound adding to the dark atmosphere.
starts off with a heavy, off-beat riff - in fact, it's one of the heaviest songs on the album. The lyrics deal with attempted suicide of a friend ('"Over!" she cries, through rope ends and silk ties'
), and the song skips quickly between differing sections, with contrasting dynamics which convey a sense of urgency. This song also has a big, majestic chorus, and a funky sounding solo section. Definitely a highlight. After that song comes Chain Sling
, another track which takes on a totally new theme. It starts with an Eastern-sounding melody, which Daniel sings along with note-for note. I tell you, this guy sings in so many different styles you could be mistaken for thinking it was more than one singer, and I consider this his best performance on the record. As Chain Sling progresses it begins to sound more 'woodsy', while still maintaining that Eastern flair. Dryad Of The Woods
follows, a mellow instrumental which provides a nice break from the complexity. Melodies twist around each other before the song reaches its climax and fades out. Following this is another instrumental - yes I know, it seems illogical to me as well, to have two in a row. The song Remedy Lane
is probably the worst track on the album, not that it's that bad but it simply doesn't fit that well. It's a synthesiser track mainly, with some drums, and just sounds like an eerie electronica track. Luckily it's short, so it doesn't hinder the flow that much.
Things get back on track with Waking Every God
, a standard sounding PoS track with great bass playing from Daniel's brother Kristoffer. This is very much like some of their previous work, and is not as serious as some of the other songs on here. Still, it's a good solid track, with another great performance from Daniel. The penultimate track is another ballad, Second Love
, written by Daniel when he was 16. Now some people love this and some people hate it, it's the most 'pop' sounding song they've done to date, and wouldn't be out of place on a Bon Jovi album. Nevertheless, I think it's great, and very catchy, and a nice moment's beauty before the big ending, Beyond The Pale
. The longest track on the album is another atmospheric piece which weaves around, always going in a different direction to convey all the feelings wrapped up in this story. It flows between moments of beauty and aggression. I won't describe every twist and turn in the song, all I will say is it's a great album closer, bringing together everything that has been present in the album. It ends with the repeated line 'We will always be so much more human than we wish to be'
, and the album fades to black.
Often a band will be tagged 'Progressive' just because they use time signature and tempo changes and sometimes it will affect the overall quality of the song, since it will just feel like a showcase of abilities. Pain Of Salvation does not fall in this pattern. Each drum part, keyboard melody and bass line are there for a purpose; there's no waste of music; everything just merges together perfectly like a pure symbiosis. As usual with PoS, what shines the most on this CD is yet again the stunning performance of Daniel Gildenlow on vocal. This guy is simply unbelievable. I don't know if the purpose of the band was to release their most emotional work to date, but if so, it was achieved flawlessly with the vocals.
So overall, I think this is a great album. Full of emotion but also packed will great music, this will appeal to fans of Dream Theater, Opeth, or anyone with a taste for something different. There's so much variation here, and (have I already mentioned this") Daniel Gildenlow gives a knockout performance. These guys are ahead of the game in the prog-metal genre, always breaking the mould and truly progressing. I urge you to check these guys out, they deserve more recognition, and I hope this review wasn't too long for you.
Recommended - 4.5/5