Pain Of Salvation

Picture of Pain Of Salvation

Entropia

Pain Of Salvation - Entropia ©1997 InsideOut Music
1. ! (foreword)
2. Welcome To Entropia
3. Winning A War
4. People Passing By
5. Oblivion Ocean
6. Stress
7. Revival
8. Void Of Her
9. To The End
10. Circles
11. Nightmist
12. Plains Of Dawn
13. Leaving Entropia (epilogue)

I don't like the phrase, "thinking man's metal." It implies that heavy metal is not usually the music of choice for the intelligentsia. Rather, I prefer to understand that if there exists within any genre of music, that which is, at best, insipid and poorly written swill, then there must also exist the opposite. To argue that dark exists presupposes the existence of light, else there would be no way to define dark.

End of philosophy lesson. Pain of Salvation are at the opposite extreme within progressive metal from the insipidly stupid. I think the main drawback to this CD is that many will listen to it once and toss it aside for something they can more easily grasp. It has been my experience that in a world that demands instant gratification, those things for which one must labor to reach usually give greater satisfaction in the end. That is certainly true with this CD. Those who don't give it the time it deserves are going to miss out on one tremendous release. There is a lot going on within this disc. This is not something slapped together in someone's garage in one or two afternoons. This is music that has developed from the lives of the musicians who have produced it. As such, Pain of Salvation are not simply another Dream Theater clone following a well defined path. There is a very solid sense of uniqueness to this CD, making it a wonderful addition to your collection. There is a tremendous amount of complexity, both within the lyrics and in the music. The words and music are alive with emotion. Both Pain of Salvation albums to date are concept albums that look at the impact of the warlike ways of the world. Entropia looks through the eyes of a small child, and those of his father. Some of the songs ache with profound loss. Others scream out rage at the senselessness of that loss. Musically, this is a very involved disc. It carries a great deal of unity within the music while at the same time being greatly diverse. The guitars and keys thunder and whisper to carry the story being told in the lyrics. Some of the guitar work is amazing, going from a blazing riff to a very melodic chord in the blink of an eye. The piano is used throughout in a very similar fashion. The vocals are also used to a great advantage in conveying the emotion of the songs. They are soft and gentle when necessary, and they have a hard, loud edge when needed. Do yourself a favor and spend some time in Entropia. This disc is well worth the time invested in listening.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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One Hour By The Concrete Lake

Pain Of Salvation - One Hour By The Concrete Lake ©1999 InsideOut Music
1. Spirit Of The Land
2. Inside
3. The Big Machine
4. New Year's Eve
5. Handful Of Nothing
6. Water
7. Home
8. Black Hills
9. Pilgrim
10. Shore Serenity
11. Inside Out

Pain of Salvation's second release continues the precedent established with their first disc, Entropia. Like Entropia, this disc is going to take several listens to fully hear it. This disc also focuses its story on the impact of the warlike ways of the world, this time looking at the ecological impact of war. The songs come from the studies of front man Daniel Gildenlow while at the University of Gothenburg. His essay "Waterwar", along with works from other writers and scientists serve as the pool from which the songs are drawn. Such a deep well of scholarly research is going to produce an equally deep disc.

Concrete Lake does not disappoint on any level. It is musically rich and involved. It is lyrically deep and emotionally intense. The level of passion is higher than that on Entropia. Not content to rest on the laurels of a very solid first release, Pain Of Salvation move forward several steps. The music is even tighter than that on Entropia. I have to admire how Pain of Salvation are not afraid to release music that causes the listener to think, to replay tracks, to work at catching the whole of the song. Far too many bands release the musical equivalent of baby food, bland, easily digested, and with no real substance. Pain of Salvation offer the listener a full ten course meal of musical delicacies one is not likely to find elsewhere. This is music you can sink your teeth into, rich with flavor and satisfaction. Listening to it, one will realize that this is music that has been long in the making, carefully put together. When a band puts this much effort into a CD it really shows. Like Entropia, this is music that is a reflection of the beliefs and convictions of those who have produced it. These songs are the result of much hard work and hard experience on the part of the band. Music with this much substance is bound to put some people off by its sheer depth and complexity. To their loss they won't give the disc the time to hear what it is saying. This CD plays like a well written novel, grabbing you and not letting you go. Like Entropia, this is a very diverse disc, difficult to typify as it bridges the little cubbyholes we like to use to categorize music. It sears, romps and rocks. It glides and is subtle as the morning fog. It grabs you by the ear and roars. To say that Pain of Salvation are "like" any other group would be to do them an injustice. They are simply their own and have generously chosen to share their music with us. And what music it is! I would not at all be surprised to see this disc on several "top 10" or "best release" CD lists.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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The Perfect Element

Pain Of Salvation - The Perfect Element ©2000 InsideOut Music
1. Used
2. In The Flesh
3. Ashes
4. Morning On Earth
5. Idioglossia
6. Her Voices
7. Dedication
8. King Of Loss
9. Reconciliation
10. Song For The Innocent
11. The Perfect Element

Many years ago, Robert R. McCammon wrote a novel entitled Boy's Life. It was a mystery / thriller / horror story written from the perspective of a group of young boys. That book captured many of the facets of what it is to be a young boy from many points of view. Some of them had good stable homes, others didn't. But they all shared the mystery of childhood together. McCammon exquisitely detailed what being a child was like, through the eyes of the children in his book.

Pain Of Salvation has released their third CD, writing a very touching story that comes from the perspective of a child. The CD weaves an elaborate tapestry of innocence and loss, potential and waste. It works its way through what an enormous loss is ours when innocence gives way before the onslaught of brutal reality. There is an aching to return to that innocence permeating these songs. While this is an oversimplification of the content of the CD, it serves the purpose for this review.

The poignant emotion on this disc, by itself, would justify the purchase of it. The depth and content of the lyrics, by themselves, would justify the purchase of this CD. The sweeping music with its intensity and subtlety, by itself, would justify the purchase of this CD. When you combine the above with the other elements that make up this musical "coming of age" project, there are many compelling reasons to buy this CD.

The story is a journey back through the life of everyone, of no one, of the person next door and the one sharing your deepest darkest secrets. It takes you back to a time before cynicism when everything was wondrous and fearsome. A time when we were all malleable, a perfect element with perfect possibilities waiting to be shaped for something, into something, by something. Take a look at the child, the singularly perfect embodiment of innocence and mourn the scars you bear. Because of the subjective nature of the lyrical content and musical styling, this disc is going to affect every listener differently, but the bottom line is that it will affect you.

Musically, Pain Of Salvation have relaxed into a "less is more" posture that is very refreshing. The songs flow and move gracefully from mood to mood, from crushing power to whispering atmosphere. The high standards set on One Hour By the Concrete Lake are moved even higher. The complexity of the music is wonderful. As with their other two discs, the attention to detail makes the music sweeping on a grand scale. The atmosphere against which the music paints its picture is detailed and richly textured. Both the aggressively crunching guitar and the shyly quiet piano fit into it seamlessly.

This disc is a moving journey, one highly recommended to the listener. Add this one to my list of must have progressive discs.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 12/2000

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Remedy Lane

Pain Of Salvation - Remedy Lane ©2002 InsideOut Music
1. Of Two Beginnings
2. Ending Theme
3. Fandango
4. A Trace Of Blood
5. This Heart Of Mine (I Pledge)
6. Thorn Clown
7. Undertow
8. Rope Ends
9. Chain Sling
10. Dryad Of The Woods
11. Remedy Lane
12. Waking Every God
13. Second Love
14. Beyond The Pale

Not being a fan of or too well-versed in so-called "progressive metal", I picked up this disc with few expectations. Aside from a couple of bad MP3s a couple of years ago, this disc is my first exposure to Pain of Salvation, and I must admit to being thoroughly impressed. The songs are long, though not overly so, and feature Gildenlow's arresting, Geoff-Tater-than-Geoff-Tate timbre very prominently. The music evokes Queensryche, Fates Warning, and even shades of Yes and Gentle Giant ("Fandango"), but only rarely falls into the boring excessive exercises of most fellow proggists. Dissonance and odd time signatures are liberally employed throughout the disc, and the band's tight interplay and impressive musicianship impress without needless flash.

Ill-equipped though I may be to describe this disc in great detail to established Pain of Salvation fans (who already own this disc anyway, so this review does not really cater to them), I would venture to say that this disc suggests what would come out of a Dream Theater-Queensryche mind meld, retaining all the best elements of each band. It is definitely the music that I wish both of these bands played, and it is significantly deeper, less gratuitous, and more enjoyable than the two dozen or so "progressive" discs I have heard.

Highly recommended, even to professed progressive metal haters.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 07/2002

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12:5

Pain Of Salvation - 12:5 ©2004 InsideOut Music
1. Brickwork Part I
2. Brickwork Part II
3. Brickwork Part III
4. Brickwork Part IV
5. Brickwork Part V
6. Winning A War
7. Reconciliation
8. Dryad Of The Woods
9. Oblivion Ocean
10. Undertow
11. Chainsling
12. Brickwork Part VI
13. Brickwork Part VII
14. Brickwork Part VIII
15. Brickwork Part IX
16. Brickwork Part X

Before one assumes this will be another InsideOut bashing, I'll confess here that Pain of Salvation is the exception to the label's roster rules. Pain of Salvation has both the technical and songwriting ability to be something special, particularly as their past couple of albums have aptly demonstrated. So why the disclaimer? It turns out the band's newest release, 12:5, isn't quite worthy of the Pain of Salvation banner or past praise. Rather than the usual Queensryche on protein drinks style, Pain of Salvation recorded a live acoustic set. Suffice it to say, Pain of Salvation loses something in this setting and as a result, 12:5 is an entirely flatlined recording.

The setlist is split up into three sections. Two sections are entitled "Brickwork" and apparently consist of the band cleverly rearranging previous songs into various segments. The middle "book" provides acoustic renditions of various songs from their career in less abbreviated form. The playing, naturally, is impeccable. Unfortunately, these songs, when put into acoustic form, lose a lot of the power that made them impressive in the first place. Quite frankly, Pain of Salvation is best when amped up, wired, plugged in and given a pot of espresso to digest.

12:5 is pleasant but ultimately too sedated to really feel strongly about. If someone was new to Pain of Salvation, this would be the last CD I'd recommend. I am sure longtime fans will at least moderately enjoy this album, but I'd rather wait to hear their next electrified studio release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2004

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Be

Pain of Salvation - Be ©2004 InsideOut Music
1. Animae Partus (I Am)
2. Deus Nova
3. Imago (Homines Partus)
4. Pluvius Aestivus
5. Lilium Cruentius (Deus Nova)
6. Nauticus (Drifting)
7. Dea Pecuniae
8. Vocari Dei
9. Diffidentia
10. Nihil Morari
11. Latericius Valete
12. Omni
13. Iter Impius
14. Martius/Nauticus II
15. Animae Parus II

Pain of Salvation always had a flair for the theatrical, but said flair reached a dizzyingly nauseating height on the studio version of BE, arguably PoS' most ambitious album, both musically and conceptually, to date. With its oddball, supposedly intentionally incorrect Latin song-titles and extensive liner notes bordering on the nonsensical, BE is a concept album dealing with the origins of God and the Universe and Man's relation to them. Naturally, everything gets a trifle foggy and one is better off just listening to the album for the music rather than its concept.

Now, does the music make up for its frankly ridiculous concept? Well, the answer is a cloudy one. On the one hand, BE is easily the most diverse and ambitious album in PoS' ouvre, with more stylistic jumps and genre-marriages than any previous album. On the same token, the songs themselves are comparatively more straightforward in arrangement and execution. The overall problem with the studio release of BE lies in two things: delivery and production. Daniel Gildenlow has always been a singer of the preening theatrical variety, only he managed to make up for it through a bevy of heart n' soul, not to mention his amazing vocal range and timbre. Here he is so maudlin and overtly-earnest that the theatricality that has always bubbled in the background is at the forefront. The production, largely anti-septic, belies the other-worldly and big-music atmosphere the band attempts to create. There simply isn't any real heart on this album. Everything sounds as if it was culled together from various sessions with no real interplay among the members.

The album contains not one, but two introductory songs, with a useless spoken word prologue gliding into a more prog metal intro which then dives into the folky/Middle Eastern-tinged "Imago" before switching over to "Pluvius Aestivus," a rather gorgeous and gentle piano piece that comes complete with cleverly arranged and lilting string arrangements. So, right off the bat, styles and genres jump out at you left and right, and the result isn't the most consistent one. There's even a faux-Delta Blues number with processed/harmonized vocals in the form of "Nauticus (Drifting)." "Lilium Cruentius" is more in line with PoS of old with a slight nu-metal bent. "Dea Pecuniae", the album's centerpiece, is an epic blues rock number. In the PoS tradition of properly epic and climactic closing songs, "Martius/Nauticus II" reprises some of the motifs from "Imago" in what should have been a fitting book-end to an ambitious album, but as with most of the songs on the studio release, it falls prey to its production. The exception to this is the moving "Vocari Dei", for which the band set-up an international hotline for people to call and ask God whatever question they might have. The vocal snippets play over a gently ascending instrumental track. The resulting song does well in pulling on the heartstrings.

It's a shame that an album with so much promise would collapse under the weight of its own pretensions. Daniel Gildenlow overshot this one, this time around.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 8/2008

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BE [CD/DVD]

Pain of Salvatino - BE [CD/DVD] ©2005 InsideOut Music
1. Animae Partus (I Am)
2. Deus Nova
3. Imago (Homines Partus)
4. Pluvius Aestivus
5. Lilium Cruentius (Deus Nova)
6. Nauticus (Drifting)
7. Dea Pecuniae
8. Vocari Dei
9. Diffidentia
10. Nihil Morari
11. Latericius Valete
12. Omni
13. Iter Impius
14. Martius/Nauticus II
15. Animae Parus II

Shockingly, it seems that all Pain of Salvation needed to correct the problems inherent in the studio version of BE was a live audience. Simply put, the live version of BE is a stunning example of what can be done with a live album. The haughtiness and surprising lack of soul pervading its previous version is gone here, and the band does nothing but breathe new life into most of these songs with impassioned performances and an entirely unsurprising amount of showmanship courtesy of Daniel Gildenlow, who certainly isn't afraid to ham it up. Only this time, it works (although he does still have that all-too-prevalent prog-metal vocalist/musical theater problem of adding a whisper or gasp here and there for word emphasis' sake. What is wrong with these people? Just sing, for chrissakes). The songs themselves are modified only slightly, with Daniel occasionally putting his guitar down in favor of focusing on vocals and performance. The difference is a small one. The sound quality itself has that swimming in reverb thing going on, which is exactly the type of atmosphere an album like this needed to begin with.

As mentioned earlier, Mr. Gildenlow takes his status as frontman and primary songwriter to new levels with this version. His performance on the near-ten-minute bluesy number "Dea Pecuniae" is nothing short of a show-stopper. The rest of the band is no collective slouch, either (I do have some issues with Daniel's and Johan Hallgren's lead guitar tone, though). The *ahem* Orchestra of Eternity (a string quartet plus a small group of brass and woodwind players) simply soars here. Particularly, closing number "Martius/Nauticus II" has been turned into one of PoS' absolute best songs (special mention goes to the wonderful bit at the end when all the members drop their instruments and go to various drum sets for a fitting tribal drum climax). The song "Iter Impius", which had previously limped along with its cheese-ridden power ballad-ness, is also given a proper treatment sans fromage.

I would recommend anyone even remotely interested in hearing BE to skip the studio version outright and proceed directly to this version. It's simply the album as it was meant to be heard.

A note about the live DVD: avoid watching it. It is undeniably cheesy and filmed in such a way that it is hard to tell what's going on most of the time. That, and I'd rather hear Daniel ham it up than watch it.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 08/2008

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Scarsick

Pain Of Salvation - Scarsick ©2007 InsideOut Music
1. Scarsick
2. Spitfall
3. Cribcaged
4. America
5. Disco Queen
6. Kingdom Of Loss
7. Mrs. Modern Mother Mary
8. Idiocracy
9. Flame To The Moth
10. Enter Rain

Somewhere along the line, Daniel Gildenlow lost his mind. After 2004's uber-highfalutin concept album BE, with accompanying highfalutin concert DVD/live album (which is much, much better than its studio counterpart), one would be hard-pressed to think that Mr. Gildenlow could actually become more heavy-handed or maudlin. Think again.

Scarsick is a concept album that is supposedly the "sequel" to The Perfect Element, only one will find no lyrics having to do with the pangs of growing up or the horrors of adolescence on it. Rather, Daniel and the boys have deemed themselves savvy enough to comment on today's chaotic socio-political climate, and they do so with all the wisdom of a sixth grade blogger. In other words, these are some of the most inane lyrics to come my way since Limp Bizkit. And while I am usually not one to write off a band based solely on lyrics, Gildenlow does nothing but hammer his opinions down the listener's throat in a way that would make Oliver Stone seem like Alan Alda. The band wishes to show you that boy, they are angry, but they mostly come off as whiny and uninformed. Take, for instance, "Cribcaged", the album's ballad, wherein Daniel rants about everything from Mercedes Benzes to homies to Al Pacino posters (your guess is as good as mine). None of the lyrics provide any solutions to these "problems", but provide about as much insight as, well, a modern-day TV news report. The band deviates from this concept on occasion, such as on the woefully bizarre "Disco Queen" ("My disco queen, let's disco!").

Oh, the music. As always, Pain of Salvation's brand of quirky progressive metal is filled with incredible musicianship, clever time changes, and flux in mood and texture, but the production is antiseptic to the point of robbing the music of any power. Other reviewers have noted a nu-metal influence on account of Daniel occasionally "rapping", but really he has been doing that since "Used" off of The Perfect Element, and being that the band had previously been one of the few bands worthy of Faith No More's mantle, this was never an issue with me. However, his actual delivery, as with the lyrics, is remarkably immature and adolescent in approach. Even his singing voice sounds a bit flat this time around.

Scarsick (even the title and songtitles make me shudder at the sheer stupidity of it all) is one of the most disappointing albums to ever be released by a previously excellent band. Thankfully, I have their previous albums to fall back on as this one simply is not worthy of the Pain of Salvation moniker. Talent, which this band has in abundance, is largely wasted here.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 07/2007

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Linoleum EP

Pain of Salvation - Linoleum EP ©2009 InsideOut Music
1. Linoleum
2. Mortar Grind
3. If You Wait
4. Gone
5. Bonus Track B
6. Yellow Raven

After the auditory abortion of Cold Lake-proportions that was Scarsick, Pain of Salvation could not have possibly gone anywhere but up. Scarsick was an album so bad that I felt that I had to make phone calls to The American Red Cross, NATO, The United Nations, and Bellevue Hospital in an effort to have Daniel Gildenlow put away for both his own safety and that of self-respecting music listeners everywhere. Thankfully, the stop-gap Linoleum EP is a nice little exercise in a band regaining its footing and throwing a few left-turns at the listener at the same time, thereby stopping me in my humanitarian efforts. For starters, Mr. Gildenlow seems to have been listening to a lot of classic 70s hard-rock records during the songwriting process of this little album, but rather than turn the songs into the retro-fetishist asshat generic crap that so many other "progressive" bands spew out these days, he instead throws a nice, Captain Beyond-ish swagger into the mix, with some allusions to Pink Floyd as well as a slight hint of the dark, complex prog metal that Pain of Salvation did best before their descent into BE/Scarsick-era mediocrity. The production actually sounds like it could have come straight out of 1975, with a nice, under-mixed drum sound and a warm, hazy guitar tone. Gildenlow's vocals are back to being absolutely fantastic; soulful and expressive and surprisingly free of the overtly theatrical hystrionics that plagued BE as well the dreadful, adolescent Limp Bizkit-isms found on Scarsick. Closing out the EP with a wonderful and faithful rendition of The Scorpions' "Yellow Raven," Linoleum is a great indication of a band not so much returning to form as it is of a branching out, of sorts.

NOTE: "Bonus Track B" is actually a genuinely funny and short conversation among the band about whether or not to include a bonus track. It's good to hear that Gildenlow and the boys have a sense of humor.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 09/2010

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