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Pain Of Salvation - The Perfect Element - Part 1 CD (album) cover


Pain Of Salvation


Progressive Metal

4.23 | 1328 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars On both of their first two releases Pain of Salvation has threatened to produce a stunning album that could hold its head up high with the best that prog has to offer. On creating The Perfect Element Part 1 it appears that Pain of Salvation have created the perfect album.

The Perfect Element is a concept album that tells the story of two adolescents, a boy and a girl, as they are abused when young and grow up to be social delinquents who's meeting causes them to face the causes and consequences of their actions. To me its a deep and emotionally involving concept that draws you in and makes you feel for the characters. In-fact this concept is the key to why I enjoy this album so much. When I first heard this album it was immediately apparent that it was something very good indeed, but it didn't strike me as being a masterpiece, but on uncovering the meaning of the concept as a whole and the meaning of the individual songs it clicked. And when it clicks the concept, the lyrics and, most importantly, the music all falls into place as being incredibly powerful, drawing you through a range of emotions from elation to a deep sadness.

So what is it that's changed in Gildenlow's, and occasionally Hermansson's, lyrics and compositions that has elevated the album to such greatness? I think the main change for the lyrics is that its no longer a political concept as the previous two albums were and Gildenlow clearly shines when he concentrates on the social and emotional state of people, the songs just feel more real and sincere than on previous albums. With the compositions the there is two main differences that I feel that has elevated this album. The first is that Fredrick Hermansson's keyboards are now very much in the foreground of the music with the guitars, they tended to be a little in the background on One Hour by the Concrete Lake and at times were almost completely missing from Entropia, and are more integral to the music and the whole feel of the album, heck, you even get a few keyboard led songs now. The second is that the compositions are far more dynamic and involving than before, they shift seamlessly from slow, brooding passages filled with malice or anger to quiet, delicate songs to fast, crunching guitar driven parts and epic, graceful and powerful songs, there's not much it doesn't have.

As I have stated before the music works seamlessly with the lyrics to grab you emotionally but its led by the fact that each member of the band has stepped-up a notch and performed their hearts out here. Gildenlow shows, again, that he is one of progs greatest singers here by adding a level of finesse that was missing just a bit in previous albums. On songs like Morning On Earth and Dedication his voice sounds incredibly delicate but it gets really forceful on Ashes and Reconciliation really shows off his range to perfection. The guitar lines fill a wider role here than before giving really delicate and soft passages at times as the song needs as well as "spreading out" to fill songs, particularly on the crescendo of pieces like Idioglossia and The Perfect Element, whilst still providing the powerful riffs and souring solos as before, but this time to a level not previously achieved. The rhythm section of Kristoffer Gildenlow (bass) and Johan Langell (percussion) work together here far more closely than before creating some really interesting rhythm patterns and changes in sings, little things that have a big impact to what's going on. Kristoffer in particular of these two has really come to the fore as his bass now fulfils a role of both playing melody and rhythm without neglecting either, bolstered by his ability to switch from picking to slapping at the drop of a hat (something I admire him greatly for).

The Perfect Element is one of those strange albums that proves to be the easiest starting point for the band in question whilst holding such huge reserves of emotional and musical depth that it remains as a fast favourite. I also believe that its this incredible depth and dynamic of the music that makes it so accessible as well as so astonishing. Its not often that I claim an album is an easy 5 star masterpiece but this is definitely one.

sleeper | 5/5 |


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