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Pain Of Salvation - Scarsick CD (album) cover

SCARSICK

Pain Of Salvation

 

Progressive Metal

3.18 | 470 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Brief: Was Gildenlow sick?

There's hardly any other way to explain what happened during the writing process for SCARSICK, Pain of Salvation's latest release. After a brilliant album that quite simply blew everybody away with its incredibly deep lyrics and thoughtful theme, after delivering such the thesis-set-to-music thas was BE, and before that, after such a magnificent album as REMEDY LANE, or even the half-perfect, half-boring THE PERFECT ELEMENT, after proving me and a lot of people wrong by recording an acoustic version of seemingly non-acoustic-ready song like "Ashes" and making them sound completely different, like a song in the prairie, in 12:5; after such a serious, focused musical career, Gildenlow suddenly falls down for....

Hate?

Envy?

Jealousy?

I would have to speak about the lyrical department first. In SCARSICK, Gildenlow's attention turns to America ( United States of America if we are to call countries by their name and not by the continent they rest in). He writes, at least in the first half of the album, about America, of course overly critizicing it. But the problem is that he chose not to do it in a concious, respectful, or even interesting manner, no; he chose to do it in the most inmature, hate-driven, cliche-filled possible way. He's capable of putting down his thoughts to paper with skill, he showed us he's capable of using metaphors, of saying things in a more polished way, with some style. But in this album, he just rants on and on like a youngster angry with the world and with himself about how some people are rich, succesful, how the allmighty dollar changes everything and how that...sucks. Yes, it would've been the same if he just wrote, in the most graffiti-styled way, "America sucks", and spared us from all these lyrics, so profound and literary- elaborated is his discourse. I mean, what's the point in devoting a whole song to bash... rappers? I don't like that music, I also hate the fact that that atrocious subculture, where calling women bitches and showing golden teeth, is considered "cool" and is emulated by youngsters and revered by the money-hungry media. But what can be gained by writing about that in an album the target audience to which it's mostly written doesn't listen to that music in the first place? His message won't reach the mainstream, he won't change anybody's minds because the vast majority of people that hear his music already agrees with him, and the people he criticizes and bashes will never pay any attention to this album. . So in the end is just an exercize in uselessness. The only thing he's accomplishing with that is probably damaging his own liver. And that can be said about most of the first half: another useless song about celebrity adoration... do I smell envy here? It's hard for me to explain how such an intelligent man could write songs about subjects any young individual could say in less words and probably in a calmer way. The wrost is, of course, "America". just plain hatred for a country which may have a lot of bad things going on for it, but that deserves some respect, specially considering that it was the birthplace of freedom of speech, the same freedom of speech that allows Mr. Gildenlow to write his trashing-America essay. I have to say that in theory I could agree with about 60% of what it's said in that song, but thre are FAR more respectful, elegant, artistic ways of expressing it. The remainder of the lyrics are less direct, more introspective, but nowhere near the level of absolute control over ideas that BE showcased. Some people argue that this album is in fact the second part to "THE PERFECT ELEMENT PT 1", and the booklet itself gives us a clue about that when the first page reads "part II" and there's nothing more on it. If that is so, what a waste of time waiting for the continuation was, for SCARSICK is, lyrically, quite a few levels (I would say quite a few earth-layers) below that flawed piece of art.

I usually pay much less attention to the lyrics than to the music but in POS' case it's different: this is a band that was know for being able to write music strongly connected to the lyrics, in such a way that their latest album, BE, was not a musical grand-voyage but a written thesis with just the adequate mucis set to each of the chapters. In REMEDY LANE the morbid, depressing, introspective, angst-ridden lyrics were accompanied by some of the most beautiful yet suffering melodies in all prog-metal. So that's why I had to comment about the lyrics: in POS they are an important part in the music-writing process. That being said, the music in SCARSICK is not as deficient as the lyrics but it's not really good either. There are hardly any songs that could even begin to match up with the tracks in REMEDY LANE or the first half of TPE in terms of melody, originality or even virtuosism. One can argue that, as always, the music is written to match the lyrics, so if the lyrics are angry and simple, the music had to be like that, too. I don't agree. In BE, where we had amazingly deep lyrics, we could stand music just put there as background; in SCARSICK, one part of the combination is enourmously flawed, the other had to rise above it, but just barely manages to do so.

Scarsick (7.5/10), the simplicity of the riff is evident. This song starts off the album in pure metal fashion, and it's not bad, if overly simplistic. Gildenlow sings in a kind of "nu- metal" style that it's not to my taste; the chorus sort of remind us of the POS of ancient times. The song works because it's entertaining. The lyrics? Well, the guy's sick with the way society is. He doesn't say here anything we already don't know. daniel hates society. Music and lyrics in the same level

Spitfall (8/10), bliss to our ears, the old-style POS kind of appears buried within the confines of this song. The main heavy riff adornated by just four piano notes while Gildenlow "raps" over it is very good, and the chorus is actually decent, with D. at the end of it sounding almost like Anselmo from Down or Pantera. The lyrics? Well, how unfair and twisted it is that rappers have the spotlight in this society... did we really need Mr. G. to enlighten us about that? He even says "yo'all" in the song... He truly is sick. Daniel hates rappers and rap-adoring media. Music WAY above the lyrics.

Cribcaged (7/10), after a quiet start, a very good piano melody again reminds us that this could be the same band that wrote REMEDY LANE. Gildenlow sings, actually SINGS here, with the voice that he's shown he's capable of. The lack of a good chorus hurts the song a little and makes it sound repetitive. But the real problem: The lyrics? Awful. Now we're dealing with celebrities and how adored they are. Daniel hates celebrities. Man, what's the POINT? We already AGREE. But was it really necessary to say "fuck this, fuck that" to show he's uncomfortable with the way the world is? "Successful people, dressed up people, fucking people, you're just people". I rest my case with that phrase. Yes, Mr. G. discovered for all of us that successful people is just people. I thought they were divine. No, actually, maybe some of them could deserve their fame? We don't know, but these lyrics wouldn't bother to consider such an "aberration." Music OCEANS better than the lyrics.

America (5/10), finally, the chance for Mr. G. to deliver his self-repressed anti-yanqui rant. The music he chooses to do so is straight forward rock-metal, fast, with a pre- chorus melody that somewhat reminds us in our subconcious of the main melody in "America", the movement in Leonard Bernstein's magnificent music for WEST SIDE STORY. Weak music, but... The lyrics? Daniel hates America. Daniel hates America. Daniel hates America. I could agree with a lot of what he says, not in the way he says it. Daniel hates America. America DOESN'T CARE. WE DON'T CARE. At least not if to say it it's mandatory to be so inmature and hateful. Daniel is happy because the US is going the way of the Soviet, the Roman and the British Empire. Good for him. Bad for us, because we lost a GREAT lyricist and "gained" a POOR political analyst. Music weak but incredibly UNIVERSES above the lyirics.

Disco Queen (7.5/10) I'll be odd here and say that this track is not as bad as many people say it is. For the only time in the album, we hear some wit, some irony behind the criticism. The main riff starts in disco-style, with some high-pitched "uh uh uh" by Gildenlow that sound so grotesque and exaggerated that they work in actually conveying the futility of the "disco queens". In this song it's not about the music, it's about how they relate to the lyrics. Incredibly, they ARE related. the song itslef is a little boring except for the "disco" parts, but I can see some purpose here. The lyrics?Well, as always here, Daniel dislikes someone, now it's the turn for the ladies. At least he shows just a LITTLE of sarcasm in here. Music in the same level as the lyrics.

Kingdom Of Loss (9.5/10), just one word: PAIN OF SALVATION (well, those were three actually). This tracks sounds as a leftover from the TPE- era, with melody, control, a brilliant melodic chorus, THIS is the POS we where looking for. Suffering, angst, beauty hidden behind the mask of a monster created by elders. Great song. The lyrics? Finally Mr. G. starts drifting away from the "Daniel hates" theme and gives us some thoughful pharses, if not great, at least better than the unsufferable preceding ones.

Mrs Modern Mother Mary (4/10), don't like the beginning of the song that much, too simplistic. But soon enough the track gets back on track (pun intended) and Gildenlow delivers a good performance with his long-lost-and-missed falsetto voice. But then the song dissapoints us when we don't hear any changes. the same thing over and over again. The lyrics?Now we're talking about religious people. At least it's not an overly hateful exercize but it's not interesting. Boring song, both music and lyirics in the same low level.

Idiocracy (3.5/10) too bad the album starts going downhill from now on. A boring, mundane metal riff that sounds like a every-day-mtv-numetal band with some distorted vocals here and there. The chorus is much better but doesn't last long. bad, bad song. The lyrics? Well, they are not "Daniel hates" lyirics, so they're not that bad. both lyrics and music poor, but incredibly, lyrics ABOVE music. So boring it is.

Flame To The Moth (4/10), this album is a lost cause near the end. Some little arabic- sounding riff is the main music in this track. Too much noise. When Gildenlow makes his appearance he actually saves the song a little. The rest is mtv-ready music. yes, mtv airs rock, usually crappy nu-metal rock, so this song could fit there, too. The lyrics? It's too late, we no longer care. Daniel lost us. Music and lyrics poor.

Enter Rain (6/10) a very slow, sedating, sleep-inducing track, overly long, but at times inteersting, at times sounding like POS. There are bits of good singing and ingenuity here and there, but the song clearly overstays its welcome. The lyrics? Curiously enough, Mr. G. decided to write in a remotely interesting fashion just before we're about to end our SCARSICK experience. Too late for that.

This is my take on SCARSICK. A weak, very weak album with some moments that testify to the quality of the musicians playing it but there's a big problem: for any band, this would've been a decent effort...

...This is Pain of Salvation here. They gave me a good-if-hard-to-get-into album in ENTROPIA, they delivered an excellent if a little dry experience in ONE HOUR; they recorded an album with a PERFECT first half in TPE; they gave me my number 5 favorite album of all time in masterpiece REMEDY LANE; they dazzled me with 12:5; they crossed boundaries and showed me they're not just musicians in BE...

...but in SCARSICK, they managed the impossible. They dissapointed me.

Recommended for: Fans of prog-metal, fans/completionists of POS, fans of nu-metal (??).

Not recommended for: people expecting REMEDY LANE II or BE II, nor anything in those albums' level; people expecting incredibly original music. But most of all, people that could get offended by a singer that so blatantly manifests his feelings about a country and a society...

... but hey! Let's give the guy a break. Daniel hates America... (or is he just jealous?)

The T | 2/5 |

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