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Pain Of Salvation - Scarsick CD (album) cover


Pain Of Salvation


Progressive Metal

3.21 | 565 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Scarsick, the sixth studio album from Pain of Salvation, a band that I have come to regard as one of the best I have ever heard, if not the best. Standing still is not something that could ever be levelled at Pain of Salvation and the guiding hand of Daniel Gildenlow, and the big question everyone was anxious to know the answer to is, how the hell do you follow up the spectacularly ambitious, some would say pretentious and overblown, BE? The answer seems to be The Perfect Element, Part 2!

Yes, that's right, the follow up to my all time favourite album, The Perfect Element. The closing song of the aforementioned album left the male character with "his skin upon this dirty floor, eyes fixed on the ceiling", and now Scarsick picks up from there and tells this story from His perspective as He watches the world through his TV, and does not like what he sees, the perversion of modern society. Or at least that's what its supposed to be, anyway. I have trouble taking this too seriously as a concept album that follows on from The Perfect Element, it lacks the references to his past that made such an emotional impact previously and rather than being a cohesive concept it seems to be a series of social commentaries, making the TPE connection tenuous at best. Worse than that, several of these songs posses some of Gildenlows worst lyrics, particularly America, which is needlessly inflammatory with lines like " sick of America" and gets its point across in a very crass method. The fact that I agree, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the song, with the sentiments here doesn't change the fact that Gildenlow has exchanged intelligent and thoughtful lyrics for anger and I don't think its too successful in that regard.

Musically its very different to all that has come before it, as you would expect, this is Pain of Salvation after all. However, gone are the complex structures, melodies and the highly effective use of rhythm change that has been used to amazing effect on all previous albums. Here the structures are much more simple and the songs, though each very different, have little dynamic change in their timbre, except for Disco Queen, and that's only an illusion created by the disco beat of the loathsome chorus. Its not that its bad, because the musicianship is still top notch from all four members, with Daniel taking over bass duties from his ousted brother Kristoffer, its just that the songs on Scarsick will forever be held up against those of The Perfect Element, by dint of its connection, and will never hope to match the sheer genius of In The Flesh, Idioglossia, Her Voices, King of Loss, etc. However, were these songs still hold a candle to their predecessors is in atmosphere, particularly the doom-and-gloom atmosphere of the second half of the album, from Kingdom of Loss onwards. Its very dark and it works very well, in conjuncture with Gildenlow's best lyrics of the album.

In the end the constant anger of the lyrics and the striped down, much more simple, style of the song structures make it impossible for me to make any kind of emotional connection to this album, and that's its biggest fault simply for the fact that it was always the bands biggest asset on the previous five albums. When looked at under such close scrutiny and in direct comparison to Pain of Salvations past, its hard no to try and give this album a really low rating, but then I step back and remember just how highly I regard PoS's back catalogue and try to take it on its own merits. When I do this I realise that there is ample strength in the crafting of the songs, particularly the rather good Kingdom of Loss, and the excellent musicianship which is on display throughout the album to realise that its an average album, I just happen to have extremely high standards when it comes to PoS. The album is also notable for it being the last appearance of drummer Johan Langel, who retired from music following the end of the subsequent tour. Johan has regularly proved that he is one of the best drummers in Progressive metal and PoS will miss him on the next album. 3 stars but I advise you buy this album last from Pain of Salvation, get the others first.

sleeper | 3/5 |


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