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Pain Of Salvation - Entropia CD (album) cover


Pain Of Salvation


Progressive Metal

4.10 | 517 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Handing off the Baton..Enter the Pain

I have always thought of Pain of Salvation as Queensryche's heirs, releasing this very strong debut in 1997, the same year Queensryche nosedived with Hear in the Now Frontier. And yet, like any worthy offspring, PoS bring many new sounds to the genre, both expanding old concepts to new extremes, and adding new ideas of their own. A la the Ryche, the music on Entropia is melodic, theatric, layered metal which I find very distinct from the Dream Theater school of metal. At the same time, all the players have very solid chops, and get their chances to shine. With the possible exception of the lead vocals, individual performances always take a back seat to the composition and emotional point of the song.

12 years later, it's easy to forget that rapid-fire changes in mood and structure that are now standard were somewhat novel before this band (and others such as Opeth). The first time I heard the opener (!), what struck me most was the abruptness of change, the jagged transitions. And it worked! I believe that this, along with some of the aggression in band leader Daniel Gildenlow's voice, came from the influence of Mike Patton's work in Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. (So he's merged the two best vocalists from the late 80's / early 90's into one powerful, over-the-top voice)

Tracks such as "Stress" are prog metal at it's most intricate - interweaving lines in complex time involving all the instruments. "Revival" combines choral voice, rapid-fire sixteenth note riffing, and lots of syncopation to produce a heavy, dramatic gem of a song. "To the End" is based on a reverse gallop rhythm that is precise, grinding, and aggressive. This leads into intricate composed leads and syncopated vocals, a short jazzy break, a slow sludge section, and an anthemic chorus. Certainly, by the time this album is over, the kitchen sink has long since been thrown in the mix. Overdone? Maybe, but this is metal. I like it.

Like Queensryche had done over a decade before, Pain of Salvation takes the state of art in metal playing and uses the full breadth of techniques as compositional tools, rather than color-by-number guidelines. By 1997, however, the state of the art had increased in precision and technicality, owing to the neo-classical and thrash movements (and Dream Theater's incorporation of both in their pioneering work). Gildenlow also updates prog metal with some of the better lyrics in metal. While he later pushes the envelope further and further and sometimes misses, here he's still intelligent but powerful. The storytelling is not as straightforward as Mindcrime, but lost also is the majority of the metal cheese.

While the band will continue to refine their sound, peaking with The Perfect Element, this album is already excellent, perhaps essential within its own sub-genre. I'm going to round down the 4+ rating owing mainly to a certain immaturity in tone and production, as well as the refinement and sharpening that I know is to come. Still highly recommended.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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