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Pain Of Salvation - Scarsick CD (album) cover

SCARSICK

Pain Of Salvation

 

Progressive Metal

3.18 | 478 ratings

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J-Man
Prog Reviewer
5 stars It Took Me Forever To Get Interested... But It Was Worth It

Ever since the first time I heard Pain of Salvation's sixth album Scarsick I was completely disappointed. I have always been a cult follower of the first five Pain of Salvation albums, but this 2007 release took at least 25 spins before I began appreciating it as much as the other Daniel Gildenlöw masterworks. Call me crazy for listening to an album I didn't like more than three times, but that's what any true fanboy would do. And it sure paid off.

If you remember my review originally posted in November of 2009, I gave this album two stars calling it "immature", "poor", and "disappointing". Almost a year after that review, I can confidently say that Scarsick is among my favorite Pain of Salvation albums, and a worthy follow-up to my all-time favorite album, The Perfect Element, Part 1. This is not the place to start listening to Pain of Salvation because of its inaccessibility and controversial subject matters, but if you can suffer through the first five listens, tolerate the next ten run-throughs, and moderately enjoy the next five tries, you will really see the masterpiece that is Scarsick. This is truly one of the most intellectually challenging and emotionally driven albums I have ever heard, which is really saying something. I really like the more edgy lyrical style on Scarsick, even though it will definitely offend plenty of people. I don't agree with many of the political standpoints Daniel Gildenlöw takes here, but he is so brutally honest and heartfelt that it's hard not to appreciate them anyway.

First of all, if you are a rapper, involved in the media, offended by profanity, a celebrity, an American, and/or a Christian, expect to be offended at least one time in the album. Of course, the lyrics are all just Daniel's opinions, and you can choose whether you agree with them or not. The only case where the lyrics actually bother me is on America, where he makes his hatred towards the Bush Administration far too apparent. Profanity doesn't usually bother me, but there are quite a few "f-bombs" in Spitfall and especially Cribcaged for those who care. It doesn't affect me at all, but if you're one of those people who is offended by two certain four letter words, it might annoy you a little bit. When these profane words are used it is always in a mature way, though. Daniel isn't just saying "f**k this" to sound funny or childish... it is always to prove a deeply intellectual point, and shows he's really not messing around, rather than the contrary. I personally find the lyrics to be extremely well-written, albeit controversial.

Lyrics aside, the music seems much different than earlier Pain of Salvation albums at first listen, but after many focused listens, it's still obviously the same PoS. There is a bit of a heavier and darker tone, less beautiful melodic parts, and of course the infamous disco track (Disco Queen), but most of the music sounds pretty similar to their earlier albums. Some people criticize this album for being too "straightforward" and "commercial", but that's about as far from the truth as you can get. This is possibly PoS's most challenging album to date, in my opinion.

The musicians, as always on a Pain of Salvation album, are top-notch. A special note goes out to Daniel Gildenlöw for his fantastic pipes! I know a lot of people don't appreciate his unique vocal style, but he is simply one of my all-time favorite singers. His voice is always extremely powerful and emotional, demanding and rough when it needs to be, and simply beautiful at times. He also plays bass and some guitar here, but the main guitarist is of course Johan Hallgren. He is fantastic, and I absolutely love his one-of-a-kind playing style. Few guitarists can play with as much power and emotion as he can. Fredrik Hermansson takes a bit of a backseat on Scarsick due to the less keyboard-oriented music, but he still does a great job here. This is the last full-length album with Johan Langell on drums, which is quite a shame in my opinion. He is just such a fantastic drummer, and he will always be missed in Pain of Salvation's music.

The production is possibly the best Pain of Salvation has had to date. The mix is simply genius, with every instrument sounding crystal clear, yet not overproduced like many of the modern symphonic prog acts. It has a clear enough production to make the album not sound unprofessional, but it's not so polished to the point where it destroys the emotions in the album (which is a frequent problem in many modern productions). I have no knocks to give in terms of production.

Scarsick is 10 tracks, adding up to a total time of 67:47. All of the songs are fantastic, but there are a few highlights in my opinion. The rap-oriented Sptifall is a favorite of mine, along with the lyrically-driven Cribcaged, beautiful Kingdom of Loss, heavy yet emotional Flame To The Moth, and especially the epic closer Enter Rain. Every one of the songs is extremely rewarding and unique, though. No two songs sound even remotely alike on Scarsick.

Conclusion:

Scarsick took a VERY long time for me to appreciate, but now that I've been loving it for many months now, I can fully regard it as another Pain of Salvation masterpiece. This is a unique album, completely unlike anything you will ever hear in your entire life. This is a 5 star album from me, and I can now consider Scarsick as a more than worthy part two in The Perfect Element saga. Words can't describe how much I love this album, and I'm sure that my words have failed multiple times throughout this review. All you need to know is that you need to buy this album at some point or another. You're really missing out if you don't have it, or even worse, have it but don't give it enough attention. I'm confident that this will be the only time I will change a two star review into a five. If you would like to read my original review, just send me a private message, and I'd be more than glad to send it to you.

J-Man | 5/5 |

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