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Pain Of Salvation - Be Live CD (album) cover

BE LIVE

Pain Of Salvation

 

Progressive Metal

4.38 | 197 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Updated on 2 January 2008:

A Review by Rizal B. Prasetijo

Depicting the existence and substance of God and His creations and interpreting it in musical lyrics and notes must be extremely difficult for even gifted musicians. Hence, describing the existence and substance of God and His creations in a cohesive 75 minute musical drama, especially in the progressive rock corridor, appears to be a "mission impossible". Against all odds, Daniel Gildenl÷w, the lyricist, chief composer, guitarist, and lead vocalist of Pain of Salvation (PoS), a Swedish progressive metal band, was able to do it brilliantly and elegantly in 2004!

Thanks to Gatot "Top Markotop" Widayanto, who has been kind in re-lending me his PoS BE DVD and patiently encouraged me to review my thought after I returning his DVD back to him for the first time, I am finally able to appreciate the album. For me, the PoS BE (the band's fifth) album is probably one of the most complicated art works to be decrypted. Such difficult, that I need to download a sizeable information from the internet on the album before hearing it for the second time. This is because the strength and uniqueness of the PoS BE album does not lie on its musical notes and beats, but it is on its musical lyrics, story plot, and concept. Hence, it is imperative that you understand the background of characters displayed in the drama, read the lyrics contained in the DVD booklet during the play, and watch it in a proper DVD Dolby Surround 4:1 mode. I am afraid that you won't be able to fully extract Mr. Gildenl÷w's message by playing his brilliant and complicated work in the CD 2-channel system mode.

There are five characters, appearing and disappearing in this musical drama. The first is called Animae, representing the God. The second is Imago, which is the image of humanity in its most natural form. The third is Mr. Money, the dark side of Imago who like to be immortal. The fourth is Dea Pecuniae, the feminine version of Mr. Money and the Eve of humanity's dark side. Finally, Nauticus, the most intelligent creature ever created by Animae, which are drifting and hovering in the space and searching for answers to save Earth. In my interpretation, I also see Nauticus as the most powerful substance of the dark side of Imago, regretting and wanting to rectify his mistakes.

The album is opened up by 1:48" sub 500Hz beat, gradually rising in tempo, depicting the birth of Animae, called Animae Partus. God, in Daniel's definition, must have heart beats and, therefore, he displays these sounds as his prologue. "Who I am? In the back of my awareness I find words: I will call myself. God", narrated Mr. Gildenl÷w's. Then, having had an orchestra introduction, you'll hear somewhat mellow metal riffs, called Deus Nova. In this 3:18" piece, Daniel depicts a situation where the world created by Animae has been becoming bigger (he narrates a rising number of population, in-line with the function of time), but it has also been becoming vulnerable.

Using a beautiful combination of mandolin, flute, and piano as an introduction, Mr. Gildenl÷w takes us to the next 5:11" piece, titled Imago, describing how Animae teaches Imago the beauty of his creations (presumably in the Heaven). "Teach me of the forest, teach me of the sea, teach me anything as long as you teach me.", Imago begs to Animae. Johan Langell's percussion at the back induces a somewhat Middle East color into the composition. It is followed by Fredrik Hermansson's 5:00" beautifully crafted classical piano, combined with violin and viola, in Pluvius Aestivus. In this mellow instrumental composition, it appears to me that Daniel attempts to depict how satisfy Animae is following the creation of Imago. Note that rather than relying on Kristoffer Gildenl÷w's electric bass, Daniel relies on cello to create softer, but clear beats.

The slow rock melody guitar opens up the 5:28" piece, called Lilium Cruentus, describing how Imago losses his innocence and struggles to recover his strength. Imago's confusion on his life is depicted by metal beats and riffs in this section. "They tell me you are better off where you are now, I don't care.", the evil presumably whispers to Imago. "I need something to blame for this pain.", Imago attempts to find a scapegoat for all suffers he experienced in this current life.

Suddenly, your TV screen turns into black and you'll only see a candle and its light. An eerie sound humming: "Oh Lord, Oh Lord, won't you hear a sinner prayer.", while a mellow melody guitar played at the back Imago is obviously asking Animae whether he could be forgiven for his sins in the 4:58" Nauticus. Lars Lundin and Alfred Magnusson's diagonal recording technique (portraying the hum on the front right and back left speakers at the same time and vice versa) further dramatizes the ambiance. The candle light almost turns off at the end of the piece when the eerie narration saying "Save me, I'm drifting. Help me, I'm drifting", symbolizing Imago's diminishing hope.

As Animae doesn't answer Imago's call, it appears to me that he becomes disappointed and broken. Putting forward his angers by unveiling his dark side is essentially Mr. Gildenl÷w's message in the next somewhat blues 10:09" composition, called Dea Pecuniae. As I mentioned in the beginning, Imago's dark side is reflected by two characters-Mr. Money and Dea Pecuniae. Materialism and desire on power are some of Imago's dark sides. "If you are looking for fulfillment, a Kingdom and a Crown, a Paradise of Free rides, I am here to let you down." teased Dea Pecuniae to Mr. Money.

The next 4:15" section, called Vocari Dei or Messages to God is the album's trademark. Here, Daniel sets up a phone line for fans from around the world to ring and leave their messages to God. These messages were collated and presented with a peaceful instrumental accompaniment, resulting in what I think the most touching track in the album. "God, if you love us, why we are subject to an increasing injustice through out the world. Do you show your love by tormenting us? It doesn't make any sense", said one of desperate fans, similar to Imago's sober feeling.

Accentuating by the Vocardi Dei fragment, Animae finally takes Imago's call. Starting with staccato and heavy rock riffs, Mr. Gildenl÷w depicts a somewhat unfriendly exchange of words between Animae and Imago in his 7:25" Diffenditia piece. "God, you know, you created a golden cage for your sheep, a stage too wide and deep for us to even see the play.", said Imago. "Man is shattered, I am shattered. My shards have become shards of their own, pieces of pieces, impossible to put back together, they leave me, they do nothing more than spending their lives seeking a context they were already part of, until there is no alternative", Animae complains.

Believing that his creation will never gained back his innocence, Animae regrets and curses himself in the 6:21" and 2:27" grief turned into metal rock composition, named Nihil Mohari and Latericius Valete, respectively. "Nothing will ever change, touch me, heal me. Mankind remains the same. Forests, oceans, bleeding. Nothing will ever change.", Animae cries.

Meanwhile, broken and angry Imago, who lost the guidance, is looking for another more powerful and higher substance as his new master. Setting on the back of classical and church music background, Imago turns to Nauticus, who is actually his most powerful dark side, in the 2:37" Omni section. "We all need something to believe in. I see us in you Nauticus. Will you go, travel on, serving our fragile race? Will you come back to us with the meaning of life?" said Imago to Nauticus. On your TV screen, you could watch Daniel pulls off his jacket, washes it in a small pond in front of the stage, and wears his wet jacket, symbolizing that Imago has cleaned its past and found a new master. What a great stage act!!!

Using a rock opera music as an entry, Mr. Gildenl÷w describes how Imago's dark side runs amok without control in the 6:21" Iter Impius. Here, Mr. Money (one of two Imago dark sides) says: "I woke up today expecting to find all that I sought, and climb the mountain of the life I bought. Finally, I'm at the top of every hierarchy, unfortunately there is no one left.but me. I'm on my own, I am all alone, I am on my own. I'm stuck forever here. Already cold, so cold. I rule the ruins". Imago has been becoming so powerful and successful, but yet he feels alone and empty.

The emptiness felt by Imago is further emphasized by the 6:41" Maritus/Nauticus II. Opened up by slow tempo and gradually rising, Nauticus declares: "I'm at the line, I see it all. I am Nauticus and I'm so much more. I am everything". Imago's dark side has possessed everything-"I am every forest, I am every tree, I am every ocean, I am every sea". He becomes so powerful and even promotes himself to be the new Animae by saying: "And if you listen closely you might hear whisperings in the silence of darkness, beautiful, yet distinguishable and beautifully clear. You might hear the only answer "BE", "BE", "BE". The piece is ended by Daniel's solo percussion, a great way to end this beautiful and complex art work!

Before ending my review on the album, let me quote Mr. Gildenl÷w's answer when he was asked about God (please see http://www.alternative-zine.com/interviews/en/41 ): "I always had a very complicated relationship to the concept of God, because, I mean, God is constantly present in this world weather you believe in him or her or not, you will be aware of the existence and the concept of God in human existence, I've never been able to believe in any of the Gods as presented in any human religion so far, I've always hoped for God, I always wished for God but I never manage to believe and have full faith in the concept of God, especially after working with this concept, I have come and more to the conclusion that the question weather there is a God or not does not apply to our fractal system and is like when this two dimensional guys are looking at the cylinder asking themselves if there's a round shape or a square shape and there is no answer, because you cannot ask that question, because it's beyond our fractal".

Enjoy this piece of beautiful and complex art work with open mind and you will appreciate how genius Daniel Gildenl÷w is.

Best regards, Rizal B. Prasetijo

A Review by Gatot

Time has not passed for me to put down BE studio album CD from my regular play list at my CD player when I received some boxes of amazon order from local post office last week containing - one of them - this package of DVD + CD of BE live. I was not ready to watch the DVD actually because I still want to enjoy the album CD first until I've got all lyrics on top of my head. As I wrote in my review about BE last month - having refrained it for such a long time due to my incapability to write appropriate words for this wonderful album. I felt touched reading a review by by Tim Caudill @ 2:48:59 PM EST, 10/21/2004 at this site on Be studio album especially at this first statement: "The first time I head Pluvius Aestivus, I cried. It's an instrumental. Folks, this is an incredible CD.". And also at the ending part when he wrote: "Open your mind and let it in. Embrace it. Accept it. EXPERIENCE IT!". Yes, that's exactly the same message I wnt to convey to all of you about this package.

It has been in a public domain knowledge that BE had divided PoS fans into two extreme poles: those who liked it and those who hated it. Each pole has their own compelling reasons. As for myself, I am in the "like it" pole with following reasons:

1. BE is a concept album with carefully thought of processes involving references from hundred of books and other references. The idea revolved around Daniel Gildenlow's thinking system since 1996 when he studied cultural history. It seems pretentious for some people. If that is the case then, Mr. Gildenlow is the true master of positioning. Marketing guru like Philip Kotler or strategy guru like Michael Porter or Prahalad should learn from him. But, this is not something new in music industry as we all know that Robert Fripp of King Crimson is also the positioning guru, I believe. So, my view on this is simple: so BE it! Just enjoy the music mate .!!!

2. Musically, BE has demonstrated a true progression of the band career in the progressive world. With BE, I don't think we still can classify PoS as prog met band anymore, even though there is still component of it. The band always challenge the status quo. They don't want to stand still. Change! (with all associated risks, of course).

To test the water, before the album's release the band took unusual step of the full album through a three-week performance at a theatre in their hometown of Eskilstuna with continuous performance: twice a day, five days a week, with full orchestra music. The last shows were filmed and the result was this DVD package. What came out was a great live DVD.

The Performance

The DVD starts off with a blur menu and confusing titles as all characters were printed with mirror image. The concert itself begins with dimming light in companion to the dialogue as in the studio album about "I am" (Animae Partus) portraying good boy played on screen. It continues with great and melodic orchestral arrangement that brings Deus Nova into play with unique prog metal style. Now I can see clearly the players of PoS minus Daniel and nine orchestra members.

The stage concert is worthy to take note here as it's not a usual stage that I have seen so far. It has relatively large pool in the middle front of the stage while the stage itself is not completely flat as it comprises multi layer raised floor. The stage size is relatively big as all PoS players and nine members of Orchestra of Eternity can position their stand freely on stage. It's a terrific design. Overall lighting used on stage is blue. All musicians, including the members of Orchestra of Eternity are wearing unique make-up in white or blue colors. Members of the band like Frederik Hermansson use white make- up at his face. Kristoffer Gildenl÷w is dressed in red, Johan Hallgren and Johan Langell are both bare-chested. These make-ups combined with the stage light has produced shiny color during the course of the show. One thing I observe is that during the show all musicians, including the orchestral members, do not cast any smile during the performance. They want to project the seriousness of their performance.

I like when vocal voicing "10,000 BC 1 million people etc ." produced from recorded sound. Daniel entered the stage at the end of this song. He played his mandolin brilliantly under Imago (Homines Partus). At the end of this song he played the body of the mandolin as he holds a percussion with him. Very nice. Daniel himself takes various positions on stage when he sings or plays musical instrument.

During Lilium Cruentus I like the wonderful opening of a light orchestra featuring oboe and distant voice followed with energetic musical riffs and vocal line. It abruptly stops in a quiet passage to feature melodic lyrical part accompanied with nice orchestra. It again moves to an energetic part in an upbeat tempo.

I have some problems with DVD, however, during the performance of Nauticus where there is only a candle light on my TV screen and there is no camera shot on the vocalist. I wonder that it might be a recorded / playback voice during this song. It's a downside for me as I don't see who sing. The use of video shooting of busy town and also the use of video performing actor for MR. Money is boring one to me. I'd rather see how each musician plays their instrument than watching a video.

The Package

This set comes with bonus material plus hidden tracks that are very hard to locate. I gave up on the hidden tracks as I got confused. It also features bonus audio CD of the show that helps me memorize the show by playing it at CD player or in the player without seeing the picture. As this show took place before the studio album was released there are some differences that have made this bonus CD is truly a collectible item for those who like BE album.

The other thing that impresses me is the 48-page colorful addendum booklet notes that contain abundant of information especially lyrics. Yes, all lyrics are presented here so it's recommended that you watch the DVD while reading the booklet. One thing that really strike into my head was that the part titled as "Layers of Creational Saw Dust" (A Brief Introduction by Daniel Gildenlow) that explains the concept of BE. Content-wise I'm in total disagreement with Daniel that said ".. if God ever existed he might just have been as lost and seeking as we are .". NO, Mr. Gildenlow! God DID exist before anything in the whole universe was created. God created all. That's my strong believe. You should read and understand the Koran. And, God knows it ALL, so God has never been as lost as human beings! If you have a Porcupine Tree CD "Deadwing" you can read in the CD inlay the statement "Allahu Akbar" meaning God is Great! (Alright, alright . this may not be the media, and I understand people will have differing views on this. Let's come back to the DVD .)

Idea-wise, I salute him on creating an atmosphere of inquiring mind for its readers / listeners. He invites us on the discussion of BE and giving the readers the points of departure. I'm amazed by a lot of books that he has used as references including those that I'm familiar with like Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown or Life of Pi, or A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Well, well, well .. I know now why some people said that BE is pretentious.

Summary

With some downsides that I mentioned, I still consider that this package is a masterpiece and it might be the best DVD of 2005. Enjoying this DVD is very satisfying especially if we use large screen and play the volume LOUD. The ultimate satisfaction will be reached. Great performance! Overall rating 4 ż out of 5 stars of the performance and DVD quality. Keep on proggin'.!!!!

Life seems too small when death takes its toll. - Lilium Cruentus (Deus Nova) "Pain of Salvation"

Progressively yours,

GW

Gatot | 5/5 |

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