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Pain Of Salvation - The Perfect Element - Part 1 CD (album) cover


Pain Of Salvation


Progressive Metal

4.23 | 1152 ratings

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Marc Baum
Prog Reviewer
5 stars - The PERFECT Element: let the title speak the word!

The predecessor to the brilliant and controversial Remedy Lane continues Pain of Salvation's trend of emotionally-charged, no-frills progressive metal straight from the deepest pit of the narrator's heart and soul. Daniel Gildenlow and co. try to squeeze out every possible inch of emotion from each vocal nuance and piano and guitar lines and it seems as if they greatly desire the listener to empathize with the lyrics of the songs and feel emotions as deeply as Gildenlow.

If anyone hasn't noticed, Daniel Gildenlow (btw, the bassist Kristoffer Gildenlow is Daniel's brother) is the star attraction of this little prog outfit from Eskilstuna, Sweden. From my understanding, due to PoS's seemingly purposeful minimalist approach to riffing and soloing, the band derives much of their power and drive from Gildenlow's skills as a vocalist. Everyone should hear his voice. It's so incredibly rich and much like the audio equivalent of Tiramisu or strawberry short cake. His range is incredible as well, going from a low moan to a high shriek at the drop of a hat. It is this versatility which drives many of the songs.

You see, he basically establishes the tone of the music usually and the rest of the band accompanies him to supplement the mood. Many of the riffs are based around his voice. They rarely, if ever, have a mind of their own and morph into unintelligible, incoherent blobs of sound. This approach is to be much appreciated in prog metal, for Pain of Salvation has the power to keep the listener firmly entrenched in the plot of the song and to actually FEEL it, yet they are not very technically impressive. This is a norm which I don't mind being violated because it works very well.

Something that does, in fact, bother me about Gildenlow's vocals, however, is the fact that they often sound plagued with indecision. It's as if he can't decide which notes would sound the most euphonious following certain other notes and it ends up creating an almost discordant rising and falling effect of the vocals.

I can forgive this wishy-washiness, however, because Gildenlow is a talented vocalist and he likes to keep things NOT simple and show off. That's understandable. The most blatant example of what I'm referring to is on the underrated tune "King of Loss". Don't ask me why Pain of Salvation or whomever decided to put "Kingdom of Loss" as the banner on their official site.Why indirectly bestow such great honor to such an inferior song? Musically, it's nowhere bad, but the chorus is one of the most annoying known to man.

I've made the point that Pain of Salvation isn't very riff-oriented, and I'm sure this holds true on their first two albums as well, but there ARE some good riffs for crying out loud! Without any notable playing skills, the band just wouldn't be prog, am I right? The most blatant example of this is the song "Idioglossia", which is actually the name of some fictional place. The inspiration of it I do not remember or know, but there is quite a lot of good keyboards and riffs to be found here.

PoS exhibits more of their Faith No More vocal influences on this record. It's been said before that Pain of Salvation mixes the prog rock tendencies of bands like Yes and King Crimson with the heavy riffing and attitude of bands like Faith No More and Metallica, and on the opening track "Used", it is quite apparent. I'm not sure what you'd call Gildenlow's singing style on it, but I supposed it could be best described as a rapping/ranting hybrid that suddenly morphs into an uplifting chorus.

I love the cover art of this album for a few different reasons. First of all, the color scheme is very congruous with that of Remedy Lane, utilizing many warm browns, and creamy and tannish tones. When looking at this album situated just above Remedy Lane in my CD carrying case, it looks very pretty and it's perhaps symbolic of what Pain of Salvation is all about lyrically. PoS tears new paths in those respects because they are heavily focused on exploring the idyllic times of childhood and the turbulent adolescent years, and helping listeners to see the lasting impressions those times have on people throughout their lifetimes.

Much of the lyrical inspiration behind this album is from band members' personal problems, but the members expect the listeners to look at each song's lyrics from their own perspectives and apply them to their lives. Although the lyrics are cryptic 90% of the time, there is no trace of fiction in them. PoS writes about life, and that's part of what makes them so appealing.

The color scheme of the two aforementioned albums is symbolic of the band's exploration of their (and our) roots of existence, and being able to feel comfortable with ourselves in front of nature and God. Much kudos has to go to Erik and Klara Iggsten as well for being the cover siblings of this album. They are both adorable and perfectly convey the concept of the album.

Track-by-track guide:

First off, like all PoS albums, it is conceptual, and is split into 3 Chapters.

Track 1: Used - Excellent track to begin the album. Fast paced and fun to listen to. If you've never listened to PoS before, this may be the place to start. As far as the album goes, it's average, but it's definately an amazing song.

Track 2: In the Flesh - Great song. This is a lot more of the standard PoS sound. This'll give you a taste of everything. If you like this song, there's no doubt you'll love everything the band has ever made. A lot of the tunes you'll hear later in the album are thrown in here. The highlight of the song is the last minute and a half or so, where Daniel just does what he does best.

Track 3: Ashes - The fan favorite. "Ashes" has an incredible gloomy feeling to it, and one of the most memorable choruses ever. I honestly find more than half this album to be better than Ashes, but most PoS fans seem to disagree with me.

Track 4: Morning on Earth - Bitchin' keyboard tune going here. Very calming. This song just keeps on building up and getting better and better. Overall very good, but we still haven't hit the meat of the album yet.

Track 5: Idioglossia - Here we go. The godly "Idioglossia". This is just one hell of a song, sporting many different, and amazing tunes, and a very nice guitar solo. Contains the chorus from Ashes, along with a few other parts from other songs. The bassline in this song is great. The best part of the song without a doubt is around the 5 mniute mark where they go into a faster paced version of the Ashes chorus, followed by the guitar solo. It then goes out with a crazy climaxing barrage of vocals/screams. Overall excellent song, one of the best on here.

Track 6: Her Voice - The first half is standard emotional type stuff, but around the 4 minute mark you get into an awesome instrumental section, followed by one of my favorite parts on the album, with the operatic like vocals in the background, with Gildenlow singing in the front with an awesome tune going on. "and I closed my eyes" is a great example of his excellent vocals. Did I mention how awesome the lyrics are, because they are.

Track 7: Dedication - Slow, emotional ballad type song. One of my least favorites on the album, but it's still a great song, with amazing lyrics.

Track 8: King of Loss - The most underrated PoS song. Although it admittedly has an annoying chorus, this has one of the best tunes on the album. And did I mention the bridge around 6:00-8:30 is the climax of the album. I won't even begin trying to explain everything amazing about this part. If you can get past the screechy chorus, this song really is amazing. This is more for the big PoS fan than the casual listener.

Track 9: Reconcilliaton - Pretty fast tempo'd song. One of the best examples of Gildenlow's vocals on the album. "But if you run away, you must always move, so if you have to run, run free" is an example of an amazing line. This track contains many tunes from past songs, most specifically the one from In the Flesh, and a great solo.

Track 10: Song For the Innocent - Yes. This song rocks. There's too much to say. It's got a pretty happy tune to it for a while, and then with the phrase "What else can the dying do?" the whole song just turns to a melancholy emotional solo. Despite being one of the album's shorest songs, this is just plain killer.

Track 11/12: Falling/The Perfect Element - Falling is an amazing little solo that leads into the album's true gem, the title track. A combined 12 minutes of pure amazingness. This song has a little bit of everything. I can't even begin to try to explain it. One of the best closers on any album ever.

One of the best things about this album, which you may notice, is that it has an absolutely amazing lineup of final 5 tracks. Although every song on the album is amazing, it's always nice to have something to look forward to while you listen to an album. There's absolutely nothing worse than when the best song is first.

This is the story-based album that every prog fan has always dreamed about. Good concept, amazing lyrics, beyond amazing vocals, not too based on the instruments. It's all song structure here folks. Pain of Salvation don't need to show us that they have talent through writing hard to play tunes, they show us by writing amazing material, and being probobly one of the most consistant bands ever as far as quality goes. You MUST check this album out. This album may be tougher to get into than Remedy Lane, but once you're into it, you're entranced. Get this album, now. It's already on my fave- list and the album title speaks for itself. It may contain a few 'weaker moments', but as a whole, I couldn't think of a more consistant concept-album.

album rating: 10/10 points = 100 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Marc Baum | 5/5 |


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