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Pain Of Salvation - Falling Home CD (album) cover

FALLING HOME

Pain Of Salvation

Progressive Metal


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Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars A good but not completely satisfying acoustic experience!

It's been a while since I've really enjoyed a Pain Of Salvation release. I feel like the band reached their peak in 2004 when they released their concept album Be and the acoustic live masterpiece 12:5. Since then the band have undergone quite a change of direction which also resulted in a few lineup changes. I found Scarsick to be a disappointment, live album Ending Themes and Linoleum were good but lacked the creativity of their previous efforts and the Road Salt duology was a complete departure in style.

Having said that, I still actively follow the band on the social media and keep a lookout for their live shows. I happened to see the new lineup featuring the very talented guitarist and vocalist Ragnar Zolberg, return of Gustaf Hielm on bass and Daniel Karlsson on keyboards and backing vocals. The show I saw in March 2012 was easily the best Pain Of Salvation live performance out of the many that I've seen with the band over the years. The vocal harmonies were perfect, the instrumental skill was very prominent and the fun factor was definitely in place.

This live experience made me very excited for the new possibilities that the new lineup entailed. I was interested in seeing what Ragnar Zolberg and Daniel Karlsson would achieve in the song writing department, considering that Zolberg seems to be a huge fan of the band's first four records and excels in his performances of classics like Used and Chain Sling. Daniel Karlsson has a distinct keyboard sound that makes his contributions even more prominent than those of Fredrik Hermansson.

You could probably imagine my excitement when I heard that Pain Of Salvation were going to release a new album in 2014. I was slightly less excited when more information had been unveiled about Falling Home and it turned out to be an acoustic re-imagining of the band's material mainly from the last couple of years. But I kept my hopes up and patiently awaited the release date of November 10th.

My first listening session made me experience quite a few mixed emotions. Even though the performances were spot on and the new re-imagining of the compositions were for most part quite exquisite, I still couldn't shake off the thought that this was an inferior follow-up to 12:5. First off, this record was not recorded in front of a live audience thus making this recording feel like a much safer choice than 12:5. Second off, most of the material from Road Salt duology is acoustic to begin with which doesn't make the new versions sound too different from the original counterparts. Finally I have an issue with the cover version of Holy Diver. I'm a big fan of the original recording by Dio and hearing this version made me really offended since Pain Of Salvation turns it into an acoustic reggae track!

Falling Home is a good but not completely satisfying acoustic experience since we all know that Pain Of Salvation can create majestic vocal harmonies in a low key setting. The problem is the choice of material, the decision of recording the record in a studio instead of doing it live and the horrible cover of Holy Diver doesn't exactly make things better, even though the cover of Perfect Day is actually a whole lot better. I'm still waiting for that new record from the band's current lineup that would live up to the legacy of Pain Of Salvation.

***** star songs: Chain Sling (4:08)

**** star songs: Stress (5:32) Linoleum (4:57) To The Shoreline (3:06) 1979 (2:50) Perfect Day (4:51) Flame To The Moth (4:31) Falling Home (3:06)

*** star songs: Mrs. Modern Mother Mary (4:23) Spitfall (6:42)

** star songs: Holy Diver (4:34)

Report this review (#1309382)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars A lot of progressive metal doesn't translate well to an acoustic format, but that's not the case here. I've had friends who don't like progressive music at all compliment the acoustic cover renditions of Holy Diver and Perfect Day. Obviously if you're a fan of POS, the other songs will be familiar and yet different enough to be pretty fun! This was a surprising gem for me; I wasn't expecting much when I gave it my first listen, but I came away very impressed.

Stress doesn't seem like a song that would sound good in this format, but somehow it sounds amazing. The clean, twangy guitars actually give the song a different kind of life, and hearing the various time signatures and crazy rhythms like this reinvigorated my love for this classic POS song.

Linoleum actually sounds better on this album than it does on Road Salt One IMO. The more laid back approach without the bluesy electric guitar in your face makes this song come across far more subtly but more enjoyably also. Gildenlow's emotional singing is perfect for this song.

To The Shoreline is another Road Salt Song, this one from RS2. Honestly while I like the way this song sounds it's one of the least impressive on the album only because it sounds almost exactly like the original. Its saving grace is the final chorus, which comes across as stronger in this version than on the original track, as the vocals are more dominant in the mix.

Holy Diver is a very strange anomaly. The original Dio version is one of the most classic heavy metal anthems from a time when heavy metal was truly coming into its own. Killswitch Engage did a modern metal cover true to the original that was well-received, too. Well, this is absolutely nothing like either one of those versions. Imagine if Bob Marley was still alive and decided he wanted to write a cover of Holy Diver and have Gildenlow sing... That's basically what you have here. This song has some old school Frank Sinatra-styled vocals and some very reggae funky music going on, and for some reason it works. Really well. The tricky thing about doing a cover is that most bands choose to either cover it exactly like the original or completely do a different take on it. There are inherent risks with both approaches, especially when taking a completely different approach, but this is a risk that paid off.

1979 is another great RS2 song that sounds very similar to the original. With it being their most recent album those songs were really too fresh to try to redo. Just like To the Shoreline, this one still sounds great, but it seemed unnecessary to redo so soon after it was released.

Chain Sling is one of my favorite POS songs of all time; it's almost a perfect song so to change anything is a risky endeavor. This version carries over the spirit of the original really well and is probably the least acoustic-sounding song on the entire album. There's more emphasis on the vocals in this format so I wind up appreciating even more the various harmonies going on.

Perfect Day is a wonderful cover of a classic Lou Reed song. After the whole Lulu travesty I felt pretty ornery towards Lou Reed, but Walk on the Wild Side and Perfect Day are great songs. POS's rendition is so much better in so many ways though. Gildenlow's vocals are so much more nuanced and deliberate. The music behind is smoother than the original. The climax near the end of the song is more dramatic and emotional. It's a great cover.

Mrs. Modern Mother Mary is a toned down version of the Scarsick song. Scarsick gets a lot of hate, so if you hated its in-your-face -rap approach, you'll probably like this version better.

Flame to the Moth is overall my favorite POS re-imagining on this album. It has an almost flamenco feel with the acoustic strumming and the vocal melodies translate amazingly well with the acoustic music. This is definitely a much improved song.

Spitfall is the third and final acoustic Scarsick song and.... It's very amusing to hear Gildenlow delivering spoken word over an acoustic guitar saying things like, "Yeah right. f*ck you. F*ck you right down to the core" and "When you're rappin' your sh*t y'all". This song is meant to essentially attack celebrity culture but it somehow seems more effective in this format because it's so ridiculous to hear someone rapping spoken word over acoustic music. Still, it honestly sounds good.

Falling Home. If you're not interested in hearing covers, you should still listen to this original masterpiece. It's a folky, sad song with absolutely perfect vocals. This song blends the voices of Ragnar and Gildenlow better than any other song I've heard them do together, including newer tracks like Meaningless. If you're a fan of POS's less metal songs, it doesn't really get much better than this.

Overall is this album going to blow anyone away? No. Does it really do a whole lot of new, exciting things? No, it's mostly a self-cover album. Regardless, it's an enjoyable experience that any POS fan should enjoy.

Report this review (#1707976)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 | Review Permalink

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