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Pain Of Salvation - Remedy Lane CD (album) cover


Pain Of Salvation


Progressive Metal

4.24 | 1205 ratings

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3 stars The first thing that strikes you about Pain of Salvation, if this album is, like mine, your first exposure to them, is that as a Prog Metal band they are decidedly different to the rest of the crowd.

"(Of Two) Beginnings" starts with vocals that are bear an uncanny resemblance to Derek Dick, with low-octave doubling to add presence. The other obvious resemblance is in the lyrics, which echo "Hotel Hobbies" from "Clutching at Straws" for the first verse, at least - but there, of course, the similarities end.

For these lyrics are in no way similar to Fish's - they are at a much simpler level, with no references to great literature, no word games with multiple levels of meaning, no guessing - just in your face lyrics whose frankness sickens me a little and makes me wish they weren't so clear.

The lyrics are about relationships, when it all comes down to it - but not at the intellectual level that Neo-Prog was so great at portraying, more at the angsty level but without references to literature, except blatant ones.

6th form stuff, in other words.

And so back to the music - which is, after all, the really important bit!

When the huge power chords kick in, we're pretty much in Dio territory - and jolly nice and powerful it is too.

It's very interesting that "Ending Theme" should follow "Of Two Beginnings" (which is really 1st person perspective, so only about one beginning really, but that's nit- picking), and PoS seem to use Muse as their inspiration - it's kind of like hearing Matt Bellamy an octave lower.

The melodies are very strong - my only criticism is that they are incredibly derived, and completely obvious - but by the same token, very accessible and enjoyable, and the shifting rhythms produce a nice Prog kind of feel - but as with "Of Two Beginnings", PoS build passages from shifts between two chords with occasional shifts to a different pair.

"Fandango" reminds me of where Muse suddenly drop into a Tango in "Megalomania" (Origin of Symmetry), but has that wannabe prog feel to it - which, it has to be said, is the first time I've heard that aspect on this album. A tight rhythm focus means that the melodies are dull and predictable until the chorus, where things get much better - but this underlines the basic structure here: Intro, Verse, Chorus... you know where this is going.

Lyrically, this is probably the most interesting, with some sage advice about living your life rather than wasting time thinking about it. We also get some literary references - but these are pure name-drops to Peter Pan and Tolkien. The story of the two protagonists mentioned in the first song is developed in a slightly fantastical way - a bit too restrained for my tastes, but applaudable enough.

What else is interesting here? Well, there are some nice, simple piano textures, some guitar noodling and a few wooshy effects. Overall a cool soundscape, but one that seems more interesting than the actual music in this song - which is clearly not a Fandango, BTW.

Around 4 minutes everything drops away to a simple bass line, which builds up via pedal riffs and piano ostinato - a cool bridge back to the verse and coda.

"A Trace of Blood" is really unremarkable - a kind of melodic Iron Maiden song, replete with Dickinson-esque vocals. Disappointing for an 8+ minuter, it's about 4 minutes too long.

"This Heart of Mine" shows some Gabriel inspiration in the vocals - if Gabriel ever sang a pop song! The whole ambience of this song is of a laid-back AOR type soft-jazz flavoured ballad replete with soft-sixth chords, and builds predictably to a singalong section. Very nice, but not Prog.

"Undertow" gives Gildenrow a later Gabriel sound, and has some pleasantly unusual textures that create a cool "old European town" flavour that reminds me strongly of at least one Radiohead song, but with more predictable chord changes in the simple progressions.

With lyrics like

"Let me break! Let me bleed! Let me tear myself apart I need to breathe! Let me lose my way! Let me walk astray! Maybe to proceed... Just let me bleed!"

We're in a kind of morbid singalong territory, and the sudden shock entry of "Rope Ends" comes as a welcome respite to these ears - although with the almost Meshuggah- like intensity, they may not treat the ears of the average Progger kindly - but who's "average"? ;0)

The Boom-tsh accompaniment to the next section is utterly nasty, so skipping this one is a really good idea, as you won't miss anything really progressive from here onwards.

There's a bridge at 3:20, but it's built largely on a single repeated idea that gets old very quickly, despite the shredding display atop it and the poor attempt at a funky- boogie riff a minute later.

"Chain Sling" begins with a kind of acoustic guitar riff that is joined by a didgeridoo, if my ears don't decieve me, and Gildenrow adopts a soft Fish-like falsetto as the music builds, then drops into a more comfortable Bruce Dickinson sound.

I won't dissect any more tracks, as I think I've managed to convey the essential flavours of this album quite well and have no wish to repeat myself. The one thing I can add is that there are more textural delights and great melodies to come - in this aspect, PoS deliver well, and the title track is worth hearing, the guitar solo in "Second Love" is a real highlight to an REO Speedwagon standard song, and the slap bass on "Waking Every God" is a real lowlight. The 10-minute "Beyond the Pale" is a bit of a snorefest, however and smacks of padding.

In summary, then, a very interesting metal album, from a Progger's perspective, and both strong and rich in melody and textures. When taken for what it is, it is a really good album with highly enjoyable music that any Proghole might like occasionally - even if it's somewhat on the accessible side. Nothing wrong with a good tune!

Ultimately, however, this is a simple riff-based metal album, and hardly a masterpiece of the Progressive Rock genre, so should not be taken as such.

If you like this album, you should also investigate the music of Marillion, Muse, Renaissance and Jan Akkerman.

Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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