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Pain Of Salvation - One Hour By The Concrete Lake CD (album) cover


Pain Of Salvation


Progressive Metal

3.92 | 549 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Their second record has been for some reason usually rather underestimated, especially compared to their highly praised third one. This is most probably the case because it was their most difficult and cumbersome one. But in my humble opinion if "BE" can be considered their masterpiece in Prog in a more general sense OHBTCL has to be considered theirs in prog metal particularly. In fact when dealing with such an exceptional band like PoS it's quite hard to tell which one of their works is superior and which one is inferior since they're all to be rated between 4 and 5 stars. Obviously this ain't my very own impression only and after having reviewed up to now three of their albums I think it's not a bad idea to list up 10 good reasons for the fact that PoS has to be considered one of the best bands in prog metal ever (giving songs from this album here as examples).

1. Even in their heaviest bone-crunching moments they're managing to sound not noisy at all ("Inside","Shore Serenity","Inside Out") and

2. analogically they're never sounding soppy even in their most mellow and gentle moments. ("Pilgrim")

3. They're integrating symphonic and orchestral elements in their music without sounding overblown and pompous at any moment. ("New Year's Eve", "Black Hills", "Shore Serenity")

4. Most of their compositions are quite intricate, but always self-contained and with "feet on the ground" without ever showing any sign of pointless noodling. ("Handful Of Nothing")

5. Many of their songs are expressing most contrary moods and emotions moreover very often in blatantly abrupt manner keeping constantly the listener's attention without becoming too difficult to be enjoyed. ("Handful Of Nothing","Water", "Black Hills", "Inside Out")

6. They're employing stilistic elements of both seminal and modern bands without ever sounding like a blueprint or derivative at all. ("The Big Machine","Handful Of Nothing")

7. The musicians are showing highly virtuoso skills on their instruments without ever loosing themselves into self-indulgent and narcistic solo escapades.

8. With their mastermind Daniel Gildenl÷w they're having not only one of the most talented lyricists available and an excellent lead guitarist but as well one of the best lead vocalists (if not the best at all) in this sub-genre with an incredibly huge vocal bandwidth.

9. Their records are always based on highly elaborate and appealing concepts addressing human life directly and revealing a highly intellectual demand. (In this case it's the very important topic of environment and destruction of our planet by mankind.)

10. Each of their albums has its own flair and sounds different from its predecessor and this has been managed by them on constantly high level since their earliest days.

I guess all those points should convince the last disbelievers and ignorants and if not, those ones left are not to be helped anyway and they'll just miss something in their life. Actually if anybody's able to call me any other band fulfilling all of those criteria I won't hesitate to consider it as good as PoS.

After this (hopefully) not too long introduction let's come back to this album here in review without going too much into detail for each individual track (in order not to extend it even further). I've got to say that though being kept throughout in a quite consistent dark mood it doesn't lack any variation at all and moreover it's offering a very versatile mix of different styles. In terms of heavyness compared to their other efforts it's certainly heavier than "TPE Pt.1" and "Be" and kept rather in a more aggressive vein like their debut but the compositions are well balanced by acoustic sections (piano, cello and guitar) being added and the metallic sound never becomes "too much". Only few tracks are mellow throughout like "Pilgrim" for example and "Spirit of the Land" which serves as a short atmospheric introduction. Describing briefly the individual tracks "Inside" dominated by subliminal keyboard textures reveals many tempo shifts and is based on crunchy guitar play. "The Big Machine" basically has a strong mythical atmosphere reinforced by the use of choirs, something I'm not aware from any of their other albums in fact. "New Year's Eve" starts with a brilliant bass line and develops to the most catchy piece on here whereas "Handful Of Nothing" can be considered one of the most intricate tracks they've ever done which most probably needs a couple of spins but offering then a great reward, an absolutely mindblowing one I've to say. "Water" continues after an aggressive intro rather mellow and melancholically but develops into a quite heavy and doomy song after a while whereas "Home" is initially more heavy and becoming almost ballad-esque later on. "Black Hills" sounds slightly depressing in the beginning with dark vocals before more cheerful sections are alternating with more bustling ones. "Pilgrim" is as mentioned above the most mellow one here with a beautiful atmosphere emphasized by the use of cello. This one's nicely supplemented by "Shore Serenity" revealing a highly mystical spirit. "Inside Out" is just another absolute highlight and a perfect closing track of this superb album with heavy guitars, double bass attacks, amazing keyboard sounds and melancholic vocals.

As a summary I can say that even after numerous spins OHBTCL never becomes a boring listen revealing each time newly discovered secrets. There's in fact not one weak track to be found on here and each one is just a highlight on its own. If I can put a point of criticism at all then it's the very marginal one, that the silent section in the last track is a bit too much extended with about five minutes. But this is a really marginal point, not disturbing or annoying at all and certainly not a reason to keep me from giving the full score. Actually one could almost do this with most of their records with the possible exceptions of "The Perfect Element Pt.1" and "12:5" but I'm trying to find a fair balance of 4 to 5 stars-ratings for their works. I can just highly recommend this album to any fan of prog metal as an absolute must-have. On the other hand it might not appeal that much to those ones preferring the more mellow stuff of this band.

hdfisch | 5/5 |


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