Tell me where it hurts.
Just pump it through my vein.
Be brave and tell me where it hurts.
There is something deep inside that you don't want to show.
There's something that you hide, cause you're afraid I'll go."
One Word Review: Imperfection
Pain Of Salvation is one of those bands that don't let themselves be bound by any genre boundaries. Their albums are so vastly different from one another, that I am often hit by wonderment, when thinking about their inspiration.
Road Salt One is the most openly Beatles-inspired album Pain of Salvation have ever done. Those who have only experienced their earlier albums will feel like they have been visited by Confuse-a-metalhead Limited, as the album opens with a couple of sweaty, bluesy tracks. Just listen to the guitar melody opening No Way and tell me if that doesn't have a Beatles vibe? There is a back to basics feel to the song that suits it very well. The song harbors a lot of emotions and effectively brings them forth with determination and a will to bare it all.
The combination of What She Means To Me and No Way is a surprising opening salvo, immediately and effectively taking hold of me, with an open invitation into the very soul of the album.
There is a modern retro sound to the album and the production is borderline perfection. Somehow the album captures Daniel's voice in a way that has not been done before. His voice is very up front and constantly leaps out of the speakers, as if he is standing right in front of the listener. There is a big sound on the album, with both intricate detail and multiple layers coming to life, all helped by a suitably precise soundstage.
The music is indefinable but brilliant. Take a song like She Likes To Hide. I love the vibe of this song, but can't describe it properly. The songs are so varied and hold so many different moods, that they are really hard to pin down.
There are the mellow moments, where Sisters and Road Salt are incredibly effective in giving the album some truly memorable passages. Then there are the groovy tracks like She Likes To Hide, No Way and Tell Me You Don't Know , which are simply a joy to listen to, due to an effective rhythm and a timeless feel, which suddenly becomes apparent. Then we have unique tracks Of Dust and Sleeping Under The Stars, which give the album a very special vibe. There are more introverted tracks like Tell me where it hurts and Darkness of mine, which both bring a haunting atmosphere to the album. And finally the "normal" Pain of Salvation tracks, which I call them because they are the songs which are most in tune with their older material, Linoleum, Curiosity and Innocence. These marry aggression, beauty and a slightly more direct approach, in a whirlpool of emotions.
It is quite an album to gape over and should in most cases be taken in small mouthfuls to not suffer from constipation. Every song has something to offer, though it is not immediately discovered.
The musicians are brilliant and it feels like there is a joy to play infused in the music. There are many many small details which stand out on repeated listens and keeps the album interesting and evolving, even 5 years down the road.
Now, for a few favorite moments...
A divine melody runs though Sisters. I am almost lost for words, when it comes to describing the all-embracing effect the song has. There is a hypnotizing vibe in the music, which perfectly captures a state of mind and delivers a very real atmosphere. Daniel sings in a voice that is pure emotion and this is up there with his very finest performances ever. The song is relaxed, but builds a nearly unbearable tension, perfectly expressed and finally unleashed in the second to last chorus, as Daniel sings "Let this trembling moment pass us by". The song effectively captures a vast range of emotions, temptation being the central. I love everything about this song from the piano melody to the little nuances in Daniel's voice. This is one of those rare songs that feels perfect.
Of Dust is a wonderfully atmospheric song, that grows bigger and bigger through its 2½ minutes. There is a feel to his song, which puts me in the middle of a huge theater, imagining I am experiencing a full blown musical.
My first impression of Sleeping under the stars was "What the fuck???", but after a few listens it was clear to me that the song is brilliant. The mood, the lyrics and the music perfectly fit in the weirdest but most charming way. Pain of Salvation have always had a way of getting a sincere and often serious message across, masked by an sly sense of humor, and here they hit the nail right on the head.
Road Salt is beautiful. Simple as that. If beautiful goes from 1-10 then this is a 9. It doesn't get much more mellow or in-your-face as this. If there is one oddity that started standing out to me after several listens, then it's the fact that it's not audible that Daniel draws his breath very often. This results in a slightly less organic feel, when compared to the rest of the songs, especially since his voice is so up close and personal. I missed that.
Innocence closes the album in a wonderful, if rather insane, way. Especially the bridge section of the song is a highlight.
The album excels in the mellow songs, which bring out strong emotion. The rest of the songs take time to grow, but they do with time and Road Salt One has proved to be one of those albums that I can listen to continually and never grow tired of. The lyrics is another area where the album excels. They are personal, grab hold of the listener and add dimensions to the music, thus being essential to get the full understanding of the album.
There are several important differences between the standard version of the album and the limited digipack edition. For starters the opening track on the limited edition, What She Means To Me, is a bonus track, which serves as a short intro and a nice build up to No Way.
Secondly No Way differs by being almost 2 minutes longer and has a different structure and lyrics. At first, I preferred the regular version, but with time it became clear to me that the extended version is, in fact, the better of the two. Road Salt has also been extended by a 1½ minute but it is less noticeable.
The limited edition has exquisite artwork and funny liner notes and it feels like it delivers a complete experience. Clearly, the limited edition of the album is the way to go.
Pain of Salvation is a band that will never be fully categorized or described in a fulfilling way by mere words. They are a band that has to be discovered, explored and devoured by those with a healthy appetite for music without boundaries.
There are many reasons why I love music as much as I do. It is the only artform I have come across, which is able to, so simply but in so many ways, move, surprise, inspire and entertain. Road Salt One does all these things and therefore I recommend it heartily.
To sum up and say the same thing in three completely different ways: It's different, unique and one of a kind. Get it!
Written By Steen
Online: Friday, June 5, 2015
No Way (Extended Version)
Where It Hurts