Round Table Review
Tracklist: Scarsick (7:08), Spitfall (7:17), Cribcaged (5:56), America (5:04), Disco Queen (8:22), Kingdom Of Loss (6:41), Mrs. Modern Mother Mary (4:14), Idiocracy (7:04), Flame To The Moth (5:58), Enter Rain (10:03)
TOM: Pain Of Salvation are hardly a band that needs much introduction in the pages of DPRP; we’ve covered the band extensively from their debut album Entropia to the present day, during which time they have become one of the most popular bands in the progressive metal genre, despite (or perhaps because of) having a very distinctive, individual style and vision, courtesy of band mainman Daniel Gildenlöw. Having delivered two absolute classics in 2000’s The Perfect Element Part One and 2002’s Remedy Lane, the band threw a complete curveball with the complex ‘rock opera’ Be, an album which almost seemed like a thesis set to music, and touched on a wide variety of musical styles, most of which the band had only hinted at in previous endeavours. Needless to say, the album rather split opinions between the PoS fanbase. Looking back at my own review, in hindsight I would say I’d actually been a little generous with my rating, as I’ve felt very little desire to return to the album; listening to it is just too much like hard work, and when I did try – in preparation for a concert by the band – I found it impossible to get to the end, certainly without judicious use of the ‘skip’ button on the CD player’s remote…
It’s fair to say therefore that Scarsick has been awaited by fans with both keen anticipation and not a little trepidation. The fact that it included a relatively straightforward format of ten tracks, and that the promotional material from Inside Out talked of a return to ‘more conventional arrangements’ must have gladdened those not entirely enamoured with Be – however, a character like Gildenlöw was never going to be happy (nor to be honest should he be) with simply trying to rehash old glories, and it came as little surprise when the sample track made available, America, turned out to be a far from conventional song, and one which certainly produce a lot of ire – and not just from the band’s US fans over the lyrical content. Would this be indicative of the album’s style? Or did Gildenlöw (in typically contradictory style) simply throw out the most unorthodox track in order to confound expectations? Read on to find out…
YALCIN: Pain Of Salvation is one of the very few bands that can deliver quality material constantly. It’s quite hard to categorize them in progressive metal or progressive rock or in any other genre, since they are truly “progressive” in the sense. For years I struggled to find the exact meaning of the word “progressive” anyway, but I think imitating the legendary bands of seventies certainly doesn’t create a satisfactory explanation of our favourite word since it itself creates boundaries around the creativity of artists...
Well, did someone mention boundaries? Thankfully it’s not the case with Pain Of Salvation which is the reason why this band is one of the most interesting acts of our day along with Porcupine Tree, Tool, Riverside, Nemo and Dream Theater for me. Pain Of Salvation’s ability to create well-structured songs, diversity, hooking melodies and an ever-changing emotional atmosphere is simply top notch, but is that enough? Well, one defining ingredient still must be mentioned. And that is quite successfully reflected in their previous effort Be. After its release, most of the fans were divided in two camps, but after a few years have passed I guess everyone has realized what a wonderful concept it contained. Although musically it was quite different from their previous albums, the music and the concept was flowing so homogenic. And releasing such an album after a very melodic studio album (Remedy Lane) which was quite easy to get into, was quite a bold step, indeed. Yes, courage is another word I must mention when defining the PoS sound. This is why PoS creates masterpiece after masterpiece. This is why the band breaks all the barriers around them. This is why they’re truly special.
Scarsick is no exception regarding surprises. They once again catch their fans off-guard and release an album which is quite different than their past efforts. So different, that the listener sometimes may have difficulties to label it as a “PoS album”. The most striking aspect of the album is surely its aggression, not only musically but also lyrically. And in such a direct way that Daniel doesn’t hesitate to use that f-word frequently. Compared to his old metaphorical and complex lyrics, this time he opts a more simple way of expressing things on his mind. Before taking a closer look at each individual track, I urge you to do the following which I think will give you a good overall perspective for Scarsick. Just imagine you’re sitting on your couch watching the news on TV. Wars, crime, pollution, cultural degeneration, greed, indifference, lying politicians etc... We happen to have known these stories for so long, and it is clearly a tragedy that we are witnessing an age which turns the dystopias of old times slowly into reality, but Scarsick is like the moment for Daniel Gildenlöw to stand up from his couch and shout a big, angry “ENOUGH!”.
DRIES: After the "fan dividing" album Be, a lot of people are hoping that this new Pain Of Salvation is an album they can agree on again. I think I have to disappoint those people: this album will even be more dividing. And it's hard to tell why, because it is not all new or very different.
TOM: To many, myself included, it will be a relief that the album kicks off with a song proper rather than endless overtures and spoken narratives. To some that relief will be short lived when the lead riff kicks in – downtuned, churning, relentlessly heavy and modern in approach, it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste and will probably lead to (misguided) accusations that the band are trying to go ‘nu metal’. Personally I think it’s a great way to kick off the album, having real purpose and momentum – but then I’m a sucker for a decent heavy riff. For the verse, Gildenlöw delivers his vocals in a semi-spoken staccato style, whilst drifting to the top of his range for the swirling, ethereal chorus, which uses Arabic scales and has an ‘eastern feel’ which is becoming familiar to fans of the genre. I like the contrast between the two styles, and this is in general a strong and purposeful opening gambit, although the song rather drifts for the last couple of minutes, outstaying its welcome a little.
YALCIN: The first word of this song tells it all: Sick! Yes, this song contains a quite heavy and sick intro. The song then evolves into a nu-metalesque flair with Daniel’s rap vocals. As a person who heavily dislikes those kind of vocals I must admit that it doesn’t draw me in. This is an issue which is valid for a big part of the album. Although each member is more than quite proficient with their instruments, Pain Of Salvation has never been a band of instrumental show-off. This and the melodic song writing approach gave free space for Daniel’s soaring vocals to roam which is one of the trademarks for the band. I simply cannot understand why he uses rap vocals so much instead of his wonderful melodic singing. The nature of the song may require this kind of approach but it’s clearly evident that with each passing album, these kind of songs get more and more. Anyway, it’s the artist’s choice of course. Back to the song... Thankfully there’s a wonderful refrain with a mind-absorbing vocal melody in the best Pain Of Salvation tradition, but the majority of the song is still with rap vocals. The song’s ending is quite fascinating with all the fine elements within the song being presented with variations for an incredible crescendo.
DRIES: Scarsick is a aggressive opener with vocals that are narrative like a rap, something Daniel did on Remedy Lane's Ending Theme, The Perfect Element Part One's Used and Idioglossia. So why is it so different this time? Maybe because this songs sounds promising at first but unfortunately it has too little diversity to stay interesting. The ideas are nice but at over 7 minutes it is just too much. Because of the lack of diversity the vocals are becoming a bigger thing than they should have been. Four minutes would have been more than enough an OK song, but not great.
DAVE B: Quite a storming start to the CD - very recognisable as PoS but heavier perhaps than we've heard before, guitar dominated with heavy riffs and far more metal - even a bit nu-metal dare I say it. Daniel's using his cookie-monster vocals for the first time since The Perfect Element Part One but although I've heard the song about 40 times I still couldn't say what he's singing about because I can't make out a majority of the words (we didn't get a copy of the lyrics with the promo unfortunately). Not a bad opener but not so special either.
TOM: Many have jumped to dismiss Gildenlöw’s rapid-fire spoken word delivery on the verses of Spitfall as confirmation that PoS are (belatedly) jumping on the rap metal bandwagon and have thrown up their hands in horror. Not only is this untrue, it also begs the question of whether many of these ‘fans’ have actually heard the band’s previous output – Gildenlöw was employing this vocal style as early as on One Hour By The Concrete Lake. The song moves smoothly from a raging verse featuring sludgy riffs and Gildenlöw’s aforementioned diatribes against modern culture, to a highly melodic bridge (with Gildenlöw’s vocals more emotional and pleading) before reaching a portentous, majestic chorus. Again there’s a feeling that it perhaps goes on too long, but overall this is another strong and undeniably powerful track.
YALCIN: Daniel goes Eminem once again, but the four notes that the piano plays during the rapping sequences of Daniel create such an amazing atmosphere that I don’t care about rap, hip-hop or whatever that is. This song, too, contains a wonderful refrain. Then we get a quiet middle section which is followed by an explosive period with a sick guitar solo in the distant background which reminds me of the ones in Be. Overall, an average song at best.
DRIES: SpitFall has the same rap again but luckily this track has a really great chorus and a number of interesting breaks. You don't even notice that it is 10 seconds longer than Scarsick. The lyrics deal with the rap culture and it's strange admiration for violence and people out of control ("record of restriction orders, Outspoken borderline disorders"). The lyrics of Spitfall are no different than the rest of this album from kind of tongue in cheek to outspoken cynical.
DAVE B: The verse is a lot like Diffidentia on Be: the tune, style and the rap vocal are strikingly similar - think also the Ending Theme rap from Remedy Lane. The chorus is less aggressive being quite melodic - could be a Dream Theater chorus sung by Mike Portnoy actually. Again I don't really know what Daniel's singing about here, I could guess its about a bad father but I'm not sure. What I can confirm though is that Daniel's pretty pissed-off about something.
TOM: The music becomes far more relaxed on Cribcaged, but the lyrics are anything but, appearing to be a scathing attack on the cult of personality and the emptiness of a life spent following celebrity fashions (I’m writing without the aid of a lyric sheet, but Gildenlöw’s approach is not particularly subtle here…). The musical backdrop to all this is slightly incongruous bluesy-flavoured MOR, with nods to The Wall-era Floyd in terms of some of the (brief) solo guitar work. In fact the song as a whole is more reminiscent of the likes of something you might find on Floyd’s later The Final Cut or Roger Waters’ solo The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking, in that the (some might say excessive) lyrics totally dominate the rather unspectacular music – you end up feeling like you’re being lectured to. It wasn’t a style I liked on those albums, and I don’t like it much here.
YALCIN: The most Pain Of Salvation’esque song of the album. It begins with a country style guitar intro and laughter's of a baby (Daniel’s son I suppose). Then comes the piano (baby still continues to laugh by the way) which introduces the simple and effective main riff of the song. Musically the song is quite simply structured, but the melancholic melodies, lyrics and the emotional crescendo create such a devastating impact that it quickly became my favourite after the first few spins. I don’t want to spoil the lyrics for you (well, be forewarned: there are plenty of that f-word, if you care), but these simple lyrics are clearly bullseye. I can’t think of a better way of expressing the message of the song. Well, you’re just people!
DRIES: One of the best tracks on this album is Cribcaged. Because of the guitar flow, The piano and the build up from a relaxed ballad (with the tension already there) to a climaxed protest song back to the ballad. The lyrics are just as great: "The only cribs that we should care for, Are the ones that we are here for, The ones belonging to our children, That do that we do, scar from our wounds" that opposed to the other meaning of Crib and then especially the Hollywood homes. The song ends with the same lyrics as it started with.
DAVE B: The tempo settles down and we have a mellow song deriding globalisation, mediocrity and the obsession with celebrities. Daniel's basically saying it doesn't matter who you are, you're a person like the rest - money, power, fame don't mean a thing. His singing is superb here combining well with some lovely piano and acoustic guitar. The song builds into a crescendo and, if you thought Daniel was angry before then wait until you hear this, he's not happy at all and expresses it with a tirade of F**k this, f**k that's and f**k pretty much everythings. I can imagine most PoS fans are more left than right wing in their politics and will appreciate and empathise with the subject matter. Great song in every respect.
TOM: I must admit when I first heard America, I (along with many fans it appears) pretty much hated it. However, with successive listens I’ve warmed to it considerably. It certainly starts off oddly – a bouncy guitar riff that could have come off an early Green Day album hurtles into what appears to be a pastiche of the theme from the eighties US TV show Fame. Yet despite this – and the fact that the chorus appears to be a riff on a ‘traditional’ American anthem – after gradual listens the song begins to make more sense, and you also notice that it has plenty of more conventional ‘Pain Of Salvation’-isms – the counterpoint to the main chorus for instance, all power chords and Gildenlöw’s anguished wail, is vintage PoS. Lyrically its targets may be soft – lets face it having a go at corporate America and the George Bush White House is hardly radical – but Gildenlöw clearly says it as he sees it, and the juxtaposition of the bouncy melodies and scathing diatribes here (unlike on Cribcaged) works well.
YALCIN: The first real surprise of the album. It begins with a guitar riff in the Placebo style, and when the bass kicks in, the song begins to sound like RHCP thanks to the bass (which is played by Daniel Gildenlöw throughout the whole album by the way). I won’t mention the incredible groove it contains by the way, or did I already? The song then becomes more like a rock musical. Well, at least I felt a reminiscence to the chord progressions of the same titled song from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story during some parts of the refrain. Anyway, with its diverse nature America is one of the highlights of the album. The lyrics also show how much Mr Gildenlöw adores the policies of the United States!
DRIES: America is another one of those love it or hate it tracks. The lyrics are very very critical while the music is very much tong in cheek (for those who have ever seen Used played live: you know what I mean) maybe that's to take of the sharp edges of the lyrics? The last part of the lyrics wants to make clear that the criticism is especially aimed at the current Administration, not the country in its self. The speed of the music makes me love this track.
DAVE B: Now here's a track that will polarise the fan-base! Daniel's anti-US government stance has been well publicised in recent years and he has now documented his dislike of the current American hegemony. Some of our friends across The Atlantic may take offence although again I would think most PoS fans would appreciate the message, especially those in Europe. Perhaps this is the closest they've ever got to a pop-song and although its interestingly orchestrated (is that a mandolin I hear or double-speed guitar?) it's a bit out of place. That being said it's quite a lot of fun and the theme fits well with the album as a whole.
TOM: If America has fans vexed, Disco Queen seems to have left many in a state of apoplexy. Quite why is a bit of a mystery to me – OK, it kicks off with what could be described as a ‘disco beat’ but why people are surprised that PoS are experimenting with all these different musical forms is a mystery to me in these post-Be times. The song is actually closer to the Scissor Sisters than Saturday Night Fever-era Bee Gees, even down to the rather spacey verses and Gildenlöw’s girlish yelps on the chorus. One feels that tongue is clearly firmly lodged in cheek here. The song has its darker, more ‘typical’ PoS moments too. To be honest I’m still not sure fully what to make of the song or whether I like it or not – lets just say its ‘interesting’!
YALCIN: The most shocking song of the album is probably Disco Queen. As much as it is shocking, it is also probably the best song on Scarsick in my opinion. I guess none of you has ever wondered how a synthesis of prog metal with Bee Gees or Village People would sound like. Personally I didn’t. But the beginning of Disco Queen shows us that it may very well sound quite entertaining. The song slowly evolves into a more typical PoS song but those strange but beautiful passages make their cameos quite frequently. Probably one of the boldest and most successful steps the band has ever taken. It is these kind of songs which will bring new breath to music in general. Thumbs up!
DRIES: Talking about tongue in cheek: Disco Queen is the ultimate of that. Unfortunately that's all there is to this song. After a couple of spins it all sounds funny and well done. A few spins more and it becomes too much and totally out of place. It is in fact a disco tone but interlaced with a Pain Of Salvation sound. The disco is most dominant.
DAVE B: Until recently, Nauticus had the honour of being the most unusual track on a PoS album but I think Disco Queen has just stolen the accolade. Don't however be drawn into a false sense of security by the opening disco beat, and "ooooooo aaaahhhhs", this seriously rocks and has some dark, nasty lyrics. It's the first track on the CD where I can actually hear some bass work too and it's good, a shame that it's not mixed higher elsewhere. I'm a little guessing here but I think the tracks about paedophilia, it's certainly about sexual dominance in one way or another. I think this piece has just about everything - disco, death metal, theatrics, a proggy middle section, good tune etc. it's fantastic. Again this will undoubtedly be a love/hate affair but even the haters will have to acknowledge the innovation and originality on offer, so obviously PoS and yet so fresh and different at the same time.
Kingdom Of Loss
TOM: Six songs in, and this is undoubtedly the most recognisable ‘PoS style’ track to date (if such a thing can be said to exist) and indeed the second half of the album will, I imagine, find more favour from the first with those who count the likes of The Perfect Element Part One as their favourite PoS album rather than Be. Kingdom of Loss is a mournful, emotional ballad that in general works through being relatively understated. Unfortunately the effectiveness of the song, for me, is rather ruined by Gildenlöw’s bitter spoken word tirades which fill out the verses. Still, in general this is a pretty good track that should work well live.
YALCIN: Another highlight of the album. Being a mellow song with wonderful lyrics it has some minor Floydian influences, but it mostly feels like as if it’s from a rock opera. Some sections also contain Chrome Key-style spoken vocals on top of minimalistic arrangements. Wonderful vocals courtesy of Mr Gildenlöw, an emotionally touching and diverse atmosphere make this song an instant classic. As the song draws to an end, the tension slowly builds up and finishes this fine song with a fantastic climax.
DRIES: And then finally the track that gives us every thing we POS fans have been waiting for: Kingdom of Loss. It is also the name of the Pain Of Salvation's web site and the newsletter they send out every now and then. It is probably also a reference to King Of Loss on The Perfect Element Part One. Might be one of the reasons people are/were calling Scarsick "The Perfect Element part 2 in disguise". Finally some heavier guitars and good vocals (on a not so heavy track)
DAVE B: The pace settles down again into a nice mellow song about how everything in society has become a sellable, packaged commodity, including time itself. It's a nice interlude after the sensual barrage of Disco Queen and although the song itself has a good feel and melody I can't help thinking that Daniel's voice-over spoils it a bit. The chorus is as good a tune as you'll ever hear and again Daniel's not happy - "Welcome to the planet Earth please don't ask us what it's worth, you will notice that the world you find is slightly tattered and worn-down". It's strong, political and quite profound stuff - Be may have been incomprehensible to most of us (me included) but there's no mistaking the message here.
Mrs Modern Mother Mary
TOM: Mrs Modern Mother Mary has an unusual, stuttering rhythm, and is driven by a very catchy riff that quickly sticks in the brain. Although the song could be termed a ‘one trick pony’ in that it doesn’t deviate much from this central melody, its still an enjoyable track. Religion and its use as a justification for actions by the Right Wing Western governments appears to be the lyrical theme here, although as stated before I’m just guessing on this one (this is one of those albums I think you really need lyric sheets for!)
YALCIN: Could this be the worst song Pain Of Salvation ever recorded? If not, one of... Some major Faith No More influences can be heard on this song, but other than that there isn’t so much going on in the musical side of things except for the vocal extravaganza of Daniel which clearly deserves to be mentioned.
DRIES: And then again some real critical lyrics in Mrs Modern Mother Mary, this time addressing the Roman Catholic church. (What happened? How did Daniel get this angry at the world). The music (also very important of course) has a nice and spot on bass guitar/guitar riff. It does have a really groovy flow that makes you want to move and even join in on the lyrics: "I found God".
DAVE B: Again I can't make out the lyrics on this one but I think he's saying that people think they're something special once they've found god, need to see those lyrics... I could take or leave this track really, it's perhaps the most mundane on the album and has nothing special going for it at all.
TOM: With its tribal drum intro and another chugging, purposeful modern guitar riff, Idiocracy kicks off strongly, but unfortunately the song seems to drift aimlessly a little thereafter, never really finding its centre. Worthy of note is a rather strange refrain half way through where Gildenlöw’s exhortations to ‘close your eyes’ are accompanied by flamenco-style guitar – it would have been nice if this could have been woven a little more fully into the song.
YALCIN: This one is another strange song which also showcases the amazing vocal capabilities of Daniel Gildenlöw. It begins as a typical prog metal song but then slowly becomes something quite interesting (Muse?) thanks to fine arrangements, great melodies and last but not least Daniel’s histrionic and diverse vocals.
DRIES: Idiocracy is not the best track of the album, the lyrics are a bit hard to understand and musically the track drags on just too long. It is not the worst track either because the pointy guitars and drums sure sound good. But all in all not too convincing. Something the next track: Flame Too The Moth has no problem with at all.
DAVE B: OK, now we're back in the zone again. What a wonderful track: strong melodies, heavy chugging guitars, screaming vocals, atmospheric symphonic chorus, mellow vocals - it has it all. Strangely, this has a bit of a Porcupine Tree feel to it and lovers of that band that don't know PoS could use this as an entry-point. I have no idea what he's singing about again but this is a superb piece of music - deeply progressive, chopping and changing, building to a wonderful climactic and grand ending. Dare I say that this track is perfect in every way? Just thing of a superlative and apply it. Could have made a good album closer actually.
Flame To The Moth
TOM: Once more PoS come up with a great riff to kick off Flame To The Moth, again with a resolutely modern feel and this time incorporating once again the Eastern feel found in the title track. Unlike on Idiocracy, though, Gildenlöw has managed to construct a memorable song around this central riff. The chorus in particular is strong, although I could have done without the shouting beforehand – it temporarily makes PoS sound like a generic US metalcore band about to go into one of their breakdowns (and is thus the only real occasion when the charge of the band ‘going nu-metal’ could be said to have a hint of accuracy).
YALCIN: This song is the second biggest shock of the album in my opinion. Featuring emo-screams and growls courtesy of Daniel, it’s one of the most aggressive songs PoS has ever recorded (Lamb of Salvation?). Quite an unusual style for PoS... It somehow works, but I cannot fit this song into the picture I’ve come to create for PoS in my mind. Although it’s quite heavy and brutal at times, the song also contains some mellow moments, a wonderful melody in its refrain and a great ending with a lyrical impact.
DRIES: Being one of prog metal "Daniel Gildenlöw " style tracks it has a nice build up firm guitars, with quirky sounds interlaced with the refrains.
DAVE B: After the wonder of Idiocracy this is a bit of a come down. It's not bad, more traditional PoS, quite heavy and could easily have turned up on their earlier albums. Difficult one again to work out what it's about but I get the impression it's anti-modern living anyway and Daniel is careful to say at the end "When you bow your heads tomorrow with the world we built today I want you to remember that I stood my ground and said 'No'" - I guess he's meaning refusing the consumptive, polluting and destructive life-style. It's OK but I'm glad it's one of the shorter tracks on the CD.
TOM: In my opinion PoS save the best to last with the epic Enter Rain. Its not a particularly complex song, building majestically from a sombre verse section to a straightforward but anthemic chorus, but in many ways its simplicity and repetitiveness works in its favour, especially as the drama is skilfully and gradually cranked up as the song progresses. Enter Rain would certainly make a fitting set closer in the band’s live show, and I can imagine it becoming a firm fan favourite.
YALCIN: Clocking just over ten minutes, this song starts with more like a new art-rock style but then becomes totally Floydian with lush and mellow soundscapes except for the explosive metal guitars on some spots. It contains wonderful vocals and great melodies as usual, but with this length I’d love to have more diversity within the song, which shouldn’t necessarily mean that the song is boring. On the contrary, it’s one of the highlights of the record. I just want to imagine it as an absolute masterpiece.
DRIES: Enter Rain again is one of those real Pain Of Salvation tracks, it should makes a fan's heart beat faster. Build up from refrain to refrain while choruses in between have strange sounds and instruments as decoration. There is a threatening mood in the refrains just under the surface that just wants to burst out. When it fades out (and it is a long fade out) the album is over....
DAVE B: Right back on the money though for the closing track. This has a similar dark and depressing feel as Iter Impus from Be although doesn't sound anything like it (if you see what I mean). Really a very beautiful track, very atmospheric and mellow building to a crescendo for the chorus and ending. Once again the subject matter is difficult to discern - I have the impression its about the aftermath of war but I could be very wrong. I would think this track will find universal acceptance as its less experimental than the rest of the album. It's a great way to finish although the quiet string cut off rather abruptly at the end.
TOM: Well, the one thing you can say with certainty is that this is an album that will (has?) split the fanbase – possibly even more so than Be. The reason for this, as far as I can see, is that many fans, whilst not caring for Be, could see that it was an experimental, conceptual release, and that it was perhaps best viewed in isolation away from the rest of their catalogue. However, Scarsick, being a ten song ‘standard’ rock album, can be seen as representing where Gildenlöw and co are currently ‘at’ – and frankly many fans aren’t liking what their hearing. As you can probably tell from my review, pretty much every song (bar perhaps Cribcage) has something to my liking, but many seem to fall short in terms of being the complete package, and thus whilst its certainly an album I can listen to all the way through, its some way shy of being a totally satisfying record, and certainly isn’t of the calibre of their best work. The diatribe-like nature of the lyrics also gets a bit much after a while. Still, from a personal point of view, I feel that Gildenlöw is back on the right (or at least, more palatable) track again after Be, and it will certainly be interesting to see what he comes up with next…
YALCIN: Although I commented mostly positive about each track, I feel that this is by far the weakest record in their discography. This shouldn’t mean that it’s “bad”, in fact it’s quite good. The problem is that I got used to expect small wonders from the band each time. It is true that the album’s sound is quite different from their previous efforts, but I do not regard this as a downside. The problem is that although most of the people will probably regard Scarsick as a conceptual album because of its lyrical integrity, I cannot. There’s no musical connection between songs, in fact they all sound so different that you may think they’re from different albums, even different artists. It delivers a solid listening experience nevertheless, but when talking about conceptual albums, I for one expect a musical flow between songs, which isn’t the case here. Another problem is that the song structures and layers are quite simple for most of the time, and most of the songs are almost only based on Daniel’s stellar vocal performances. As I mentioned before, PoS has never been a band of instrumental show-off’s, but Scarsick is a little tasteless in the instrumental section.
I don’t have an extensive knowledge about the album’s artwork since – like lyrics - it wasn’t supplied to us, but at least the cover art looks interesting. The sound quality is fantastic, as usual.
Long-time fans of the band may have a difficult time in getting used to this record, but once enough time is invested, Scarsick “slowly” begins to blossom. That’s not because it’s overly complicated or whatsoever, it’s just different; quite different actually. Well, patience is a virtue, and you know that; but I wouldn’t expect a masterpiece if I were you.
DRIES: A lot of comparisons have been made between PoS and other bands and most common complaint is that PoS is taking there music in a rap-metal like direction. Although I can understand where this sentiment is coming from, I do not agree that PoS have left their own sound in favour of something more commercial. First of all because this is not an easy or commercial album and secondly because every track on this album (apart from Disco Queen) can be connected to a track on a previous album.
It is true that with this album Pain Of Salvation is taking their music to the next level, but looking at the albums Pain Of Salvation have released so far, it is clear that not one album is much like the previous one. As always this album sprang from the brain of Daniel Gildenlöw and he seems to want to take the band to new and strange places all the time. Of course a band that is constantly developing is a good band, but it must be said, that to me, this album does not have the appeal of The Perfect Element Part One, Remedy Lane or even Be. At the same time this album has more connection to the earlier albums than to Be.
I fell in Love with Pain Of Salvation during their Remedy Lane tour and this love still lasts (although the second live encounter was a big disappointment, caused by technical problems) This love for Pain Of Salvation makes it hard to say what needs to be said: this album has just one or two highlights, some OK tracks and then some not so OK... It is not the best PoS album to date. This is just an OK album - nothing more, nothing less.
DAVE B: Despite listening to this CD for about forty times now, it has been one of the most difficult reviews I have done yet. I think this is a testimony to the variety of the music and the profundity of the lyrical content (when I can hear it anyway). Disco Queen, Idiocracy and Enter Rain rank up there as some of the best music they've ever produced but other tracks Mrs Modern Mother Mary, Flame To The Moth and Scarsick aren't really so innovative and up to the usual PoS high standard. The others are there or thereabouts but I don't think the album as a whole stands up against what they've done in the past.
That being said, Daniel has, once again excelled with his lyrics - as usual they're thought provoking and challenging, although I daresay some will also say offensive too; I'm very much looking forward to buying the CD so I can read and digest them in detail. One also has to credit PoS with originality and innovation as there are some real surprises on the CD that you would expect. I do think the band has suffered by the departure of bass player Kristoffer Gildenlöw - he had a very distinctive style and brought a lot to the band's sound. Daniel is playing the bass on this CD pending the appointment of a new member and to be honest the bass is mainly noticeable by its absence.
Measuring against what PoS have done before it has it's moments of scintillating brilliance but they're tempered by less interesting songs. When comparing with the opposition though they're still in a class of their own.