January 16, 2017 Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day (Album Review)
Formed in 1991, in Eskilstuna, Sweden, Pain of Salvation has undergone various personnel changes over the years, with the musically prodigious founder Daniel Gildenlöw remaining as its sole original member. Currently soldiering on with Gildenlöw, who started playing in a band when he was eleven, are Gustaf Hielm (bass, vocals), Léo Margarit (drums, vocals, percussion, mandolin), Daniel Karlsson (keyboards, percussion, backing vocals), and Ragnar Zolberg (guitar, vocals, mandolin). In its quarter-of-a-century existence, the Swedish band has released ten concept-oriented albums: such as the driving debut, 1997’s Entropia; 1998’s technical Power/Glam Metal affair One Hour by the Concrete Lake; the ambitious symphonic and theatrical aspirations of 2004’s BE; the stripped-down, Classic Rock-cum-Cirque du Soleil feel of 2010’s Road Salt One; the acoustic, Folk Metal sound of 2014’s Falling Home; and finally, the freshly unleashed Progressive Metal set In the Passing Light of Day.
Released on January 13, 2017, Pain of Salvation’s tenth oeuvre gets into technical business immediately with “On a Tuesday,” a ten-minute engaging brain salad of various structural shifts and mood changes. The ensuing, initially somber, piano-led “Tongue of God” will mess with the listener’s comfort zone as it suddenly transforms into a pounding Grunge-inspired stomper. “Meaningless” is a trek into Global Metal realms, standing out with its distinct kazoo-sounding melody and relentless hammer rhythm. Another piano-oriented Power ballad, “Silent Gold” returns the listener to a contemplative mood.
The third longest track, “Full Throttle Tribe” is sure to disturb the listener’s rhythmic sense because of its marked syncopation and seemingly dissonant drumbeats, as well as for its unexpected mid-song structural and mood changes. Following next are the sonically similar “Reasons” and “Angels of Broken Things,” whose frenetic syncopation, power chords, and razorblade guitar chops might remind the initiated of so-called Mathcore proponents like System of a Down (“Chop Suey!”), Gojira (“Stranded”), and The Dillinger Escape Plan (“Symptom of Terminal Illness”).
The midtempo Alternative Rock “The Taming of a Beast” is an altogether beast – in which Gildenlöw employed his lower vocal range as well as his customary chorus growls, sounding like a cross of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan (“Enjoy the Silence”), Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell (“Live to Rise”), and HIM’s Ville Valo (“Killing Loneliness”). The penultimate song, “If This Is the End” starts off as a contemplative, acoustic, guitar-led, harmonica-adorned ballad and then bursts into a jagged-edged, heavily distorted headbanger. Finally, Pain of Salvation wraps up its new album with the fifteen-and-a-half-minute breezy, beautiful, gut-wrenching, and heart-rending orchestral ballad “The Passing Light of Day.”
Many casual listeners dismiss Metal music in general for its customary cacophony and natural sonic aggression. However, the initiated could easily recognize and appreciate the typical structural complexity and lyrical depth that reside beneath the works of especially concept-oriented Progressive bands, regarding this as an essential expression rather than superfluous indulgence. Gildenlöw’s musical visions with Pain of Salvation took this aspect of the genre to its most complicated, yet commercially palatable form, validated once again by his band’s latest offering, which may be regarded as a complete sonic journey on its own. CrypticRock gives In the Passing Light of Day 5 out of 5 stars.