Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pain Of Salvation - Road Salt Two

Pain Of Salvation
Road Salt Two
Inside Out Music/Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

Eighteen months after the release of ‘Road Salt One’ (2010), Swedish progressive rock/metal outfit Pain Of Salvation have finally unveiled the highly anticipated second half of their double album project - ‘Road Salt Two’.
As expected, ‘Road Salt Two’ is thematically and musically reminiscent of the style and direction the band presented fans on ‘Road Salt One’, which is a mix of ‘70’s inspired classic rock as performed by a band that primarily plays progressive rock. But like all Pain Of Salvation releases, ‘Road Salt Two’ is an often strange and difficult listen, and one that does take time to fully appreciate.
The four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist/bassist Daniel Gildenlöw, guitarist/backing vocalist Johan Hallgren, keyboardist Fredrik Hermansson and drummer/backing vocalist Léo Margarit) open up the album with the short orchestrated piece ‘Road Salt Theme’, which fades out to make way for a gritty and heavy guitar riff that introduces the follow-up track ‘Softly She Cries’. Sound wise, this track could have easily slotted onto the band last album without sounding out of place, which immediately makes it one of the album’s strongest and more immediate tracks. Also worthy of a mention is how the short ‘Road Salt Theme’ is incorporated into the latter half of the song. It’s an interesting twist in song writing, and just the kind of thing you would expect from Gildenlöw.
‘Conditioned’ is an up-tempo rocker that is another first favourite with its funky edge, driving riffs and great vocal performance from Gildenlöw, while ‘Healing Now’ takes on a completely different direction with its distinctly acoustic folk foundation. The songs darker edge is emphasised on the vocal/lyrical front, and combined with the intense musicianship (Especially when things speed up towards the end), it’s clear that Pain Of Salvation can turn their hand at any sound and make it their own.
The sweeping orchestral and melancholy ‘To The Shoreline’ is quite dramatic and showcases Gildenlöw’s stunning vocal range, while tracks such as ‘Eleven’, the intense drive of ‘Mortar Grind’ (Which originally appeared on the band’s ‘Linoleum’ E.P. from 2009) and ‘The Deeper Cut’ (By far one of the album’s more progressive efforts) are more centred around big guitar riffs and Gildenlöw’s unpredictable melodies and vocals.
No Pain Of Salvation album is without its quirky moments, and this time listeners are offered the short ‘Break Darling Break’ (Which reminds me of ‘Sleeping Under The Stars’ from ‘Road Salt One’ with its carnival sounding musical backdrop) and ‘Of Salt’ (Which is essentially a continuation of ‘Of Dust’ from their last album). Counter balancing these tracks is the stunningly simplistic pop genius of ‘1979’, and the gentle and emotion laden ‘Through The Distance’.
Towards the end, the band delves once again into straight-forward ‘70’s progressive rock terrain with the epic ‘The Physics Of Gridlock’, before capping the album off with the orchestrated ‘End Credits’.
Pain Of Salvation has never been the kind of band that’s easily pigeonholed into any one particular sound, with every one of their album’s presenting something completely new and unexpected for the most part. But having said that, if you enjoyed ‘Road Salt One’, you’ll definitely understand where the band takes listeners on ‘Road Salt Two’, and enjoy the journey just as much as well.

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© Justin Donnelly