Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pain of Salvation - In The Passing Light of Day (2017)

It is funny sometime how life works, that one action or event can change history, or that if one accidental thing had not happened, it would have not lead to this or that. The new Pain of Salvation album "In The Passing Light of Day" is just another example of how life works, because this is an album that would not have been made if the band's circumstances had been any different.

I really don't know if you can call this a concept album, but it more or less describes the feelings of singer Daniel Gildenlöw and his time in the hospital, discovering and recovering from a nasty flesh eating bacteria that easily could have killed him. We get to follow all of ups and downs, getting another view of life and death, and all the emotions that comes with it. This definitely makes "In The Passing Light of Day" a heavy, and almost depressing, record, where your emotions take over the wheel for the whole ride.

Now, themes and lyrics can only take things so far, so the music has to deliver as well, and Daniel and co. do not disappoint. The album opens with the 10 minute song "On A Tuesday", which has some frightening riffs that really digs under your skin, and it is accompanied with several other bits that makes this basically a horror movie, perfectly simulating the moment when the disease was discovered. Musically, this is vintage Pain of Salvation, no calm "down to Earth" 70's retro sound like in the "Road Salt" albums, just good old progressive metal at its best. This tension continues on to the following song, "Tongue of God", a chunky song with pitch black darkness and despair.

After that though, the band punches you in the stomach. No seriously, "Meaningless" is a heart breaking song, both in sound and lyrics, where Daniel delivers some painful vocals. It really shows you just how good the band is at expressing emotions. The rest of the album (besides the loud and blocky "Full Throttle Tribe") is more quiet and calm, not as stand out as the opening trio, but they complement each other so well, creating an album that holds up really well, even if the play time is well over an hour.

The full performance is extremely delicate, with the band making sure that every beat does not skew off the path that they are trying to lay up. The guitar work is excellent, delivering memorable riffs while also knowing when to take a step back and let the keys take over. The drums are a little more modern sounding than on the "Road Salt" albums, but some of that retro layering is still there, which might bother some, but I think they fit nicely. The only thing that bothers me though is that the band sounds a lot like Queensrÿche from time to time in this record, but it is not enough to really affect the overall score.

In the end though, "In The Passing Light of Day" is all about the emotions, and the music comes only in second place. Sure, the second half of the record is slow as hell, a certain obstacle for the impatient ones, but it needs to be this slow, it can't emote what Daniel have gone through otherwise. Also, while songs like "On A Tuesday" and "Meaningless" are standing out as much as they do, it is important to not forget the more anonymous songs, or even better, just listen to the album in full instead of just listening to individual tracks. Only time will tell if this will become an album that people can point to as one of Pain of Salvation's finest moment, but the concept and themes will always be remembered. Happy to have you alive Daniel.

Songs worthy of recognition: On A Tuesday, Meaningless, Full Throttle Tribe, The Passing Light of Day

Rating: 9/10 Reasons

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