Pain of Salvation // Road Salt pt. 1 – Ivory
Rating: 5.0/5.0 —A stellar re-invention that should bring you to tears
Label: InsideOut
Websites: painofsalvation.com | myspace.com/painofsalvation
Release Dates: SE: 14.05.2010 | EU: 17.05.2010 | US: 06.08.2010

Pain of Salvation - Road Salt 1 - IvoryOne would assume that an Angry Metal Guy wouldn’t be handing out high scores willy nilly, something I seriously try to avoid doing. But apparently 2010 is a year filled with really fantastic albums by bands doing the things that, as a reviewer, and more specifically, as a music-lover, I have trouble not totally falling for. Pain of Salvation has never been a band that I personally fell for. Scarsick, the band’s 2007 release, was a record that I had issues with and I’ve had some personal gripes about Daniel Gildenlöw’s vocals on the older material (specifically his wannabe Mike Patton rappy/talky vocals). But, that said, Pain of Salvation has long been the darling of the progressive rock and metal scene, with legions of fans who love their technical prowess and pop sensibility.

Road Salt, then, stands to be a great disappointment for a large number of fans who are looking for neo-progressive sensibilities. This is simply not the same band that put out The Perfect  Element (Part I). There is nothing on this record that should outright appeal to metal heads and fans of tech music. But there’s something else, and something that in my opinion places this album on a different plane than 99% of albums released this year, an emotional depth, beauty, fragility and, lastly, dirtiness that makes this album a fantastic journey and easily my favorite Pain of Salvation to date.

Road Salt is still a prog record, however, it’s just way more a 70s rock influenced album that places the band into the same arena as bands like Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Guilt Machine and their ilk. And when I say “70s rock influenced”, let me be totally clear: this is an album that is built to sound like it was recorded on analogue equipment in a room with brown shag carpeting, made by bearded men in bell bottoms who’d smoked a little bit too much hash. The guitar tone screams Hendrix, the vocal harmonies mimic the soul harmonies of folk musicians like Kris Kristofferson and the moog organ is something that you’ve heard a million times while digging through your dad’s record collection. Hell, even the build at the end of the first track “No Way”, sounds like it came off a TrettioÃ¥riga Kriget record. And there’s nary a technical wank solo to be found on this album. No, instead the album is based a lot around blues rock, a thing that this Angry Metal Guy hates with a total passion.

But from the opening notes of this album, I was moved emotionally in a way that I think no record has done almost ever. Gildenlöw’s vocal performance is perfect, it is emotionally evocative, huge and sweeping and amazing. His emotional performance reshapes good (or excellent) music into something that is epic and transformative. By bringing his prog and non-blues rock influenced sensibilities to the entire genre and then placing his vocal perfection over songs like “She Likes to Hide”, “Sisters”, “Linoleum” and probably the most evocative of  A Cold Walk - Pain of Salvation by Lars Ardarveall the tracks on the album “Road Salt”, Gildenlöw and Pain of Salvation create a sound all their own in what is easily the most overdone genre in the history of mankind. Turning the sounds of 60s and 70s rock and blues into something unique in 2010 is a magical feat, honestly. I have trouble wrapping my mind around how it was done.

In the end, this is an album that should make your heart ache. There is a sadness that really permeates the album. And in an era when hard rock and metal is so incredibly impersonal, when every other record is faux hate and anger or cliched nonsense, it is beyond refreshing to have band produce material that is so emotionally poignant and beautiful. On top of that, of course, is the fantastic production of this album, mixed with the superb quality of musicians involved in the whole production and you have the formula for what is easily one of the best albums of the year, and one of the best albums I have heard in a really, really long time.

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  • Reading this brought goosebump as the whole album does. I’m still digesting it, but it will be one of the best in 2010 indeed… it’s all about being unique and making the listener feel unique.

    • Thanks. And yeah, this album is, just wow. Also, your rocktoons totally rule. :D

  • Didrik

    Great review :)
    It is also very true, it is one of the most beautiful things ever written.

  • ThirdWorldMan

    Wow! None of their albums have clicked with me since The Perfect Element 1 and as such I almost bypassed this review and deciding to check it out. I love the production and its unique without having to be bombastic…really a great change right there.

    Not to mention how many times I thought I heard such figures as Jim Morrison, Jimmy Page or Peter Gabriel(Genesis-era) glide past my speakers. I think if they ditch this approach come their next album they will be throwing away a huge opportunity.

    Thanks for the review.

  • A great album, and a terrific review!

    However, you seem to have forgotten to mention the fact that Road Salt Two (Ebony) will be released later this year. ;)

  • Krauzer

    I agree, after BE (or during BE) Gildenlow started acting like a douche bag.. this douchebaggery translated into trying a little too hard to fake his own voice (think of shakira.. she had a trademark singing.. then apparently forgot how to sing it.. and since then has tried to fake it) BUT…. road salt one brings a new focused gildenlow,, who can actually sing without sounding too forced.. there are times in the record that this over-the-top voice comes along.. but it sounds right.. road salt one need a few spins to finally set.. but when it does… holy shit… No way and sister actually gives me goosebumps.. something no achieves since Remedy Lane.. A MUST HAVE

  • yinon

    the album is divine original and saint
    yet not the best of the bestestestest band ever
    you are douche bag
    whoever read reviews he is spinless loser

  • Glad you liked my stuff! Thanks!

  • WHOAguitarninja

    Ever since Scarsick I was worried this band was going in the wrong direction. The linoleum EP only intensified those feelings.

    Happy to say I was 100% wrong. Good show Danny & Co. Can’t wait for part two!

  • tal

    well, i have to disagree there.

    POS are my favorite band, im listening to their albums for about 7 years now.

    they were allways unique, whatever they did, and I understand what their trying to do in this album, im just not buying it.

    i loved them since Entropia and all the way to BE.
    BE was actually the best album that I ever come across with.
    they did an amazing thing there, they took their amazing prog metal and gave it a total spin, mixed it with unrelated styles and it sounded great.
    but since BE their trying to do it again, first in scarsick, and now in road salt.
    but their just taking it to all the wrong directions.
    what was so special about BE is that it has quite a saying, a story and philosophy in it, but the later albums seems really un-inspired, like their trying to force a storyline and different music styles, but it just dosn’t work, not there.

    im still waiting and hoping to discover another album that sounds anything like remedy lane, perfect element or BE, hopfully one day POS will return to their sources and all will be well.

  • I agree with you. This is an excellent release, filled with the same emotion and musicianship that has made Pain of Salvation such a great band. I think with a little more time, more fans will come around.

  • SeuRodruga

    crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap

    this album is nothing but

    crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crapcrap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap

  • Barry Neilson

    Fantastic review…you’ve hit the nail completely on the head in terms of what makes this the album it is.

  • Then is it just me who finds it strange that at least three tracks from the album, Sisters, Where it hurts and Road Salt, are pretty much the same musically?

  • Elenantilope

    Love everything they do and hope they stay around for the rest of my life :-). Don´t like it, when fans think they know better. They want a particular sound they fell in love with but it has to be new and fresh and not too different at the same time. Move on!

    Nice review! (Well, I´m not unbiased)

  • Saw POS for the first time on 4/11/2010 supporting Apocalyptica – never heard them before…and having had this on NON STOP over the weekend, I couldnt agree more…

    And to say they are stunning live is the understatement of the century. Goosebump stuff.

  • Hello Angry Metal Guy.

    I wanted to review this album for so long , now that i have time I wanted to check what reviews are available and came across this one.

    This review expresses exactly my thoughts.

    Is there any way I can post your review on our page ? (Lebmetal.com)

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