I’ve never quite got my head around open-plan office space and those waist-height cubicles. Yes, your hive of corporate activity looks wonderful photographed from seven different angles; prominently displayed on your enterprises website. Oh and let’s not forget about the collaboration! But what’s the cost? Stress-induced irritability, hostility towards creativity and productivity, anxiety and ongoing health issues. Oh wait, collaboration just flew out the window… Where am I going with this? Music. More specifically, metal. Pain have proved themselves inconsistent over the years and as with most things in life, with the good comes the bad. Dancing with the Dead hit hard and fast – fist pumping chugs, rousing melodies, lively symphonics and inciting lyrics you can’t budge with a crowbar. Psalms of Extinction and Cynic Paradise belly-flopped, leaving my playlist almost as quickly as they were added, but You Only Live Twice aggressively became my guilty metal pleasure; the lyrics resonate and the harsher vocal styles electrify. Might “The Great Pretender” have been a clue as to Pain‘s mindset with lines like “It’s a real fine line between being good and being bad.” “Might as well crash and burn because we’re never ever gonna learn.” However the dice fall on Coming Home, I’m fired up!
From the onset of Coming Home, it’s clear that Pain are still peddling their familiar mix of heavy metal, industrial and techno. “Designed to Piss You Off” begins with an unexpected country rock vibe before quickly heading into done before techno-metal territory. Though a little on the long side, the track slams you with striking tempo changes and the right melody, aggressiveness and parasitic catchiness. “Call Me” makes a decent enough entrance, chugging along with Crematory styled flare before introducing Fleshgod-type symphonics that, while maintaining richness, fall short in density.
Though probably being top-notch stripper metal, “Call Me” is where Coming Home‘s other obvious faults start making themselves apparent. “Call Me” suffers greatly in the lyric and vocal delivery departments. While lines like “Call me! Like a genie in the bottle, I’ll rub you the right way” might sound cutesy delivered by a pouting Katy Perry, when they’re delivered by Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy) they just sound downright sleazy. A guest appearance by Joakim Brodén (Sabaton) exacerbates the situation, hindering the track more than helping it. “Pain In The Ass” takes this a step further. After a short intro mimicking “The Great Pretender” (You Only Live Twice), the song heads down the catchy path of “Dirty Woman.” While this worked for Pain in the past, the new track is ruined by the crude and tacky nature of its lyrics. What Monster Magnet get away with in “She Digs That Hole” (Cobras and Fire), Pain bungle.
Overall the flow of Coming Home seems disjointed and as the album progresses my interest wanes. You’re amped for a song or two then Pain brings you down, breaking the momentum. Songs like “A Wannabe,” “Black Knight Satellite” and “Absinthe Phoenix Rising” are run-of-the-mill offerings with overly simplistic/generic lyrics, serving little purpose other than what seems to be delivery on their record label commitment. Other tracks like “Coming Home” closely resemble the somber memory of “My Misery” (Dancing with the Dead) without the heavy engagement that drives the song home. Lyrically and musically the title track feels intensely personal, like that of a journey of self discovery. Thoughts of too much time on the road, a guy getting on in years and the knowledge that it takes physical hunger to truly create art become apparent1. By the end of “Coming Home,” it’s obvious that the song is overly long and intrusive and even misplaced on the album. Had this been the last track, it may have done a lot to improve the back-end of Coming Home.
Much like Crematory‘s techno-metal fusion, Pain‘s “Final Crusade” offers an aggressive intro, triumphant attitude, nifty djenty interludes and a chorus that sticks like Gorilla Glue. This combined with opener, “Designed To Piss You Off” at least means we get a couple of keepers. Coming Home isn’t the album I was hoping for. For now, I’m sticking with Dancing with the Dead and You Only Live Twice. You should too.