Pain of Salvation

Angry Metal Guy’s Top 10 Songs from 2011

Angry Metal Guy’s Top 10 Songs from 2011

We made it through another year here in Angry Metal World. We overcame Terminal Reviewer Burnout Syndrome, careers and personal lives, just to bring you more of our self-righteous, ego-driven babbling and blathering. Why did we do it? Because we care so damn much! Now, as the year grinds us all towards inevitable doom, it falls to me to get the metal wheel a rollin and name my picks for the best albums of 2011. This was a pretty solid year, so it was tough to figure out which albums belonged where, but you demanded it, so I’m delivering the goods, Yeah!

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt Two [Ebony] Review

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt Two [Ebony] Review

In 2010 Pain of Salvation, best known for their progressive stylings and vocalist who wishes he could talk rhythmically like Mike Patton, released a record that blew me away and shook their fanbase: Road Salt One. It was shocking mainly because it was a largely not tech-geek-progressive and it was very 70s rock influenced. This left some long-time fans peeved, at best. They wanted something different. Well, Road Salt Two is definitely not that something different. It is stubbornly more of the same and it may have lost a bit of its luster with a year to sit on it.

Leprous – Bilateral Review

Leprous – Bilateral Review

Progressive music is a vast category filled with all sorts of various constellations of bands from Dream Theater to Symphony X to Rush to Opeth to Death to Pink Floyd to Pain of Salvation to Coheed & Cambria (arguably) and so forth. It can be very difficult to keep all that shit in order and, frankly, to find good progressive bands because it’s such a huge category. Despite the fact that progressive music should be the biggest, best and most original music in the world it suffers from some serious problems. The first is a tendency towards living in the past (för svenskar: bakÃ¥tsträvande) and the second is unoriginality, oddly enough. So finding a progressive band that is excellent, modern and original is still a hard thing to do. But you’ll never guess who has some angry (but good) news.

The Living Fields – Running Out of Daylight Review

The Living Fields – Running Out of Daylight Review

Now this was a tough album to review. I had a devil of a time trying to get through the music and honestly couldn’t even figure out what genre, sub-genre or sub-sub-genre these Chicago progressive metallers belonged in. You see, The Living Fields are so all over the place with their sound on their sophomore release Running Out of Daylight, they utterly defy conventional pigeonholing. At various times during the album’s playtime, they touch on ambient, darkwave, post rock, black metal, death metal, doom metal, folk and power metal. Yes, they cover their bases fully. In some ways these chaps could be called a more linear and rational version of Therion. They have all the same orchestration, pomp and variety and sport multiple vocalists of varying styles. However, they lack Therion’s lunatic charm, off the rails approach and overall entertainment factor. Although far more restrained in their songwriting, their compositions have a cold feeling and lack of cohesion that made it very difficult to get into. While I can’t dispute their creativity and musical ability, this is a strangely distant album that has resisted all my efforts to enjoy it in a meaningful way. It’s also a very challenging album to describe so stick with Steel Druhm and he will do his bestest.

Above Symmetry – Ripples Review

Above Symmetry – Ripples Review

Progressive metal isn’t an easy place to be. Let’s face it, much of the world of progressive metal is a tussle between an old guard of old fans (the Neanderthals of Metal) who really like bands that sound like Dream Theater, Queensryche, and so forth, and then there’s kind of everyone else. It’s disparate, difficult to define and often pretentious as hell with little logic as to what is in fashion with which group. This is the natural outcome of genrefication, in my opinion, and part of that is a question of where a band can actually progress to. You’re either not heavy enough or you’re too heavy and you never please anyone. Few bands ever really manage to fall outside of these well-worn ruts in the road, but there are some fantastic bands in those ruts, Above Symmetry is one of those bands.

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt pt. 1 – Ivory – Review

Pain of Salvation – Road Salt pt. 1 – Ivory – Review

One 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.

Aspera – Ripples Review

Aspera – Ripples Review

Progressive metal isn’t an easy place to be. Let’s face it, much of the world of progressive metal is a tussle between an old guard of old fans (the Neanderthals of Metal) who really like bands that sound like Dream Theater, Queensryche, and so forth, and then there’s kind of everyone else. It’s disparate, difficult to define and often pretentious as hell with little logic as to what is in fashion with which group. This is the natural outcome of genrefication, in my opinion, and part of that is a question of where a band can actually progress to. You’re either not heavy enough or you’re too heavy and you never please anyone. Few bands ever really manage to fall outside of these well-worn ruts in the road, but there are some fantastic bands in those ruts, Aspera is one of those bands.