Welcome to the Monday Shuffle. Every Monday I’m going to, as hockey profit Gordon Bombay once said, “change it up” by reviewing a random album on my iPod. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “How can this asshole be objective about an album he enjoys listening to?” If you know anything about me, my iPod is littered with everything under the sun: good, bad, brilliant, terrible. I don’t have a filter. To put it this in perspective, I didn’t delete a couple, sappy Nickelback songs until recently. I’m kidding. Or, am I? (dramatic crescendo). To sum up this nonsense, my opinions alter with multiple listens. An enjoyable first listen can easily turn into an ear scraping second listen. Doesn’t matter. So, since I enjoyed my little iPod experiment so much the first time, here we go. The first entry in Reviews From the Other Sides’ Monday Shuffle, and a fitting return from a slight, month(ish) hiatus:
Pain of Salvation – Remedy Lane
Pain of Salvation had a sonicly successful career. Key word, had. Golden voice Daniel Gildenlow, shirtless Johan Hallgren, brother Kristoffer Gildenlow, dramatic Frederick Hermansson, and holy poly rhythms, Johan Langell, served a delicious cocktail of genre innovating prog metal. Redundant labeling aside, everything was there, the pretentiousness, the complex rhythms, the noodling guitars. Then, haircuts and alternative rock happened. Thanks Metallica! Because, isn’t every mistake in metal Metallica’s fault? YouTube sure as hell thinks so. And who’s going to argue with YouTube?
Some bands just choose to strip their sound to its roots, sometimes enlightening, while most times leaving listeners like myself saying, “Really? Edgy? How is generic garage rock, especially in this day and age, edgy?” Pain of Salvation unfortunately became Golden Gildenlow’s side project, leaving their quintessential album, Remedy Lane behind as an unfortunate memoir. And boy is it a hell of a memoir.
So, you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Why the fuck is this guy talking smack about Salvation’s later releases? What does their current direction have anything to do with anything?” The songwriting, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t know if it’s the departure of Johan and Frederick or lack of inspiration, but Remedy Lane is everything Road Salt I,Road Salt II, even acoustic record, Falling Home, isn’t. The album, unfortunately, stands as the beginning of the band’s musical descent, and aside from behemoth concept-heavy LP, Be, and a handful of pop/alternative rock tracks, there seems to be nothing left in Gildenlow’s creative tank. And that’s worth mentioning, as both a fan and reviewer of Pain of Salvation. That’s it. I’m off my soap box. Now, for a look back at the Pain of Salvation we all know and love. Let’s go!
From the opening drama of “Two Beginnings,” to the heartrending, introspective conclusion of “Beyond the Pale,” Pain of Salvation successfully combined the theatrics of The Perfect Element and the foreshadowing experimentation later found on Be to create a sound all their own in Remedy Lane. This is an album you can feel, experience, and tilt your head to in appreciation. Unlike Be and The Perfect Element, however, Remedy Lane’s tracks stand both alone and together, never falling victim to the complexity of their overarching concept. This can be seen as an insult regarding Remedy Lane’s comprehensive product. Yet, balance is key here. The songwriting stands on its own two legs, all the while sounding like nothing the band previously performed. The music is so diverse, its cohesive. And that’s why Daniel Gildenlow and company are classified as progressive metal — insert shades and cigarette.
There’s metal; there’s folk; there’s noodling polyrhythms; there’s even a couple pop-centric numbers in “This Heart of Mine (I Pledge),” and “Two Loves.” Yet, when dealing with this particular genre, one must ask: does every element come together for a complete experience? Besides the album’s oddball, electronic title track, my answer is an overwhelming, heartstopping, world changing…yes!
Oh, and did I mention these guys know how to fucking play? My God of holy drums and guitars! There’s enough musical complexity, time shifts, key changes, vocal wails in “Fandango” alone to make Yes look like a side show. But again, the band treads on the realms of indulgence, tapping the third circle just enough to make Cerberus salivate. Ha, get that one? But then, the album spins into melodic tracks like, “A Trace of Blood,” and “Undertow,” with tearjerker lyrics and a more atmospheric approach to structure and overall feeling. These tracks are where I really “got” Daniel Gildenlow’s psyche, where emotion — think, the bridge in “Undertow” or Gildenlow’s climactic high note in “A Trace of Blood” — has a moment to peak its head without fear of being bludgeoned to death by technicality. Sure, Johan’s solos and brother Gildenlow’s hypnotic bass grooves peak interest in the album’s more progressive numbers, not to mention one of the more tighter, non-sleep inducing epics in “Beyond the Pale,” but its Daniel’s diverse vocal performance that lifts Remedy Lane to heartrending beauty. Great work, through and through.
Pain of Salvation’s quintessential 2002 LP, Remedy Lane, is an emotional record full of progressive rock/metal sensibilities. Fans of Opeth and Dream Theater have probably already eaten this up, but for the more inexperienced prog listener out there in the prog omniverse with all their prog shit, this ranks high on the proggiest prog of all time. And that’s why Reviews From the Other Side rates Remedy Lane a 4.75.
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