Pain of Salvation – Road Salt Two

June 25, 2013 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by blackwindmetal


Pain Of Salvation
Road Salt Two
Reviewed by Tom Hirschboeck

“But I see a better man. 
His feet on his father’s land. 
His hand in his mother’s hand. 
He still belongs…”

Hello all, and welcome to the newest installment of Black Wind Metal’s rewind series! During my lengthy hiatus from the site I just happened to keep exploring music, and I came across a few things that you may (or may not) want to hear about. Top on the list is Pain of Salvation. Thanks to the promise of a tour stop in my city (which, sadly was canceled due to singer Daniel Gildenlöw’s pneumonia) I bought and familiarized myself with all of their albums, and as I listened I began thinking that they would make for a great rewind. Champions of a fairly unique variety of progressive metal, Pain of Salvation tends to pack a lot into each album – musically, emotionally, intellectually – and imbue each with a flavor decidedly its own. So with no more ado, let us begin with the latest.

Road Salt Two – I suppose you can tell already that it’s a sequel – stays close to the stylistic precedent set by its predecessor: bluesy-proggy rock with a penchant for experimentation. It’s a concept album, but it would be quite difficult to isolate any definite plot; rather, the songs tend to provide brief illustrations of a general theme, left wide open for interpretation. On the surface, this theme is something about psychology and sex; on the most general level it’s something about the human condition. Somewhere in between I think it’s about belonging; take it or leave it.

Musically, RS2 goes all over the place. It’s a very dynamic work; there are plenty of aggressive sections, but these are neither pervasive nor defining. A few of the songs run a bit long – “Eleven” with an impressive jazz-rock freakout and “The Physics Of Gridlock” as a three-part closing epic – but others barely hit the three-minute mark. Again, this is an album defined by its openness. Much of it, in keeping with the title, comes off as quite gritty, and yet songs like the fleeting “To The Shoreline” and the tender “1979” seem to intentionally contradict this trend.

And in some sense, these more melodic moments seem to be the most critical to the success of the album. RS2 is an album predicated on conflict, but this only serves to make the less-conflicted moments all the more memorable. In this sense, it’s a brilliantly written album; all the grime serves to make the clear sky shine forth all the more brilliantly. But it is under this clear sky – in the most melodic moments of the album – that the band seems at their most creative. My only complaint, then, is that they don’t spend a whole lot of time exploring this more melodic side. It’s not that the heavier material is bad – it’s usually quite enjoyable – but it is the cleaner and quieter material that seems to play most to the band’s strengths.

Still, this is a minor complaint. Pain of Salvation has gone through numerous stylistic changes, and they seem to have adjusted well to this latest change. RS2 has quickly become one of my recent favorites, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something sophisticated and a little bit out of the ordinary. Enter the wild…