At long last, PAIN’s latest offering finally crashes onto North American shores. Originally released in Europe way back in October 2008, “Cynic Paradise” experienced an odd year-and-a-half delay in the North American localization process, eventually arriving in May 2010 with an alternate cover. It’s a shame that it took so long to get here, because the sixth album from HYPOCRISY mainman Peter Tägtgren’s Industrial side project is a killer of an album.
It should be made clear that although Tägtgren enlists a backing band to help him out on the road (such as on the band’s recent tour with NIGHTWISH), every track on the record was put to tape by the man himself. Vocals, guitars, drums, synthesizers—all instruments were handled by Tägtgren, as well as production. Don’t dismiss PAIN as a mere pet project, though; the band’s popularity and longevity are a testament to its musical validity. While the rage-fuelled Death Metal of HYPOCRISY may not be for everyone, few people can deny that PAIN’s music, while not overly complex, is extremely infectious. Tägtgren has designed the material to be accessible rather than intimidating, making for an easy, likeable alternative to the chaos of other Metal subgenres.
As with the rest of the PAIN catalogue, “Cynic Paradise” is an album dominated by distorted, echoed vocals, crushing guitars, and omnipresent, swirling synths, all anchored together by a relentless Techno beat. Well-written and catchy tunes like “Monkey Business” and “Reach Out (And Regret)” fit this mould well, delivering an intense Metal assault over a fast-paced dance rhythm. “Live Fast – Die Young” is another blistering maelstrom of Metal and Techno, both brutal and bouncy. Other tracks, like “No One Knows” and “Not Your Kind,” are more mid-paced, with Tägtgren’s shouter-crooner vocal style giving the latter a bit of an Alternative flair.
As good as the standard Industrial fare is, it’s the album’s more unique tracks that are, surprisingly, the best listening experiences. As with the previous PAIN album, “Cynic Paradise” features a guest performance, this time provided by NIGHTWISH singer Anette Olzon, who steps up to the mic for “Follow Me” and “Feed Us.” Olzon’s silky vocals on these two songs provide a nice counterpoint to Tägtgren’s hyper-masculine singing style, and their duets greatly enhance the songs they’re featured on. “Have A Drink On Me” has almost nothing in common with the rest of the album, being a drawling Southern Blues-Rock track about hard times and harder liquor. The crushing drums on this cut contrast sharply with Tägtgren’s lazy, almost CCR-like guitar playing, creating an oddball gem tucked away amongst a bevy of Industrial music. A fantastic cover of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA’s 1981 single “Here Is The News” is included as a bonus track.
Whether you want to rock out or trip out, headbang or rave, mosh or dance, “Cynic Paradise” provides the perfect soundtrack. Though this release has been a long time coming for North American fans, it’s well worth the wait. PAIN has always been one of the best bands of the Industrial scene, so if you like a healthy dose of Techno in your Metal, “Cynic Paradise” is certainly up to par.
(Online August 19, 2010)