Incredible, simply incredible! Who would have thought that the Swedes of PAIN OF SALVATION would ever be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with such classics like QUEENSRYCHE's "Operation: Mindcrime" or DREAM THEATER's "Scenes From A Memory"? Right, next to nobody! But still they manage to enter the top-flight of Progressive Metal with ease, thanks to their current (again concept-) album "The Perfect Element -Part 1".
This masterpiece of musical perfectionism can hardly be transferred into words, such an incredible multitude of complex, weird, sometimes extremely heavy, yet at the same time very fantastic and melodic parts assaults the listener's ear, but still remains accessible enough to be easily digested. But this does not mean that "The Perfect Element" snugly wriggles into your ear at first listen! You still need a few rotations to realise all the little details and passages. Compared to their debut "Entropia" and the follow-up "One Hour By The Concrete Lake" they have reduced the overall amount of heaviness and apart from a few exceptions the Funk-elements, that had been quite numerous on "Entropia", have been scrapped, too. Instead the Swedes use a conglomerate of groovy riffs, weird melodies, brilliant song-structures and wonderful piano-pieces, which attach themselves to your brain with great ease and intensity. Sometimes they remind me of the old QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING and DREAM THEATER, but still manage to keep an own identity.
Representative for all tracks I just want to pick out the opener "Used". It starts very heavy, with a staccato-riff slightly reminiscent of FAITH NO MORE and spoken vocals, then changes into a chorus with an incredible melody that I cannot get out of my head for many days now, just to raise in intensity into an utterly brilliant track that ends with an excellent guitar-solo. Awesome!
And what becomes apparent from the very beginning, too, is vocalist Daniel Gildenlöw, besides whose charismatic and voluminous voice ANY other shouter pales. Listen to those exceptional vocal-melodies and you have to agree that Geoff Tate or James LaBrie don't stand a single chance compared to him! And the rest of the band follows closely behind!
Despite the long playing time of nearly 73 minutes, the band manages to keep the tension at highest level and without exaggeration you can call each song a little masterpiece for itself - without a single filler!
At the moment the paragon of Progressive Metal!
Go and get the best concept-album since "Operation: Mindcrime"! (Charly, you can give it as many points as you want, but here there will always be maximum 10 of them ;) - Alex)