Daniel Gildenlöw and co. are back with their new album, follow-up of the great “Perfect Element Part I”. It is not “Perfect Element Part II”, since they decided to wait before releasing the second part, as they want it to be something really special. So instead of letting the fans wait for the second part and without releasing singles and best of, they granted their fans an album of completely new material in the matter of “Remedy Lane”.
In my opinion, the heaviest work of PAIN OF SALVATION is still their second album “One Hour By The Concrete Lake”, while “Perfect Element Part I” was the perfect blend of all their influences, from heavy to light. So what is it to be expected with “Remedy Lane”? Well, the heaviness is still there in some moments, but overall, the light and atmospheric passages are more prominent and longer. In fact, some of the songs relate with emotional and sad moments of Daniel Gildenlöw’s life (like in the majestic “A Trace Of Blood”), which explain why this album is so emotionally filled. The distorted guitar sound is not too punchy, which also contribute to the overall “light” effect of the album. This is still a concept album and while the story can be quite hard to comprehend, the music delivered here helps us a lot understand the sadness and the sensitivity of the tormented souls that are depicted throughout the songs. This was for me the first POS album that took me so long to “understand” and “get into it”. For sure, none of the POS album is less than 70 minutes, so it is not at first, the easiest music to listen to.
I was saying that the heaviness was still there. It is, but not like you would think, since it is not the typical Thrash or Power Metal heaviness. POS is using the heavy passages to increase the emotional potential of their songs, to create a kind of build up, quite effective if you ask me, like in the incredible song “This Heart Of Mine”, which start quietly and peacefully, then without knowing really how and when it occurs, it climbs up into something terrifyingly powerful. Since most of the songs are quite atmospheric and dark, when the need for power is urging, the guitar riffs come at the right time and place. What I mean is that the heaviness is achieved not by using blast beat and down tuned guitars, but more in a perfect mix between the light and slow part and the guitar driven one. (damn, I wish my English was better here, since I have a hard time explaining clearly what I feel.) The progressiveness is still present too. The song “Fandango” is the perfect example of what I’m trying to explain here, with his strong guitar riff and the strange 5/4 tempo of the chorus, while Daniel sings his vocal line in 4/4. “Remedy Lane” features the first pop ballad song of POS, with “Second Love”, which is the weakest songs on the album, it just feel like it doesn’t belong there. It would have fit perfectly on a BON JOVI CD instead.
As usual, the band performance is outstanding. They have this ability in their song writing of being technical without disturbing the actual flow of the songs, like a perfectly build yet complex house. Often a band will be tagged “Progressive” just because they use time signature and tempo changes and sometimes it will affect the overall quality of the song, since it will just feel like a showcase of abilities. POS doesn’t fall in this pattern. Like DREAM THEATER “Images And Words”, each drum parts, keyboard lines and bass lines are there for a purpose; there’s not waste of music; everything just merge together perfectly like a pure symbiosis. As usual with POS, what shines the most on this CD is the yet again the perfect performance of Daniel Gildenlöw on vocal. This guy is simply unbelievable. I don’t know if the real purpose of the band was to release their most emotional work to date, but if so, it was achieve flawlessly in vocally.
I couldn’t give a 10, because this album is not perfect. I would have preferred to get a more powerful mastering. You have to crank way too much this CD on your stereo. Also, I really don’t understand the point of having two instrumental tracks that follow each other, which at the start are not that good anyways. But still, it deserve a 9 since PAIN OF SALVATION continues to release incredible Prog Metal album, that still help the style evolving and also, that contributes to put them yet more apart from the crowd. (Online April 14, 2004)