Pain Of Salvation - 'Road Salt Two' (Inside Out Music) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jim Rowland   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 04:55

Pain_Of_SalvationAlthough I'm a self-confessed huge fan of both progressive rock and heavy metal, I sometimes have a problem when these two genres are fused together to produce 'progressive metal'. It often results in gothic-tinged albums containing soulless guitar shredding, irritating symphonic keyboard sounds and complex and indecipherable 'concepts', usually made by a band from Norway or Sweden. Here, then, I'm presented with an album by a band called 'Pain Of Salvation', from Sweden, who have been commonly labelled 'progressive metal' and what's more, this lengthy new album 'Road Salt Two' is part two of a continuing concept started on the band's previous album 'Road Salt One'. It doesn't bode well.


However, the old adage of 'don't judge a book by its cover' is very fitting here, as once I'd put my prejudices aside and sunk my teeth into this album, I was surprised and delighted to discover this to be one of the most impressive, inventive and accessible modern progressive rock albums I've heard since Bigelf's 'Cheat The Gallows'. There's not much in the way of metal at all here, it's largely a fusion of 70's inspired rock and progressive rock with a modern twist. There's a healthy diversity to the sound of each track, which are extremely well crafted, and in fact there isn't a weak track on it.


The first half of the album contains the shorter, more concise tracks. 'Softly She Cried' and 'Conditioned' are more straight ahead rock tunes with groovy 70's flavoured riffs with a hint of stoner to them, whilst 'Healing Now' is a cracking acoustic tune with mandolins, reminiscent of Zeppelin's 'Battle Of Evermore', musically at least. 'To The Shoreline' meanwhile is a quite beautiful ditty with a great vocal melody, and a bit of a twisted western film vibe going on.


The lengthier cuts are where things get a bit more proggy. 'Eleven' is one of the standout tracks, featuring a great doomy riff before it morphs into a jazzy funky middle section freakout. There are also a couple of superbly fiendish screams going on here too. The powerful 'The Deeper Cut', the menacing 'Mortar Grind' and the epic 'The Physics Of Gridlock' (what a prog-tastic title that is!) are all brilliantly inventive and engaging slices of top notch progressive rock. It's these tracks in particular that reminded me of Bigelf in places. Like Bigelf, there's a strong sense of vocal melody throughout the album, and Pain Of Salvation mainman Daniel Gildenlow puts in a top vocal performance throughout.


Despite the fact that Pain Of Salvation are new to me, they have in fact a rather lengthy history of numerous previous releases dating right back to 1997, and I'm really glad to have finally discovered them here. They're on tour in the UK with Opeth in November. Like Opeth, I suspect this band have gravitated towards a more progressive rock sound as they have matured. With Opeth moving evermore towards a pure prog sound with their delightful new album 'Heritage', this promises to be a bill of top quality modern progressive rock, Swedish approved_image_lrg_2011style, and one not to be missed.