Band: Pain of Salvation
Album: Road Salt Two
Genre: Progressive Rock
Bands take a risk when they change their sound. Some fans will undoubtedly be pleased while others will end up not quite as happy. In the end a band has do make the music that makes them happy and they have to hope the numbers are greater in the former group than that of the latter. With Pain of Salvation change had become a bit of a norm in recent years. Though the band’s sound seemed to evolve to some degree with every album, the release of Scarsick seemed to show the band capable of a complete makeover. Then with Road Salt One they sounded like a brand new band once again.
While I think both of these dramatic turns worked out wonderfully for the band, producing two fantastic and fresh albums, I’m glad that Road Salt Two turned back the innovation dial a tad. Road Salt Two is all that was right about Road Salt One tweaked and evolved, and in the end this fine tuning may have resulted in the band’s best work to date. While much of the material on the album was written in tandem with that of Road Salt One I can’t help but think the additional time to ferment did wonders for the final outcome of Road Salt Two.
I feel that this album will end up being a huge building block between Pain of Salvation and all of their fans. To those that have enjoyed the changes within the band, I think they will love this album even more than its predecessor. However I also think fans that may have felt put off by the previous two works will be won over by this record. The album is a perfect marriage of the experimentation of Road Salt One with some more classic and traditional Pain of Salvation elements, and as a whole I’d say it is more accessible and smoother than Road Salt One. One of my complaints about Road Salt One would have been the tendency to be a bit over dramatic. While I know critics of the band have held this complaint for years, I never really saw it until the Road Salt One. With the follow up that complaint is completely removed. Where dramatics might have been on the previous album they seem to be replaced by fresh music and vocals that any Pain of Salvation fan will still easily identify with.
Starting with the first true track “Softly She Cried” pretty much every song on this album offers some hooks and bits of excellence. “To the Shoreline” features a western vibe that like much of the album is hard to describe. “The Deeper Cut” is a track that pretty much features one line of lyrics past the half way point, and yet it stands as one of the best tracks Pain of Salvation have ever crafted. Just a beautiful piece of music with fantastic vocals that make the repetitive lyrics easy to listen to even with repeated listens.
After “End Credits” has finished the listener will have enjoyed everything good that prog represents. The merging of rock with various other genres to produce a complex and yet beautiful album that stands as much as a finely crafted piece of art as it does a collection of songs. Every Pain of Salvation fan might not enjoy this as much as I have, but I think they will compare it to the previous two albums and feel the band has found a spark and headed off in the right direction.
Nick’s Rating: 9.75/10