Review: Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day

Upfront: This won’t be a track by track review. If you are looking for one of those go to Pain of Salvation’s Facebook page, plenty of those there, I like e.g. this one a lot, here’s a review in German, here’s a very thoughtful one.
Before I get lost in my thoughts let me be clear: I love this album. I had it on constant rotation for a week and to me it’s deep, clear, sonic, Pain of Salvation. And I can hear all the other albums in it, from Entropia to Road Salt Two.
What I have always loved about PoS albums is the dynamic of a song, Daniel’s ability to compose from soft to full blast in one song without it sounding like pieces spliced together. This goes for the voices as well – the lyrical content gets linked to the music and that includes the voice. Pattison calls this prosody and I am amazed how well Daniel has always (ok, most times) achieved this in the past.
I am a music first, lyrics later, kind of listener but that doesn’t mean I don’t listen to the melody. It just means the focus of my attention is on what do the drums do, oh, there’s an interesting rhythm, is it memorable, how do the guitars tie into that, oh, I love that vocal line. I’ve been humming along after the second go-through. In fact, I feel compelled to listen to the album again, because I am looking forward to that line. And all of a sudden this 71 minute album isn’t long at all, because it works from beginning to end. It’s a actually a very comprehensive record as an entity with the songs working individually as well.
You might not feel the same way, obviously, that’s the beauty of music, and neither of us is right. 😉 I am just writing this down because I sense that Daniel is unfortunately very susceptible to critical comments. He has put his heart into this album and the six years are well worth it in my opinion – take another six years to write the next if it comes out this way (just without the hospital/almost dying part) – and the first thing people are writing as a response is “oooh, that is very egotistical cover art”. So that’s why I am writing how I feel about this album. We need more people saying nice things anyway.
In closing some random pointers:
The synth intro of “Meaningless”. So beautiful. Works over everything thrown at it. Simple drums, guitar melodies, full blast band. These melodies are 1-in-a-million. Another one is Steve Vai’s “Aching Hunger” from Fire Garden. Heart opening.
And the range of the chorus melody. I bet it’s really challenging to sing, too.
The vocal sound in Silent Gold. Just golden. The harmonies in the second verse.
Full Throttle Tribe. I think one of my favorite tracks. From the machine beeps that transcend into the beat, through the change of the snare hit from -e, to & to and -a, until the “I’ll take it to far and drive it to hard” line that is a perfect example of matching lyrics to the music. Beautiful breakdown, making room for the burning shower tap, sound banks from Road Two rubbing salt in.
Angels of Broken Things: I am a sucker for polyrhythms that work in sync, incorporating not only one instrument (drums) but in this case syncopic vocal melody and guitars and all. Soothing.
If this is the end. I am guessing this is a baritone guitar. The ring is different. And then comes the accordion. Did I mention I love PoS orchestration? Having more than two people who can sing a melody helps.
Thank you for a brilliant album.