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Music Review

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Artist: Pain of Salvation
Label: InsideOutMusic
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 28 August 2020

InsideOut Music releases the album Panther, by Swedish Progressive Metal band Pain of Salvation. It is the follow-up to 2017’s In the Passing Light of Day. The band was formed by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and writer Daniel Gildenlow in 1984. The current line-up also includes Johan Hallgren on keyboards, Leo Margarit on drums and vocals, Daniel Karlsson on keyboards and vocals, and Gustaf Hielm on bass and vocals. Panther has a comprehensive artwork theme with cover and illustrations by Andre Meister. It is available on 2 CD Mediabook, 2 LP + CD, and for Digital download...

Prog isn’t my favourite genre of Rock or Metal but, as I’ve learned over the years, each band should be taken subjectively on their own merit. This one is a little different; rather than conforming to the existing trope this, the eleventh album from Pain of Salvation, incorporates a great many sounds and atmospheres into one conglomerate piece of music. Of course, some tracks are better than others. I simply couldn’t take to the title track at all, chunks of it sounding more like Rap and House. Most bizarre. Another aspect which I found tiresome was the relentless off-beat, which is ‘different’ once or twice but then quickly begins to grate.

Now let’s consider the positive aspects. The overall sound is more keyboard- and Electronica-influenced, which offers it an alternative feel. Even much of the guitar sounds like keys. In addition, we have a multitude of atmospheric periphery accompaniments such as bells, stuttering and jarring, and squidges moving in and out of the soundscape. There is Spanish guitar, bottleneck, acoustic, and what sounds like a resonator. The vocals mix-it-up too, with clean, strained and whispered variations. The band is not afraid to have a standard piano as a riff, driving it into an arena of surrounding moods.

For me there are two stand-out tracks. 'Unfuture' has a smattering of Blues about the intro, before becoming a moderate piece with melody and harmony. The vocals fit the structuring really well, which at times has the feel of Goth Metal. 'Icon' is not only the final track but the longest at more than 13 minutes. It includes all of those tricks of the trade without ever becoming repetitive or tedious. The choruses on this one are probably the heaviest music of the album, which is undoubtedly what drew me towards it. This has a little of everything, and is a fine and conclusive way to sign-off.

For some reason I wasn’t expecting much from this release and, consequentially, I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t see myself returning to this many times; however, I did enjoy most of the music, and appreciated the spin variation on standard Prog by immersing the whole in Electronica.


Ty Power

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