Road Salt One review
I actually have an excuse for not updating in so long this time: my job. I’ve been working my ass off (and getting my tan on, love working outside, except the awkward v-neck farmer tan it entails [soon to come]) and been making money. That being said, don’t think I forgot about things here; I’ve got a decent feature that I’ll be writing (and hopefully finishing) in the next few days that you’ll probably love. In the meantime, enjoy this review of an album that’s somewhat obscure, but one that I was looking forward to this year.
Also, apparently you can like articles on WordPress now. Cool.
Pain of Salvation has been somewhat of an enigma in their past few albums. Despite having a distinct style that gained a good fanbase, the two previous efforts, BE and Scarsick had somewhat separated the fans, one of which being myself. Some complained about a lack of the progressive elements in their previous efforts, as well as the pretentious and immature lyrics (respectively) of the two albums. I mentioned in a past post that their Linoleum EP was a good sign, and a possible change from, at least, the lyrical change that they underwent in the span of those two albums. Only one of the EP songs is on the first part of the two part Road Salt though, and it makes for a confusing album.
First of all, the positives. The most obvious improvement that stands out to me is the obvious jump in the quality of instrumentation. Many classic Pain of Salvation may feel that the tracks do sound listener-friendly, but the jump to a more gritty classic rock style does them well. “No Way” and “She Likes to Hide” are two good strong kicks in the chops that demonstrate this style well, and it comes back to play in more of the later songs. The emotion that I felt was missing in Scarsick (and somewhat in BE) is back in full force, and “Sisters” may just be one of the best tracks they’ve every done. Similar in style to “Undertow”, the lyrics tell the story of a man who desperately tries to hold back the urges to give up a love he once knew for a near-identical sister (that explanation doesn’t do it justice, seriously, if you haven’t heard the song, do it now). “Linoleum” follows suit, although more similar to “Reconcilation”, with similar emotions, as Daniel cries to the heavens in a way he does best.
As for the negative, the immaturity isn’t lost on the album. “Sleeping Under the Stars” hammers that point in lyrically, with painful lines such as “Wait darling, wait / You’re the shit as they say in… / they say that…wherever they say that…”. “Curiosity” follows suit, although not as strong. But the biggest song? Quite a few of the songs are just not memorable. Songs like “Of Dust” and “Road Salt” just don’t affect me, the concept that is hammered home in some of the more emotional songs seems to just fall down and lose some steam, and as hard as some of the past Pain of Salvation concept albums have been to follow, this one does so by irrelevance on occasion.
All that being said, this album is a vast improvement. Even the bad is shrouded in good; “Sleeping Under the Stars” is the greatest example. Despite the immature lyrics, the instruments play a different role, creating an ambiance of distress and just a general uncomfortable feeling that goes well with the concept of the song. Sure, it’s not good when a song speaks to you without lyrics better than with them, but the song is a perfect point for the album. It just seems to want to be both a great and mediocre album. Maybe it hasn’t fully grown on me yet, or maybe the strong points just can’t be strong enough to hammer in a whole album as a must listen. Maybe it just hasn’t been fully released, and Road Salt Two will complete it.
If you are a Pain of Salvation fan, you should give it a listen. Even with a different instrumental style, it still manages to do the band justice, and is more lively than one would expect. If you aren’t, and want to hear why Pain of Salvation was loved, I still recommend either The Perfect Element or Remedy Lane, but suggest you at least give “No Way”, “Sisters” and “Linoleum” a listen.