Pain Of Salvation - Be

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMACD 2094
Format: CD
Total Time: 75:53:00

In a recent e-mail, one of the managers at record label InsideOut Music America called Pain Of Salvation "insanely talented." Great observation. So what do insanely talented musicians do after 4 successful studio albums and one live unplugged album that brilliantly showcases their musicianship? They turn their collective hand to an ambitious, philosophical themed album that is totally different from anything they have done before. This record is such a dramatic departure from their standard-formula better-then-most progressive metal that the principal question that arises is: Can they pull it off?

Apparently Be is the culmination of years of study of religion, philosophy, existentialism, theology, teleology (exploration of all natural processes being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose) and ontology (a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being). Deep stuff indeed, and it is not a subject that lends itself naturally to music. So Pain Of Salvation's answer to that challenge was to introduce such a huge variety of disparate elements to the music that you'll wonder how cohesive it can possibly be.

And rightly or wrongly, it is this range of elements that defines this album more than the excellent music itself.

There are power ballads, progressive metal, symphonic instrumentals, and traditional folk pieces. There's a heavy Latin percussion passage, a deep blues track, and spoken verses that border on rap. There is a beautiful purely classical track starting with an interesting piano solo that builds into a full orchestral piece. And thankfully, there are even a few tracks that will recall the band's brilliant Remedy Lane. Classical instrumentation is never far from the surface, which contributes a texture of credibility to the music. So there's plenty of variety ranging from baroque to blues, hard rock to progressive, and gospel to country. And considering the band's background, it is interesting to note that metal is the style that appears least often.

The extensive voice-overs and soundbites are just as diverse. It starts with man with a Swedish accent and a woman with bad American diction exploring their very existence. There's a section that sounds like you're in the National Security Agency intercepting peoples' heartfelt prayers to an apparently unresponsive God (Hi God, it's me again, from Earth. I know you haven't returned any of my previous calls, and maybe you're simply not there ?). There are radio newscasts, and counts of the world's population at various times, and there's an utterly silly skit with a boyfriend making puerile and inappropriate requests of his girlfriend. And there is a thunderstorm.

Clich?ic? Absolutely, and you've heard it all many times. Those insertions all contribute to the album's central theme and give it the feel of a 1970s rock opera. But I found that multiple replays were a challenge. Perhaps those voice-overs could have been handled in the same way Rick Wakeman did Return To The Center Of The Earth, or Blind Guardian did Nightfall On Middle Earth - in which the narrative sections were separate tracks and you could program your CD player to skip them.

Be is melodramatic and pretentious, and borders on brilliant. But it also lacks cohesion and is a challenging listen. The try-before-you-buy thing that is usually recommended for unusual music won't work either because the songs are too varied for any sampler to properly prepare you.

So did they pull it off? Well - if you can stand the inserts, or block them out mentally, you'll probably love the excellent music on this album. And that is where Pain Of Salvation's insanely talented musicianship shines through. Either way - this album is worth owning.

Released in Europe by InsideOut (IOMCD 184/SPV 085 60992)

Animae Partus / Deus Nova / Imago / Pluvius Aestivus / Lilium Cruentus / Nauticus / Dea Pecuniae / Vocari Dei / Diffidentia / Nihil Morari / Latertius Valette / Omni / Iter Impius / Matius/Nauticus II / Animae Partus II

Daniel Gildenlöw - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Frederik Hermannson - Grand Piano, Harpsichord
Johan Langell - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Kristoffer Gildenlöw - Acoustic Basses, Cello
Johan Hallgren - Guitar, Vocals

Produced by: Daniel Gildenlöw

Entropia (1998)
One Hour By The Concrete Lake (1999)
The Perfect Element (2000)
Remedy Lane (2002)
12:5 (2004)
Be (2004)
The Orchestration Of Eternity - Be (original stage production)
Scarsick (2007)
Linoleum (EP) (2009)
Ending Themes (On The Two Deaths Of Pain Of Salvation) (2009)
Road Salt One (2010)
Road Salt Two (2011)
Falling Home (2014)
The Passing Light Of Day (2016)

Be - Live DVD (DVD) (2005)
Ending Themes (On The Two Deaths Of Pain Of Salvation) (DVD) (2009)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: September 20th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1101
Language: english


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