Mike McLatchey 03-November-2001 The Perfect Element

Pain of Salvation are one of the few bands that comes along every now and then and redefines their genre. I mean, I don't even care much for this particular avenue of melodic prog-metal, the kind of style that includes the more commercial end of the spectrum such as Fates Warning and Dream Theater. But there is something wonderfully insolent about how such a young band can combine such a wide variety of music under one umbrella. I mean I can't even call this prog-metal with a straight face.

You tend to expect the barrage of distorted guitars and pounding double bass drums, but this is such a small element of the band's repertoire for the moniker "prog-metal" to almost be meaningless. Yes, they are accessible, and the accessibility has its moments that are not likely to appeal to those who don't like any of the music in the general area. This is particularly true in the ballad moments such as "Morning on Earth." But somehow the band walks the precarious edge and gets away with it, at least, I suppose, unless you are predisposed against the genre.

Pain of Salvation do give up their fair share of battering riff heavy music, however. "Idioglossia" opens with a blazing riff that introduces a song that combines almost rap-like vocals with harmonic back-up vocals and much more convoluted breaks. And, again, they get away with it. What about a little trip down modal lane? Sure, they do that too in "Her Voices." And they get away with it. A guitar/synth patch duo on "Failing"? Yep that one too.

In summary, it is the band's brash cheekiness that bugs me, like they are saying, yep we can do this kind of music and actually excel at it. Yeah you may not like prog metal, but before you give up on it, check out a band that makes the style look irrelevant.

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