PAIN OF SALVATION — Road Salt Two

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PAIN OF SALVATION - Road Salt Two cover
3.52 | 28 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2011

Tracklist

1. Road Salt Theme (0:45)
2. Softly She Cries (4:18)
3. Conditioned (4:30)
4. Healing Now (4:34)
5. To The Shoreline (3:03)
6. Eleven (6:55)
7. 1979 (2:53)
8. The Deeper Cut (6:14)
9. Mortar Grind (5:49)
10. Through The Distance (3:00)
11. The Physics Of Gridlock (8:43)
12. End Credits (3:26)

Total Time 54:10

Line-up/Musicians

- Daniel Gildenlöw / vocals, guitar
- Johan Hallgren / guitar, vocals
- Leo Margarit / drums, vocals
- Fredrik Hermansson / keyboards, vocals

About this release

Release date: September 26, 2011
Label: InsideOut Records

"Road Salt Two" is scheduled for an October 11th, 2011 release date in North America and a September 26th, 2011 release date in Europe via InsideOut Music.

Thanks to colt for the addition and Unitron, DippoMagoo, diamondblack for the updates

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PAIN OF SALVATION ROAD SALT TWO reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

The Crow
Road Salt One was a strange album... Not pleasant for old fans of the band while having also a difficult style to find a new public, very much 70's oriented and with a rather dry production.

This second part is an exploration further in this direction, but luckily it also contains more links to the past in the form of some symphonic elements (Road Salt Theme, End Credits, To the Shoreline), a bit more of prog (The Physics of Gridlock, although I find the end of this song rather boring), an homage to the sound of their album 12:5 (Healing Now) and a better singing from Gildenlow.

Nevertheless, they continued to explore this strange 70's oriented rock (Conditioned, Eleven, Mortar Grind') which makes them sound like some kind of revival band of this decade like Ocean Color Scene or the more modern Greta Van Fleet. Not bad, but just not my cup of tea and definitely not what I expect from a band like Pain of Salvation.

However, like I said this album contains more pleasant moments than the previous one and is also a bit better in terms of songwriting.

Best Tracks: To the Shoreline (beautiful orchestral melodies for the best track of the album), 1979 (beautiful lyrics and good songwriting) and The Deeper Cut (a song which retrieves the old style of the band from the 90's and 00's)

Conclusion: Road Salt Two is better than Road Salt One in general terms and although it does not get back the old prog-metal style of the band, Gildenlow was able to replicate part of the incredible atmosphere of the first (and best) four albums of the band with a pair of really good tracks.

Sadly, despite being the best album of the band since Remedy Lane, this record also felt in no man's land being not adequate for metal fans and not really satisfying for prog-rock lovers, making Pain of Salvation to travel further into oblivion.

My rating: ***
AtomicCrimsonRush
Back to the 70s... a new direction.

Pain of Salvation have moved into a very new territory with "Road Salt Two", and this is bound to alienate old fans while perhaps gaining new ones. It is not metal that PoS strive for on this release, more like the vintage sound of the 70s classic rock and I have no problem with that but it is nonetheless a surprise when I first encountered this. I have the DVD "Ending Themes" and a swag of albums and have become used to a variation of styles from the prog ambience and intricate metal of "Remedy Lane" to the hardcore themes and heaviness of "Scarsick", however this latest release really threw me for a loop. It has a distinct sound of its won almost like nu metal or grunge in places. There is no 'Disco Queen' on this or 'Hallelujah' but it is still innovative and as fun as previous releases, though perhaps more accessible. The poppier approach will appeal but the metalheads out there are unlikely to be impressed as there is not enough on here, it all sounds like a grunged up hard rock.

The album boasts some excellent material such as powerhouse riffer 'Mortar Grind' and a thundering hook on 'Eleven'. I am also enamoured with '1979', that delightfully sounds like it came from that year, and 'The Physics of Gridlock', with some incredible melodies, and it even features symphonic orchestral sections such as 'Road Salt Theme' and 'End Credits'. It is not the first time PoS have liked their music to a movie soundtrack and again this feels like it purposefully. I am not into the concept of the album if it even exists but overall the album delivers some compelling music.

Daniel Gildenlow dominates the album vocally and often it becomes overbearing, but there is no mistaking his basslines and the guitar work, along with some exceptional drumming of Leo Margarit. The mellotron is always welcome as is all the keyboard finesse of Fredrik Hermansson. Johan Hallgren is terrific on guitars and the band are a very tight unit as usual, never failing to surprise on this album, as one is never sure what style each track will be, such is the diversity of the material.

Overall I don't think the legion of fans will be disappointed though some may take longer to appreciate the new approach than others and that is understandable. I was quite happy with the album but it did throw me as the metal sound was really pushed to the back instead of to the foreground. It will be interesting to see where PoS will go next on subsequent releases as this one was highly experimental and creative, and not at all like previous albums.
Phonebook Eater
6/10

"Road Salt 2" is a definite improvement over the first chapter.

People change, even metalheads. Will Mikael Akerfeldt do Metal ever again? Will Cynic? Ulver? Pain Of Salvation? Every Progressive Metal related act seems, fortunately, to be more coherent with the term Progressive than Metal, so from album to album these bands tend to change in terms of sound. Pain Of Salvation's case is probably the least successful of all the Prog Metal bands going towards a softer direction. Their change hasn't brought as much enthusiasm among the Metal community as expected, especially with the release of the mediocre "Road Salt 1". A year after, the band releases "Road Salt 2", which is a definite improvement over that first experiment.

Musically "Road Salt 2" isn't a massive change from the first episode: rough produced Blues Rock, with fuzzy guitars and small hints of Progressive and Metal overall. RS2 contains however much more experimentation and variation: there aren't only guitars roaring, but also violins, piano (admittedly that too was included in RS1), horns, keyboards. Daniel Gildenlow proves once more on this album that he is one of the best vocalists of Modern Progressive: his voice is powerful, at times soothing and painful, others full of anger and despair. On this new LP he truly gives terrific performances all over the place, enough times to make him the star of the album.

Maybe its getting use to this sound, but many of the songs here tend to be quite enjoyable, memorable, and also quite deep in some moments, while in RS1 that couldn't be said for many tracks: tracks like "Softly She Cries" and "Mortar Grind", among the more powerful ones, deliver quite a bit of emotion, just as much as the softer moments like "Healing Now", possibly the most beautiful piece of the album, a folky tune that once again contains tons of heart. But then there are moments like "Conditioned", with it's very typical Bluesy riff, that simply feel banal and forgettable.

Overall, RS2 is a definite improvement over RS1, however, there are still a few flaws in the songwriting and, I must say, the production isn't getting any better. However, the musicians are still just as great, especially Gildenlow. RS2 might not appreciated by even the most die hard fans of the band, but overall, it seems to be a pretty enjoyable record
J-Man
Although Pain of Salvation has never been a band to play it safe, Road Salt One's dramatic deviation from their distinct style left their fanbase a bit puzzled. The seventies' heavy rock vibe was a shocking change in direction from this established progressive metal act, and a large chunk of their dedicated following considered it inferior to any of their previous creations. Road Salt One may not be my favorite Pain of Salvation album either - far from it, actually - but it is a record that I enjoy, and I did eagerly wait for Road Salt Two to see if these Swedish masterminds could do an even better job at this decidedly-retro sound. After thoroughly enjoying both parts of the Road Salt saga, I can confidently conclude that Road Salt Two is the superior observation and an all-around excellent album from Pain of Salvation. The songwriting is more impressive this time around, there are more progressive rock and metal tendencies, and there's a strong conceptual feeling that was lacking a bit on Road Salt One. Road Salt Two isn't without its flaws, but it's still a highly impressive effort that open-minded fans of the band will hopefully enjoy. Pain of Salvation may never return to making masterpieces like The Perfect Element, Remedy Lane, and Be, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Road Salt Two is one hell of an album. Fans of 70's heavy prog with unique Gildenlöw flavoring should be sure to check this one out - just don't expect anything even remotely close to "vanilla prog metal"!

There are a few noticeable differences that I will point out shortly, but Road Salt Two is by-and-large a very similar album to Road Salt One. The music is still played in a very raw and unpolished seventies' hard rock style, and the retro keyboard palette, intelligent songwriting, and commanding vocals from Daniel Gildenlöw keep the album from ever descending into mediocrity. Road Salt Two's main unique feature is that it seems to have much more of a "prog-touch" than their previous effort, and that's a certainly a good thing in my opinion. When I say that this album is more "progressive", don't think that it ever implies vanilla progressive metal - the music here just tends to feature deeper, more complex, and more emotionally charged songwriting than it's predecessor. And, honestly, I think that's what gives Road Salt Two a slight edge. There are a few uninspired blues riffs that I could've done without, but it is obviously an integral part of the retro atmosphere that Pain of Salvation are aiming to create with the Road Salt saga.

The album opens up with the short orchestral piece entitled "Road Salt Theme", and even though no parts of this song were heard on Road Salt One, they are all heard again before Road Salt Two ends. "Softly She Cries" is a heavier track that's filled with doomy metal riffs and a haunting synthesizer melody - an excellent way to open up this chapter for sure. "Conditioned" is the leading single from Road Salt Two and (unsurprisingly), it's the weakest track here by a substantial margin. It's not a bad song by any stretch, but the repetitive blues riff lacks the depth and emotion to really grab me until the climatic ending section. "Healing Now" is a folky acoustic song, and an absolutely beautiful composition - one of the highlights for sure. "To The Shoreline" is one of the most progressive tracks here, and the jazzy drumming parred with the captivitating synthesizers and moving choruses make this a contender for the best track on the album. After a filthy hard rock riff, "Eleven" moves into more grunge-y territory that's completed by Gildenlöw's gruff vocal performance and the pulsating bassline. Don't expect this track to ever become repetitive, though, as the instrumental middle-section is one of the most interesting moments on Road Salt Two. The first truly beautiful piece of music on the album come in the form of "1979" - a rather short ballad with serene lyrics and heartwarming melodies, as well as a terrific arrangement that reminds me of something I would've heard on Be. "The Deeper Cut" opens up with a complex and progressive riff that sounds more like traditional progressive metal than anything else you're bound to hear on this album. The emotionally challenging second half of the song features one of the most impressive builds I've ever heard, and Daniel Gildenlöw's vocal performance is nothing short of stunning.

"Mortar Grind" was also featured on the Linoleum EP from 2009, and I still enjoy the song just as much as I did back then. It's not the best track on Road Salt Two, but its haunting melodies are definitely more effective within the concept of a full-length album. "Through the Distance" is the second ballad on the album, and is every bit as beautiful as "1979". The melancholic lyrics matched by the lush arrangements make this another one of my favorites. The "epic" of the album is in the form of "The Physics of Gridlock", a near-9 minute epic that sums up the album pretty well. I wish that the spoken word section in French were omitted as it really takes away from the power of the track, but the rest of the composition is top-notch for sure. "End Credits" closes up Road Salt Two almost exactly how it started, and this is another (slightly longer) orchestral piece that features a few more themes from the album. I think this is the perfect way to end the album.

As we're used to from Pain of Salvation, the musicianship is excellent across the board. Daniel Gildenlöw's expressive vocals are at the forefront of the music, but his work on the guitar and bass shouldn't go unnoticed either. Johan Hallgren's guitar playing is equally impressive, and Leo Margarit's drumming is not only technically demanding, but also emotionally impressive. Frederik Hermansson's eclectic choices of keyboard tones always suit the music perfectly, and even though he may not be the most prominent figure in the band's sound, no song would be complete without his tasteful additions. Unfortunately, the production is a bit of an issue for me here - just like on Road Salt One, the production intentionally sounds muddy and "vintage". I tend to think that it just sounds really low-quality most of the time, and I really miss the polished production of Pain of Salvation's earlier works - Road Salt Two would've benefited greatly from a more impressive sound quality.

Pain of Salvation may have lost a little bit of their "bite" and inspiration over the last few years, but I refuse to think that they've become any less of a creative force in the progressive rock community. Road Salt Two is not a flawless masterpiece like The Perfect Element, Part 1, yet the creativity of Daniel Gildenlöw and company shines as brightly as ever. A band that can constantly shift styles and manage to pull it all off with precision and success is worthy of my praise, and Pain of Salvation have demonstrated here that this retro progressive rock sound can work very well for them. Whether or not the famed Swedes decide to stick with this sound or move on will only be told in the coming years, but this album has restored my faith in Pain of Salvation as one of music's most genuinely impressive forces. I'd say a big 4 stars are very well-deserved here. Road Salt Two is not the place to begin your Pain of Salvation journey, but any established fan should be sure to check it out.

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