PAIN OF SALVATION — Road Salt Two (review)

PAIN OF SALVATION — Road Salt Two album cover Album · 2011 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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.
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