Album Review: Road Salt One by Pain of Salvation

Pain of Salvation is a band I learned about several years ago while working in a performing arts library. I think it was 2005 when one of the student workers I managed learned about my passion for progressive metal and suggested I check them out.  That year, Viola gave me Remedy Lane for my birthday.  It was at this moment I became fascinated with the band and have slowly acquired almost all of their albums over the years.

Pain of Salvation (PoS) released Road Salt One earlier this year, but because of fundage issues I just bought a copy.  I would have written about this sooner, but clearly the people at InsideOut, the band’s label, don’t care about promoting their artists. After making several attempts to request a review copy for PoS (and other InsideOut artists), our inquiries were ignored.  Great publicity department, but I digress…

Road Salt One steers away from the heavier sound with thick, rhythmic textures the band is known for.  The new album takes fans back to the early days of rock when Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Genesis ruled the musical world. Before I heard the album, I read some comments that stated the album sucked or was the worst album the band had produced.  On the contrary, Road Salt One is different and THAT is what makes it brilliant.

The overall feel of the album is more bluesy than progressive.  The musical concepts are simplified and more straightforward. The guitar’s distorted sound is more a “fuzz,”reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix guitar sound.  Set against a Doors-like organ, the music has an interesting 70s atmosphere.

If you have never heard PoS, listening to Gildenlow alone makes exploring the band’s music worth it. On Road Salt One, more than any other album, he uses the full emotional and expressive range of his voice.  Channeling Jim Morrison, who always considered himself a poet before singer, Gildenlow sings dour poetic lyrics.  “Sisters”, “Of Dust”, “Linoleum” and “Where it Hurts” are the highlights of the album.

“Sisters” opens with a delicate motive played by the piano. When Gildenlow enters, he sings about a broken-hearted man who sees a sister of a former lover and remembers the lost love.  The delicacy in his voice matches the pain and emotional struggle from remembering a lost love. His voice also mixes nicely when other instruments join as the music the builds intensity.  The scarcity of complex textures makes it possible for Gildenlow to sing empathetically.

“Of Dust” is a dirge about the afterlife.  Instead of singing about the soul’s passage to the other side, the lyrics describe body turning to dust. Gildenlow sings all the vocal parts and is only supported by an organ.  The song is short and beautiful despite the morbid topic.

“Linoleum”, also the band’s first single, is the edgiest song on the album.  Driven by a bluesy guitar riff, the song is closest to resembling the “typical” PoS style. Gildenlow manages to throw in some nice vocal slides.  The song is about a woman’s struggle to maintain an emotional wall.  On the outside, she builds a façade of strength, but in reality she is broken and drowning in her tears as she lies on the linoleum floor.

“Tell Me Where It Hurts” is a ballad that explores the desire to help another who is hiding something emotional.  The person in pain won’t divulge what is causing such agony.  This, in turn, causes anguish to the person wishing to help. In the middle section, Gildenlow sings as if in agony, highlighting the pain caused from the unanswered question intended to help.  Watching someone struggling can be equally, if not more painful.

Road Salt One isn’t the happiest of albums, but the music is sublime, the singing potent, and the resulting experience moving.

  • Pain of Salvation – Road Salt One (thenewreview.net)
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