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Pain of Salvation - Panther Award winner

Pain of Salvation
Panther
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 July 2020, 12:33 PM

Firmly at the forefront of the Progressive Rock and Metal scenes for nearly three decades now and one of modern rock’s most acclaimed live acts, Sweden’s PAIN OF SALVATION return with a new studio album titled “Panther,” due out August 28th, 2020 worldwide via InsideOutMusic. The album contains nine tracks.

“Accelerator” leads off the album. Heavy electronica and hard hitting guitar accents along with some dark atmospheric tones open up the song. The vocals are soft yet poignant, and often harmonized. I suppose it’s a good thing that every member in the band can sing back-up vocals. They really turn it up in the chorus. “Unfuture” opens with clean guitars that quickly turn heavy with electronica. The pacing is slow, allowing all of their sound to slowly soak into the crevices of your body. Some dissonant tones mix in here as well. That dark and heavy pace in the beginning is augmented by some eerie keys.

“Restless Boy” is a shorter, three-and-a-half-minute song that features some light and airy tones in the beginning. Electronica still dominates much of the album’s sound. At first, the vocals sound like they come from inside a metal can, but then they open up, with subtle harmonies. Then, an odd passage of quicker vocal and guitar strikes highlight some of the Progressive elements of the band. “Wait” is a seven-minute track, opening with alluring but solemn piano notes, and the dreamy vocals of Daniel Gildenlöw. The acoustic guitar parts are wonderful, and you can feel the song building with emotion. What a pretty song, with tones of darkness and desolation.

“Keen to a Fault” opens with a faster pace, and equal amounts of guitar, bass, drums and electronica. From there is turns a bit darker and angrier, with the vocals rising up a bit. “Fur” is a short one-and-a-half-minute instrumental, featuring soft piano and guitar notes. The title track, “Panther” features a faster pace with some rapping vocals in the verses, and just some eerie electronica in the background. What I am hearing so far is a diverse offering of music. Heavy guitars come in just after the half-way mark, but don’t last long. The sound then drops to piano and vocals for a spell. “Species” is a very soft and charming song, with just some light guitar and vocals. When the guitar riff drops, it’s heavy and melodic, and then harmonized vocals dominate the sound. His vocals drip with emotion at the end.

“Icon” closes the album; an over thirteen-minute opus. Opening with tender piano notes, which lead to bass guitar notes and some background ambiance. From there, darker guitar notes provide the fuel forward, with eerie electronica. It slows to a short melodic passage with tender vocals and clean guitars. The guitar solo is just so damn soulful…you can feel it in your bones. Darker tones return, taking the song to completion.

Being a life-long fan of Progressive Metal, I’m embarrassed to say that I am not very familiar with PAIN OF SALVATION. But, it does help me to give an honest, objective review. I have to say, the variation here is amazing. They employ the medium of electronica mostly, but with so many more elements. You can tell this is a seasoned band from the tight execution of the instruments, yet they are still creating fresh and unique music after nearly thirty years together. There are pure moments of raw beauty, and moments of darkness and anguish. This album really has it all.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Accelerator
2. Unfuture
3. Restless Boy
4. Wait
5. Keen to a Fault
6. Fur
7. Panther
8. Species
9. Icon
Lineup:
Daniel Gildenlöw – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
Johan Hallgren – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Léo Margarit – Drums, Vocals
Daniel Karlsson – Keyboards, Vocals
Gustaf Hielm – Bass, Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music
     


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