Pain of Salvation
In the Passing Light of Day
13th, January, 2017 – InsideOut Music
01. On a Tuesday
02. Tongue of God
04. Silent Gold
05. Full Throttle Tribe
07. Angels of Broken Things
08. The Taming of a Beast
09. If This is the End
10. In the Passing Light of Day
Pain of Salvation are legends among progressive metal lovers. Around since the early 90s, they’ve created some of the most thematically hard-hitting and musically jaw-dropping progressive metal albums ever, using dark themes, syncopation, and a powerful command of melody to craft masterpieces such as 2000’s The Perfect Element or the near-flawless Remedy Lane in 2002.
Since, lineup changes and sonic shifts lead the band down a different lane; one that lead to mixed reviews from fans, but bandmaster and songwriter Daniel Gildenlöw promised “a return to roots” with their newest album, titled In the Passing Light of Day.
Notable to the story of the album, in 2014 Gildenlöw nearly died. Suffering from a flesh-eating bacterial disease, he spent a long time recovering, and In The Passing Light Of Day is the first material Pain of Salvation have released since.
There are definite connections. Hospital sounds show up as samples on “Full Throttle Tribe” and “In the Passing Light of Day”, while lyrical themes deal with feeling broken, searching for meaning, coming to terms with the end, and begging God to clean you, all while feeling an amalgamation of hope, loss, morbidity, and life all at the same time. It truly embodies the pain that comes from salvation.
One of Gildenlöw ‘s big strengths is his singing, and while he has handed some of the vocal duty off to guitarist Ragnar Zolberg, he still handles most of them himself, crafting beautiful vocal melodies all over the album. “Tongue of God” is aggressive, carrying a sense of trying to goad God into…something. Ragnar deserves his own credit too however; his backing vocals are superb, in particualr in the chorus of “Meaningless” where he takes the higher octave and absolutely nails it.
Drummer Leo Margarit is another highlight; there’s syncopation all over these tracks, especially on “On a Tuesday” “Full Throttle Tribe” and “Reasons”. There’s a force behind his playing that comes out on the more intense songs, though he is perfectly capable of relaxing and playing something softer. His work on “Reasons” is almost reminiscent of Leprous, especially combined with the overall atmosphere and guitar work of the song.
For most of Pain of Salvation’s career, their production hasn’t been great. Remedy Lane got a recent remix that updated it, but many of their older albums are still mired in still mired muddy and rough mixing jobs. In the Passing Light of Day, in contrast, it crystal clear; the guitars are full and robust, and each instrument is given a proper place in the mix. The keyboards are audible and there are no spots where it gets cluttered and hard to hear what is going on.
So does In the Passing Light of Day deliver on that promise? Well yes, but also no. It seems far more like a full realization of the things the band was trying to do with the Road Salt albums, with a more alt-metal and blues rock feel, but through the lens of the complexity and heaviness of Remedy Lane. Rather than looking back to the past, it looks forward. Songs like “On a Tuesday” or “Full Throttle Tribe” feel like older songs that are given new life, while songs like “Meaningless” and “Silent Gold” are examples of more recent sounds. “Tongue of God” is a notable song for being almost a fake-out. It starts with some nice light piano, but then jams a heavy and powerful riff in your ears on its way to being one of the best songs on the record.
It’s a beautiful comeback for Daniel Gildenlöw and Pain of Salvation. Emotional, heavy, engaging, and incredibly varied, there is life wrapped up in a sense of staring mortality in the face. The sense of scope, story, and complexity works so very well, and while it remains to be seen if In the Passing Light of Day holds up as one of their best albums, it is certainly looking that way.