Pain of Salvation - _Scarsick_
(Inside Out, 2007)
by: Yiannis Stefanis (10 out of 10)
Have you ever considered which are the main attributes that an album should possess in order to deserve the title of a masterpiece? We all perceive music in various ways, so it is quite understandable why different people tend to focus on different musical elements of any given composition. You have to agree with me, though, that originality in style, sheer musicianship, constant evolution, and invocation of strong emotions are important aspects of any great release -- and all of these aspects can be found in large quantities in Pain of Salvation's latest studio effort _Scarsick_.

I have been enjoying Daniel Gildenlow's (guitar / vocals) musical offerings for quite a long time now, and the confidence acquired by having escaped the experimental labyrinth of _The Perfect Element Pt. I_, and survived the emotional turbulences of the inspirational _Remedy Lane_ and _Be_, made me believe that there was not much room left for surprises from this great band. Well, I am really happy to admit that _Scarsick_ took me completely by surprise, proving that these brilliant musicians have many more aces hidden up their sleeves.

I managed to connect to this album from the very first spin, and that is really amazing, considering the complexity and the variety of different musical styles that can be found in these ten new compositions. Music journalists tend to use the term "variety" more often than sometimes needed, but this is one album for which the term is completely justifiable. I mean, how else can you really explain how the disco grooves (yes, you read right) of "Disco Queen", one of the weirdest but at the same time most impressive compositions ever recorded by this band, can relate so much to the Floyd-esque atmosphere of the ten minute opus "Enter Rain", ending up sounding equally important, as pieces of the same musical puzzle?

One would expect that Daniel's recent parenthood would reduce the intensity levels of both the performance and lyrical context of these compositions, but this is hardly the case. There is so much pure energy deriving throughout the album that your senses are constantly under attack. Check out the super heavy riffs of both "Scarsick", the Pantera-like screams in "Flame to the Moth" and the venomous lyrics in the sarcastic and not so politically correct "America", and you will understand exactly what I mean. Closer to the typical (if such a word can ever describe a Pain of Salvation composition) style of the band, "Spitfall" will blow your mind away with its beautiful combination of progressive guitar passages and straightforward melodic refrain, and the humanitarian nature of "Cribcaged" will definitely bring shivers to your body and make you feel proud, for once, to be part of a race that can express itself in such beautiful and intimate ways.

It is quite clear to me that _Scarsick_ is not going to be an album that dominates the interest of my CD player for a few weeks and then falls to oblivion, as most releases do nowadays. Good quality music always leaves its scar on one's soul, and I believe that my connection to this release has already reached such dangerous levels. Am I afraid? No -- I am just lying here defenceless, enjoying every single moment of this unique encounter. I suggest that you do the same.


(article published 26/12/2006)

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