Pain of Salvation - Entropia
Avalon
Progressive Metal
14 songs (70:11)
Release year: 1997
Pain of Salvation
Reviewed by Thomas
Archive review

After Dream Theater claimed the throne of progressive metal with Images and Words, other prog metal bands have been dismissed as copy-cats, mere clones, or completely lacklustre in comparison to the American heroes. Even though Dream Theater have been fading into mediocrity with their later albums, new bands tend to get bitch-slapped aside by every critic and fanboy. Out of Sweden however, a band that has been around since 1984, yet didn't release anything worthwhile until 1997, comes Pain of Salvation. They took what Dream Theater had, toned it down a bit, slightly roughed up the sound, slowed the tempo down a notch, added some heaviness and added a vocalist that James LaBrie can't even reach to the knees. Sure, their first full-length, the album this review is all about, Entropia, isn't as mind-boggling or technically dazzling as Dream Theater, yet this contains a little more substance and a couple of other elements that makes it interesting and compelling in other ways. Now, as much praise as this album seems to get, I'm not about to give myself completely over, as there are distinct flaws to be found here and there that makes me prefer a bundle of other records over this once in a while. These can however be overlooked when you take the overall quality into consideration. Especially since it's their début.

The album kicks of with the promptly named ! (Foreword), and a thorough dark vibe jolts through the speakers and settles in your auditory canal. The slow tempo, absolutely crushing riffs with a slight industrial overtone, strikes me as what sets them well apart from your stereotypical progressive metal band. However, even if it's very good, the production is a little pale. The drums sound plastic and the orchestral arrangements sounds a bit compressed instead of adding that majestic feeling you're supposed to get. There's nothing to put a finger on musically speaking though, as the guitar-work, especially the soloing is consistently interesting without wandering of into wank-land too often. This is more or less the recipe for the entire album, but it's varied and nice without ever losing you're attention to other unnecessary things. Daniel Glidenlöv and Pain of Salvation's definite strength is their sense of melody and interesting song-writing which comes to show especially on People Passing By and the slightly more straight-forward yet ever so shape-shifting To the End. Also, Glidenlöv possesses one of the best voices and ranges I have heard within this particular style. He squirms, twists and turns through high-pitched falsettos, mid-range wails, and deep rumbles. Drenched in great solo's from both bass and guitars, as well as playful elements from various non-metal genres such as jazz and that lively intro on People Passing By (can't point my finger on the genre). The keyboard sounds rather odd without the sometimes annoying sawing lead sounds as the piano sounds more like something you'd find on Super Mario, which is actually strangely fitting, and not to mention a lot of fun.

With very few exceptions, there is not much, unlike a lot of prog acts, boring material here. The ballads, Oblivion Ocean and Never Learn to Fly are braced by the mentioned very strong sense of melody that sometimes borders to power metal yet still will claim your attention. In addition to this, even though dark and gloomy music with moody atmospheres tends to get extremely boring, they manage to liven it up with great licks, hook-y grooves that won't let go of your brain ever, as well as the aforementioned melodies. Again, I have to mention frontman Daniel Glidenlöv who lifts this band a significant amount of levels due to his role when it comes to song-writing as well as his excellent voice. If you're a fan progressive metal done slightly different, and not as thunderously technical as said other bands, you should give this a try now. An obvious addition to every prog head's collection. So go get your filthy hands on this.

Killing Songs :
Winning a War, People Passing By, Stress, To the End
Thomas quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Pain of Salvation that we have reviewed:
Pain of Salvation - In the Passing Light of Day reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Pain of Salvation - Road Salt Two reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Pain of Salvation - Road Salt One reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Pain of Salvation - One Hour by the Concrete Lake reviewed by Thomas and quoted 95 / 100
Pain of Salvation - Remedy Lane reviewed by Keegan and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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