Sweden’s Pain Of Salvation are back, back proper, after last year’s Linoleum EP the returning effort from 2007’s Scarsick record. Road Salt One, as its title would suggest, is the first part of a double album conceptual pairing. Pain Of Salvation have always been a band fearless to experiment and have genuinely shattered any pre-conceived notions of a comfort zone. They are one of the few entities in the rock and metal sphere that have actually taken drastic steps to change their sound, and as a result completely de-familiarise fans’ understanding. For some it’s a daring move, for others it’s foolhardy and too far. Tracks like the beat swamped ‘Disco Queen’ and the rap and hip hop obliterating ‘Spitfall’ both edify this musical ethos.
Road Salt One surprises in one sense, but it’s an expected surprise if you will. Its direction is that of an unavoidable and fluid 70s blues and prog vibe running confidently throughout, with a few hints of deviancy here and there. Opener, ‘No Way’ comes thudding through the speakers with an inimitable swagger, coolness and slight egoism.
But then ‘Sisters’’ lonesome edge and dramatic passages make it Road Salt’s highlight. It’s exemplary of Daniel Gildenlöw’s staggering vocal abilities – an enthralling deviation. However, in its most abrasive moments Road Salt exalts many gritty riffs and rhymes. ‘Linoleum’ trades a massive riff with Gildenlöw’s raspy and resolute vocals. Meanwhile, the punchy ‘Curiosity’ pushes unabashed hooks in your face.
Then, ‘Darkness Of Mine’ exudes some near Jeff Buckley-like vocals. For the most part, Road Salt is packed with quirky, sexual lyrics – “semen stains wash out surprisingly easily” (‘Sleeping Under The Stars’).
‘Road Salt’, the title track, a song which POS actually entered for the Swedish Eurovision song, creates an ambient edge before closing track, ‘Innocence’. To close it’s broody and party glum as it scales up gently to a wavering conclusion.
Like most Pain Of Salvation records, Road Salt One is overrun with ideas. As this is part one of the concept whether or not those ideas have fully unravelled themselves remains to be seen. Part one though offers up some remarkable moments and staggers in only a few.