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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pain of Salvation

Entropia

Review by Vivian Lee

In 1984, a band named "Reality" took the Swedish music scene's attention with not just the members' young age but their musical talent as well. Since then the band has had a few personnel changes and a name change. Now the prog metal quartet known as Pain of Salvation is Daniel Gildenlow (guitars, vocals), Frederik Hermansson (keys), Kristoffer Gildenlow (bass), Johan Langell (drums, percussion), and Johan Hallgren (guitar).

Entropia, their debut, reflects the bands equally diverse and, at times, not easily discerned influences like Frank Zappa, Aretha Franklin, Chick Corea, Dream Theater, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. This doesn't mean that they sound like their influences all the time, but - sometimes they do. However, here in Entropia it's not a bad thing as the album is an enjoyable listen. Molecules of Jazz, rock, prog and heavy metal revolve around the nucleus of the band to create an interesting isotope.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Foreword
I call this in my head "The Exclamation Point Song". It's musically the equivalent of an exclamation point, very loud and rock-metally.
Welcome to Entropia
Tide waves lapping against the shore combined with disembodied, wordless siren-like harmonies sung in a middle eastern style make up this piece. The voices are welcoming you to a place by the sea. Once there, visitors are so enchanted they don't want to leave like Odysseus and the isle of Circe. The electronic percussion works in synch with the recurring sound of waves lapping against the shore. If you don't mind the trance dance feel of the song, it's a relaxing interlude that leads into track number three, "Winning a War".
Winning A War
"Winning a War" breaks the lull created by "Welcome to Entropia". Overall, this track is like a musical patchwork quilt with swatches of Dream Theater, King's X, and Living Color.
People Passing By
A funky bass riff grabs attention early on and holds it for the rest of the song. I like the drumming and guitar work, which are featured prominently in this song, but the basswork is what makes me hit the repeat button.
Oblivion Ocean
The sorrowful tone of Gildenlow's voice over guitar and bass and interplaying separate melodies is what this song is all about.
Stress
This one is made up of a martial sounding drumbeat whispers growing louder faster, then after a short pause a guitar/bass riff.
Revival
This almost seems like a song about a Christ-like figure who tells the world to stop the hate and find a new way to live. "Saviors come forth in times of need, Prophets seek me for -for you I will bleed.."
Void of Her
A song about love, loss and grief, this one features a lot of crunchy guitar and pummeling drums, yet there are Yes like vocal parts mixed in, and there's even a jazz instrumental break at the 3:17 mark.
To The End
Waily mournful guitar laid over a quiet bass and shushy, faint cymbal is part of the slow intro. The body of the song's tempo quickens and slows in parts. In closing, a church organ and rolling cymbals lead into "Circles".
Circles
This is a rumbling low bass guitar interlude that leads into "Nightmist".
Nightmist
Fear of dying, especially dying alone, fuels this loud, crunchy, crashy number. Instead of going quietly, the protagonist (voiced by Gildenlow) seems to be saying to the Divine that he loves living so much he won't go without a fight.
Plains of Dawn
Piano and the sounds of rain introduce the soft, smooth gentle vocal parts. Instrumentally there are some pop parts, but mostly it has a rock feel.
Leaving Entropia (Epilogue)
"If death is but a dream, Then don't let me fall asleep" goes the last line in the song that bids the listener goodbye. The classical acoustic guitar paired with Guildenlow's smooth, low vocals paints a picture of a traveling minstrel telling a story about a place so compelling that it haunts a visitor.
 
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