Duo review: By Martien Koolen (rating *) and Pedro Bekkers (rating ****+)
Review by Martien Koolen:
A new Pain Of Salvation album is always a surprise as it will be quite different from the previous POS albums. I have a love/hate relation with Daniel Gildenlow and Co. because I really love The Perfect Element (2000) and Remedy Lane (2002). But I loathe the albums Be (2004) and Scarsick (2007).
The new album, Falling Home, is again utterly disappointing as it is an acoustic album (I hate unplugged stuff) filled with eight re-recorded old tracks, two covers (I hate covers) and one new song; being the title track. The two covers are completely redundant and I truly believe that Ronnie James Dio would turn over in his grave if he could hear Gildenlow's version of Holy Diver. POS's lounge jazzy version with even some reggae influences is absolutely horrific and in my opinion - read my humble opinion - covers should be forbidden, as they never have any significant added value whatsoever. Well, the eight old songs from albums like Scarsick and Road Salt Two are all acoustic stuff, so they all sound the same - read boring - and offer no alternative to the original tracks. Take e.g. Chain Sling, which can be best described as a horrible monstrosity due to the very annoying vocals of Gildenlow. In fact the entire album is a waste of time and utterly redundant as even the only new track is nothing more than a country duet! I know this may sound harsh, but it is only my opinion and there might be POS fans who actually will enjoy this album; which is of course good for them. Real die hard POS fans should buy the limited edition digipack as it includes the two bonus songs She Likes To Hide and King Of Loss.
* Martien Koolen (edited by Robert James Pashman)
Review by Pedro Bekkers:
Everybody who is into the music of Pain Of Salvation, know these guys will always surprise you when a new album is released. This time the word already was spread that the new PoS album was going to be an acoustic one. So the surprise now is the way the compositions are rearranged to an acoustic setting. Falling Home also sees the first appearance of new band members, although some of them are in the band for many years now. Besides vocalist and guitar player Daniel Gildenl÷w and drummer Leo Margarit, the band exists now of guitarist and vocalist Ragnar Zolberg, keyboard player Daniel Karlsson and bass player Gustaf Hielm.
The regular album consists of eight older compositions which were transferred to the acoustic setting, two covers and one; the title track, a new composition. The digipack version I bought has two extra songs. The music on this album does come as a surprise at points; the songs are stripped to the bare naked basics, only leaving the essential elements. Daniel's vocals surely are famous for his emotional edge, an element that is gratefully used on this album, sometimes he even goes over the edge. As a counterpart Ragnar adds his sublime vocals, creating perfect harmonies, but also on his own he totally stands out. It is great to hear how these two vocalists sound together. The compositions themselves are brought in strange but interesting versions; Stress, has an old rock 'n' roll feeling combined with elements of music from the thirties and forties of the previous century. A cool organ enhances the fun. During To The Shoreline, Daniel's vocals take you over the edge of emotions as he totally sings his heart out, but listen to Ragnar's secondary vocals; pure magic. One of the covers is a tribute to the legendary Ronnie James Dio, and his Holy Diver gets a very special treatment. Swinging and drenched in a reggae sauce, the die-hard Dio fans might have their thoughts about this version, but how can you not like this jazzy tribute of guitars and keyboards. Holy Diver has some similarities with the solo albums Alex Skolnick has made in the past. One of the songs that always lifted me up is kept quit basic, 1979 just moves you in its simplicity. The same goes for the absolutely amazing version of Chain Sling, call me sentimental, but both Daniel as Ragnar touch me in my soul during this song, I love the two voices working together and can't wait to hear them together on new compositions. A song that, just like Holy Diver regularly returned on the PoS setlist is Lou Reed's Perfect Day, a song that I always have liked. It has been kept close to the original; intense and very strong. Flame To The Moth is very percussive and has an Andalusian feeling, Daniel unleashes his rage in his vocals and combines this with inventive guitar playing. King Of Loss is just like She Likes To Hide as bonus for the digipack and gets a sort of country rock treatment; smooth slide guitars and all. The only real new composition is left to the end, Falling Home vocal wise digs in deep again, perhaps a bit over the edge for some people, but for me this sounds like a first real collaboration between Daniel Gildenl÷w and Ragnar Zolberg, two lost souls on their way to the top.
Falling Home certainly is a special album, but fans who have been waiting for new powerful compositions with down tuned guitars will have to wait a bit. For people who like to hear how PoS sounds in an acoustic setting, including the new members, will surely find an album to their likings. It's different from the previous acoustic live album 12:5 (2004) but equally impressive.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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