“How does it feel to be you?”, she once asked me. I said, “I feel like a panther trapped in a dog’s world.”
Yeah, I don’t know what the fuck that means either. However, this lyric has been stuck in my fucking head the past three days and it’s starting to slowly drive me mad. Therein lies the mad genius of Daniel Gildenlow.
Look, every Pain of Salvation album is a fucking crapshoot. There’s no telling what direction Daniel is going to lead us and whether or not the endeavor is going to work or not. On this latest platter, I think I’m still in my “Hmmmmmm…….” phase. I’m still kind of letting this one swim around in my brain and I really haven’t come up with a concrete way of expressing exactly how I feel about it.
First thing I think you’ll notice is the surprising lack of guitar on this album. This doesn’t really feel anywhere close to a metal album. The music on here is propelled by synths and loops and other such programming. However, it doesn’t really feel like an industrial album. I’m really having a hard time pegging it exactly and ultimately, I guess that puts this thing squarely in the prog universe for lack of a better phrase. Overall, you’ve got a total of nine songs with one being a short banjo dominated instrumental track and one sparse piano driven piece. The other tracks are all kind of disjointed electronic heavy songs that are all kind of capped off by the hip/hop heavy title track. The title track is a little jarring at first listen because it is such a departure for Pain of Salvation and it’s kind of weird hearing Daniel rap (although, to be fair, he did kind of hit some of those influences on Scarsick…albeit in a more metal manner). The song Panther is kind of in the same vein as Disco Queen was in that it’s a song that shouldn’t work for a metal band, but it kind does. As stated at the beginning of this piece, I haven’t been able to get the damn chorus of that song out of my damn head since the first listen.
Overall, I don’t think this is going to ultimately end up ranked with the stronger Pain of Salvation releases, but there is still enough quality on here to enjoy. As always, Pain of Salvation albums take time and I really feel like this one needs to marinate in my brain some more. I give Daniel credit for never sitting still or falling back on previous sonic territory tread. He’s always pushing things forward. That gets my respect even when it’s not a mammoth home run.
3.5 flip flops out of 5