February 2021 Feature Release – The Infinite Edition
So just like that we find that a new month is upon us which of course means that we’ll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we’re asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We’re really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don’t be shy.
This month’s feature release for The Infinite is 2002's classic fourth album from Swedish progressive metal outfit Pain Of Salvation entitled "Remedy Lane". It's a concept album focusing on a character's search for self-discovery & addresses a wide variety of themes including love, loss, lust, sex & self-understanding. I've enjoyed it for more than a decade now & think all of our fans of clean & complex progressive metal/rock will get a kick out of it too.
I did my review, here's its summary:
Remedy Lane is a breath-taking continuation of this band's chain of concept albums (all of their albums except the acoustic Falling Home). Pain of Salvation, along with Ayreon, are the masters of concept albums! A lot of Pain of Salvation fans were sad that they didn't get The Perfect Element Part 2 (not until Scarsick, 5 years later), but not as sad as Daniel Gildenlow in the events that inspired this album. The music and concept is original and refreshing with amazing atmosphere. Throughout the album you'll find a great amount of progressive metal/rock hits and epics with the most personal lyrical themes to ever be found. There are a few songs with more lighthearted lyrics such as the Winnie the Pooh references throughout "Rope Ends". I think my Winnie the Pooh-loving girl friend (NOT girlfriend as in a romantic relationship, just a FRIEND friend who is a girl, get it??) would enjoy that song. Every song in this awesome album has its own way while flowing perfectly. This may not be The Perfect Element Part 2 (not until Scarsick), but it's something any prog fan must own. Enjoy your trip down Remedy Lane!
I first became acquainted with "Remedy Lane" back in 2009 & found it to be a pretty enjoyable listen although it would seem that my affection for it has grown over time which has resulted in my bumping up my score a half star this week. I'd suggest that "Remedy Lane" is comprised of a mixture of progressive rock & progressive metal with the pointer sitting a little further over towards the rock side than the metal one. Some of that is due to the production which isn't as heavy as you'd expect from most metal albums. The heavier material has clearly been heavily influenced by Dream Theater, particularly a concept album like "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory". I've never been terribly interested in the idea of concept albums as they tend to include a lot of filler that's intended primarily for enhancing the story. There's definitely some filler here (see "Dryad Of The Woods" & particularly "Second Love") but the majority is comprised of high quality progressive music delivered with impressive professionalism so, even though I couldn't give a bugger about the storyline, I find that I'm comfortably able to enjoy the album purely on the strength of the music. There's a noticeable Mike Patton influence in the vocals at times which I find pretty interesting while the guitar solos are beautifully composed with a lovely balance of melody & technical proficiency. I don't think "Remedy Lane" is a classic release but it's certainly a damn enjoyable one & I'll be surprised if fans of bands like Riverside, Leprous & Dream Theater don't really dig it.
It's albums like this that make me realise how completely out of touch I am with the average modern metal fan's taste. For me this was fucking torture. It just sounds like a (slightly) heavier version of awful 70s and 80s rock bands like Kansas, Asia and Journey. I got no feeling or emotion from it at all (except maybe a slight gag reflex) - I just picture the band sitting round going "Dude, you are the coolest", "No dude.. you are!' while they circle jerk over their latest 'masterpiece'. I don't actually hear that much metal here anyway and what there is has had it's spine ripped out and left it a limp and flaccid remnant. In all honesty I don't just dislike it - I resent it's very existence and it's intrusion into my life, fucking up a perfectly good Friday afternoon. PoS indeed!
Pain of Salvation's blend of mainstream accessible alternative metal sounds with progressive, irregular time signatures and song structures is a formula that typically works well in luring me in. The influences that can be heard in the music of Tool and Leprous is unmistakable and Pain of Salvation know how to craft a good hook, build upon it and have it still mean something at the end of the track, even if that track is extended. Some of Djent's humble beginnings can be found on display here, but overall, this was a sound that I feel like would have served better if I heard it during its time. And having gone back to this, as well as The Perfect Element 1, after hearing Road Salt One and In the Passing Light of Day, shows me that this band hasn't developed all that much in the years since. Not a bad record at all, and strongly recommended for fans of alternative progressive metal.
I'm intrigued by your reference to alternative metal saxy as I've always thought of "Remedy Lane" as a fairly traditional example of progressive rock/metal. What have I overlooked?
To be completely honest, my impression of Alternative Metal in 2021 is the sound that exemplified the crossover appeal of nu-metal and similar sounding groups from the late 90s and early 2000s. Now Pain of Salvation are not directly linked to nu-metal in any way, but they do have a very accessible sound to them, one that would not sound out of place alongside Tool and the Deftones during said timeframe. I mean the compositions are far complex and more comparable to Dream Theater, but sonically, I just cannot separate those groups. Also, as Sonny said, it also has plenty of crossover appeal with its comparisons to cheesy hard rock bands like Journey and Kansas.
We'll have to agree to disagree then as I don't hear much resemblance to the heavier, chunkier & hard-hitting grunge-based sound of Tool & Deftones to be honest. For me, alternative metal is more of a late 80's/ early 90's thing than is a late 90's/early 2000's one & doesn't have as much to do with crossover appeal as much as it does with a crossover with the sounds being heard on early 90's alternative radio stations who were taking an alternative route to the cleaner, glossier & more indulgent approach of 80's rock & metal. Pain Of Salvation just seem to take a traditional progressive rock/metal path that's much more in line with the 80's to my ears.