A Large Palette of Tonal Bliss
There’s a distinct challenge to writing good progressive music. When a progressive band sits down to write a song, there are a lot of tools at their disposal. There is a wide range of different instruments, a large collection of complex chords and progressions, odd-time signatures, complex rhythmic patterns, etc. Having a lot of tools is one thing, but knowing how to use them is even more important. Most bands take different approaches. A band like Meshuggah might shoot for a more focused, narrow approach that offers musical complexity with an established formula that’s known to produce good results. A band like Haken might try to broaden their spectrum, always looking for new pieces to add to their musical puzzle.
The problem with the latter approach is that some bands don’t have the chops to make it work. They have all the pieces, but don’t know how to put them together in a way that creates moving, compelling music. It’s a major challenge that requires years of songwriting training and experience to fully master. Thankfully, Swedish prog-masters Pain of Salvation know exactly what they’re doing.
Pain of Salvation are an ever-evolving band, and their new album is no exception. In the Passing Light of Day is a collection of expertly composed progressive rock and metal songs that show off a colorful array of musical elements that come together in near-perfect harmony. Each song feels distinct from the last, with different musical themes, rhythms and melodic contours that still have an overarching, unifying style.
The album brings to mind much of the recent music of Haken, which has a similar degree of eclecticism. Their music is composed with a wide tonal spectrum and a large array of genre influences to back it up. Switching genres is a tactic used in many progressive acts, but is tough to get down smoothly. Oftentimes the switch in moods can be spastic and a little jarring for the listener, but Pain of Salvation move between different genres smoothly and seamlessly. “On A Tuesday” is a lengthy musical epic that has a rollercoaster of different musical flavors and dynamics. The closing tracks “If This is the End” and “The Passing Light of Day” use a variety of moods and colors to create an intricate portrait of tonal bliss. The band’s large musical palette makes the album a deeply intimate and moving experience.
At their core, it’s probably fair to say Pain of Salvation are a lot more rock than they are metal, but nonetheless their metal influences really shine across the record. The music has a lot of dynamic contour, and when it gets heavy, it hits hard. “On a Tuesday,” “Full Throttle Tribe” and “Reasons” are no doubt metal-driven songs that center around Meshuggah-inspired rhythmic motifs. Metal fans will find a lot that resonates with them on this record.
In the Passing Light of Day makes for an exciting new entry into the band’s catalogue, and should be a quick favorite for fans. It is no doubt beautiful and captivating new music that should be on every prog nerd’s playlist.