Pain Of Salvation – Panther

Pain Of Salvation Panther cover
Pain Of Salvation
InsideOut Music
I will admit that as if I was faced with one, “Panther” left me confused and scared even… which is interesting and at least out of the ordinary. I might have somewhat disliked the cult of personality that has been generated around Daniel Gildenlöw, his manbun hairdos and weird jumping all around in a variety of covers and videos, but no one could take it away from him, that he’s a catalyst in prog – a guy that’s unafraid to try different things and not conform to genre standards, move the goalposts if you will and still manage to score, well… most of the times, that is.
“Panther” is a lot more electronic and contemporary than I would have expected, although listening to it a few times, you know it’s unmistakably “POS”. To be that identifiable, even after changing your sound significantly means you have a strong identity and damn DG, he’s sort of done it “again”.
“Accelerator” the album’s dissonant and electr(on)ic opener welcomes the listener to this not very unlikely dystopian future… while it’s different, it’s also strangely familiar and it’s chorus no matter how idiosyncratic and bizarre, works.
“Unfuture” is softer, a grungy acoustic piece that bubbles with bile and suspicion at what’s “new”. Its overdriven chorus is again unexpected, but somehow it’s almost euphoric and salacious delivery, combined with some lingering melody that comes before a reprisal – sink the “hooks” safely in.
“Restless Boy” is a pretty subdued and melancholic piece, with a ton of vocoders. To my ears it sounded like the weirdest cross between say daft punk (RAMera) and 70s (prog) rock (think bit of Bowie, bit of Floyd), until it decides to go crazy with some super percussive parts, over which Glidenlow goes berserk, only to finish it all off with a broken phrase, barely spoken. Not exactly sublime, but then again it fits the concept, perfectly.
“Wait” is it’s logical conclusion, a piano driven soft piece, (that’s not exactly slow, nor what you’d exactly call a ballad traditionally). Some beautiful acoustics allow it to break away from its intro pattern and graduate into a beautiful middle section which brings about a chorus that also sounds as it owes a lot to “Random Access Memories” era Daft Punk’s more lyrical moments (ie “Touch”). This is sublime, but if you thought it was gonna served up straight, you’re in for a serious dose of very ‘verbed, auto tuned melodies that come next over some thumb twindling… before the chorus resumes. Oddly satisfying and more to the point the last time the verse / chorus repeats, it twists around and the protagonist is turned from a docile/obedient person into a bit of a rebel… I guess that’s the dog and panther analogy, really broadly (more on this once we reach the title track).
“Keen to a Fault” is a bizarrely rhythmical piece, due to its odd time rhythm. Think the best song Disturbed never wrote, with much more gusto and a full of messianic moment of the protagonist, distancing himself from the mundane “human” things… it oddly feels relatable, in some ways. We also find out that DG’s roof must have a leak, since there’s a spot up in the ceiling. Right?
“Fur” is a nice renaissance like melodic instrumental, from what sounds like a processed mandolin?
It gives way to the really weird title track. “Panther” reminded me a little of “Scarsick” moments! Think of SOAD, Eminem, and POS shaken stirred the fuck up and seriously… WTF! That’s during the verses! It’s chorus that’s where things become really melodic and softer before the almost ritualistic outro that reverses things going from a soft repetition to a more intense, but not full on reprisal of the chorus. Well it’s shocking, but probably in “a good way”. Give the guy a cookie (with some LSD) and probably a frigging medal, for just thinking it all up. It’s seriously fucked up but also brilliant!
“Species” is the payoff piece… it’s a bizarre straightforward – considering the rest of the album’s weird experimentation. It sounds like prog grunge. If Vedder was the late Stanley and he sung over some early Sabbathy Soundgarden piece about how fucked up the world is with atmosphere and lyrical depth to rival Queensryche’s “Promised Land”… then it would be this… or not?!
Last but not least, the conclusion with the thirteen minute long “Icon” is everything you might have expected… turned on its head probably. First we get a nice melodic intro. Then some dissonant threatening sounds with interference coming from one of the speakers... as a somewhat symphonic idea unfolds… before something with the depth of Roger Water’s led Pink Floyd unfolds… an internal strife, within the protagonist’s mind, making him turn into his “spirit animal”, I suppose... going full messianic, before the song mellows down and the protagonist almost resigns to walk the path of solitude that a “Panther” (a person unable to conform to societal norms) walks. The threatening melody, which came after the intro resumes… with the song climaxing with a beautiful and odd as fuck solo… and a faded voice assuring of the sad limbo the protagonist is in, never revealing if this messiah goes on to absolve himself from the world and all its sins.
In a few words, this album can be characterized as breathtaking & unique! Not very metal. Very much needed. I started with a bit of a negative bias, after listening the two “singles”... but the concept as a whole is really intriguing, the music daring and just because this doesn’t fit inside any little “metal box”, it doesn’t mean we should not appreciate it for daring to go it alone in the wilderness.
Jump you crazy man-bun sporting, crazy motha-fucka! As high as you can… above the variety of DT clones and people following formulas.