Pain of Salvation – Panther (InsideOut Music)Sunday, 4th October 2020
Spearheading a shift in the progressive metal/rock landscape since their inception in the 1990’s, Pain of Salvation became a focal point through their diverse discography and proficiency in pushing parameters. Albums like One Hour by the Concrete Lake, Remedy Lane, on through to 2017’s In the Passing Light of Day monumental in delivering dynamic songwriting and brilliant performances, concept records where the focus inherently sprouts forth track to track, serving the needs of what’s at hand and allowing the intricacies to shine organically. We arrive at Panther at another juncture in the career of a band continually reshaping and remodeling their outlook based on new influences, new experiences, and natural maturity that occurs as time moves forward.
The nine songs of Panther take on a bit of a quieter, ambient-oriented sheen – often incorporating keyboards and drum loops/grooves as the primary driver for specific hooks. Daniel Gildenlöw’s softer, varied melodies match the proceedings – plaintive and longing for acceptance during “Restless Boy” or opener “Accelerator”. Genre-bending has always been a hallmark of the band, a willingness to explore for the benefit of propulsive connection and excitement for the listeners – and there are plenty of those moments here, from the acoustic/circular guitar picking during “Wait” on through to the quieter to heavier bluesy-driven momentum for the epic 13:30 closer “Icon” which features stunning, emotive lead breaks on par with David Gilmour of the almighty Pink Floyd. Much like Anathema has done over their past few records, Pain of Salvation wish to move their progressive rock/metal into the next level of emotional connection – repetitive refrains and themes that branch off into alternative and modern nuances, embedding parts of a song like “Keen to a Fault” deeper into the psyche even if they are easier to retain from initial exposure.
Will Panther measure up to legendary status for the group? Who knows at this point… as there are probably pundits wondering if this is taking records like Be or Scarsick to the next level. Most PoS followers appreciate the risk-taking measures and knowledge that the band aren’t content to churn out the same old material record after record, so this scribe applauds the desire to be brave and bold when others fear rejection (or losing their audience).