Pain of Salvation - One Hour by the Concrete Lake
InsideOut Music
Progressive Metal
11 songs (60:00)
Release year: 1998
Pain of Salvation, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Thomas
Archive review

Genius bands tend to pick slightly pompous yet mighty themes to suite their concept albums. Preferably supernatural, majestic fits that borders on the silly, yet still manages to get acceptance no matter how far into fairyland they are. To be honest, I'm not too fond of concept albums at all, especially when the message is hard to draw out from the lyrics. On One Hour By the Concrete Lake however, which by the way is an awesome title, the topic isn't too hard to enter. The lyrics surrounds the weapon industry, where an individual, part of the ownership, begins to doubt the morality of his business. He travels the world to witness how his products affects peoples, families, societies and nations, discovering that the assurances of peace due to his company's weapons are false. This is definitely a topic of relevance, but the truly fascinating part of the album is the songs dealing with Lake Karachay, the most polluted place on earth, a small lake where the USSR dumped tons and tons of nuclear waste. According to sources, one hour by the shore of Lake Karachay, where enormous concrete blocks have been placed to limit radiation, will cause death from physical injuries within two weeks. Thereby the fascinating title, to a really fascinating album, which contains maybe the best music Pain of Salvation have ever written.

Where their stunning debut Entropia opened crushingly heavy, Spirit of the Land, a short wraith-like intro kicks off One Hour by the Concrete Lake. Inside follows up, driven by catchy piano-hooks, before it settles down in a way that reminds me a bit of Images & Words. Daniel Gildenlöv sounds perfect, and shapes the entire song with his voice, creating neat melodies, while mixing things up with his more than potent guitar-playing. The song itself is full of twists, always changing for the more exciting with each turn. The following The Big Machine strikes you down with a sudden, powerful punch of darkness. Like black smoke, the heavy atmosphere surrounds your head, as bizarre operatic chants of nuclear annihilation cracks your psyche. Gildenlöv does a great job here as well, and alternates between soaring falsettos and deep, rumbling, earth-shaking vocal chords that resembles a nuclear blast alone. New Year's Eve continues the apocalyptic waltz, more driven by melody than by atmosphere, and with fun polyrhythmic madness as a nice side-dish. Handful of Nothing speeds things up a great deal, and brings back the drive from Inside. Perfect timing for those who find the gloominess of the previous songs a bit hard to get despite their huge arrangements. Nifty guitar-details leads it into Water which almost immediately delivers great lead-work, packed with an emotion John Petrucci hasn't showed for decades. Gildenlöv's style of soloing reminds me a fair bit of early Joe Satriani to be honest, which brings back a nostalgic sense for your truly, while it at the same time shows off a great deal of skill that'll grab your attention. I won't dwell further into things here, as I should leave something to the imagination to the readers who haven't already picked this up down the road. The remaining unmentioned songs follows the same line of unexpectedness and twists and turns until the stunning Inside Out closes the album perfectly.

Let's just say that the extremely skilled Swedes released an album for the history books back in 1998. Sadly however, they get overlooked and will continue to be forever, as they've fallen in a shadow which isn't too easy to get out of. Anyway, if you're a fan of the genre, Pain of Salvation is fucking essential, and this album might be their best work to date. Go get it now, and love it.

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole
Thomas quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Pain of Salvation that we have reviewed:
Pain of Salvation - Panther reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Pain of Salvation - In the Passing Light of Day reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Pain of Salvation - Road Salt Two reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Pain of Salvation - Road Salt One reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Pain of Salvation - Entropia reviewed by Thomas and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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