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Review: Pain of Salvation - One Hour by the Concrete Lake
Pain of Salvation
One Hour by the Concrete Lake

Label: Inside Out Music
Year released: 1998
Duration: 59:59
Tracks: 11
Genre: Progressive Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: July 18, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers Rating
One Hour by the Concrete Lake

Rated 4.33/5 (86.67%) (21 Votes)

Moving slowly on, Pain of Salvation's second full length "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" - named after the nuclear waste dumping ground Karschay, whose radiation polluted waters are so contaminated it would be lethal to spend an hour by its shores – took the Swedish prog metallers into a fresh, dark direction, producing the band's most complex and multifaceted album to date. Whilst at times overly desultory, "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" is thorny collection of songs heavily driven by the subject matter at its core: integral environmental issues and political injustices. It is obvious how strongly band leader Daniel Gildenlöw feels about these unjust problems, and through his emoted vocals and epic soundscapes, you can almost feel the abhorrence and loathing through his revolted intensity.

Heavily influence by speeches given by James Garret and Lorraine Rekman at the World Uranium Hearing, the lyrics paint a very bleak picture indeed; creeping their frightening message through every pain-soaked track. Musically, "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" is incredibly progressive, yet retains a certain sense of melody, with some great hooks and memorable guitar lines; but apart from "Be", this remains their least accessible album thus far. Possibly due to the concept, this is almost as suffocating as the issues raised. The guitars have been turned down in the mix to make room for Fredrik Hermansson's apprehensive keys and warm pianos and the barbershop quartet vocal harmonies are given a miss in favour of Gildenlöw's trademark quick fire rap-like delivery. Elements of their debut are evident in a lot of the material ("Water" and "Black Hills" namely) but in general Pain of Salvation have kicked the controls into gear and sped up the machine, creating a whole new sound, as they have done for each subsequent release. Highlights include the incoherent blast of "Handful of Nothing", the creepy, humongous choir-based romp "The Big Machine" and of course, the splendid, all-encompassing opener "Inside", which if there were ever a song to summarise their talents and style, it would be this one.

Again, if you don't go for all of this serious thinking man's metal bullshit, then no doubt you'll hate this for its pretensions alone, but while it may not be a great starting point, "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" is one hell of an album that Dream Theater couldn't concoct if they spent 10 years trying. A thoughtful, intelligent outlook on our current events through progressive means.

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