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Review: Pain of Salvation - The Perfect Element Part I
Pain of Salvation
The Perfect Element Part I

Label: Inside Out Music
Year released: 2000
Duration: 72:44
Tracks: 12
Genre: Progressive Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: July 26, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers Rating
The Perfect Element Part I

Rated 4.57/5 (91.3%) (23 Votes)

Topping the opinion polls in almost every circle, Pain of Salvation's third effort "The Perfect Element Part 1" is their most successful record to date. Mostly, fans believed the band reached their creative pinnacle with this album, a stark, brooding contrast of light and shade, with a shocking lyrical undercurrent serving as an inspirational spine. Personally, it is my least favourite, yet it is still an engaging listen and a rewarding purchase.

The big difference between "The Perfect Element Part 1" and its predecessors "Entropia" and "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" is the direct approach and upfront style. While most of the arrangements are complex and ethnically touched, the bulk of the songs are not quite as technically perverse or overindulgent. Pain of Salvation are, by anyone's standards, an acquired taste, but what this album did was simply put their unorthodox methods into context and proclaimed their standing within the metal community with a basis of love us, or leave us. They weren't going to change, and have in fact stayed obliquely unclassifiable since. What makes "The Perfect Element Part 1" more accessible – if you will – is the subject matter, which this time deals with problematic children scarred by the effects of a traumatic childhood, as they grow into adults. Abuse, rape, emotional torture, all these issues wander under the flag of suffering this album declares, and as usual, Daniel Gildenlöw's vocals are so emotionally drawn you'd believe the lyrics were scribed in personal anguish. This album saw the music evolve slowly from "One Hour…" into a more melodic, more cultured sound, spearheaded by a thin, crispy guitar slip, and a hauntingly synthetic keyboard aftertaste. Sounds odd, and it is, but with its cutting edge arrangements and scarily serious execution, "The Perfect Element" could very well be the most important album to ever hit progressive metal; and it did: right between the eyes.

While rapid opener "Used" may be a fan favourite and the twisting rollercoaster ride "Idioglossia" presents the most practical musical excursion, it is the epic "In the Flesh" that creeps my bones with its chillingly uplifting verse pattern and ultra-melodic prog middle section, sporting the line Sometimes the hand that feeds must feed a mind with a sick need followed grotesquely with And the hands that clutch can be the same hands that touch too much.

It's easy to see why "The Perfect Element" is revered for its majesty, but the true masterstroke of genius the band had been brewing wouldn't be unveiled until a couple of years later, when Pain of Salvation unleashed a masterpiece of mammoth proportions…

Other related information on the site
Review: Entropia (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: One Hour by the Concrete Lake (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
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