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Pain of Salvation sit, without a doubt, at the genuine, rather than generic, end of the prog spectrum. Such is their musical progression both between albums and within albums, they're unmitigated sonic iconoclasts who just do their thing, regardless, and far transcend genre tags imposed on them such as prog-metal or prog-rock. This bunch of Swedes are a different beast entirely and their stylistic divergences make it impossible to apply any succinct description that encapsulates their sound with any degree of accuracy. Of course, I refer to "this bunch of Swedes" although the band, still fronted by guitarist, vocalist, songwriter (and generally all-round talented bastard) Daniel Gildenl÷w, suffered several key lineup changes just three years ago. However, the core integrity of PoS is refreshingly intact, as is their ever-innovatory propensity, as evidenced on this latest release, 'Falling Home'.

Predominantly containing a series of re-imagined, stripped-down, acousto-centric versions of tracks from their back catalogue, it's not your usual minimalist "unplugged" effort. Songs have indeed been stripped of their layers, noticeably their heaviness in places, although those absent layers have been replaced with new layers of innovative compositional reimagining. Just take the battily reinvented opener, 'Stress', which now has barbershop-inspired vocals where heavy guitars once were, not to mention its brief U-turn into 50s style rock 'n' roll. Other songs such as 'To the Shoreline' and 'Chain Sling' have not been as wildly re-imagined although what is brought to the table in each and every track is a new emotional depth and affective sublimity, through a combination of the affective essence of Gildenl÷w's expressively wide ranging voice and the new re-worked music itself.

A couple of covers also rear their head throughout the playing time - namely, Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' and Dio's 'Holy Diver'. The former is probably the finest, most sublime, version I've had the pleasure of encountering of Reed's seminal track, while the lounge music cover (with reggae and jazz passages) of the latter is simply inspired (although perhaps not quite as genius as The Chaser's lounge music arrangement of Cannibal Corpse's 'Rancid Amputation'). There's also a brand new track to close matters, which provides the album with its name, an emotionally-charged, beautiful balladic piece that actually presents Pain of Salvation at their most stripped-down.

As an introduction to the band, this album provides you with enough of Pain of Salvation's innovative streak for you to see what kind of musicians you're dealing with here. That said, you'd probably be wise to start with the original recordings of each song and then tackle 'Falling Home' in its entirety. However, for established fans of Gildenl÷w and his latest clan of players, this is a wondrous gem of Pain of Salvation metamorphosis.
Inside Out
Review by Mark Holmes
10th Nov 2014
1) Stress
2) Linoleum
3) To the Shoreline
4) Holy Diver
5) 1979
6) Chain Sling
7) Perfect Day
8) Mrs Modern Mother Mary
9) Flame to the Moth
10) Spitfall
11) Falling Home
"...a wondrous gem of Pain of Salvation metamorphosis."