Pain Of Salvation - One Hour By The Concrete Lake

Year of Release: 1998
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD030/SPV 085-31342CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:54:00

This is going to be more of a synopsis than a review. I'll admit, I am totally stumped on how to review or describe this band, and people before me that have worshipped the band have done such a better job than I could, so I thought I would summarize the disc a bit to give an added idea of what the band is all about.

Admittedly, I traded away the band's first effort, Entropia, because of the vocal style, and I fear that down the road the same fate may come of One Hour By The Concrete Lake, but I will address that later on.

First and foremost, I know that there are lots of people out there that like to sit back and wait for "original" or "unique" prog metal bands that don't sound like anyone else in the musical world. If you are one of those persons, and you don't own this disc, you are missing out on that very aspect of which you seek. Pain Of Salvation have the distinct honor of being one of the few bands that do NOT sound like any other band, nor will you be pulling out major influences of this band so readily. Based on the fact I don't see or hear more buzz on this disc tells me that there are plenty of people who do not own this disc, and you are doing yourself a great injustice by not grabbing this disc immediately.

Entropia and One Hour are both concept discs, both clocking in at an amazing 75 minutes each. [US version of OHBTCL is 52 , what's missing? -ed.] Both contain unique approaches, unique themes, neverending tempo changes, aggressive vocal approach, epic songs, yet both manage to be apart from each other in most aspects; quite a feat I would say, given the time frame of the release dates of both discs. To my ears, One Hour By The Concrete Lake seems to be more melodic, contains more keyboards, somewhat catchier riffs, although catchy shouldn't even be allowed to be used in the description of this band. It's just a bit more accessible I should say. Entropia contained some thrashy, jazzy, and vocal injections that just didn't appeal to me, and I was told that One Hour pretty much separated itself from those injections. Well, yes and no. Yes, the disc is more accessible, but it still contains the gazillion tempo changes that Entropia did, which is great by the way, but some of the more aggressive vocal parts that did me in the first time out is catching up to me again, although I can appreciate and enjoy the vocals much more this time out.

I won't even go into the concept of what this disc is all about. However, the back of the CD insert explains where some of the ideas and quotes came from, and it's an inspiration to see a band quoting passages from scientists, writers and the like. It's also inspirational that Daniel Gildenlöw, the outward leader of this band, has taken some influences from his studies in Nuclear Physics and Peacework at the University of Gothenburg. That alone gives you an idea of the intelligence being displayed here in the lyrical work. Do NOT attempt to absorb or understand this material in any given time period. This is why we deem prog metal the "thinking man's metal," and this disc certainly personnifies what that statement means. The CD artwork alone, and the classy work that went into the booklet alone will give you a hint that you won't be listening to your ordinary prog metal band, and that something truly special lies within. This disc will have to be heard in private, and while you are free of thought. I am quite sure that the disc was written in this same environment. The lyrics are super intelligent, and quite thought provoking.

The music is definitely on a plane that only few bands can match in their writing career. How this band manages to write music this complicated, yet somewhat easy to follow and emotional is beyond me. It's epic at times, emotional at others, and downright aggressive and brutal at others. It has a nice crunch to it, and the added keyboards really help to keep this at least warm enough for those who need it happy. I will mention complexity, and maybe some "hard-to-follow statements", but overall, the music just flows from song to song, yet you'd never know you were still listening to the same song, as each song contains several songs within itself, another amazing aspect of this disc. You will hear crunchy, heavy, almost industrial type music; then at other times you will hear just an acoustic guitar strumming along with the vocals. It will stop mid-song, change again, and then take you for another ride in a different direction. The band certainly epitomizes what Prog Metal stands for. I can't think of any reasons why any reasonable prog metal wouldn't like this disc, unless of course, you are like me, and have to have your prog metal served up on a silver platter, just the way you want it and like it, then you will find this hard to handle overall.

The production is first rate. Heavy, crunchy, punchy, deep and clean. As a matter of fact, the band's sound is similar to that of Heaven's Cry, which has a complete wall of sound, except that the drums are just a bit too thin in the snare section. A small price to pay for the incredible sound you are getting, but my ears tell me that the drums are being a bit drowned out by the massive sound around it, and it isn't hard to pick this out, but I'm sure it's easy for most to overlook. I just happen to be very picky about what the drum sound is like in comparison to the music; and in this case, and the case with countless other bands, when you provide the listener with as much sound as a system can handle, you should include the massive drum sound to go along with it, as some ears can pick this up quickly, and slight indifference can be heard. Other than that, stand by for some great sound here. The guitars sound huge, the acoustic guitars tell me that the player is right in the room with me. The keyboards are clean, mostly used as atmosphere, and the vocals just bite you in the ear with every word Gildenlöw speaks. The bass is a just a bit shy, but welcome.

The vocal parts are keeping me from once again loving the hell out of this thing. Daniel Gildenlöw has a ton of voices. He can go from a gutteral, brutal grunt (I'm glad this is minimal this time out), to a pleasant, average mid-range sound, to an ungodly, high pitched cry, which I happen to love. It's the industrial sounding grunts and growls that mix in with the beautiful, melodic vocal parts, and it's catching my ears off guard. Yes, it's talent beyond talent, but at the same time just a bit overwhelming to me. Another aspect is that the vocal recording is VERY dry. I mean, no effects added whatsoever. What he says into the mike, is what comes out. You'd swear that he was in the same damn room as you when he sings. This is an incredible effect, yet the dryness yearns for just a little echo and reverbation at times. It's a very natural sound, and it takes a bit of getting used to, and in my mind I can hear tons of places that I would add some tint of effects to his voice, given the epic quality of the music and the story being told. Just a preference mind you.

I want to take a moment to tip my hat off to Daniel Gildenlöw. His ability to write music this genuine, to be able to mix what sounds to me like a cross between prog metal with industrial undertones is amazing. The fact that this band sounds like no other is a feat in itself. The story is worlds apart from the typical metal lyrics that accompany so many bands, and I can only imagine what actually goes through a mind like his when you hear this music. It's pure genius I tell you. The sad part is the fact that most people won't even get to hear this accomplishment, given the state of music in the world today. While geniuses are hard at work writing that masterpiece book, or inventing the new gadget of the year, musicians like Gildenlöw and company are writing epic music like this, and it will go unnoticed.

Every prog metal fan should at least give this band a listen at least one in your lifetime. It will not only serve to prove that there are unique prog metal bands in the world, it will also make you privy to some of the best songwriting skills in music.

If you've never visited the land of Pain of Salvation, you owe it yourself to make a visit, even if it's only quick. It's worth the long journey.

How I can praise such a band and at the same time announce the fact that the disc could become trade material is baffling. Not only to you, but to me as well. By now, my vocal tolerance level is well known, and some of the grunts and industrial styled vocal approaches will keep me from putting this in the player time and time again. However, I can appreciate the great music, and the great concept that this band has to offer. Give it a listen, somehow, and make the decision for yourself, because I'm sure that this disc is just waiting to be discovered by people who didn't know what it was all about.

Released in Japan in 1998, and by InsideOut Music America in 1999 (IOMACD 2001)

Spirit Of The Land (0:43) / Inside (6:12) / The Big Machine (4:21) / Handful Of Nothing (5:37) / New Year's Eve (5:37) / Water (5:05) / Home (5:44) / Black Hills (6:32) / Shore Serenity (3:17) / Pilgrim (3:13) / Inside Out (6:37)

Daniel Gildenlöw - lead vocals and guitars
Fredrik Hermansson - keyboards and samplers
Johan Langell - drums, percussion and vocals
Kristoffer Gildenlöw - bass and vocals
Johan Hallgren - guitar and vocals

Entropia (1998)
One Hour By The Concrete Lake (1999)
The Perfect Element (2000)
Remedy Lane (2002)
12:5 (2004)
Be (2004)
The Orchestration Of Eternity - Be (original stage production)
Scarsick (2007)
Linoleum (EP) (2009)
Ending Themes (On The Two Deaths Of Pain Of Salvation) (2009)
Road Salt One (2010)
Road Salt Two (2011)
Falling Home (2014)
The Passing Light Of Day (2016)

Be - Live DVD (DVD) (2005)
Ending Themes (On The Two Deaths Of Pain Of Salvation) (DVD) (2009)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 1198
Language: english


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