Pain of Salvation – Falling Home

Released on 10th November, Falling Home is a semi-acoustic re-interpretation album from Swedish progressive rockers Pain of Salvation. The album takes tracks from across their whole career (which is fast approaching two and a half decades!), as well as providing two new covers and one newly written song. This being said Falling Home focuses most of its playtime upon their latest releases Road Salt (parts 1 and 2) and Scarsick.

The album begins well with a completely stripped back version of Stress, which originally appeared on their 1997 debut Entropia. The track opens with a jazzy shuffle, which, to quote vocalist Daniel Gildenlöw’s lyrics, is “very strange”. This groove continues throughout the song and is accompanied by a diverse collection of vocal styles and a delicious mellotron sound that harks back to 1970s classic prog.

The same keys, however, can’t help salvage Linoleum (from Road Salt One) from distinct mediocrity. Although the song begins beautifully, Gildenlöw’s verse vocals are crying out for more musical ballast to support them, as they seem to exist in no man’s land, waiting for the chorus to rescue them. The other two tracks from Road Salt, To The Shoreline and 1979, also miss the mark. They are both well recorded and would certainly please new listeners, but for existing fans not enough has changed to warrant their inclusion on the album, as the originals were both fairly clean to begin with.

The songs from Scarsick (2007) are generally better represented. The once nu metal Spitfall has been brilliantly re-interpreted, allowing Gildenlöw’s powerful rap and his excellent rhythmic execution to take centre stage. Mrs. Modern Mother Mary has also been improved upon; turning the originally unfocussed track into a beautiful arrangement that the emotionally-charged lyrics deserve. The final track taken from Scarsick, Flame To The Moth, isn’t quite as effective, as the choatic feel that works for the distorted original fails to make an impact when the guitars are unplugged.

The same criticism applies to Chain Sling, which originally appeared on 2002’s Remedy Lane. Its hectic, happy-go-lucky approach is completely lost in an acoustic setting and Gildenlöw’s signature wail sounds comedic when removed from its natural habitat.

The two covers, Dio’s Holy Diver and Lou Reed’s Perfect Day are both intriguing efforts. Holy Diver is re-imagined as a half swing, half barbershop quartet style track, with elements of jazz thrown in for good measure, which surprisingly works. Their choice to cover Lou Reed makes a lot of sense, given their inclination towards the bizarre, however they made a very safe choice with Perfect Day, when they could have been much braver. Nevertheless, Perfect Day is a decent and faithful cover, with a hair-raising crescendo.

Perhaps the best effort on the album is the newly written title track. Falling Home is a gorgeous acoustic number that is beautifully arranged and is a perfect way to finish the acoustic record. It is a shame they didn’t choose to write a handful of new tracks to include in this collection, as the one they did record blows most of the re-interpreted tracks out of the water. Regardless this compilation is a solid effort and decent addition to the Pain of Salvation catalogue and provides a new incite into the Swedish band. However, a true followup to Road Salt would be much appreciated.

Overall: 6/10

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– James




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