Every once in a while there comes along an album that I simply can´t get my head around. I totally get what the creative mind behind it wants to achieve but the intention gets muddled into something so abstract and “edgy” it does not connect at all with this particular listener. I must have listened to “Panther” dozens of times since its release last friday and it still doesn´t gel as a cohesive whole, instead it sounds like ten different bands playing at once. Don´t get me wrong, I wear my prog credentials with pride but this album simply is not for me.

Ever since I heard their somophore album “One Hour by The Concrete Lake” back in 1998 I´ve been a fan and Pain of Salvation have forged their own path, artistically freed from every restriction. With virtouso performances and one of the most expressive and emotive singers in rock in band mastermind, Daniel Gildenlöv, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Then why the hell doesn´t “Panther” excite me? I really liked the preceeding album, “In The Passing Light of Day” so why does this not register as pretty much every other album of their?

As I sit here writing this it occurs to me. It´s not them. It´s me. At least to some degree.
I don´t like the blippity bloppity trip-hop bits, the autotuned vocals or the sometimes too heavy for their own good-riffs. Am I that boring and conservative? My only defense is that PoS musical playground was vast enough as it was. The new-ish influences sound forced. Another problem is the muddy drumsound that gives the listener the impression that they were recorded under water.

There are some good songs to be found here though. The ballad “Wait” is a wonderful, melodic throwback to albums like “Remedy Lane” and “The Perfect Element Pt 1”. “Keen to a Fault” is catchy as all heck and has a nice drive and groove to it. And the epic, 13-minute album closer, “Icon” is a minor masterpiece, mirroring the excellent “In The Passing Light of Day”. Another feature that needs to be praised is Gildenlövs lyrics that are some of the best of his career which says a lot.

I´m certain my feelings towards this album is not shared with the majority of Pain of Salvations fanbase and I must say I envy them. Well, there´s always the next album…
Until then, cheers.

Artist: Pain of Salvation
Title: Panther
Rating: 5/10
Record Label: Inside Out Records
Duration: 53 minutes
Standout tracks: Wait, Keen to a Fault, Icon