REVIEW: PAIN OF SALVATION – “Remedy Lane Re: visited (Re: mixed)”
I was a sophomore in college in 2002 when I first heard of the band Pain of Salvation. I didn’t know much about them, only their reputation, and I decided to pick up their new album Remedy Lane. As it turned out, I bought a masterpiece, an album that sits in the highest echelons of progressive metal, and one that I’ve listened to hundreds of times over the past fourteen years. So to say I was intrigued when I heard that they were revisiting it, and giving us a new mix, is an understatement of Biblical proportions. I did wonder, though, about the necessity of it, and if it was worthwhile, a thought that has surely crossed the mind of any fan of the album.
I’ll cut straight to the chase and address the pressing question: “Is this remix worth it?” The answer is a resounding yes. With Remedy Lane Re: visited (Re: mixed), Pain of Salvation have done what so many artists fail to do when they release a remixed album; make it an essential for any fan of the album. The background for the remix goes back almost to its original release. A few years after it came out Daniel Gildenlöw was approached by Jens Bogren of Fascination Street Studios about working together. They did to varying degrees before the two Road Salt albums, and once they were complete Daniel decided it was time to revisit the past and invited Jens to apply his noted “wall of sound” technique to the older material.
How did this collaboration work out? In a word: brilliantly. The remix absolutely sparkles, from the first notes of ‘Of Two Beginnings’ to the final whispers of ‘Beyond The Pale,’ this version outstrips and outshines the original in every way. The drums are bigger, the guitars crunchier, and what pleases me the most is the clarity of the vocal counter points. I heard things in ‘Chain Sling’ that I had never heard before, and not only the vocals, every little detail and note, once lost in swirls of sounds can now be heard, creating a richer, fuller, and more fulfilling listen. And this was true for the entire album; layers unfold before the listener like a map leading to new vistas at every turn. It sounds fresh and new, I won’t say it was as good as hearing it for the first time, but it came very close.
As good as the afore mentioned ‘Chain Sling’ sounds, it doesn’t come close to how good ‘Rope Ends’ is now. Among the many emotional highlights and soul shredding moments of Remedy Lane, ‘Rope Ends’ comes the most alive in this new version. The jaunting slabs of guitar punch harder, the funky bass dances and ground the bottom heavier, and for the odd metered drumming work better than ever before. But once again it’s the vocals that shine. The lyrics telling of a woman’s (three times) attempted suicide are real and heart rending, and the childhood memories brought up by the Pooh themed necktie she uses make them even more powerful. But in the original mix, the lyrics and vocals counterpoint telling this part of the story are largely lost. They float in the background, ghost like, heard, but the details distant. In the new mix you can hear every word of story, and its chill inducing. The pain, the sorrow, the blood on the porcelain sink; it’s all brought forward and into the light.
In short, with Remedy Lane Re: visited (Re: mix) Pain of Salvation and mixer Jens Bogren have created a masterpiece of a masterpiece. And any doubts I had about the necessity of a remix vanished with the first listening. This new version is a must have for any fan, and an ideal starting place for someone looking to delve into the band. It shines, it fills the room, and it’s an album that will leave a lasting impression and deep effect on the listener, and what more could someone ask for? So for those who have walked down this road before, and for those following its path for the first time; Remedy Lane has never sounded better, and there’s never been a better time to find it.