Pain of Salvation has a long career filled with highs and lows, mostly highs. “In the Passing Light of Day” is in many ways another mixed impression. The band has, however, abandonded the experimentation of the last few albums for a somewhat more unified sound.

“Meaningless” – a fantastic Pain of Salvation song

My excitement peaked when they released “Meaningless”, one of my favorite songs ever from the band, along with a disturbing music video. The song is straightforward in structure, apparently a remake of a song from guitarist Ragnar Zolberg’s other band. It’s brooding and unsettling, and explodes in a big chorus that is bound to get stuck in your head. Ragnar is an interesting addition to the band, and his backing vocals match Daniel perfectly. His highs give “Meaningless” an extra punch and adds to the already dense atmosphere.

It’s also good timing, because Daniel’s voice changed a bit over time. It’s natural that he can’t use the ridicilously high notes from “Entropia” all over the place, so why not add someone capable of delivering something similar on top? Overall, Daniel’s voice sounds very solid, expressive and mature on this album. He’s not pushing the limits and playing around as much as on older Pain of Salvation albums, but on the other hand he delivers plenty of emotion.

Leprous influences for good and bad

There are some modern influences that sneaked their way into the Pain of Salvation sound this time around. Many of the heavier parts have twists, starts and stops that reminds me of Leprous. Album opener “On a Tuesday” combines this newfound heaviness with a long, progressive song structure to create something that we haven’t quite heard from Pain of Salvation before. It’s a good, if slightly bloated, way to start off the album. “Reasons” takes these start and stop tendencies to the extreme, becoming annoying in the process. One of the weaker songs on the album.

“Full Throttle Tribe” is a song I have a particular love/hate relationship with. It also plays around a bit with modern influences. The guitars mostly consist of downtuned chugs, and the repetitive and abrasive chorus melody is not great, but it still seems to sneak into my head on more than a few occasions. “Silent Gold” is a stripped down ballad that especially brings out Daniel’s voice. It’s nice to hear something so simple on an album that often takes the progressive aspect to the extreme. “The Taming of a Beast” is another solid one, perhaps the most rocking song on the album, exploding into a big chorus. The confessional vocal style and lyric content brings me back to “Remedy Lane”, even if it’s not as massive as something like “Beyond the Pale”.

More classic progressive metal

The best thing about this album is that a lot of the classy progressive sensibilities from “The Perfect Element” and “Remedy Lane” are present again. These have been mostly missing during the band’s experimental period. I didn’t like “Scarsick”, and the other post-“Remedy Lane” material has been sketchy at best. “In the Passing Light of Day” doesn’t completely find a conformed mood or style, but certainly more than the last few albums. A weird note is that “Meaningless” would fit right in on “The Perfect Element”, despite being a remake from Ragnar Zolberg’s other band.

On the negative side, the end of the album does get too monotonous. There are a lot of slow and brooding moments, and in the end they do take away some of the intensity. I do understand that they are there to enforce the concept, but the album could’ve still benefitted from being trimmed down a bit. It’s still the best thing they put out in years, and certainly an album with enough to highlights to be worth checking out.

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