Posted on January 24, 2010 -
This album is so theatrical that I feel it’s almost lacking without a visual component. And now here it is.
Plain and simple: the album is amazing – the video extras? Not so much.
Album after album, Pain of Salvation continuously craft genuinely original, thought-provoking and aesthetically masterful creations that aren’t duplicated or rivaled by any other band in metal. In other words, Daniel Gildenlöw is a genius and is showing no signs of stopping. With the DVD release of “BE” the band has added something truly dramatic and spectacular to their visual catalogue.
“BE” is, to use as many clichés as possible, a musical cornucopia – a tapestry of sound, a progressive collage of lyrical brilliance. There is no real way to describe the entire album with one fell swoop. Songs like “Diffidentia (Breaching the Core” and “Nihil Morari” are somewhat close to what we have come to expect from Pain of Salvation – hard, defined riffs mixed with pounding lyrics and mixed-tempo drums. And yet, they are completely innovative. For starters, we have the “Orchestra of Eternity”, which is composed of a string-quartet, two clarinets, flute, oboe and tuba. Unlike metal-contemporaries Nightwish, Pain of Salvation uses the orchestra sparingly and never lets it take too much spotlight off the individual musicians.
Secondly, most of the album is narrated in “spoken/sung” word, which means that the songs are half-sung, half-narrated through a voice that keeps a melodic edge (very similar to the spoken voice in “Ending Theme” off the Remedy Lane album). In fact, the only truly melodic song is “Iter Impius”, which is Pain of Salvation at their best – powerful, soaring vocals, beautiful guitars, ethereal keyboards, and a profound command of melody.
Thirdly, the album explores a wide variety of genres (as all of their albums have) but never like this. “Imago (Homines Partus)” explores tribal percussion and hypnotic, trance-like melodies. “Pluvius Aestivus” is a piano/orchestral drift across a rainy landscape, very reminiscent of the “X-Files” theme song (but only for the first seconds). “Dea Pecuniae” is a 10-minute jazzy piece full of theatrical bombast, complete with a dialogue, a piano interlude and a sex scene. The most powerful cut on the album, “Vocari Dei” is a tearjerker – a beautiful and remarkable song narrated through real-life confessionals; it is essentially a collection of God’s voice-mail messages, spoken through the grateful, confused and/or desperate voices of a lonely humanity.
With the exception of the first and last tracks (which are spoken over distorted sounds), every song is its own testament to true musicianship. And that’s all if you don’t immerse yourself in the album’s lyrical theme. In 15 tracks, Gildenlöw and company attempt to psychoanalyze God through a retrospective look at humanity’s progress, and His intentions in creating us. Within this ambitious topic are several smaller themes, namely materialism, technology and evolution.
The performance of the album is alright. I wouldn’t have expected Pain of Salvation, a band which, to the average music fan, is very underground and obscure, to have had an enormous production budget on their hands. Seeing the band flawlessly execute the album to perfection (which is a bit inaccurate, as the album was released much after the performances) is a real treat. The presence of a real orchestra within the band onstage is also an aesthetic delight.
But everything else gets in the way. I honestly chuckled to myself when every member onstage put on sunglasses for “Dea Pecuniae”. The quick clips to the fat lady during the same song was also distracting (if not frightening). And all of “Nauticus (Drifting)” is set to the picture of a lit candle with inscrutable images flashed behind it. They were really very unnecessary and disappointing. I was expecting something elaborate and diverse (actual video clips, edited footage of an apocalypse, an approximation to visual poetry), but instead we get what reminds me of the psychedelic effects that Dream Theater used in “Scenes From New York” (which were an eyesore).
All in all, the concert must have been amazing to witness and I wish I could have been there. Sadly, in the production room, something went haywire and the project lost a little of its appeal. Recommended for diehard fans.