Pain of Salvation


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It may be safe to say that never in the history of rock & roll has an album creaked so alarmingly under the weight of such a ponderous concept. On Be, Swedish prog rock legend Daniel Gildenlöw sounds as if he has simultaneously discovered theosophy and Mahler. What with song titles rendered in some sort of pidgin Latin and mind-numbingly extensive liner notes that sketch out nothing less than Gildenlöw's vision of the history and nature of the universe and of the cosmic context of humanity itself, Be never has the slightest chance of succeeding musically. Surprisingly, it does have some interesting and (believe it or not) even fun moments, such as the sea shanty-ish "Imago (Homines Partus)" and the rhythmically knotty, Balkan-flavored "Martius/Nauticus II." Unfortunately, these are utterly eclipsed by the pretentious faux-classical instrumental interludes (performed by -- give me strength -- the Orchestra of Eternity), the embarrassing and shamefully voyeuristic "Vocari Dei" (which consists of messages for God left by various fans on the band's answering machine), and the laughably overwrought "Iter Impius" (which has no fewer than two subtitles: "Martius, Son of Mars" and "Obitus Dictinus"). Gildenlöw sings, predictably, in a dark, overripe baritone voice that drips with portent while dropping indigestible lines like "The flowers usher the stale breath of Death away." It's clear that he's trying to do something positive here, and one hates to throw cold water on a well-intentioned project. But really, it's albums like this that give prog a bad name.

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