Countless death/thrash metal bands hail from the land of Saab and Volvo. For some or other reason, Swedish progressive rock acts seemed never to happen (or maybe I have conveniently forgotten one or two). Until Pain of Salvation, that is. And "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" is their second album (even though their first album, "Entropia", won't be released until another month or two (?)).

"One Hour by the Concrete Lake" - a concept album dealing with the fragmentised view of nature, humanity and the world at the end of a depraved century through the eyes of one man - contains almost one hour of interesting progressive rock. Although it would perhaps be a bit too blatant to run off and say that Pain of Salvation are the breath of fresh air that the prog rock genre desperately needs (I don't think the genre is yet fatuous enough to be desperate), the album is interestingly captivating. OK, there's the obligatory ballad that is perhaps not as captivating, but tracks like "Handful of Nothing", "Water", "Black Hills" and the exceptional "Shore Serenity" make up for a lot. What bugs me, though, is that the album has a silly thingy at the end of several minutes of virtual silence at the end of the final track. I hate that. It's been done too often, and adds absolutely nothing. Nothing good, anyway.



Written April 1999


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