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Seven years have passed since the release of what is perhaps the greatest album in music history, Pain of Salvation’s The Perfect Element. Being that it was mentioned in the lyric booklet that it is only the first part of a two-piece planned conceptual story, fans began to wonder. “What would part two come out? Will it ever come out? What if it isn’t as good as the first part?” Well, they didn’t have to wait too long. The answer came a few months after the release of the 2004 masterpiece BE.
We’re working on three different albums. The first will be something new and then the second will be the second part to the The Perfect Element, Daniel Gildenlow had said in an interview. Well, it was a mix of good and bad feelings at that point. “TPE2 will come out in 2010! So long, but if they’re working on it that much then it will be even better than the original.”
So fast-forward to January 2007, Scarsick was released and something was revealed to the fans. We had been unexpectedly given The Perfect Element part Two. Wait? But this couldn’t be! It was 3 years too early, but it was true. The booklet clearly read “Part II.” Well, what was in store for us? Something that I honestly didn’t expect at all!
Gone was the orchestra of BE, gone were the fair amount of solos (there is a total of ONE on the entire album), and well gone was that nuanced and complex progressive metal sound that Pain of Salvation fans were so used to. And I’ll be honest; at first I didn’t much care for it. I didn’t like the more straightforward approach. The guitars being heavier than they had at any time in Pain of Salvation’s career wasn’t a sign for the best in my mind at that point. I had always adored them because of their focus on intricate melodies and complex rhythms (oh, and I suppose I’ve got to mention Daniel’s vocals somewhere there too), and this new sound really was just such a big change from that. Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t really simple and banal, there was still a distinct progressiveness but it seemed to be somewhat streamlined. Oh, and I guess I was somewhat shocked at the amount of swearing used. Fuck was used 26 times through the album, something that hadn’t been done on any previous PoS record. I was shocked. Daniel was usually so eloquent.
But then, something happened. Something happened which had changed the way I perceived the entire record as a whole. I went back and analyzed the concept of The Perfect Element I and then Scarsick. The connection was clear to me. The reasons behind the straightforward approach suddenly entered my mind and a whole new appreciation for the record was formed. This album was full of the thoughts of an angry youth. It had his views on the same society that had kicked him while he was down and spit on him when he tried to get back up. He was full of rage and disgust with the materialistic and selfish culture that was around him. The music reflected that! The profanities reflected that! The heavier riffs, the lack of guitar solos. Everything made sense. I listened to Scarsick now not expecting what had come before. I did not want to hear The Perfect Element I. I wanted to hear The Perfect Element 2 and that was what I was hearing. It wasn’t anything like the first part, it wasn’t anything like BE, it wasn’t like ANYTHING they had done previously and I was glad about that! It was refreshing and fun (I dare you to listen to Disco Queen and try to not dance along), and it had an identity all its own. And you know the best part about it all? The words ‘To be continued’ appear on the final page of the liner notes!