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Pain of Salvation have managed to pull off an amazing feat with Scarsick. They've managed to take their average fan, who sees them as gods, and most of the time is physically unable to score them at under 100% for an album, and make these fans actually hate one of their albums. This is no easy feat, because from a passing fans point of view, such as mine, it doesn't seem right that they can continually give 100% to an album which starts with the song, "Used". For them to openly hate an album from a band who could get away with that song, it's really quite impressive.
Of course, I mean impressive in the most painful, stupid way possible, because Scarsick is pretty damn awful.
It's not just the rapping of the first two tracks, it's not just the pathetically pretentious and stupid lyrics, it's not just the absurd and unlistenable experiments, it's a combination of all these, and a huge collection of minor irritants all over the album. This album has almost nothing going for it. Apart from one good aspect, each of these songs has NOTHING going for it.
So, what is that positive aspect? In short, most of the songs have good endings. I don't mean that as a joke about them being over, almost every song ends in a big way, leaving a nice taste in the mouth. As for what they do, it is very predictable. Basically, the band takes all the vocals lines from the various sections of the song, and multi-tracks them all together for a big finish. It's like when you see one of those concerts you see on TV consisting of three or four classic musicians, and they always end with all three coming out together and singing one of members songs as a medley. Effectively, Pain of Salvation sound like a lower Daniel Gildenlow (As to be expected), Diesel and a female black 70's soul singer. It's an old technique, it's predictable, but hell, it still sounds good, and manages to make the songs which don't have any particularly bad sections in the songs themselves seem quite listenable...
Unfortunately, there are only three songs on here which don't have content which is designed to be repulsive. And those three songs, the final three, aren't great; they just don't go out of their way to make you hate them. That's right, 7 of the 10 songs on this album are actually aggressively bad. Not just average with no real positives, but there seems to be a definite focus on negatives.
This list of negatives on the album is huge, and I couldn't list them all without the bones in my fingers grinding into powder, so I'll just stick to main ones. There's some rapping, on the title track it's not too bad, as it's complemented by some nice enough chorus work, along with a progressive section. But Spitfall on the other hand only has a short chorus, everything else is rapped, and it's terrible. But still, it's not the worst thing on this album.
Next up, you've got the experimental tracks. Which are experimental to an extreme no one has ever thought of, but there's a reason for that. "Disco Queen" and "America" are disgustingly painful journeys into disco-esque, bouncy, and what I assume to be attempting-to-be-catchy prog. Disco-queen, takes a disco song, complete with Daniel's effeminate higher voice, plays some guitar riffs over it, resulting in, well, something new and original, but it's unlistenable. America is in the best way I can think of it, is the musical equivalent of sunshine. It's stupidly happy and bouncy despite it's anti-America and establishment lyrics. While the other example was an example of stupid originality, "America" is just plain retarded.
Still, while these are stupid, I wouldn't consider these the worst content on the album. They're worse than most of the failed progressive metal tracks on here, "Kingdom of Loss", and "Mrs. Modern Mother Mary" are a little better. but then there's... the other one.
I can't be 100% sure on this, but I'm pretty sure that Cribcaged is the worst serious metal-song I've ever heard. I'm sorry, but it is. It's not as bad as some non-metal stuff I've heard. But truly, the Gwen Stefanni song with yodeling, and the Christina Aguilera song about being a 1950's whore are the only two songs I can think of that I hate more. No joke, this is a lesson in disgracefully bad music. From about 20 seconds in, you can tell that it's going to be horrible. To go with its "witty" title, the band adds in some sound effects of a baby crying or laughing or some shit. The music itself is a terrible little circular sounds piano piece an eight year could have written, and then been told off for writing because it's irritating. The vocals do the same thing, looping around in a headache inducing drawl, it's just high note, followed by lower note, followed by higher note, followed by low note, ad nauseam. Then you have the lyrics. This would make Fred Durst complain about its immaturity. It's loaded with needless swearing, and more importantly, completely random and stupid insult targets. Seriously guys, there has to be a group of people who are more in need of being "fucked" than home designers. Home designers suck and all, but they're lower on my list of people to hate than old drivers, people who exercise in tights outside my house, and the people who work at my local Burger king and serve too slowly. The song doesn't progress, it just keeps going on and on, "Fuck this and fuck that". The thing that makes it so bad is the fact you can tell that they were really trying to make a good progressive song, not that it's just a bit of bad filler which they made to fill up time, which turned out worse than expected. Cribcaged is simply one of the worst things ever written. These flaws are all over the album, but not in this sort of quantity.
There are countless other problems all over the album, but none on the scales of the problems I have specifically mentioned. In fact, the only thing I wouldn't add to my list of things they've done is that they've sold out. This is hypocritical as hell, because it's true that they are reckless in their anti-capitalism slurs, but this album is actually a lot heavier than all the other albums I've heard of them. It's worse by a long way, but heavier. To be honest, as boring as I find their love of balladry, it's better than them being heavy.
This is simply a terrible album, with a good deal of talent in writing the ends of songs. I guess it's on the same level as listening to a band who writes frightfully bad music but have good solos. If you're willing took look past about an hour of this album's 67 minute runtime, there is some stuff to enjoy, but it's simply not worth looking for. And I guess you couldn't call it one dimensional or boring, but really, it just varies from crap to shit. Avoid this, stick to their earlier stuff.