Pain of Salvation

Pain of Salvation is a Swedish progressive metal band led by Daniel Gildenlöw, who is the band's main songwriter, lyricist, guitarist, and vocalist. Pain of Salvation's sound is characterised by riff-oriented guitar work, a broad vocal range, oscillation between heavy and calm passages, syncopation, and polyrhythms. Thus far, every album released by the band has been a concept album. Lyrically, the band tends to address contemporary issues, such as war, the environment, and the nature of God, humanity, and existence. The name Pain of Salvation was devised by Daniel Gildenlöw, who interpreted the name as having "the meaning of balance. Taking the good with the bad. It is also a good expression in everyday use: when something does not go the way you planned, the phrase 'pain of salvation' indicates that this is just a slight setback on an otherwise painless journey towards your goal".


Daniel Gildenlöw
In 1984, eleven year-old Daniel Gildenlöw founded the band Reality in Eskilstuna, Sweden. One of the early members was Daniel Magdic on guitar, who would remain with the band until after Entropia was recorded in 1997. In 1987, Reality participated in the Swedish Annual Music Contest, Rock-SM, and were the youngest competitors ever to enter the competition. Daniel Gildenlöw won the category of Best Vocalist. In 1990, drummer Johan Langell and bassist Gustaf Hielm joined the band. Daniel Gildenlöw renamed the band to Pain of Salvation in 1991, having reportedly conceived the band's name during math class. During the next 3 years, the band competed in contests and competitions while earning national recognition in the process. In 1994, Kristoffer Gildenlöw, Daniel’s younger brother, replaced Gustaf Hielm on bass. The line-up of the Gildenlöw brothers, Daniel Magdic on guitar and Johan Langell on drums entered a local studio and recorded the Hereafter demo, which the band actively shopped to record companies. Fredrik Hermansson successfully auditioned to become the band's keyboardist. 

In early 1997, Pain of Salvation entered the Roasting House Studio to record their debut album, Entropia, which was released in Asia on Avalon Records. Entropia was described as "a well-needed breath of fresh air for a genre that was full of self-parody and self-indulgence," as it was "delivered with emotion, intelligence, integrity, passion, and poignancy". In 1999, the album was released in Europe by InsideOut Music and in South America by Hellion Records. Entropia can be easily considered as the band's most musically diverse release up to today, raging from mellow passages to crushingly heavy ones, from complex Gentle Giant influenced songs to funky/black music influenced songs, from thoughtful and calm passages to distressful and energetic passages. Unlike posterior releases, however, Entropia does not focus on one theme or one storyline, having three stories being developed at the same time in the album. At the time of Entropia's release, the band started to gain international attention.

! (Foreword)

Winning a war


Preparations for the band’s second album were disrupted by the amicable departure of Daniel Magdic, who reportedly was unprepared to commit to the increasing demands associated with the band's initial success. Magdic was replaced by Johan Hallgren on guitar, who had previously played with Daniel Gildenlöw in Crypt of Kerberos. One Hour by the Concrete Lake was released in Asia on Avalon Records in July 1998. It was considered a darker and more complex effort than Entropia, with one reviewer noting that "in a world that demands instant gratification, those things for which one must labor to reach usually give greater satisfaction in the end. That is certainly true with this CD". The album had an ever bigger acclaim and had an even bigger positive reception than the band's debut album, receiving media coverage from specialized magazines all around the world. This album sparkled the attention of InsideOut, one of the major progressive music labels, to sign with the band between late '98 and early '99. As a result to that, the band's previous works were rereleased in Europe and USA in 1999. InsideOut still is Pain of Salvation's recording label to this day. The band embarked on a European tour supporting fellow progressive metal bands Threshold and Eldritch. They also played at their first ProgPower festival in Tilburg on 14 November 1999. Despite being considered a masterpiece at the time, Gildenlöw sees One Hour by the Concrete Lake today as one of the band's least accomplishing albums, musically speaking, and it is not hard to understand why: though being a great piece of progressive metal, One Hour by the Concrete Lake's music is more homogeneous; is not such a melting pot of influences as the other Pain of Salvation's albums. 

Handful of nothing

The big machine

New year's eve

After a short break to regroup, Pain of Salvation recorded their third album, The Perfect Element part I from March to July 2000. Conceptually, The Perfect Element part I examined an individual's formative events during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Released in October 2000, the album was noted for being more straightforward and melodic than the two previous albums, yet retaining the complexity of arrangement and concept. The album received a huge amount of praise from both the media and the fans all around the world. The Perfect Element part I showed the darkest side of the band yet, both musically and lyrically. The album had themes such as psychological and physical abuse during the childhood and adolescence, love, pain, anger, loss, despair and shame, for example, and the various consequences and correlations those things had with the forming of a person. The music also goes with said themes and unveil and even darker side than the one showed in Concrete Lake, making The Perfect Element part I one of the most dense progressive metal releases to date. In support of the album, the band toured Europe from September to October 2000 with Arena. In February 2001 the band headlined ProgPower USA alongside Symphony X and Evergrey.


In late 2001, Pain of Salvation recorded their fourth album, Remedy Lane, which was almost entirely written during a two-month period from August to September 2001 by Daniel Gildenlöw. The album, which was described as the band's breakthrough, was recorded at Roasting House Studio in Sweden. Remedy Lane is Daniel Gildenlöw's semi-autobiographical meditation on love, lust, and life. The album was released in January 2002. It was received very well by the progressive rock and progressive metal community and is regarded as the band's best work so far. In 2002, during the Remedy Lane tour, the band was invited by Dream Theater to be a special guest opener for their European tour of the album Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Remedy Lane is, along with all Pain of Salvation's albums, a concept album, but, unlike the other albums released by the band so far, the concept of Remedy Lane was both lighter (when compared with the other themes used in previous albums) and closer to the audience, since it treated about more earthly matters than previous albums (emotional feelings, human relationship, etc). 


Chain sling

On 12 May 2003, Pain of Salvation recorded an acoustic concert in their hometown of Eskilstuna. The concert was released as 12:5 in early 2004. It featured dramatically rearranged versions of the band's past material. As a result, the band considers the album as a stand-alone work and not merely a live album. For much of 2003 and 2004, the band worked on their most ambitious conceptual undertaking to date: a concept album about the nature of God and humanity, which Daniel Gildenlöw had been working on intermittently since 1996. The recording of the album was preceded by a number of live shows in Eskilstuna, where the band performed the album in its entirety. The shows were full productions replete with costumes, stage props, screen projections and the nine-part Orchestra of Eternity. After the conclusion of the string of performances, the material was further refined by Daniel Gildenlöw prior to commencing the recording in February 2004. In September 2004, BE was released. The album proved divisive for critics and fans, with Allmusic remarking that "It may be safe to say that never in the history of rock 'n' roll has an album creaked so alarmingly under the weight of such a ponderous concept". BE is very different from every other album in the band's catalogue, musically speaking. In that album, Pain of Salvation drops, for the most part, their progressive metal elements and deliver a very refined and complex progressive rock piece. BE included the song Vocari Dei, featuring samples culled from a special phone line that the band set up for fans to record their messages on "God’s answering machine". The messages were compiled and presented with a relaxed instrumental accompaniment, resulting in what the band considers to be one of their most touching tracks.


On 21 February 2006, Kristoffer Gildenlöw, unable to attend rehearsals due to his relocation to Holland, was asked to leave the band. After leaving the band, Kristoffer have been working on his own musical projects, being the 2007 album Synchronized, from the band Dial, the first to come to surface. Pain of Salvation's Scarsick was released on January 22, 2007. The album again met with mixed reviews. Daniel Gildenlöw said that Scarsick is a thematic continuation of The Perfect Element part I. Because of his brother's departure, Daniel Gildenlöw recorded the bass guitar parts for the album. Scarsick gets most of its base sound from the late 1990's and early 2000's new metal, a genre that, by the time the album was released, was already old news and endured a rather heavy amount of negative feedback. The album is mostly song-and-band oriented, something that the band had never fully done before and it met mixed reviews since it was released and still does over the years. After the album's release, the band toured Europe and played select international shows, including one in Egypt. Simon Andersson was recruited as touring bassist and, on 10 March 2007, he was made a full member of the band.


On April 29, 2007, the band announced that drummer Johan Langell would depart at the end of the tour due to family commitments. On 6 October 2007, at the Motstøy festival in Notodden, the band announced that Langell's replacement would be Léo Margarit. Both drummers performed during the show, with Margarit doing a three-minute solo at the end of Nightmist. Late in 2008, bassist Simon Andersson left the band to pursue his side projects and recover from the Scarsick tour. The band relied on touring musicians Per Schelander (2008-2010) and Daniel Karlsson (2011) for the next three years. On 13 February 2009, the band announced that they would take part in Dream Theater's Progressive Nation 2009 tour. However, the recent bankruptcy of SPV forced both Pain of Salvation and Beardfish to back out of the tour because of a lack of financial backing. The Ending Themes (On the Two Deaths of Pain of Salvation) DVD was released on 24 March 2009 and featured the band performing in Amsterdam. The DVD included a cover of the Leonard Cohen song, "Hallelujah". On 1 November 2008, the band debuted a new song, "Mortar Grind", from their upcoming studio album and EP. Pain of Salvation described its next project as a two album concept. However, the project was delayed due to the bankruptcy of SPV, subsidiary InsideOut Music was acquired by Century Media, which allowed the band to finish the albums. By the time that Daniel Gildenlöw returned to the album, he had re-evaluated the double album concept and ultimately decided to split the project into two separate releases. In December 2009, it was confirmed that the song "Road Salt" would be an entry in the 2010 edition of Melodifestivalen, Sweden's national final for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. The band performed during the first semi-final and qualified for the runners-up broadcast. That gave Pain of Salvation the biggest ever exposure to the Swedish public in their career; however, they lost to Pernilla Wahlgren by a slim margin and did not progress to the finals. Road Salt One was released on 17 May 2010 in most of Europe and on 8 June 2010 in North America, while Road Salt Two was released in September 2011. A music video for "Where It Hurts" was also released. The Road Salt albums featured a concept that was in sharp contrast to previous undertakings, as Daniel Gildenlöw discusses: "It’s not like a chronological story like the other albums. It’s like several parallel stories and once you look at them together they start vibrating at the same speed or frequency and that’s where you get the story... The whole idea is to compare situations or chains of events, compare them to roads and choose what roads you want to take and the roads will lead you to different places... Whatever road you are traveling down at different points in the movie they will be keyframes. At that position, you could see things from a different perspective than you normally would. Many of these songs are these key frames and sort of singularities and special points on the different roads from all these different people doing different things. That’s where everything connects."

Darkness of mine


Mortar grind

In late 2011 and early 2012, the band's lineup underwent significant turmoil, with Johan Hallgren and Fredrik Hermansson leaving at the end of the year, touring bassist Daniel Karlsson joining the band on keyboards, Gustaf Hielm returning on bass guitar, and Ragnar Zolberg joining on guitars.

Studio albums

1997 Entropia
1998 One Hour by the Concrete Lake
2000 The Perfect Element, Part I
2002 Remedy Lane
2004 BE
2007 Scarsick
2010 Road Salt One
2011 Road Salt Two

Pain of Salvation official website: