I really can't understand why the band took this kinky path. They have always been what I would call "intelligent music," both musically and lyrically. But since "Be" - which is a masterpiece - the front man started to use the band as his private laboratory, always experimenting with new styles. "Be" was a piece of art: success! However, since "Scarsick" was released, the quality and creativity have shifted to mediocre at best. (Sometimes I wonder if that would have happened if Kristopher was still in the band.) Although the work still showcases some of the remaining lyrical skills Daniel has, he has contradicted himself from what he wrote on "Be."
On "Road Salt One," what we see is another band, in another universe, like the Pain of Salvation that released "Entropia", "The Perfect Element I" and "Remedy Lane" has never existed. The style is totally different. The vocals are oversaturated and seem to be recorded in low quality on purpose (I have no idea what the purpose of that was!), the seventh string is vibrating all the time, and the drums are as dry as the Atacama Desert. The lack of guitar solos is something that really bothers me on this album. They forgot about the existence of the high pitched strings. Throughout the entire album, the seven-string, tuned down to A, can be heard and NO solos. Even Halgren - who is the best guitar wielder, in my opinion - was infected by this new Pain of Salvation order. Some songs like "No Way" and "She Likes to Hide" have a vintage spirit, sounding like Deep Purple and The Beatles' tones sometimes. The only thing "Scarsick" could still offer at the time, was the lyrics. We can tell that it was something Daniel spent some time working on, mainly because of the size of a couple of them. On this album, 80% of the lyrics come off as childish, commercial, simple, repetitive, boring, and actually quite annoying at times! "There is no way you can fuck her like I can", "She thinks of me when she is with you", "Your love is everything, my love is anything", "She likes to hide (x40)" - Seriously? Is that the same genius who wrote "Idioglossia", "Undertow", "Beyond the Pale", "Home", the whole "Be" concept?
There are some highlights on this album, of course. They are basically "Sisters" and "Innocence", the best songs in my opinion. "Sisters" has very touching and meaningful lyrics and a deep, beautiful melody, unfortunately, once again, it's annoying and disappointing, the way we have the vocals. At 4:00 to 4:15 you can see clearly how oversaturated it is, but this part is followed by one of the best parts on the album at 4:38. "Of Dust" is just like a "Nauticus - Drifting #2." Great song, but with a minimal arrangement of voice and background organ, no drums, no solos, no bass, just that. "Tell Me You Don't Know" is a very simple song, again with the over-over-saturated voice. Simple songs sometimes turns to boring songs when it comes to a progressive metal band, and that is exactly what happens. The song starts with a phrase on a banjo, sticks to it and ends the same way, two minutes and 40 seconds later. After this song comes Pain of Salvation's weirdest song of all time, "Sleeping Under the Stars." This is by far the most Avant-garde thing they have ever recorded. I like Avant-garde a lot, but this is totally out of Pain of Salvation's element! "Darkness of Mine," is another very boring song, in that it is too repetitive. Even so, the end of the song is great. The guitars need to lay off these annoying effects, rubbing the strings horizontally. "Linoleum," which most of us already know, from the EP "Linoleum". I can't understand what was in the intro. Five years ago I could never imagine a Pain of Salvation song starting this way. It's notable since they went "sick of the scars," the music switched from sad and depressed stuff, to happy, even more depressing stuff. The video clip for this song is a joke and if you haven’t seen it yet, do not! "Curiosity" starts totally emo, and then goes for a ska background, along with "Where It Hurts," which soon become perfect playgrounds for the new drummer to show the fans what he is capable of. Just for the record, "Where it Hurts" starts with those annoying guitar effects AGAIN and the vocals are covered in weird effects as well. Then we have another song with just keys and vocals, "Road Salt." Great song, yet again, very simple. The album finished with "Innocence." This song shows a lot of the oldest of Pain of Salvation's influences, on "One Hour by the Concrete Lake" and "The Perfect Element I," even though sometimes it sounds like "A Flame to the Moth." It's a very progressive song, and it's the one responsible for not extinguishing their candle on me.
Overall, this is a good album, but not for Pain of Salvation. When the level of songs the band has always composed is that high, it's even more risky to continue working on new stuff when the inspiration is not as abundant as it was before. I'd rate this album as 65% for any other band, but coming from Pain of Salvation and comparing this album to everything the band has released throughout its path since the beginning, it's not fair giving a rating that is so close to the other albums. This album has nothing to do with the old classic stuff. It's not even close. I'd rather have the band release this as a side project from all the members, instead of seeing the Pain of Salvation name branded on what would be, by the way, the weakest cover art in Pain of Salvation history. Maybe the point of it all is just a simple personal quest by Daniel, who now wants to write "unlabelable music," and what we get in exchange is this shallow, mediocre and soulless music.