ALBUM REVIEW: Coming Home – Pain

To say that Peter Tägtgren is an influential figure in the metal scene is a huge understatement. The Swedish musician has enjoyed a decorated career; from his death metal outings in HYPOCRISY to his extensive work as a producer, Tägtgren is ready to unleash his next album with industrial metal solo project PAIN. Five years have passed since the last PAIN album and now Coming Home is finally here, but does this new offering do enough to make for a captivating listening experience?

Those who have been familiar with Peter Tägtgren‘s work with HYPOCRISY may be in for a surprise as opening track, Designed To Piss You Off, opens proceedings. A heavy country influenced riff opens the track as Tägtgren‘s vocals are short and snappy. A emphatic chorus backed with simple riffs boast decent hooks but as an opening track, it falls short. Lyrically, the track lacks anything inspiring and for the most part it is largely forgettable. Not an impressive start.

From there, things don’t instantly improve. Call Me boasts a truly vicious opening riff, boasting heavy tone and backed with impressive backing orchestral elements that keeps the pace at a steady rate. A guest vocal performance from SABATON‘s Joakim Brodén adds another dimension to the melodies but similar to the first track, the lyrical content is poor. Feeling in the vein of teen-angst, the track is at times painful to digest and despite musical flares of brilliance on occasion, the track feels shallow.

With Clemes Wijers [CARACH ANGREN] aiding his talents to the orchestral elements of the record’s sound, it truly bolsters the overall sound and at times, can be a track’s saving grace. A Wannabe features some of the best orchestral elements on the entirety of the record, with the tempo and mood acting as a perfect counter to Tägtgren‘s soft vocal deliveries. This is where PAIN truly shine, when combinations like this suck you in and ensnare you into a catch rhythm. Similarly, Pain In The Ass continues this trend with a slick riff throughout the verses and it keeps you hooked and perhaps takes your attention away from another dose of uninspired and questionable lyrics.

Single, Black Knight Satellite, is the record’s saving grace. A delicate but powerful orchestral sound powers the track before a chugging riff intertwines, creating a monstrous sound. That, accompanied with one of the best choruses on the record, makes the track stand up as a truly wonderful listening experience. This is where PAIN truly shine, where the musical direction Peter Tägtgren is exploring works. With the bar shot high up, following title-track Coming Home has a world of expectations and for the most part does an admirable job in its delivery. Soft but lovely acoustic guitar notes open the track before unfolding into delicate vocal deliveries from the man himself. Serving as the ballad of sorts for the record is a risky move, but for the most part, the track is a fine example of the lighter and more melodic qualities to Peter Tägtgren‘s skillset.

Absinthe Phoenix Rising speeds up the tempo with a consistent riff and a solid use of gang vocals to open up the track and that is the only stand-out moment to a largely forgettable track. Verses are mundane and dull with little inspiration for hooks, a shame when the previous two tracks had served as a saving grace for the record. From there, things take a turn for the worse, again, as Final Crusade is a miss-match of a over the top upbeat chorus before unfolding into a breakdown of sorts which feels out of place. Fusing elements and styles is a delicate affair and on this occasion, it misses the mark by a mile.

You get the feeling that penultimate track Natural Born Idiot could contain something truly special. Opening with a wonderfully heavy and intoxicating riff, the track builds anticipation with a consistent rhythm. The chorus is bolstered with a lacing of orchestral elements which take a backseat, but to great effect. That and with a ‘breakdown’ that this time works to devastating effect, Natural Born Idiot aims to close the album on a high. Last and final track, Starseed, opens slowly, building atmosphere before unfolding into a vocal deliveries that at times, have a DAVID BOWIE-esque to them, soft and delicate. This then evolves into an emphatic chorus backed with a heavy use of orchestra that packs a powerful punch. The balance of the pace on show here is timed well, with the track ebbing and flowing nicely, leading to a conclusion that is fitting to the style of PAIN.

Whilst there are moments of brilliance, where the industrial style of PAIN truly works and to great effect, Coming Home is a record that for the most part falls drastically short. There are so many elements to the record, and whilst that should be a good characteristic, it feels miss-matched, out of place and confused. There is no doubting the wealth of musical qualities Peter Tägtgren has in his locker, but Coming Home is not stream-lined. There are so many start-stop moments, uninspired lyrics and questionable stylistic choices that leaves the record largely forgettable and that is Coming Home‘s downfall.

Rating: 5/10

Coming Home - Pain

Coming Home is set for release on September 9th via Nuclear Blast Records.

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