A lot of metal fans are a quite dismissive of Pain. I’ve heard Peter Tägtgren’s (pretty much) one man band as ‘cheesy industrial electro-rock’, a sort of ‘Rammstein-lite’ or ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Kovenant ’.
Now if you’re one of those people then this record will not change your mind in the slightest. It’s definitely the most pop sounding album Pain have released, far more upbeat in terms of hooks and melody than 2011’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ and 2008’s ‘Cynics Paradise’. Having said that, Peter has always had the ability to pen a brilliantly dumb & catchy dance floor filler (‘Zombie Slam’ & ‘Have A Drink On Me’ anyone?) on previous albums and there’s certainly some of that lovely stuff on here. Kicking off Pain’s eighth record is a one two punch of exactly that with ‘Designed To Piss You Off’ & ‘Call Me’, the latter having some of the most cringe-worthy lyrics Tägtgren’s ever written – “call me with PayPal or cash…. I wanna be your back door man” etc. ‘Call Me’ also features Joakim Brodén from camo & tank obsessed loons Sabaton. That song’s lyrics though are pure Nietzsche compared to ‘Pain In The Ass’….. I’ll leave it to you to wonder what that could be all about but it does contain the line “I’ll be your designated driver from behind”.
Just when you think you’re listening to an industrial rock opera based on the Carry On films out comes my favourite track ‘Black Knight Satellite’. A beautiful piano intro leads into a Combichrist-ish riff and a soaring keyboard lead chorus which is probably the best vocal performance of Tägtgren’s career. This song has a super-uplifting feel to it without being all wafty as does the much slower and moody title track.
‘Absinthe Phoenix Rising’ is pure Bowie and reminds me of a pumped up Tin Machine track.
The whole album works a treat at putting a smile on your face and getting your feet & hips moving which I’m guessing is exactly what Pain wants to do. Songs like ‘Natural Born Idiot’ & ‘Final Crusade’ with their fat grooves hit their target dead on.
Now I really like this album but like I said at the beginning, Pain aren’t everyones cup of tea. If you’re looking for some navel gazing, intellectual misery-waft then look elsewhere. However if you want a thumping good time with some decent industrial metal songs that are catchier than tuberculosis then this is the record for you!
(8.5/10 Mark Eve)