I have been following the work of Peter Tägtgren for several years now, specifically in terms of Hypocrisy and the impressive line up of albums he’s produced. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I stepped away from the death metal that defined his career (at least to my awareness) and welcomed the electronic/industrial-based Pain into my library. While industrial metal is something I rarely find myself appreciating, there was something about the Pain approach that took to me. It was something catchy — as one may expect — but also offered a serious enough tonality to hold interest and avoid coming across as shallow or superficial. With Pain’s latest album, Coming Home, we get a dose of what has defined the Pain project over the years with subtle differences that allow it to distinguish itself.
Full disclosure, I was hesitant to really dig into this album. Or listen to it all. It’s an interesting situation to find myself in given how much I’ve enjoyed Pain’s music in recent years — especially given the success of their previous album, You Only Live Twice. But, we also can’t forget what 2015 brought us… Lindemann. Skills in Pills, while certainly amusing, was not an album I really enjoyed. It was just too over the top for me to pull anything worthwhile from. Some catchy tunes, to be sure, but very much something that came and went quickly. Yet, after eventually giving this new Pain a spin, it’s clear enough that those tendencies did not translate to this product.
Digging into this album, we realize the crux of the sound is not unfamiliar. But it is still appreciated, largely because of the varying emotions carried in both the music and lyrics. The symphonic elements of Pain’s industrial style that date back to the very beginning shine through from start to finish, more prominent in some tracks than others, of course. But there is a level of complexity to these tracks that allows each one stand out from the others just a bit. For example, the angst-driven attitude of tracks like “Designed To Piss You Off” and “Pain In The Ass” hold a certain enjoyable arrogance to them. They are tracks that fire you up with a noticeable chip on your shoulder. They are upbeat, catchy, and deliver a high-energy environment with just the right level of aggression. Meanwhile, deeper messages can be found in tracks like “Coming Home” and the closing “Starseed” — the results of passing time and feeling lost in existence. Here, we are given a bit more of an introspective reality check. There is a slower, somber aspect to these songs that really illustrates the conceptual range associated with this collection.
Highlight tracks certainly include “Black Night Satellite”, which brings an old space legend to the forefront through dynamic, upbeat industrial metal that rings a similar bell as some of the highlight tracks on the previous Pain album. Meanwhile, I can’t help but enjoy (to a very different level) the story behind “Call Me” — that of a egotistical backdoor man. This is also delivered with an incredibly epic, symphonic sound. A bit of an interesting structure given the lyrics contained within, but I love it.
A minor knock on this effort from Pain is that the album tends to feel top heavy. It opens strong, the middle tracks are solid, and there a couple of gems in the closing stages. But it doesn’t keep my interest on a consistently strong basis from start to finish. Perhaps some of the repeating elements have run their course for this individual album. Hard to say. But when listening to this album continuously, the tracks definitely have a rising and falling nature to them. Regardless, the high points are still quite high and keep you coming back for more. It is also a possibility that some of the songs that feel a bit like filler just require a bit more time. Who knows. Either way, as a result, I would still list this one behind Cynic Paradise and You Only Live Twice in terms of some of the better Pain albums. But there’s no doubt that this is a solid effort nonetheless.
If you’ve been a fan of what Peter Tägtgren and Pain have put together over the years, you will most certainly consider this one of their stronger albums. While top heavy to an extent, there also aren’t any particularly weak tracks. It’s creative conceptually and offers a diverse enough emotional backing to avoid some of common downfalls of many industrial albums. Enjoyable to listen to with just the right amount of aggression, it’s classic Pain done well, with just enough tweaks and adjustments to keep it from blending in with past albums.