"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Pain Of Salvation - "Ending Themes" (DVD)

Pain Of Salvation - "Ending Themes" DVD cover image

"Ending Themes" track listing:

DVD 1: First Season
Sixworlds/Eightdays (Documentary)
Bonus Content

DVD 2: Second Season
Touching You Harder (Live in Amsterdam)
1. Scarsick
2. America
3. Nightmist
4. ! (Foreword)
5. Handful of Nothing
6. New Year's Eve
07. Ashes
8. Undertow
9. Brickworks 1 (Pts II-IV)
10. Chain Sling
11. Diffidentia
12. Flame to the Moth
13. Disco Queen
14. Hallelujah
15. Cribcaged
16. Used
Bonus Content

Reviewed by on January 17, 2012

"...an essential snapshot of what some might call the 'heyday lineup' of the band."

"Ending Themes: On the Two Deaths of Pain of Salvation" is a curious name for a live release from a perfectly healthy and universally respected band. Nevertheless, it aptly describes the years of change that the men of the band were faced with. As a multi-yeared release, this package is a combination of a tour documentary and live show, shot on the 2005 "Six Worlds" tour through Europe and then in Amsterdam in 2007.

The documentary is unique in that it was made retrospectively after two key bandmates had left in 2006 (Kristoffer Gildenlöw) and 2007 (Johan Langell,) using footage of both members. Further, a third "death" was to befall the boys two years after this DVD was put out, with the departure of guitarist Johan Hallgren. When viewed in light of these things, this documentary becomes an essential snapshot of what some might call the "heyday lineup" of the band.

Alternatively, if the very warm reception to the reactionary “Road Salt One” (2010) and “Road Salt Two” (2011) is a sign of anything, it's that Pain of Salvation's heyday might be ahead of it still. If we were to breach the core, as Daniel's mother says in the documentary, we would find that Pain of Salvation was and always will be Daniel Gildenlöw's beast. When the bandmates have face time on the documentary, we can clearly see all the things that contributed to the band's cohesion as well as the things that eventually saw the members separated.

The documentary presents us with Pain of Salvation at the core of its existence while touring. The band is seen spending time rehearsing with a skeleton crew before hitting the road, prepping parts of the live presentation in the studio, spending time on the tour bus, weathering sickness and muscle cramps, playing video games, and playing with Kinder Egg toys. (The band had requested these on riders just to see if anyone actually read them.) All the grit is there to show us both the exhaustion and the enthusiasm the band has at times. Even during "the most boring parts," as guitarist Johan Langell says, you can see the band positively glowing from joy.

A few fan meet & greats, and even one meet & eat, are documented, as well as Kristoffer receiving two new custom Mayones basses while on the road. The very visible executives from the band's label, InsideOut, make an appearance after the first show. Interspersed between the character-developing bits are clips of live footage from the various shows. In Paris at La Locomotive, a crowd can be heard registering a deafening 116 decibel volume when asked to show their verbal excitement in the show.

The second DVD is shot two years (and one bandmate) later, with a truly explosive live sound to it. The band takes from its substantial repertoire and presents a definitive two hours of dynamic, emotionally varied, and severely proggy material. Each of the six prior albums (at the time) and the "12:5" album is represented, as well as a previously unreleased cover version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." The song has been done to death by over 200 artists in different languages, but Pain of Salvation gives it a magical treatment with a huge release in the chorus.

It should be noted that the band took extra care in designing the theme of this release, putting it out in the disguise of being a television series. There are hilarious snippets of fake reviews on the back, credits structured like a film poster, and even a front cast/band member listing that introduces them as starring "in the groundbreaking series that won something twice." At the beginning of the disc, five disclaimers appear in the band's attempt to make the listeners clear of their opinion that nobody gets to speak their mind freely anymore on film. Lastly, in abrasive Pain of Salvation spirit, they warn that, "IF YOU COPY THIS DVD, WE WILL FUCKING KILL YOU." This is some package.

Highs: Absolutely rock-solid concert set and well-edited documentary.

Lows: Not enough footage of Fredrik Hermansson!

Bottom line: A must-have for prog historians and fans.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)