Album Review: Pain – I Am

A few months on from a brilliant headlining tour, and a few month prior to a supporting role in another, Peter Tägtgren’s Pain are back for another foray into the world of heavy metal mashed with a bit of techno-y dance-y stuff, and the usual splurge of anti-authoritarian lyrical themes.

Fans will already be very familiar with “Party In My Head”, released as a single in 2021 to “remind people that Pain were still around”. “Go With The Flow” and “Push The Pusher” with its amazing animated video (below) have also been let loose to whet the appetite for this new collection. I Am starts off with “I Just Dropped By” shooting out the gate at a rate of knots. Thumping drums and a simple, catchy riff lead into a haunting melody and a sound which absolutely couldn’t come from any other band. That driving rhythm doesn’t let up for the whole song, only alternately getting louder and softer, pulling you through the track.

The great thing about Pain is that they’re not a one-trick pony. The opener jumps sideways into a near-Eurovision start to “Don’t Wake The Dead” (and, yes, I did check that title). A much gentler start, but still so many layers to the sound. This song is plaintive while still very much being metal, and it’s a surprise to hear it to early in the album when most other bands would be hitting you with a wall of bangers first. Thing is, I don’t care. It’s arguably one of my favourites on I Am and deserves to be featured prominently.

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“Not For Sale” is another belter, whereas title track “I Am” deserves to have the album named after it. Another surprisingly gentle number (overall), it’s got some great lyrics to go with the wonderful riffs and rhythms. This is one you can definitely sing along to.

“The New Norm” is almost certainly a Tägtgren-esque rant against the powers that be for lockdown and what followed. Regardless of your stance on this, it’s a great tune. For a full on dance beat, “Revolution” takes some beating. It’s one of those songs that just kicks you into touch at the start, then drops into more familiar territory before pausing and thinking “Hey, I can do both of these things at once…” and making it work. No surprises that “My Angel” is quite airy given its name, but album ender “Fair Game” pushes this envelope and absolutely soars to the heavens as it rounds things off.

Peter Tägtgren is one of those legends in the music world who seems to have the Midas touch, whether it’s with his own bands or producing others’. I Am is another feather in his cap, and another strong release. The Halo Effect are going to have to put on a damn tight headlining show to follow this bunch in January.

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Header image by Heile Photography

I Am is out on May 17th

Check out all the bands we review in 2024 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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