Pain’s Peter Tägtgren is almost extreme metal’s version of Steven Wilson: prolific to a fault, playing in death metal, grindcore, industrial metal, and black metal bands, while also producing a wide variety of artists from Amon Amarth to Sabaton. Pain are one of his industrial metal projects (along with 2015’s Lindemann effort), and Coming Home is the band’s eighth release, following 2011’s You Only Live Twice.
Opener “Designed to Piss You Off” begins with a twangy, country-ish riff that quickly leads into more traditional industrial fare. It’s a catchy song, well arranged, with a chorus you find yourself humming even if you don’t want to. I was hoping second track “Call Me” would be a Blondie cover, but it’s not. Thick robotic riffs with layers of string patches greet us in another catchy, up-tempo number, Tägtgren sneering the lyrics along with help from Sabaton’s Joakim Brodén.
Uptempo metal with a lot of industrial and symphonic ingredients are the order of the day on Coming Home, with seven of the ten songs following similar formula, albeit with varying arrangements. Some start with industrial riffs, some with strings, some with acoustic guitar. The back half of the record is where Tägtgren stretches his songwriting skills a bit more, with slower, more pensive numbers such as the title track and album closer “Starseed.” Those songs exhibit a more epic feel than the straightforward industrial punches dealt during the album’s first half.
All told, the music is hooky and catchy. While the string patches teeter on the edge of cheesiness, Tägtgren is obviously going for that sound; after all, he’s a very good producer and clearly knows his stuff. The drum samples are pulverizingly appropriate, and the guitars buzz throughout with industrial strength.
Where Coming Home falters is in the lyrics. Fully half the songs are about idiots, bondage, and anal sex. Some people might find such topics amusing – obviously Tägtgren does – but come on, it’s 2016 and the guy is 46 years old, are these his best lyrics? By the time more interesting fare comes along on the album’s fifth song “Black Knight Satellite,” where Tägtgren sings about the extraterrestrial beeps Tesla claimed to hear so many years ago, any goodwill has evaporated, leaving a feeling of social discomfort as each song plays.
Musically and production-wise, we have a really good record on our hands here. The juvenile lyrics on half the songs torpedoes an otherwise solid effort, which is really too bad. Better albums to check out in this genre include Billion Dollar Babies’ Chemical God, released earlier this year, or Silent So Long, the excellent 2015 record from Emigrate; at least, better from a subject matter perspective.
(released September 9, 2016 on Nuclear Blast Records)