"You really can’t exhort The Man to ‘Suck my *****’ without the spectre of Eric Cartman demanding that you respect his authority": Peter Tagtgren's electro-metal side project Pain embrace sardonic gothic fun on I Am

Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren takes a break from singing about aliens and conspiracies to indulge electro-goth dancefloor fillers with side project Pain

Pain band shot 2023
(Image: © Press)

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Nearly three decades and nine albums in, Pain are now not so much a side-project as a permanent vehicle for mainman Peter Tägtgren’s electro-metal urges, that sometimes gets left in the garage. ‘Why so serious / Why so furious / Don’t push me, I don’t want to grow up,’ he sings on Push The Pusher, and it’s certainly a different tone to Hypocrisy’s studious death metal

Pain have always had a darkly lustrous sense of sardonic gothic fun, but this time out it’s even more overt. Originally released during lockdown, Party In My Head steals its verse structures from Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World and threads them into a huge party anthem. Peter has described Go With The Flow as his 80s Depeche Mode song, and it fits the bill with its high-energy beat, big chorus and wobbly banks of synth. 

You can go too far with the shenanigans, however. Not For Sale rides a Rammstein-sized groove and deals with themes of integrity, but you really can’t exhort The Man to ‘Suck my balls’ without the spectre of Eric Cartman demanding that you respect his authority. There are also some gloomier moments, of course. The title track starts with the line, ‘There’s no hope in the valley of death’, and takes a slower, more atmospheric musical tack – although they still can’t help but swell up with a big, breaking refrain. 

Similarly, The New Norm casts a cynical eye over the state of the modern world and brings in a brief touch of death metal aggression. Revolution mixes heavy distorted riffs and stuttering electronica with tightly controlled bursts of noise, but the default sound remains a highly polished dose of hook-laden industrial metal, tempered with those ever-present banks of synths. I Am is not an album filled with surprises, but it is a lot of fun. 

I Am is out May 17 via Nuclear Blast 

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer