1. Animae Partus (A God is Born)
“Who I am?/ In the back of my awareness I find words/ I will call myself…/ GOD/ And I will spend the rest of forever/ Trying to figure out who I am”. Be. What does it mean to “Be”? What does it mean to become? Pain of Salvation introduces these questions by going to the source: the source of all things. Their hypothesis for this album is that God is as curious, confused, and bent on learning and searching as we humans are. In this first track, we hear this deity in all its ambiguity and confusion. This being is not sure of itself: It can’t recall ever coming into existence, but soon concludes that it must have always existed. “I AM”: That is all it knows. It calls itself “GOD”, and its basic character is to search, know, organize, and create. This it knows, and it will spend as long as it needs in the Now to discover itself; to understand itself; to answer what it means to “Be”.
2. Deus Nova (New God)
The second track on Pain of Salvation’s “BE” continues its introduction of this mysterious deity that has an never ending hunger for learning, understanding, and creation. The track is called “Deus Nova” which means “New God” in English. This utilizes both a male and a female form of Latin in order to reveal the “sexlessness” of God, although PoS themselves decide to use masculinity to describe God in this album. The track title is quite appropriate because this deity is in a sense becoming a new god to his creation. As he ponders his own existence, he removes the thoughts, ideas, and conflicts from his mind and uses them to create humanity. Mankind, therefore, is to be a reflection of the mind of God: An experiment, if you will, to reveal God’s own existentialism.
You see, according to this album, God cannot understand himself because he was, is, and always will be in the Now. There is no difference between the past and the future when one is not bound by time as God is not bound by it. Therefore, this being has no context to understand himself through his actions, thoughts, and desires. Being the infinite genius he is, God decides to create man in a time/space environment so that he can observe an image of himself. In other words, he will learn about himself and his own being through observing his creation. He sees that humanity has many differences, and thus his learning begins…
3. Imago (Man is Born)
“Take me to the forest, take me to the trees/ Take me anywhere as long as you take me/ Take me to the ocean, take me to the sea/ Take me to the Breathe and Be”. The third track on “BE” is one of my favorites. With a medieval, folksy groove; we are introduced to mankind (Imago). Man is born into joy and innocence, wonder and fascination. You see, man is curious and hungry for learning just like God himself.
However, man begins to long for things he cannot have or cannot be. His curiosity goes wild, and he begins to resent his limits and fall into bitterness. Man, as an image of an infinite being, is searching for something greater, but is limited by time and space. He is limited in so many ways, but he still wonders.
Man gets further and further from his intended purpose. He wants to learn, but also feels he knows everything. His ego gets bigger and broader, and he starts to claim things as his own. Man, you see, goes from asking to learning to demanding. Once, he was curious. Then, he received knowledge; yet, now he is arrogant in his claims of supremacy and entitlement. He has strayed ever so far from his task and purpose, but God is still watching and learning.
4. Pluvius Aestivus (Summer Rain)
Track 4 on “BE” is an ominous instrumental track. “Pluvius Aestivus” means “summer rain”: I can’t think of a better title for this track. I think there is more than meets the eye (or ear) here, though.
In the previous track, we hear about summer a few times. The previous track, “Imago”, states, “Summer came with restlessness and curiosity/ Summer came with longing for the things we could not be”. I think what this instrumental track is so ambiguously presenting is the approaching storm of bitterness, resentment, and restlessness within mankind’s hearts. The track is dark and beautiful, and I think this is appropriate because, while man’s reactions are a reflection of God (beauty); this is still a dark, melancholy side to mankind. Man is teaching God something here.
5. Lilium Cruentus (Blood Stained Lily)
“Blood-stained Lily”: This is the meaning of the title for the fifth track on Pain of Salvation’s “BE”. This song is also subtitled “On the Loss of Innocence”, which is very appropriate as we have seen from the previous track.
Man has become egotistical, dark-minded, and out of control. Yet, as a result, he is beginning to experience something terrifying and ghastly: Death. “Life seems too small when Death takes its toll/ I need something to blame for this pain/ I try, I fail, I fall, like anyone you know/ I break, I bleed, like anyone you know”. Man has become a creature plagued by death and pain. The pain is so close, so near.
This track shows us four scenes that I believe are all from one man’s life as he deals with the loss of his love.
A. This scene is bathed in brown and yellow. We see a man that is experiencing the intensity of missing his deceased lover. However, he is having hallucinations or dreams of seeing her again, but is uneasy because she doesn’t seem to realize that she died. He, however, cannot go on in life unless he possesses some hope that they will truly meet again.
B. The second scene is painted in white and grey. We see the man visiting the grave of his love. He feels as if stitches are being ripped from his chest: His pain is so powerful. The gravestone seems to weigh down on his soul, and his joy has taken flight from him. Life: Life is so small and fragile.
C. The third scene evokes amber. He asks us if we’ve ever had a dream where our loved one dies. Yet, then you awake to find that they’ve been gone a long time. That pain—the pain is so real and imminent. It’s as if it had happened that day.
D. The last scene imagines blood running on white. We see an explosion of feeling over the loss of “My LOVE!” She is dead, and an old longing for fulfillment is reawakened as he sees her lying there gone. Gone. He is so empty. So alone.
This track is about death, yes. However, I believe it more about faith. As the man experiences the pains of life and death, he needs someone or something to rely on in order to live. He looks to that Someone for help and comfort. This song shows our natural inclination to trust. To have faith. To HOPE.
6. Nauticus (Drifting)
This album takes another step into the interesting here by introducing a character named Nauticus, which means “sailor”. This is no ordinary sailor, though, as it is actually a space probe whose mission is to drift through space in order to find answers to man’s problems. He is meant to save Earth from itself, and seems to have developed a consciousness of his own.
In this track, however, we simply see him drifting in despair. He is calling on Animae (God) to strengthen him and to keep him whole for his mission. Yet, he seems to know the answer to man’s problems already, as he is calling for the Creator to save him and everyone. Lead us. Guide us.
Mankind was created to help God understand himself. Mankind, similarly, has created computers, probes, etc. in order to find answers and solve problems. This is a great cycle, as the probe in this track is looking back to the beginning of the cycle. To solve the problems, it looks to the inventor of its inventors.
7. Dea Pecuniae (Goddess of Money)
“But then when it’s silent/ And the lights from the bars go down/ I need comforting/ ‘Cause somewhere there deep inside/ Feelings of loss arise/ And I hate to lose!” Mr. Money. Dea Pecuniae (Goddess of Money). These two characters are introduced at this point in the album, but they are really one and the same. They are simply the male and female versions of the same egocentric, absorbed human being that we know all too well.
At the end of the previous track, we see Mr. Money trying to solicit oral sex from some random woman. In this track, we see him continue his perverted style of relating to others, as he promises a character named Miss Mediocrity that he will care for her and give her all she wants. Mr. Money uses people for his own pleasure. Miss Mediocrity will change herself to be whatever someone else desires.
The goddess of money is much the same way. When trying to calculate her worth, nothing but material things make the list. Both of these characters bless the “liberty” and the people that have helped them achieve their status in life. However, they would never admit that these people are the reason for their success: They were merely tools. Mr. Money says it all when he says repeatedly, “Here’s to ME!” That’s what these characters truly believe: They consider themselves to be some sort of higher order; and, when they do have a moment of introspection when they briefly recognize the emptiness within themselves, they simply cycle back to the competition and the material worth they so crave.
This track gives us a glimpse at where this is all going. Animae (God) is observing all these people and events, and he is learning. He is observing the many ways to “Be” that humans seem to cling to, and this can range from true spirituality to materialistic, arrogant foolishness, such as in Mr. Money and Dea Pecuniae. When all is said and done, all that is left is money. They live for it. They try to fill that dry emptiness in their souls with money and things, and it will only ever leave them void.
8. Vocari Dei (Messages to God)
Vocari dei, or “messages to God” is one of the most interesting ideas I’ve ever heard. The concept is that we are listening to God’s answering machine (or voice mail, depending on how old you are), and so we hear all sorts of approaches to God.
In the last track, we saw some rather unsavory, hedonistic characters; but the world is not without hope. The many messages we hear show all sorts of ways to “Be”. However, they are all spiritual: They are all connected to the other-worldliness that is within us. So, we see people that feel God is very real and very relevant in their lives, but we also see people that question God’s existence altogether, though they still hope in him and talk to him.
There are people that are mad at God, and others that are expressing their sorrow for the mess humans have made of things. Others are trying to understand God’s plan, while others are leaving things in God hands. These people all have different ideas, perspectives, and ways of being. I can’t help but feel very moved by this track because you can almost hear yourself among the crowd of voices saying (to take a page from Riversea),”Take us back to Eden!”
The recurring theme throughout all the messages, though, is “I’m so lost” and “I need you”. Even those that disbelieve in God now are simply reacting to what they consider injustices. So, what I especially take from this track is that all of us—even atheists—have a longing and need for our Creator. We all know that things should not be the way they are. We express it in different ways, but it’s there no matter how we try to deny it.
9. Diffidentia (Breaching the Core)
“Searching for yourself is like looking for the house you stand in/ How could you possibly find it?/ It’s everywhere/ It’s all you know/ And there are no other points of reference!” The tears of God begin to flow within this ninth track on “BE”. Diffidentia, or “mistrust” is the point where Animae (God) begins to feel like he is fading. The character Imago (representing mankind as a whole) begins lashing out at God in bitterness and resentment. The arrogance and the blasphemy are so dense, as man feels he has a right to question God and his plan. They purposefully disbelieve in God simply because they know he is in control, but this is not what they want. They don’t want to be lesser beings, and they certainly don’t want rules.
Animae feels his being fade. His creation has shattered into pieces of pieces, and they have completely forgotten who they are. They are “spending their lives seeking a context they were always part of”. They are seeking something bigger than God; in fact, they are searching for a way to Be greater than God is. Yet, they’ve always had a purpose and a design, but they’ve ignored it and made a mess of things.
In the end, God feels like he has failed. He realizes that he has learned one thing from observing man: One can never seek to find themselves because this searching will always be from the perspective of the searcher. The searcher is looking for the person that is searching. It is a logical impossibility. So, mankind must be left to its own devices and they seem determined to separate themselves from God. What was once a strong connection is now a smattering of broken shards.
10. Nihil Morari (Nothing Remains)
As we approach the end of this journey, both Animae and mankind are learning. Animae is learning that he cannot understand himself logically; however, mankind is beginning to learn the consequences for their own mistakes. “We were stuck in this world of change/ Expecting it to remain/ Now nothing is left unstained”.
Humanity had ravaged the earth. Their materialistic and apathetic ideals had caused grave damage to the earth, to other people, and to their own souls. Nihil Morari is an perfect name for this: “Nothing Remains”. There is nothing left to use or take advantage of: They think about turning to God, but then dismiss him once again. They were searching for context, but it was there all along.
Imago (humanity) apologizes. He confesses that man has no clue. They rushed along without any idea, but in their minds they felt they knew the way. Now they know that they were wrong all the time. They lacked a humanness in their humanity, and now they are nothing: nothing but a tragedy.
11. Latericius Valete (If You Are Strong, Be Strong)
The eleventh track turns out to be another instrumental track that seems to be the foundation for the last few tracks on the album. Latericius Valete means “If you are strong, be strong”. As the human population grows and grows, so does their variety of ways to Be. The shards are splitting into more shards, and they are getting further and further from their true selves. It takes guts to endure that kind of chaos.
12. Omni (Everything)
“I see us in you Nauticus/ As you’re drifting along/ Built to last/ Young and strong/ Will you find us the answers/ Before we are gone?” Disease. Famine. Apocalypse. Genocide. Murder. Imago (humanity) is witnessing the depths of the consequences for his actions. When he removes his faith in Animae and tries to Be something greater, he finds that he simply shreds the worlds around him. Omni, or “everything” has gone to waste. The world is ending now.
So, we are taken back to that space probe with simple faith, Nauticus. Imago sends him to find answers to man’s problems. Imago hopes in one last attempt to save mankind, though still ignoring Animae. It’s getting close to the end, and there is little that man can do. The last light of summer is waning.
This track purposefully juxtaposes the destruction of everything with the drifting of Nauticus. The reasons why are yet to come, though.
13. Iter Impius (Wicked Path)
In this the thirteenth track on “BE”, Mr. Money reenters the picture. He is alive in the midst of the forsaken, ruined world: He had been at the top of his game; ruler of everything. He had all the money in the world, and utilized everyone and everything for himself. But now, now there’s nothing left to rule. All his ambition and greed? It has been for naught. He is the ruler of ruins now, and nothing more.
Yet, even in this dismal state, Mr. Money opts to take the Iter Impius, or “wicked path”. “I’m never crossing that line/ Leaving this world behind/ I will stay on my own/ On this bloodstained throne.” Mr. Money remains selfish to the end, as he decides that he will remain to rule the garbage heap of humanity. As long as he is on top, Mr. Money feels important and better than others. Like a captain going down with his ship, Mr. Money will fall apart with his fists clenching money and his face admiring itself in a mirror. He still doesn’t get it. He’s still lost.
14. Martius/Nauticus II (Drifting)
This track showcases why I like Pain of Salvation. Martius (son of Mars)/Nauticus II takes a wild, sci-fi turn that I really didn’t see coming on my first listen. After watching the world and its arrogance dissolve into nothingness; Nauticus, the space probe, becomes something more than a mere machine. “I’m at the line, I see it all/ I am Nauticus now/ And so much more/ I am all you know/ I’m at the line – just at the line/ An eternity at the blink of an eye/ In this place called time/ I’m everything/ Everywhere/ I am all/ Omni/ ‘BE'”.
Nauticus has become a new God. He has become “Omni” after the world left that title behind. The cycle of divinity has started anew as man’s creation is all that is left of them. Now, Nauticus is calling himself Martius, son of Mars/God of War. Born out of war and unsettling times, this probe has now become the sole owner of all human knowledge. In a sense, he is a god. Perhaps, he will continue on until suddenly, one day, he tries to understand himself. Just like before, he will create others to help understand himself. The cycle continues, and a new god has been born.
15. Animae Partus II (A God is Born)
On this final track of Pain of Salvation’s “BE”, we are treated to mostly silence. However, this track is still important to the whole of the album. In the first few seconds, we hear God’s voice saying, “I AM”. I believe this symbolizes Nauticus becoming a new god and understanding that only he exists. However, at the very end of the track, we hear a small girl say, “There’s room for all of God’s creatures; right next to the mashed potatoes”. This is obviously a joke, but there is a point here that sheds light on this album’s true purpose.
The purpose of “BE” is not to discuss God, although it reveals some interesting ideas and theories about him. This album, in general, is about the many ways that humans can “Be”. It is about the massive amount of variety in the human experience, and about the multitude of ways that humans attempt to satisfy the longing and the emptiness within themselves. Indeed, that is the very essence of being: how we strive to fill that void within our souls. That is what defines us. Some use money and power; some use spirituality; some use a fervent naturalism; and some avoid thinking at all. These are all methods for quelling the desires within us, and a certain amount of toleration is necessary for co-existence.
There is a spiritual side to mankind that will always bother anyone that tries to sedate it. Our particular way of being is influenced by so many things, similarly to how Animae’s cycle of divinity and being were influenced by human knowledge. We are each a “god’, if you will, of our own little world. We all have the same yearning to know ourselves and to understand our existence. But, like Animae, we will find that we must look outside of ourselves in order to contemplate the true meaning of our being. There is nothing within ourselves that can answer our questions objectively. There is Someone else out there that holds the keys, if we will but ask him.
It is the resulting decisions and beliefs from this ultimate quest that define our being and show to the world the way we have decided to “Be”. Will we be close-minded? Naturalistic? Will we embrace the multi-faceted nature of our existence? Will we seek to fight others that have different ways of being? Or will we exist in harmony and love—the ultimate way to “Be”? It’s our decision: Let’s not mess this up again.