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Salem - Attrition Award winner

by Saxon Davids at 04 April 2018, 11:11 AM

SALEM although formed in 1979, the year of the NWOBHM uprising, took quite a long break after releasing a few demos in the 80's and wouldn't come out of the shadows again until 2009 when the band reformed with the same 1983 line-up. One compilation album of oldies, 3 EP's and a lot of gigs later… SALEM released their first official full-length album "Forgotten Dreams" in 2013 and the record was highly praised, and rightly so! Now here in the early months of 2018, their 3rd album "Attrition" is among us and is said to be trademark SALEM but with a little more 'Edge'.

"Attrition" kicks off with the album’s title track and wastes no time drawing you in, with a traditional and punchy NWOBHM riff and Simon Saxby hits hard with his beautifully smooth vocal chords, leading you nicely into a feel-good and heavy chorus. I first saw SALEM live at Wildfire Festival 2015 and Saxby really stood out to me with his forceful stage presence and powerful vocals, and he has only gotten stronger with time, out-doing himself with his best studio performance yet. "Black And White" is a much more held back and melodic number, exhibiting softer verses, clean guitars and an anthemic chorus. I really love the dynamics in Salem records; as each section passes, more and more depth are added to the track, whether that’s extra vocal harmonies with each passing chorus, or subtle lead guitars added as the verses pass by, the band does everything in their power to build their songs into something very unique and special!

"I'm The One" is a power ballad to my ears, and one of my favourites; Starting with acoustic and clean guitars with and a hint of strings as we progress, we're led into song with tons of depth and a truly wonderful chord progression in the chorus that you wouldn't often hear from a NWOBHM band, which really makes this track in particular stand out! "Lest We Forget" completely flips the mood as we hear a darker tone to the bands writing style, starting with a BLACK SABBATH style riff, the verses have a tight and consistent groove whereas the chorus feeds the listener a lot of tension and power. The guitar solo is a large admiring point on this album, following the traditional harmonic minor melodies you'd hear in a SALEM record with a lot of modal and interesting harmonies which again pulls the band away from blending in with other NWOBHM acts and really defining themselves as their own entity.

"My Only Son" is the ballad of the record, starting us off with a gentle acoustic guitar and delicate vocals and has one of the most powerful and emotional choruses on the record. This is a wonderfully dynamic track and serves as a very touching and thought provoking point in the album, truly captivating, astonishing and very well written and composed. "Sights Of Wonder" comes in hard and heavy next with a memorable melody and a lot of groove. This is your typical galloping metal track with lots of hooks and sing-along opportunities! "Stay With Me" opens up with another classic choppy guitar riff, but deceivingly and unexpectedly brings the atmosphere down with clean guitars and very anthemic vocal patterns and as the track progresses, slowly bringing the tension back up again to where we started, and finishes off with some wonderful vocal harmonies that would do Freddie Mercury proud!

"Taking Control" is pure heavy metal! Fist-cleanchingly tight riffs, strong and aggressive verses lead you into a short build up, bursting into the chorus in a different key and an uplifting melody in true DEEP PURPLE fashion, one of the best songs on the album! "Warning Signs" is the heaviest song on the album here, with seemingly down tuned guitars the riffs are reminiscent of the more aggressive glam rock bands like MOTLEY CRUE or SKID ROW, blend that together with more dynamic verses and intense vocal phrasing we're given one hell of a ballsy track! "We Are Gods" is your straight forward no-nonsense metal track and comes in all guns blazing with JUDAS PRIEST-esq riffing and pacing with soaring high vocals, with one of the catchiest choruses on the record! The album closes things off "Isolation", a fast paced heavy metal track with interchanging rhythms and guitar harmonies a-plenty; wrapping up this album with the same amount of energy it had when first pressing play. "Attrition" is an album that will fill you with energy, angst and aggression as well as uplifting your spirit with its lighter moments and never for one second does this record feel like it’s taking its time or lacking substance. The songs are very well structured throughout and I don't think the band could have pulled this off any better, I'm eager to see what the SALEM boys achieve next in their careers!

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Attrition
2. Black And White
3. I'm The One
4. Lest We Forget
5. My Only Son
6. Sights Of Wonder
7. Stay With Me
8. Taking Control
9. Warning Signs
10. We Are Gods
11. Isolation
Simon Saxby - Vocals
Paul Macnamara - Guitars
Mark Allison - Guitars
Ade Jenkinson - Bass
Paul Mendham - Drums
Record Label: Dissonance Productions


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Edited 06 April 2020

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