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Salem - Playing God And Other Short Stories

Playing God And Other Short Stories
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 12 May 2010, 1:05 PM

SALEM is a band that hails from the non-traditional Metal country of Israel. The impressive fact with such "rare" ancestries is that at least interesting albums are being produced. It seems like countries like Israel can give birth to bands with fresh ideas and stir the still waters of the Metal scene. The case of SALEM is not a fresh one, though; this band exists from the mid-80s and "Playing God And Other Short Stories" is the seventh full length release that -as the promo sheet reads- takes the lyrical content in different territories. Indeed, SALEM have been dealing with political issues but now decide to write about superheroes and their deeds. So, the obvious question forms and waits for answer here; has the musical identity changed also direction to serve the fresh lyrical theme?

"Drums Of The Dead Part I" opens the album and gets the listener into deep waters without a single warning. The Israelis present a rather complicated musical structure that in some extent reminds me of DAATH (or is it the other way around?). Several tempo changes, fast drum rhythms with massive double pedaling, almost Black Metal vocals are some of the elements that will hit your face like a ten ton hammer. Despite the progressive tendency SALEM sustains the Death Metal heaviness and flirt in times with the Black Metal aggression. The female vocals help the most in creating a mystical Eastern atmosphere that I have to admit doesn't fit the 'superheroes' concept but I don't think there are many metalheads who will give a damn about it, since the album is solid as hell. Just like "Drums Of The Dead Part II" does with the down tune guitars that join the vocals screaming "Scurvy, smallpox, syphilis, typhoid Starvation, laceration, mutilation, rape"; is this Metal or not?

As you can understand the album desperately needs time to grow in your brain, since there is too much to digest. In fact, this is the major drawback in "Playing God And Other Short Stories"; you have to have a "trained" ear to handle this fruitful blend of many genres and not get "burned off" from this massive outlet. Personally, I like the strange atmosphere that the female vocals create despite the mainstream layer that comes along with them.

It seems that the music of SALEM remained unaffected by the new lyrics and continues on this strange sounding path this band has carved summoning all kinds of extreme music genres. The album is not a stroll in the park and I bet there will be many who will be frightened from the band's complexity. My advice is to give them additional time because the album bristles with different and most of the times really interesting ideas. If only the drums had a better sound without this over-digitized sensation.

PS: Be sure to check the "Strings Attached" album and the classical orchestrations that go with it.

3 Star Rating

  1. Drums Of The Dead Part I
  2. Drums Of The Dead Part II
  3. The Privileged Dead
  4. Exodus
  5. The Downfall Of Paris Part I
  6. The Downfall Of Paris Part II
  7. The Mark Of The Beast Part I
  8. Beast Lullaby
  9. The Mark Of The Beast Part II
  10. The Mark Of The Beast Part III
  11. I Hate Pigs!
  12. Playing God
Ze'ev T - Vocals
Nir G - Guitars
Michael G - Bass
Nir N - Drums
Lior M - Guitars
Record Label: Pulverised Records


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Edited 07 April 2020

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