Review of King Night Album by Salem

Before you read on you should be aware that this has nothing to do with an Israeli Death Metal band or a Heavy Metal band from Hull. Obviously Salem is chosen a lot (apologies) as a bands name. What we are dealing with here is a band, a trio, a threesome, although not in the biblical sense, hailing from Chicago/Michigan/Traverse City U.S.A. John, Heather & Jack are a Goth-Drug-Chill-Drag-Witch House-Doom Crunk band whose previous EP releases have included the beautifully titled 'Yes, I Smoke Crack'.

'We've never played live it seems dull.' 'A World of violence and abuse is what we see, so it's what we write.' Still with me?

Upon hearing the title track of the new album, King Night, a Last FM listener commented 'This sounds like the end of the world!' Are you still with me?

John knew Heather, they were friends. Heather used to hang out. Jack met John and said we should be friends. Heather used to hang out. Jack lays down the beats sends them over to John to work out the song and Heather sings if you're lucky. This is over simplifying things and probably doing a disservice to Heather, again apologies.

Salem King Night Album

So to the album. After 2 EP's and 3 limited edition vinyl single releases King Night marks the bands first foray into a full length feature. The 11 tracks are epicly foreboding, relentlessly disturbing and sonically paranormal. They push and pull you from dreamscape to nightmare like an audible hallucination. The industrial grime and scuzz which is captured to perfection at times makes you feel like you are in some Orwellian machine. Immerse yourself, but be prepared for the visions you will encounter. This is as close as you will get to being a Pre-Cog this side of a Tom Cruise/Samantha Morton remake. Depending on how it works out for you King Night could either exorcize your night terrors or .................just make them a whole lot more scary!

The album's title track leads you into the darkness. The opening bars and meekly spoken words, 'I Love You', briefly suggest happier themes. The distorted, post apocalyptic soundtrack to this bleak and barren world then breaks in and the mood is set for the remainder of the album, lightened here by the angelic choral backing. Asia wonderfully carries this mix of scuzzy electronica and satanic synth notes past its merely doom laden back drop into a place of tormented sanctuary. The barely audible backing vocals providing a challenging balance to the percussive arrangement.

The two best, and arguably easily accessible, tracks on the album are Frost and then Redlights (A song previously released as the headline track to 2 of the groups former EP's). Both tracks pair the industrial electro against the beautifully etheral voice of Heather. Heather's voice is used more as an instrument than a conduit of lyrical delivery. Her heavenly notes cut through the mix with a gorgeous frailty, rather like Liz Fraser or Julee Cruise. Traxx, towards the end, uses the same strategy but is not quite as effective mainly because the score is weaker, especially in relation to the majority of content on King Night.

Songs including Sick, Tair and Trapdoor, place you firmly back into a psychotic, disturbed and uncomfortable environment. The spoken word style adds to the heavy undercurrent of tripped out instability whilst the machines thump out the dirty rhythms and more reverb and feedback fuzz's away in the background. The rippling, reversed and retreating bongoes on Hound point to more relaxed state of mind while a more sinister Numan/Foxx synth symphony sours alongside.

Killer closes off the set with some Cocteau like touches, a fabulously pulsating and 'ridiculously heavy' barrage of noise and in the end light and hope at the end of a traumatic, edgy and scarily enjoyable journey.

Go over to the dark side and have the audible equivalent to an out of body experience, the pleasure's there, you just need to let it come to you.

Andrew Lockwood.