Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Salem-In The Beginning...

High Roller / Pure Steel Records

This 2010 compilation from Salem is a remastered anthology of nearly everything the Hull-based band ever put out on vinyl or tape. At close to 85 minutes in length this collection gives you a perfect overview of what made Salem such a killer band. From their rare “Cold As Steel” single to various demos its all here in one well assembled package. With a booklet that features lyrics, a brief history of the band and photos this best-of collection is a fitting tribute to this unsung rock-influenced NWOBHM act. If you haven't had the chance to check out my interview with Salem I've included the link at the bottom of this review. Also, since I recently did a write-up on the group's latest material (that thankfully continues in the fine tradition of melodic British heavy metal) I've included that in the link as well. While Salem was formed from the ashes of Ethel The Frog they were able to forge their own path thanks to strong songwriting and lyrics of the epic/fantasy/hero variety. Salem were not content to just be another Iron Maiden or for that matter even fellow epic metal band Saxon. Instead they created music that was bold and fresh while still hard and heavy. While bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard are of course interesting there was just something about Salem that set them apart from the rest of the pack. They choose to spin tales that were mythical in nature dealing with things like the battle between good and evil. Musically they were different too as I earlier hinted at thanks to their wide range of influences. In the interview we touched upon what made these guys tick. Really, in addition to the usual Led Zep./ Black Sabbath influences the band was inspired by traditional rock music and even progressive bands. Everything from Thin Lizzy to Kansas to Rush found its way into songs that were shaped around kings, the devil and magical keys. The more I listen to these two CDs the more I pick up on different things that hint at not only 70's rock admiration but also 60's rock. This collection really has something for everyone and is another great overview of how amazing the NWOBHM scene was. Sadly Salem was just one of many bands to release a single and a few demos, build up a sizable following and yet not be able to take it to the next level. They were like Deep Machine in that regard. They put out wicked material and had the fans and yet that golden record contract just didn't appear. Thankfully there are record companies these days that exist solely to release material from these long lost bands. "In The Beginning..." is a amazing collection of lost gems from the killer "Cold As Steel" single to the 2009 bonus track "Run For Your Life". While personally I love "Hangman's Noose", "Make The Grade" and the Keys trilogy there really is no filler to be found here and everything on this 2 disc set is killer. If you call yourself a NWOBHM fan then you need this anthology in your collection. That said even if you find yourself into classic rock/prog influenced bands then Salem will have a sound that peaks your interest. While Itunes does have this collection it doesn't seem to have all of the material so I'd suggest springing for the actual CD collection. With it's booklet it is a good buy and both CDs have found their way into regular rotation.

(interview with Salem and review of their newest material)


Blogger Francesca Paolucci said...

Heavy Metal Rules!

8:20 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home