Playing God And Other Short Stories
posted on 3/2010 By:
My only exposure to this Israeli band is through Sam Dunn’s excellent film Global Metal, but Salem has been around for over 20 years. Their sound is best described as extreme metal, with equal touches of death, dark and gothic metal. Since the band’s formation it has moved toward embracing a more melodic sound. What follows is a short review of an uninspired but not wholly terrible album from a veteran band.
First things first: Whose idea was it to record a cover of one of Bob Marley’s most celebrated songs? “Exodus”was not meant to be put through the grinder like this. I don’t care how theologically relevant the song and its title might be to a group of Israeli musicians, this is just not how one pays tribute. Not even a baked Chris Barnes would approve of this nonsense.
Let’s move on to another blunder. A strangely nu-metallish riff greets listeners on “The Privileged Dead” before the rest of the band saves the guitarist from bearing the brunt of embarrassment alone. About two minutes in some addictive stomping enters the fray but it’s too little and too late. What is this exactly? And how is this the work of a veteran band? From watching Global Metal I got the sense that this was once a very well-respected death metal band that incorporated some cool religious themes, the title of their first full-length, Kaddish,being a good example. What the hell happened? This is the musical equivalent of kugel.
Not all is a miss. The lengthy title track finds the band playing more with atmospherics, the opening riff not unlike something you’d find on a solid death/doom record. A quick thrashy jolt seems too jarring at first but after repeated listens makes perfect sense. The clean female vocals don’t even seem too misplaced here. Another solid set of songs is the “The Mark of the Beast” trilogy. The synth-y parts didn’t appeal much to me, but the more adventurous listener will find a lot to cling onto there.
Other bands have picked up as many instruments and recorded better albums than Playing God and Other Short Stories. Of course, they have recorded worse albums than this one,too.Unfortunately, one of the few reactions it elicited from me was to have lessened my desire to delve deeper into Salem’s catalogue.
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