Salem - Collective Demise
System Shock
Death Metal
12 songs (48:09)
Release year: 2002
Reviewed by Crims

Salem is a band from Israel who have been around since the mid 80’s. Before releasing their first full-length, Creating Our Sins, Salem had released three Demos and now they give us their fourth full-length, Collective Demise. I’m guilty of not being very familiar with Salem’s early work, only hearing a couple of sings here and there, but I suspect that most of you probably aren’t that familiar either… unless you live in Israel. The style of Metal that Salem plays is best described as Death Metal with middle-eastern influences, including a touch of Black Metal, Thrash Metal and Doom Metal. As one might surmise, this combination of influences gives Salem a distinct sound that they can call their own, and when you’re based out of Israel you better have a distinct sound to get noticed.

When the mention of middle-eastern influences is read, I’m sure some of you might come to the conclusion that Salem must sound like Nile, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Salem is not as brutal as Nile and they use their middle-eastern influences in a totally different way. True enough, there are many Death Metal bands a lot more brutal than Salem but that doesn’t mean their sound isn’t as harsh or aggressive as other bands, because it still is; simply stated, Salem just isn’t one of those bands that blast away at full speed through an entire song (i.e. Krisiun). This approach to the song writing, which invokes a unique atmosphere with middle-eastern guitar riffs in between fast double bass spurts, is heard often on Collective Demise but at varying tempos. Sometimes Salem slow down to a Doom/Death speed such as on Al Taster and at times the tempo is very upbeat, almost sounding like something Amorphis might have done on their first two releases. Salem definitely change up their song arrangements often and the CD is full of surprises, including but not limited to tribal styled drumming and female vocals coming out of nowhere, yet no matter what, everything fits in with the overall scope of the song, which is important since Salem never stay on the same drum pattern or guitar riff for very long.

The vocals from Ze’ev Tananboim is where most of the Black Metal influence comes from as they are a far cry from the deep growls of most Death Metal bands and instead have more in common with a band like Naglfar than say, Sinister. In a way it gives the band an even more unique feel but I am kind of partial to really well done growled vocals… but that’s just me. The aforementioned clean female vocals that pop up on a couple of songs work well and are a welcome addition, as they add nice textures to the other wise harsh atmosphere. The guitars don’t really burst out into any shredding solos but the mix of riffage with middle-eastern touches, which are also melodic at times, more than make up for it and the tone is fitting for the style. Meanwhile the bass guitar has a couple of chances to shine and the drumming is impressive; the double bass sounds great and drummer Nir Nakav has a high degree of control with his feet and hands as he goes from mid-paced to extremely fast without any hesitation or unnecessary build up. Lastly, the lyrics are intelligent and show obvious inspiration from the on going situation in Israel.

Overall I was very pleased with this release, mostly because it’s always refreshing to hear a Death Metal band with an exclusive sound. My only complaint is that some songs aren’t as memorable as others and certain sections of songs sound samey every now and then, but this is only a minor gripe that can be somewhat overlooked due to the quality musicianship and the strong song writing moments, which populate most of the CD. While not quite legendary, Salem have provided us with a strong release which echoes of the classic Death Metal (and to a certain extent Doom/Death) sound that focused on strong song writing as opposed to the play as fast as you can mentality of most new Death Metal bands… sure enough sometimes those bands are really good too but as mentioned, bands like Salem are always refreshing to hear in the Death Metal field.

Killing Songs :
Broken Yet United, Coming End Of Reason, Act Of War, Feed On Your Grief, Decadence In Solitude, Recall, In Human Greed
Crims quoted 80 / 100
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