Wuthering Heights - Salt
Scarlet Records
Melodic, Progressive Power / Folk Metal
9 songs (59:38)
Release year: 2010
Wuthering Heights, Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Kyle
Album of the month

Sometimes I have to set aside all expectations for an album and simply enjoy it for what it is. After Wuthering Height’s last album, The Shadow Cabinet, I had extremely high hopes for a follow-up record, but when the time for the album’s release did come around (and nearly four years later, at that), I had a realization that it was incredibly unlikely that Salt, the band’s fifth album, would surpass it in quality. The Shadow Cabinet was an incredibly original album and, when I really thought about it, not much could’ve been done to that formula to improve it, as said formula was essentially perfect as it was; expectations HAD to be set aside, because otherwise, I was almost surely going to be disappointed. Now normally, this is the part where I tell all of you that Wuthering Heights proved me wrong, that they crafted their true masterwork with Salt, and that never again would I doubt them. But not this time, folks; this new album doesn’t quite meet the standard The Shadow Cabinet set four years ago.

But it comes close. DAMN close. Basically, if you’re a Wuthering Heights fan, you can stop reading right now and go buy Salt blindly (though it’d be polite to keep reading!).

As Wuthering Height’s line-up hasn’t changed since The Shadow Cabinet, you should know what to expect as far as musicianship goes; diverse and blistering drum work, rock-solid technical guitar riffing, and powerful vocals brought to us by the unmatchable Nils Patrik Johansson insure that even if the music is mediocre (which it is certainly NOT), it will at least be performed by amazingly talented musicians. And while Wuthering Heights hasn’t presented us with their best album here, it is 2nd best in my opinion, and it certainly doesn’t try to replicate The Shadow Cabinet; rather, WB has opted for a more melodic style than they previously shown us while never sacrificing their technicality. The jolly melodies, often backed up with folk instruments such as accordions and violins, are probably a result of the album’s concept; while it may or may not tell a story, per se, a common theme of oceans and sailing is carried on throughout, and some of the lyrics are rather brilliant. The Mad Sailor, a narration from a crazed sea-farer of a doomed ship that he is an unfortunate passenger of, features ironic lines such as ”I will write no solemn epitaphs for a world that’s gone insane.”. And on top of this, the song itself is also amazing; in fact, it’s probably my favorite Wuthering Heights song to date. If that main melody doesn’t make your heart swell the first time you hear it… then man, there’s something wrong with you.

In fact, while not the band’s greatest album as a whole, a few songs here are better than anything Wuthering Heights have written previously. The energetic, melodic power metal featured on The Desperate Poet and the sixteen-plus minute song Lost at Sea are other major highlights here, and the latter is an absolutely incredible epic to say the least; if Wuthering Heights, Iced Earth, Stratovarius, and Dream Theater had all banded together to collaborate on one spectacular track, the end result might sound something like this. Melodic lead guitar flourishes, galloping riffs, and ballad-y acoustic segments all mesh together wonderfully on Salt’s closing track, and along with The Mad Sailor, it is the true highlight of the album. But that’s not to say that the other six songs are bad; all are nothing short of great, and while not all of them are entirely memorable, each track is chock full of fast tempos, warm melodies, and creative songwriting that makes Salt a relentlessly entertaining album.

But because Salt is bookended by its best songs (The Desperate Poet and The Mad Sailor position themselves at the bow while Lost at Sea anchors the stern), the album seems a bit unbalanced; the middle tracks all have defining moments, but they don’t have their own unique personalities as the best songs do, so therefore the songs tend to blend as Salt journeys into its latter half. Also, the production isn’t quite as well done here as it was on The Shadow Cabinet; lead guitars sound a tad lifeless, somehow, and drums are a bit too quiet for my tastes, though by no means is this album poorly mixed. At the end of the day’s voyage, desite it’s very few flaws, Salt is a truly joyous album, and one that will undoubtedly land a comfortable spot on my year’s end best-of list come next January. Screw Alestorm; THIS is Pirate Metal!

Killing Songs :
The Desperate Poet, The Mad Sailor, Lost at Sea
Kyle quoted 93 / 100
Alex quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Wuthering Heights that we have reviewed:
Wuthering Heights - The Shadow Cabinet reviewed by Alex and quoted 84 / 100
Wuthering Heights - Far From The Madding Crowd reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
Wuthering Heights - To Travel For Evermore reviewed by Alex and quoted 77 / 100
Wuthering Heights - Within reviewed by Chris and quoted 84 / 100
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