Being a band from Israel can be no easy task, let alone a Thrash/Death Metal band. Now try doing that for 25 years and you have Salem. “Playing God and Other Short Stories” marks the bands 7th full length release, and they show no sign of stopping. The Israeli quintet really gives all that they have one every album, they definitely don’t hold out on this one. Kicking off the album with ‘Drums of the Dead’ the group is joined by drummer Nir Nakav’s wife Christin doing some background vocals. She appears throughout the album which her clean vocals really add substance to the otherwise thrashy album. But upon listening you will quickly find that the band is in no need to add substance, as their sound as a whole is very similar to that of Sepultura. Very tribal sounding drum beats, mixed with crazy thrash guitars and Ze’ev’s unique vocals, the band just works well together. That being said adding the clean vocals of Christin doesn’t take from the songs at all. One thing that just kinda seems out of place is the track ‘I Hate Pigs’ a 1:11 instrumental where “I Hate Pigs” is shouted a few times over what sounds like a moving tank, just seems unnecessary, but I am sure there is a reason behind it. To make up for it in the closing track ‘Playing God’ they have an Israeli chant mixed into Ze’ev’s screaming of his lyrics and then again to close out the track, very epic.
Adding to the list of surprises to the album, Salem does an excellent rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Exodus’ and also have At The Gates front man Tomas Lindberg join them for the tracks ‘The Mark of the Beast Pt. 1 & 2’. I had just come across this band about four years ago, just prior to their 2007 release of “Necessary Evil” and at first listen I was hooked and wanted more. For newcomers of the band you might check out their earlier albums including their 1994 release “Kaddish” just to get a feel of their true sound and then venture into these more current releases. If you are lucky you can find the version of “Playing God” that has the bonus track sung completly in Israeli.
If you are a Thrash Metal fan then this is definitely an album you do not want to pass up. It may be hard to come across in smaller towns, so I added a link to the bands merch page. I highly recommend this album for fans of Metallica, Sepultura and Orphaned Land.
Run Time: 47:40 Rating: 3.5/5
Ze’ev Tananboim – Vocals
Lior Mizrachi – Guitar
Michael Goldstein – Bass
Nir Nakav – Drums
Nir Gutraiman – Guitar
SALEM was formed in 1985 along with the newly born extreme metal scene and released 2 demo tapes called:
” Salem “(1986) and “Destruction till Death”(1987).
Back than, SALEM were in very good relations with Mayhem`s founder Euronymous who offered SALEM relocation to Norway and joining their cult. Varg Vikernes (Burzum) who disliked the band ideals thought differently and sent to vocalist Zeev Tananboim an explosive envelope by mail. After 5 years of a successful underground career and a line-up change to: Zeev Tananboim – Vocals, Lior Mizrachi – Guitar, Michael Goldstein – Bass, Giora Hirsch – Guitar, Amir Neubach – Drums, The band released “Millions Slaughtered Live”(1990). This demo tape sold 1,500 copies and got the band a record deal with the German label Morbid Records.
“Creating our sins”(1992) and “Kaddish”(1994) were released by Morbid records. Prior to the release of “Kaddish”, Morbid Records released a 7 inch picture EP with the single “Dying Embers”(1994) to promote the album, and when “Kaddish” came out, a limited edition of the album was released on vinyl (picture disc).
The opening song “The Fading” was played on M.T.V’s Headbangers Ball rotation and also got the band to be elected as one of the best 10 up and coming bands in the world by M.T.V and Kerrang. “Kaddish” also featured a cover song called “Ha’ayara Bo’eret” (the town is on fire), a song that is being associated with the holocaust. This national controversy found its way to the Israeli parliament for a discussion of whether or not it is appropriate for a metal band to play such songs.
In 1998, following the best offer the band got from Israeli label B.N.E., producer Colin Richardson, the man who produced such known act as Machine Head, Fear Factory etc, flew over to Israel to record “A Moment of Silence”. The album was recorded at D.B. studios in Israel and The Chapel in England and was released late 1998.
Right after the “A Moment of Silence” recording session, Amir Neubach quits the band to pursue a music career in New-York City.
Nir Nakav, who just returned from L.A. after 4 years, joins SALEM. In early 2001,
In December 2001, SALEM signed deal with KMG/ System Shock from Germany.
The 4th album “Collective Demise” released in September 2002.
The fourth SALEM album is the most aggressive SALEM album to date. Produced by the band and recorded in D.B. Studios (Drums, Bass, and Guitars) and Noise Studios (Vocals and mix) in Israel to maintain the bombastic production standard set forth with previous release “A Moment of Silence”.
“Collective Demise” contains 12 new songs which textually are snapshots of our reality since September 2002.
Nir Gutraiman (Guitar) joins SALEM in 2002.
February 2004 SALEM is back with a vengeance, Live Demise D V D offering their ever expanding fan base the opportunity to bring one of the band’s infamous live shows home. Shot last July in front of 1000 raging fans, this full-length live concert is presented in stereo, 5.1 and DTS mixes.
2005 saw the light of “Strings Attached” the first album in music history of extreme metal band with full strings quartet orchestra, the startup made a huge impact in the European market and magnificent reviews were written in all important media journalists, the album led to special show in Israel in front of 1000 die hard fans with the strings quartet on stage and Attilla from the Norwegian band Mayhem as special guest.
June 2007 The band’s new album “Necessary Evil” was released by French label “Seasons of Mist” in June, the album reflects more modern yet technical and aggressive side of the band.
On June the band played at the main slot of HELLFEST FESTIVAL in France with bands as Machine Head, Slayer, Blind Guardian, Within Temptation and more.
“SALEM Underground’s” official release date is June 6th, 2008. This DVD is a collection of performances from 4 different shows. The concept for this DVD was to mix the recorded audio (in Stereo) but to leave it un-edited to maintain the rawest live experience possible.
Salem – 1986
Destruction Till Death – 1987
Millions Slaughtered /Live – 1990
Creating Our Sins – 1992
Dying Embers – 1994
Kaddish – 1994
A Moment Of Silence – 1998
Al Taster EP – 2002
Collective Demise – 2002
Live Demise D V D – 2004
Strings Attached – 2006
Necessary Evil – 2007
Salem Underground DVD/CD – 2008
Playing God and Other Short Stories – 2010