Salem first came to our attention playing a blinder at this year’s Wildfire Festival. They’re a hard rock band and one of those acts you feel could have been far more successful had the world not turned its back on rock and metal in the 1990’s.
Staggeringly, they formed in 1979 though they did draft away a bit towards the end of the ’80s to reform in 2009. Several of the members were originally in a band called Ethel the Frog(!) who featured on the age-old Metal For Muthas compilation albums. I wish I’d known this before Wildfire as I’ve got a copy in the loft I could have got signed!
Their most recent offering, and debut album, Forgotten Dreams, came out in 2013 and it’s a belter.
Musically, there’s obvious talent and experience here and Simon Saxby’s vocals are as good as you could want for a band of this genre. What sets them apart, though, is the quality of the song-writing. It’s probably unfair to say they’re influenced by bands who were around at the same time as their initial run, but there are obvious similarities to the likes of Whitesnake, Thunder and so on. Great guitar breaks, catchy riffs and a solid rhythm section back up the singing perfectly.
“When Love Is In Your Heart” is a perfect example of this with a belting chorus filled with backing vocals. “This Heart Is Mine” is as good as power ballads get, and we have some quality balls-out rock in tracks like “X-Rated” and “Forgotten Dreams”.
Pick of the tracks, and the one from their live set that made me want to check them out further, is “Break The Chains”. I couldn’t believe they weren’t sure whether to include this in their show at Wildfire, and it was the first time they’re played it live. It’s a superb atmospheric track that sets the hairs up on the back of your neck during the chorus. It’s like they’ve studied the book on how to draft the perfect slow-building rock classic and nailed it with a grade A. It deserves to be on any rock compilation album.
Forgotten Dreams can be picked up from Pure Rock Records now, or you can buy the tracks on Reverbnation.