Boomkat Product Review:
It took a f*cking pandemic to get them back, but SALEM finally stake their 2nd album a square decade since ‘King Night’ topped lists and pretty much defined the whole witch house thing
The cult Midwest US band, now a duo of Jack Donohue and John Holland, served a high water mark of that era circa 10 years ago, mixing chopped & screwed tekkers with doomy, emosh metal, gothic pop and hardstyle in a way that’s come to heavily influence or at least foreshadow the 2010s decade of soundcloud rappers, industrial mutations, and much more beside. They were regulars on our playlists back then, and ‘Fire In Heaven’ makes a welcome return in a world we couldn’t have predicted, with a pop-tart batch still snagged on saccharine trance hooks and grungy emo riffs, and smashed with medical grade negative-ecstasy numbness.
Chasing up this years killer ‘Stay Down’ mixtape with its unmissable use of Prokofiev-via-Trump, SALEM’s sophomore LP sees them grow older naturally while staying true to what makes them special. Preceding singles ‘Red River’ and ‘Starfall’ were strong indictors of what to expect, but they’re best consumed in syrupy slow flow of the album context, from the frozen face feels of ‘Not Much Of A Life’, thru the embroidered choral noise of ‘Braid’, allowing for some proper emo wallowing in ‘Old Gods’, and saving huge highlights for the gothic US modernism of ‘Sears Tower’ and the title track’s detuned Reese bass.