Despite being described by the band as being ‘edgier’ than their previous output, Attrition – the third full-length from Northern English rockers Salem – is about as straightforward as it gets.
Opening track Attrition utilises one of the most overused riffs in metal history to kick things off, whilst second track Black and White fuses Saxon and latterday Uriah Heep with, strangely enough, Joe Walsh to create a laid back, pop metal style that is very listenable despite it’s clearly derivative stylistics.
Indeed the whole album is very listenable indeed. Third track I’m the One calls for the assistance of Uriah Heep again – vocalist Simon Saxby is a vocal dead ringer at times for Heep’s Bernie Shaw – and is the sort of track that would have been released as a single when the band formed way back in the early eighties after their original iteration as NWoBHM icons Ethel the Frog came to an end.
In fact the early to mid eighties are clearly where Salem feel most at home. Many will find gratifying the fact that the band make almost no concession to the fact that thirty plus years have passed since this music was in vogue; The song’s longest song, Lest We Forget is the sort of ‘epic’ that all post NWoBHM bands aspired to recording back in the day, and here the band pull it off with stern-faced conviction, not to say skill and no little panache. If you like prime time Diamond Head, then this will push several of your buttons.
Guitarists Paul MacNamara and Mark Allison both shine on that track, meshing together strongly, but they take a backseat role on the more AOR-sounding My Only Son. This is a really classy song that brings to mind Caught In the Game-era Survivor, and as such it sticks out a bit from what’s gone before, but it’s an undeniably great track.
Sights of Wonder has similar pretensions to Lest We Forget but doesn’t fare so well, whilst Stay With Me heads off again towards radio territory with a pleasing refrain and strong vocals.
Taking Control and Warning Signs are solid, nothing more nothing less, but the insistent urgency of We Are Gods really gets the blood pumping, leaving closing track Isolation (sadly not a cover of the Toto song of the same name) to bring the curtain down in similarly energised style.
This is good stuff, make no mistake, but it’s hard to see it appealing to anybody that wasn’t around when Salem first made an assault on our ears all those years ago.
Attrition will be released by Dissonance Productions on February 23rd.