Sound — 8
Part 1 of a two part album and off to a great start. The guitar work/drums are outstanding and the band has definitely grown since their previous effort. The production is a huge step up from their debut self-titled EP. Here we have three tracks for Pt.1. "Enigma," "When Heaven Comes Down" and "You Can't Hide From The Beast Inside." The opening track/single "Enigma" is pummeling. It's heavy and so fast that it makes DragonForce seem like a doom band. The track has elements of black, death, thrash, glam, visual kei and power metal. The guitar playing is beastly and the drumming un-relenting. The vocals are raspy and sound like a cool blend of Brian Johnson, UDO, David Wayne, Blackie Lawless, Bobby Elsworth and Dean Davidson. My favorite track thus far.
Next is "When Heaven Comes Down". This track takes it down a notch to play with some groove. The intro riff reminds me of "Crazy Train" and the song has a melodeath/dark power metal vibe to it. It's weird this track has a deep sadness to it, I get doom and gloom vibes from it. Regardless, the guitar work again is tasteful and this track has my favorite solo from singer/guitarist Monroe Black. It's very fusionesque, great phrasing. My only beef with this song is that I wish the the guitar tone was better, as it is a little on the "sludgy" side.
The final track of Pt.1 of the album is "You Can't Hide from The Beast Inside". The guitar tone and vocal performance on this track is great. Rich vocal harmonies and a great breakdown in the middle of the song. The band really outdid themselves with this one. Looking forward to Pt.2. Another critique. The bass on all three tracks is buried and barely audible. I wish it was clean and that you can hear the notes being played. This also seemed to plague the band's previous effort. Hopefully this changes in Pt.2.
Lyrics — 9
While there are a sea of metal bands that write lyrics to attempt to prove how brutal they are or about unicorns and dragons, Salems Lott focus more on a Social Political climate and not the established mainstream style of thought.
These guys are confrontational. "Enigma" challenges the collectivist attitude of shutting down the individual. Not just focusing on PC/SJW culture, but explaining what it's morphed into (a totalitarian/fascist sort of regime)and the double standards that are presented by left-leaners. Let's not forget the Antifa types, this band makes clear to critisize. Track 2 is more of a personal (song), journey of the individual facing the herd. The struggle against the mob mentality. The outcast, but not just because you look different, but because your ideals and values are different from the people around you. Again, sad vibes from this song. The final track from what I gather is basically saying we all have an ugliness to us and that we're no different from those we consider "evil". In short we are all capable of the grotesque and that "good" and "evil" is just a point of view. That's what I think anyway.
Critically speaking, the band may benefit from trying to write more relatable lyrics. While I like it, it might be too philosophical for most to digest. Not saying they should write a party anthem, but something more grounded even though their lyrics currently is a nice curve ball from what you'd expect with a band that looks the way they do. Thankfully, they don't have any of the cringy anti-bullying/"be yourself" lyrics of the core bands today as well as the eye rolling satanic, anti-religious theme that has played itself out YEARS ago.
Overall Impression — 9
Like I said before, they definitely outdid their previous effort. "Enigma" is my fave thus far and the video is epic as well. All in all I see this band being an either 'love it or hate it' kind of deal. A great mix of old and new: I hear some Babymetal, Dragonforce comparisons being drawn as well as Dimmu Borgir, King Diamond, the obvious Motley Crue/WASP, Iron Maiden, Accept, Versailles, X Japan and some other Visual Kei bands. Great production for a purely independent band and impressive musicianship all around.
Allot of people are going to give them flack for their image and are most likely going to have a hard time assessing the music objectively. Regardless, those people just parrot what they read and jump on the "shit on any make-up wearing band" bandwagon. I'm sure they will get a lot of the typical "OMG 80s!!! lmao" type of responses but that is a very shallow viewpoint and maybe it's time a lot of us get over that beaten-to-death approach.
I think this is the kick in the ass the Rock/Metal world needs. I definitely have a soft spot for the band because I'm a sucker for the underdog or outsider, especially considering the industry today and their attitude towards a band like this. I'm really not that surprised that bigger metal news sites haven't posted or featured them and are still only posting bands from 30+ years ago or the typical modern clickbait. All their current writers have interchangeable taste in music, so they all usually write about the same bands/styles of metal. Is it for everyone, no, but if you like to mix it up and enjoy the bands listed above then give them a shot, you might enjoy Salems Lott's metal styling and find a new band you really like.