Sound — 9
I stumbled upon this band by chance. I noticed my buddy had a cool looking album thrown in with a bunch of other CDs. I thought the album art was pretty awesome and it definitely caught my attention. He said I should seriously check them out. Long story short I bought the album without hearing a note and boy was I pleasantly surprised. Salems Lott is quartet from Hollywood, CA and for a band this new they seem to have developed a unique sound all to themselves right off their debut. A lot of bands need time to develop and find themselves, yet these guys are combining elements such as thrash, speed, glam, prog, power and classical all into one intense package that is uniquely theirs. This 7 song EP has everything from blistering guitar work, blood curdling vocals, time changes, classical (baroque era) passages all well put together in a tasteful/lethal package. In short the arrangements were well thought out and executed properly.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically this album is dark. I wouldn't say morbid ("No Choice to Love" comes close), but dark in a sense that it tackles some pretty ballsy subject matters. I'm not too fond of political themed lyrics as everyone has their own stance, BUT I won't hold it against an artist for expressing his or her thoughts. That's not to say the whole album is a political stance by any means, as lyrically it's quite diverse. Songs such as "S.S.," "Wings of Duress" and "Smoke and Mirrors" really explain how two faced society really is (I won't breakdown the lyrics, make your own interpretation. Isn't that part of the fun?). While songs such as "Black Magic" focus on the occult (duh) and "No Choice to Love" takes on a third person perspective. Monroe Black really deliver an outstanding vocal delivery. Especially on "Smoke and Mirrors" and "S.S." they guy sounds like he swallows broken glass as a warm up. He also has a great tonality to his voice and a unique voice all to his own. Think Blackie Lawless meets U.D.O. etc. Overall, lyrically ballsy and well written.
Overall Impression — 9
As this is the bands first release and they've only been around for a year or so, it's pretty damn impressive. It really commands attention. The band looks great, they are all definitely top tier musicians, the singer sounds monstrous and the production is pretty good for an independent band. My only grudge is the bass sound. It's a little muddy and it's hard to hear what the bass player is doing. Personally I love to hear the bass up front ala Steve Harris, Billy Sheehan etc. Another thing is I wish they could of included one more song instead of two instrumentals (the instrumentals are great especially "Twilight Traverse"), but I never was a HUGE fan of instrumental music. Regardless this is truly a diamond in a ruff and a great debut from a new and unknown band that has the potential to make some serious waves.