1. Let Us Prey
2. The Hate In Me
3. No Plague Like Home
4. Pretty Little Nightmare
5. Made To Be Mine
6. Cold Day In Hell
7. Demons Are Forever
8. Another Nail In My Coffin
9. Severely Yours
10. Dead Hearts Don’t Break
It’s amazing how small the world is. When I receive a debut album to review, I don’t read anything about the band (not even the press release that comes with the album) until after I have listened to the entire thing. In the case of South Of Salem, though, I cracked it open just before the end, as the album is of such good quality, that I was wondering whether I was wrong and it wasn’t a debut album.
Not only is it a debut album, but the band are from my hometown (or close enough), and I actually worked with the lead singer in a dead end call centre job about ten years ago! So while that information has not affected my review in any way, I did find it amusing that one of the musical high spots of 2020 has come from someone I knew in real life, which is always nice.
Back to the album though, and I think you can already tell my opinion based on those opening paragraphs. This is a solid, well-made and exciting album, and for a debut it is outstanding. What’s it like? Well, it takes elements of Classic Rock, some harder edged Metal and even a bit of Blues to create a beautiful sound. It sounds like Rob Zombie and Guns N Roses formed a supergroup – as weird as that may be to imagine. (I’m sure someone, somewhere has come up with a better analogy than I have, but this was my first thought, and I’m sticking with it).
After rocking out to the opening track “Let Us Prey”, I was a little concerned that the rest of the album wouldn’t be able to maintain this quality level, and I was happily proved wrong in this instance. The whole thing is superb. Yes, there are songs that I prefer more than others (and I’ll get to those in a minute), but I think it is really important to state that this is ten tracks of absolute audio bliss – this is an album that deserves to be played over and over again.
But as I said, even on a great album, there are standout tracks, and for me these are the following:
“Cold Day In Hell” is a perfect blend of pure Metal and singalong choruses – the crunchy guitars, the wonderful vocals and the power the song maintains throughout mean that it is clearly going to be a track that I will revisit time after time.
As an opener, “Let Us Prey” is almost unmatched in recent years – it really slams you into the album and sets up the tone of what you can expect, with a song that you can bang your head to for its entire duration, and a chorus that is powerful and exceedingly memorable.
For me, the high point of the back in the end of the album is “Another Nail In My Coffin”. Slightly slower than my other two favourites, with lyrics that resonate and some superb riffage throughout, this song is on a par with 'Cold Day In Hell' as my absolute favourite track on the album.
If I think this album is so good, then do I have any negative points to make about it? Not a lot, if I’m honest! The one thing that I thought was that in some instances, it does feel as if the production maybe takes an edge off the loudest/angriest sections of songs, filing down the edges just a touch too much? I suspect that as a live band, some of these choruses are rawer and harder than they come across here – but that’s a really minor criticism.
In short, for a debut album, “The Sinner Takes It All” is amazing. This band are definitely going to be one to watch (and since they are from my neck of the woods, I’m hoping that I get to go and watch them when gigs are allowed to be a thing again!). All I can say for now is please support this band with everything you can – it must be tough launching a debut album in 2020 and not being able to tour to promote it, so please do listen to this album and if you like it, drop the money to show that you do. I certainly intend to grab a physical copy once it is released on 24th Sept, and I would encourage you all to do the same.
South Of Salem are a band to watch in a big bad way – if this is what they do with their debut album, I am truly excited to see where they go in the future, and I would like to thank them for bringing a ray of hope into the dark times in which we currently live.
Website - https://www.southofsalem.com/
Facebook - www.facebook.com/southofsalemofficial
Review - Michael Braunton