Playing God and Other Short Stories

Written by: EW on 14/04/2010 20:21:11

Israel's Salem are widely regarded to have been the first (extreme) metal band to emerge from the Middle East having formed back now in 1985 and in that time have released a healthy number of albums as well as been subjected to an unsuccessful mailbombing attempt from everyone's favourite Nazi, Varg Vikernes, who one imagines was not in awe of their Jewish heritage. Now in 2010 the elder statesmen of metal in their region already possess an authoritative and recognisable name, but with sixth album "Playing God and Other Short Stories" it seems they are merely living off this reputation.

Around the time I was getting into extreme metal the band's "Collective Demise" record garnered a decent amount of spins with its brutal death metal sound touched with Middle Eastern vibes and lyrics bearing an interesting juxtaposition to other albums I was buying at the time. However, eight years later Salem have released the kind of album that would have interested me more before I entered the hall of extreme metal; "Playing God..." is, I'm sad to say, a mish-mash of downtuned nu-metal styled guitars playing some of the most mediocre riffs I've heard from a death metal band in a long time. Save for occasional moments in the album's only genuinely alright track, closer "Playing God", and one or two others, authentic Middle Eastern touches are conspicuously absent, a fact made more damning in these post-Orphaned Land times.

Not just suffering from an absence of decent riffs, but a bass heavy and muted guitar mix, momentum-destroying female vocals and a cover of Bob Marley's "Exodus" that sounds nothing like the original, have all prevented "Playing God..." from growing on me over its numerous spins thus far. Salem have never written about conventional DM topics (Israel's politics provides much more ammunition than Sweden's for instance), and so it's likely a deeper meaning exists to the songs on offer here, but even that grace doesn't save Salem's last effort from coming in lower than average.


Download: Playing God
For the fans of: Morbid Angel, Melechesh, Orphaned Land
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.04.2010
Pulverised Records

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