Released: 2010, Pure Steel Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
As a short background, UK´s Salem was founded in late 1979 by two former members from the METAL FOR MUTHAS stars Ethel the Frog – Paul Tognola (vocals/guitar) and Paul Conyers (drums). The band recorded 3 demos and one single with different line-ups between 1981-83. Despite receiving much label interest back in those days, they sort of imploded eventually, playing their last sold-out show in Hull on May 31st 1983. They have activated again for playing at least a one-off gig in their hometown Hull this autumn, plus even being asked to play some selected festivals in Europe in 2011.
In 2010 both German High Roller Records and Pure Steel Records approached the band, keen on releasing their 80's stuff both on vinyl and CD format. The band agreed, and this double album compilation was blessed by the title IN THE BEGINNING…, containing all their 3 demos, 2-track single and a couple of bonus tracks.
Musically we can naturally - and somewhat rightfully talk about the famous NWOBHM sound on Salem´s early releases, but also added with the 70ies rock sound. A mix of 2-chord and mellow 70s rock (alá Purple/Rainbow/Thin Lizzy) and early straightforward and melodic 80s metal is what their music was all about back in the day - churned out with an ear how to make the songs to stand out pretty nicely and effortlessly even. Basically their stuff ain´t too far removed from some other UK´s 70s rock and 80s NWOBHM bands like Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Jaguar, Purple, Thin Lizzy, Witchfynde, etc., while still maintaining to have their own rather personal sound on their past releases. UK´s Salem has truly got a catchy, rockin´ vibe in their early stuff - and it´s actually very easy to relate to their kind style if you have just ever adored and liked the old-school sound from those vintage times; the familiar and safe sound that has become almost a greater-than-life-itself phenomenon ever since bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden made it once so big and more known around every continent on this globe.
Even if we talk about early releases from the period of 1981-83, the sound quality of Salem´s demo/single releases is surprisingly good; better than one might actually expect from them in the first place - keeping in mind it´s the early 80s are referred to the times when Salem recorded all this stuff.
This double CD collection wraps up Salem UK´s history beautifully, and for die-hard collector´s of fine NWOBHM it should be mentioned that a limited quantity of IN THE BEGINNING… is also available straight from the band´s own website both in vinyl and CD formats, signed by the whole band. ;o)