|Salems Pot — Pronounce This (July 22, 2016)|
Salems Pot — Pronounce This (July 22, 2016)
• The horror–obsessed Swedish doom rockers turn in a breakthrough sequel. SALEM’S POT: With a name like that, there really should be no question what the band’s aesthetic is all about: doom doom doom with a side of freakshow horror and some mindbending psychedelics. Hailing from Sweden, the band has been steadily releasing tapes and vinyl to a steady growing crowd of enthusiasts. There’s shades of Electric Wizard riffage, but Salem’s Pot manage to make the sound unmistakably their own. Location: Sweden
Style: Doom Metal, Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock
Album release: July 22, 2016
Record Label: RidingEasy Records
01. Tranny Takes A Trip 8:07
02. Just for Kicks 7:16
03. The Vampire Strikes Back 7:24
04. Coal Mind 12:47
05. So Gone, So Dead 3:43
06. Desire 9:52
• “Don’t try to fight it,” the band’s motto implores, “Salem’s Pot has come to destroy your mind.” It’s the same kind of winking tease employed by low budget horror films of the 70s–80s that essentially dared audiences to experience what they knew they wanted, but couldn’t possibly expect.
»♦♠♦» Likewise, the new album by mysterious Swedish quintet Salem’s Pot delivers truly gritty and captivating heavy rock in high contrast technicolor: a sonic equivalent of The Last House On The Left, El Topo and Blood Feast. Similar to the way such films made up for their lack of flashy, expensive effects with dim lighting and implied violence, a hallucinogenic sense of true evil lurks in the dark corners of Salem’s Pot’s sound. Lest we forget, the band’s name itself is a pun on Stephen King’s stark, modernized vampire masterpiece.
»♦♠♦» Where previous Salem’s Pot releases honed doom riffs to perfection, Pronounce This! sees the band expanding its horizons to the far corners of imagination. It’s a hazy fever dream of dark, thrilling excess. It’s equal parts of The Cramps’ Psychedelic Jungle, Pentagram’s Relentless, Roky Erickson’s The Evil One and The Stooges Raw Power, as much heirs to Deep Purple as Dead Moon… metal, garage punk, acid rock and a belladonna trip gone wrong. It’s not heavy metal, this is a mutant monster that cannot be tamed.
»♦♠♦» And, perhaps as a continuation of the band’s fascination with sinful lore, Salem’s Pot never identifies its band members individually — they’re all completely anonymous without so much as a stagename. One of the biggest upgrades since the band’s 2014 RidingEasy album …Lurar ut dig pa prarien is the addition of second guitar, with the previous drummer giving up the throne for the strap and a new unnamed mystery man pounding the kit. Now, the band is freed to expand beyond the riff and get truly freaky. And with each new release, the vocals are way more snarling punk than the doom histrionics of their peers.
»♦♠♦» Album opener “Tranny Takes a Trip” kicks off with a humming modular synth drone and twin guitar throb lulling beneath a cascading haze of gurgling keyboard–through–delay–loop sounds before settling in to a stomping anthem replete with NWOBHM harmonized guitar leads. The album’s tone clearly set for the shadiest recesses of our minds, “Just For Kicks” swaggers in on a phaser–drenched single note guitar line that sets up a demented blues as the tuneful, yelping vocals expound on a penchant for chemical excess with direct honesty. A shortened edit of “The Vampire Strikes Back” was released as a single in late 2015, shorn down to the hook–laden rocker at the seven–and–a–half minute song’s core. But here you get the track’s full, sprawling glory as it staggers through a hazy, murderous leitmotif with noir–ish deliberation. “Coal Mind” is the album centerpiece at nearly 13 minutes of Hawkwind on a bad trip, drifting from space rock with an exemplary “bit of finger” to throbbing, hypnotic pulse that eventually ruptures with monolithic drop–tuned wall of guitar. “So Gone, So Dead” is a moment of respite giving nod to Gram Parsons’ lysergic western swing with funereal weight. “Desire” closes the album with epic grandeur reminiscent of Roky Erickson’s bleak murder ballad “Burn The Flames” supercharged with squealing and writhing guitars and thunderous drums.
»♦♠♦» “They used to wake up on your couch, not wanting to wake up,” the band’s brief manifesto explains. “Desperately clinging to sin, degradation, murder and substance abuse. With nothing left inside they made an attempt to tell someone about it, and the dead chuckled merrily: ‘You’re not alone.’”
BY JON HADUSEK ON JULY 20, 2016, 6:00AM / Score: B+
»♦♠♦» Salem’s Pot were born from horror films, bong hits, and boredom — quite literally. “That’s exactly how we started the band, just watching horror movies,” frontman/guitarist Knate explained in our recent interview. “I was the only guy playing music, so we just started as a concept … 50 percent music, 50 percent horror movies.” That was years ago, and Salem’s Pot have since become a cultish stoner doom institution. They were the first release on pervasive ‘70s–worship label RidingEasy Records, and now Salem’s Pot patches adorn the battle jackets of fringe–dwelling stoner rockers the world over.
»♦♠♦» Pronounce This! is their turning point. It’s a record beyond anything the band’s ever attempted, imaginative in its composition and ambitious in its playing. Gone is the muddy lo–fi recording quality of past records and with it some of that homespun freakiness Salem’s Pot so perfectly captured in its early days. But the tracks here demanded proper recording, and the album is better for it. No more fucking around: This is a new, evolved Salem’s Pot that’s serious about what they’re doing. What was once a baked idea has become a career choice, and the band have stepped up to claim their rightful place among the genre’s elite.
»♦♠♦» The sheer range of sound the band emits is wild and weird, space synths swirling beneath chugging guitar riffs, Thin Lizzy licks, and Knate’s cracked vocal delivery. In this way, Salem’s Pot have become a sort of stoner rock Brian Jonestown Massacre. Tracks like opener “Tranny Takes a Trip” and “The Vampire Strikes Back” wander between free–form psych jams and more structured pop arrangements without being too predictable or erratic.
»♦♠♦» The band’s love of strange film bleeds into its songwriting, as catchy melodies, hooks, and phrases are arranged into cinematically paced multi–movement epics. On “The Vampire Strikes Back” — a straight–up hard–rocker and the album’s obvious lead single — the music builds (a la a film’s rising action) before dropping into a vat of crawling John Carpenter synths (suspense) and then reaching a climactic drum solo outro. The instrumental “Coal Mind” takes this concept even further, evoking the kaleidoscopic moods and textural prog of Goblin, Amon Düül II, and late ‘60s Pink Floyd. The songs, however lengthy, never tire or grow stale, giving Pronounce This! a brisk speed that’s inherently uncommon for three–sided stoner doom LPs. As it winds down, the country rock aside “So Gone So Dead” eases the record into its dark closer, “Desire”, which sounds like Dead Moon playing Sabbath. Like an eerie cliffhanger, it looms and lingers in your mind after the album ends.
»♦♠♦» And to think this band only had one member who could even play an instrument when it formed. Salem’s Pot have crafted a record of startling competence and listenability. Pronounce This! is their breakthrough — the record that positions them as one of the genre’s elite. On the other hand, Salem’s Pot is probably more than happy to remain in the shadows of cult stardom like the classic horror they love. They won’t have a choice, though, if they keep cutting tracks this strong.
Essential Tracks: “The Vampire Strikes Back”, “Coal Mind”, and “Desire”
|Salems Pot — Pronounce This (July 22, 2016)|