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Salem Hill - Not Everybody's Gold CD (album) cover


Salem Hill



3.54 | 63 ratings

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3 stars Salem Hill is a band that has a special place in my heart. When I was first researching newer prog bands, they came up and I was blown away by their album "The Robbery of Murder", which I still consider to be one of my favorite albums. It led me to getting their whole discography, which led to acquiring this little gem of an album called "Not Everybody's Gold". There is a lot of great symphonic prog to be enjoyed on this album and it opens with the fantastic mostly instrumental "Prelude" which really kicks the album off with a bang. There are great harmonies of "do do do" before the band kicks off and is able to show off their chops. The keyboards and drums are fantastic on this track.

This leads into "Riding the Fence" which is a nice little rocker with only minor prog influences. Nothing too incredibly special, but rather enjoyable in its simplicity. The proggiest section is a keyboard solo in the middle of the track that sounds like it could have been done by Keith Emerson himself. Very fun track! I do think it is perhaps a little too long and maybe might have been better to end after the awesome instrumental section. "The Last Enemy" is a rock ballad that has some tender vocals from Carl Groves and some really nice guitar playing. I must admit, though, that sometimes this track feels like it drags a bit, and I can't get myself too excited about it. Pleasant, but not memorable is my assessment. "January" might be my least favorite track on the album. It sounds bland to me and like straight forward classic rock rather than prog. There are some interesting keyboard bits, but not enough to save the song from mediocrity in my opinion.

"Let Loose the Arrow" starts with a very cheesy keyboard riff before some grooving bass kicks in and the band finally gets into a good grove. Then the vocals come in for some great harmonies which leads into an uplifting track with plenty of acoustic guitar. It is one of the better of these shorter tracks, but I still feel it is missing some kind of magic and it feels overly cheesy at parts. "We Don't Know" starts off with the sound of a music box before a more melancholy song starts up. This song doesn't seem to fit in the overly happy mood of all the other songs on the disc, and it is perhaps the most original. However, it still isn't anything special to me and seems like a pretty standard rock song.

But, fortunately the masterful "Sweet Hope Suite" comes on to save the album from mediocrity. It starts with pretty frenetic guitars and keyboards with majestic organ in the background. It sounds very much like Yes, either the opening to Close to the Edge or Heart of the Sunrise, I can't decide. After this breathtaking opening, things slow down a bit and Carl Groves sings beatifully over some beautiful keyboard. It is a thirty minute epic so it is impossible to write about all that is included, but it moves from the rocking to the beautiful. From the majesty of Yes to the fun of Kansas. There are some beautiful melodies throughout the whole track and all musicians shine throughout the track. The mark of a good epic is one that can keep your attention throughout the whole length. This one definitely does as it moves through its several sections. I'm a sucker for epics, and this is definitely no exception. It is wonderfully done.

This album would be worthy of 5 stars if it only contained the epic, but the album is dragged down for me by several mediocre tracks throughout the middle of the album. Sometimes it is a chore listening to the middle tracks in order to get to the magnificent epic, and that is a problem. I feel that Salem Hill have many other way stronger than this album and this album is not quite gold for me, despite the strength of the mighty epic.

natewait | 3/5 |


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