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Salem Hill - The Robbery Of Murder CD (album) cover


Salem Hill



3.88 | 73 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This album is a masterpiece of neo-prog. It is simply one of the most cohesive, compassionate, gritty, realistic and downright coherent concept albums I've ever heard.

Overture begins with a free-style sequence signaling that something different is on the horizon ? something darker than we are used to hearing from Salem Hill.

Swerve begins reminiscent of an introspective interlude from Pink Floyd's "The Wall". How were they to know that a drunk driver would soon end a life? The textures drops into a lone and pensive section of piano. Slow-hand electric slide guitar ushers in tasteful drumming. Church bells ring in the background to transition us seamlessly into the next song?

The denial is utterly clinical in the song. "When's he coming home?" The painful answer is that he's won't. The arrangement builds with violin, a plucked harp tone, even a music-box type tinkling piano sound. Everything drops to pensive solo piano again. Another Pink Floyd-fest ensues with slow-hand melodic electric guitar and keyboard strings taking center stage. The song ends with a surreal utterance of "Dad?"

No few years have transpired when we rejoin our bitter and vengeful protagonist screaming "Daddy!" to kick off the song "Someday". Just when I think the music is far too bouncy to be reminiscent of Floyd? the lyrics do the trick. "You chronic pretender, you rank elbow-bender"? I almost expect a subtle "ha ha ? charade you are" to follow? Groves convincingly spews an angry vocal timbre on this one. "Someday I'll get you, you sorry excuse? I'll carve out your heart if you have one to carve? because you hardened mine? because you poisoned mine? You reckless lifetaker? You ? mocker of life". The 5/4 section of the song is one of the catchiest and naturally flowing odd meters you'll find. Ragsdale's violin naturally evokes memories of Kansas.

Blame is the truly rare song that intelligently pleads both sides of a case. It even manages to reach a logical conclusion without sounding preachy. The tone is lighter ? even if it is served with a side dish of irony.

The upbeat tone of "Dream" is like a welcome breath of fresh air. A middle 13/8 section with fantastic violin lines takes us to heights Salem Hill had never taken us to before. There is no doubt that this is the album in which Salem hill has *found* their prog voice.

We get to hear the band mature right before our ears as they explore polyphonic counterpoint on "Father and Son", and the instrumental tune that serves as our intermission between Acts I and II.

"To the Hill" is as soulful and tuneful as it is mellow. And the sweetness is moderated by a melancholic tone. Hey. Even the great giants of prog shot for a hit single every now and again didn't they?

The grit and hard-driving determination of "Revenge" ushers us into the defining moment of "Trigger". A pretty guitar section gives us an interlude in which we are allowed to think and let it all sink in. Wow.

The epilogue fairly reminds us that "life goes on". Our central character must face the rest of his life with the choice he has made. When the obsession that has become the driving force of your life is gone, what is one to make of the giant hole that it leaves behind?

Without giving too much away, I'll only say that a realization does break into view. And so this masterpiece of neo-prog ends on a hopeful and positive note.

progpositivity | 5/5 |


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