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Salem Hill


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2 stars On their debut this american band blends typical AOR with 80's progressive rock. 80's Rush, Marillion and IQ come to mind as possible influences. The music is melodic, with soft vocals and keyboards, but also with some good hard rock guitar playing as well. It's well performed and catchy. But it's evident that they hadn't developed their definitive sound yet and the AOR feeling is predominant here, so I think this is not really an interesting release for the prog rock lovers. I wouldn't say that it's bad music, though, so it's not a bad purchase if you want to have their complete discography. For the purposes of this site it's a 2'5 stars album.
Report this review (#99541)
Posted Sunday, November 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars There is very little symphonic prog to expect from this album. More in the poor AOR style ("The Dilemma", "There Must Be More Than This", "Hands & Feet") or at best in the neo-prog vein with the good opening track "Golden Crosses" which can be related to "IQ".

The music available is melodic and pleasant at times. In this respect, "Aceldama" is my favorite; but the reference to some great bands from the seventies is too obvious (but it is often the case in the neo style) and a track as "Between The Two" is rather cheesy.

Here and there, some light is shining out of the dark. "Fool's Gate" is such one. A more complex structure and a good guitar work are more than welcome even if the closing puts us back again in the AOR feel.

There is little to say about this album (that's probably why no one has written a comment before mine); just that song writing is average and that there are very few songs of interest. Under these circumstances Evil One is another one of them but it is immediately followed by the very poor Never Alone.

In all, this is not album that would please any symphonic prog fan at all. I'll be generous and rate this work with two stars.

Report this review (#179378)
Posted Monday, August 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Salem Hill would go on to make some fine albums in the symphonic/neo prog vein, the highpoint being Not Everybody's Gold released in 2000. This, their eponymous debut and follow up Different World's however owed more to American AOR than prog. Nevertheless it's a promising start with the emphasis on melodic hooks rather than lengthy complex prog excursions.

Fans of the likes of Boston and Styx should enjoy some of the melodic rock on offer, none better than album opener Golden Crosses which does venture into neo prog territory and features some powerful guitar work and a catchy hook. The music generally alternates between more powerful rock moments such as The Dilemma, There Must Be More Than This and Never Alone and ballads like Aceldama and Hand And Feet. Things can get a bit syrupy at times, Hand and Feet and Between The Two being prime examples. Occasionally they get a bit more inventive and glimmers of prog shine through like on Evil One though these moments are few and far between.

Not a great album by any means but the band play well enough and with the easily accessible melodic hooks it's difficult to be too disparaging. As might be expected this is not the best cd to start discovering Salem Hill, a far better place being Not Everybody's Gold or Robbery Of Murder which show what the band are really capable of. 2 stars.

Report this review (#270760)
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Salem Hill began as an ambitious Album Rock Band. Kansas, Styx, Toto and even a little of the sappy side of that "Eye of the TIger" band Survivor are good reference points. Even in the soft rock hit single tracks, overly Intelligent vocal arrangements and brave synth lines tend to subvert the commercial sensibility with great effect.

This album is far from bereft of Proggie-ness. From the 7/8 time signature of "Evil One" and the beautifully symphonic passages of "Open Windows" to the polyphonic counterpoint of the middle section of "Fool's Gate" there is much to foreshadow the prog heights this young band would scale in years to come.

Looking back, it gets hard to remember how incredibly difficult it was for a new indie band to learn their craft and to record a debut album with anything approximating decent sound quality in the early 1990's. Everything was so much more expensive. Most studios still used giant reel-to-reels of 32 track recording *tape*. Windows 3.1 was brand new in 1992! Before that we were running our home 286 PCs on MS-DOS. "Bad command or file name" anyone?

In that context, I'm impressed with the tight vocal harmonies and catchy hooks on this independent release. For all its strong points, Salem Hill's debut album is primarily of interest only to die-hard Salem Hill fans - or melodic AOR fans looking for something uniquely proggie. That said, this is one of the *better* 2 star albums around IMO - and one any true SH fan should be *proud* to have in their collection.

Report this review (#279634)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, we all have to start somewhere.........

Salem Hill has become quite a great band. But I guess even they blushes when confronted with this album. And with good reason.

Released in 1992 but most of the material probably written in the 1980s, this album has this plastic fantastic sound from the 1980s. The music is commercial, oily AOR. The sound is based on synths and some guitars. That and some angelic like vocals which sounds far too sugary for it's own good. The synths is also far too sweet to be consumed by human ears. In other words, cringeworthy. There are some hints of both neo and symphonic prog. But they are well hidden among cringeworthy stuff.

The quality would also make the listener cringe. It is poor in other words. But the album is saved from the turkey yard by a few good symphonic prog melody lines. The rest is of this album is best bypassed and so is this album as a whole. London too debuted as a square surrounded by some mud huts and that is the only good thing I can say about this album, the debut album by Salem Hill.

2 stars

Report this review (#455234)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink

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