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Salem Hill


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Salem Hill Catatonia album cover
2.80 | 37 ratings | 4 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Walking Dead (4:54)
2. Real (5:50)
3. Children Without Innocence (6:27)
4. Facade & Charade (4:46)
5. I Blinked (a. The Winking Dead b. Peculiar People) (6:50)
6. Habit Without Heart (4:14)
7. Catatonia (6:39)
8. I Turn My Back On You (4:24)
9. The Judgment (11:10)
10. Peculiar People (4:14)
11. Awake (a. The Waking Dead) (8:40)

Total Time: 68:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Carl Groves / guitars, piano, synth, vocals, producer
- Patrick Henry / bass, synth (3)
- Kevin Thomas / drums, vibes, bells, tambourine, vocals

- Michael Ayres / synthesizers - additioned in 2000 (2,4,8,10)

Releases information

Artwork: William Neagle

CD self-released (1997, Canada)
CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 098 (2001, UK) Remastered by Neil Rosengarden

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SALEM HILL Catatonia ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

SALEM HILL Catatonia reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Actually this work is quite close to 3 stars,but I can't give them the 3...

SALEM HILL were found in 1991 in Nashville,Tennessee and released two albums (''Salem hill'',''Different worlds'') in two-years time (1992 and 1993 respectively) with somewhat poor results due to the strong AOR-feel of their sound.They worked for much time on their third release,which was published in 1997.''Catatonia'' is a concept work,telling a story about a depressed man,and was much stronger that their previous efforts.It is a guitar-dominated work,where some nice sensitive melodies alternate with weird FRIPP-ian passages,giving the album a touch of diversity.Most of the tracks are song-oriented with plenty of good vocal work,but there are also some decent and enjoyable keyboard instrumental parts.So far,this could be a 3 star album,if it weren't for some (again) chessy AOR-ish ballad moments,which spoil the whole effort...Having a quite modern sound,SALEM HILL did improve their compositions compared to their past and presented a work mainly for fans of guitar-driven prog rock...2.5 stars

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars At scarce occasions, the band gave some hopes about their music but too few to really blow me, frankly. From a weak AOR sounding band (their debut) to a more neo-prog one ("Different World"), what would come next?

A mixed bag of everything?

When you listen to the opening track, its mellowish mood is rather weak and the song is only saved by some fine Spanish acoustic notes at he end. The attempt of a more hard-rocking tone is not big deal either. "Real" sounds .real flat.

The band is almost reaching the good level with "Children Without Innocence". At least for 45 seconds. After a quite good intro, they try to emulate some sort of Sabbath sound. Needless to say that they have not the power nor the darkness of their glorious ancestor. This is just a weak gloom song.

It sounds as if "Salem Hill" were willing to tackle the hard-rocking audiences with "Catatonia" (the album). Needless to say that they are not sounding credible for a ? cent. One of the worst exercise is with little doubt "Fašade & Arcade". On par with the title track. Emotionless, poor riff. Press next.

To be on par with lots of hard-rock bands, it was of course necessary (?) to release a rock ballad ("I Blinked"). At the end of day, this is not a bad track, but in that genre, many were miles better of course. I have to admit that, so far, this is the worse of their releases and a song as "Habit Without Heart" just adds to the feeling. The first interesting number is the very melodic title track. Extremely catchy and fine guitar break provides some relief. Finally! But the joy is rather short before being embarked into a poor song again ("I Turn my Back on You"). Now, Salem Hill is heading some heavy metal stuff.You know where the next button is, right?

I have to agree though that the epic of this album is very good. At least, the band reverts to some pleasant and catchy music. Even emotion is present. It was high time to say the least.

"The Judgment" is by far the best song from this lengthy album. Peaceful and tranquil keyboards sounds are far from the cacophony of earlier numbers. Almost atmospheric. The band would have rather stuck to some forty minutes format for this album: by doing so, "Salem Hill" might have released a good one, because the closing number "Awake" (almost clocking at nine minutes) is a decent track as well.

As such, I can't honestly rate this album with more than two stars.

Review by progpositivity
3 stars If you enjoy listening to Classic Rock radio from time to time, this is a solid album. But if you are a die-hard progger who can't stand commercial AOR, pass this one up unless you are willing to risk being left in - you guessed it - a Catatonic state. ;-)

1997's Catatonia marks a major step forward for Salem Hill. The engineering and production quality make their first two albums sound like "demo tapes". Vocals are consistently strong throughout the entire album. Highlights include the emotionally neo-prog opener "The Walking Dead" and the 11+ minute mini-epic "The Judgment".

The songs work together to weave a creative tale of a man afraid to dream, the sleep-walk of a life that inevitably follows, and his ensuing struggle to decide whether or not to risk change. Although the style tilts a little more heavily toward neo-prog with this album, remnants of their pop/AOR roots are liberally sprinkled throughout. It works well on the catchy album rock of "Fašade and Charade", the King's X-ishness of "Real" and even on the unabashedly pop bounce of "Peculiar People". The result is a little more plodding on "Children without Innocence".

Review by kev rowland
3 stars This is the third album from Salem Hill, and was the album prior to 'Robbery Of Murder', which is the one that shot them into recognition in the UK. Their first two albums ('Salem Hill' and 'Different Worlds') have also been released by Cyclops in the UK as limited editions, but I have yet to hear these. Carl Groves re-recorded some of the keyboard lines that he wasn't happy with and this version has also been remixed and given new artwork.

Salem Hill are one of the most exciting prog bands to come out of the States and this album roves it quite plainly. The songs are both simple and highly complex, the music is intricate yet accessible, the lyrics convoluted but easily understandable. They may be more rock based than many of their contemporaries, but they never cross the boundary into hard rock. While Carl Groves is very much the leader (vocals, guitar, keys, all of the lyrics and most of the music) neither Pat Henry (bass) and Kevin Thomas (drums, vocals) are bit players and they are key to the overall sound. It may not have quite the immediate impact of 'Robbery Of Murder' this is an album that I have already played many times and I am sure that I will be doing so again in the future.

Originally appeared in Feedback #65, Dec 01

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