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Salem Hill


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Salem Hill The Robbery Of Murder album cover
3.89 | 76 ratings | 10 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Overture (4:43)
2. Swerve (3:05)
3. When (5:58)
4. Someday (6:13)
5. Blame (4:00)
6. Dream (4:14)
7. Father And Son (3:16)
8. To The hill (6:32)
9. Revenge (7:31)
10. Trigger (6:24)
11. Interlude (2:43)
12. Epilogue (7:00)

Total Time: 62:13

Bonus track on 1998 Europe edition:
13. Evil One (6:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Dearing / electric guitar, vocals
- Carl Groves / keyboards, guitars, rainsticks, vocals, producer
- Patrick Henry / bass & fretless bass
- Kevin Thomas / drums, maracas, bells, gong, whistles, tabla, vibraphone, rainsticks, vocals

- David Ragsdale / violin & baritone violin
- Michael Ayers / keyboards (13)

Releases information

Artwork: Rudolf Kinsky

CD Lazarus Records ‎- WRAB-959 (1998, Canada)
CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 075 (1998, UK) With a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SALEM HILL The Robbery Of Murder ratings distribution

(76 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SALEM HILL The Robbery Of Murder reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
5 stars This is the new album from a band called SALEM HILL, and it's a concept album. It was first released as a cassette back in 1995. Now they have re-recorded it and added twenty minutes of new music. The story is loosely based upon a true story. The dark story told in the lyrics tells us about a father and his son who is on their way home one night in their car. In a curve they crash into another car whose driver has lost his control due to alcohol. The drunken driver drives away from the accident. The son is growing up filled with thoughts of revenge on the man responsible for his lost childhood and his father's death. Throughout the album we follow his search for the man until he finally finds him. I won't tell you any more of the story, as it would spoil your listening. Their music is varied with many tempo- and mood changes although the overall feeling is dark. Despite that the music is dark and melancholic, mainly because of the lyrics, there are a lot of catchy melodies and choruses. The music is progressive rock, sometimes with the emphasis on rock, with some hints of jazz. Their music is a mix of CAMEL, GENESIS, KANSAS, KING CRIMSON, KING'S X, MARILLION, PINK FLOYD, RUSH and YES, although they have their own unique style. The vocals are strong and the musicians are very good. The production, arrangements and the songwriting are top class too. I guess I shouldn't pick out any highlights as this album should be seen in its whole perspective. But I must mention "Overture", the beautiful "When", "Someday" with a great violin solo played by David Ragsdale (KANSAS), "Blame", "Father And Son", "To The Hill" where the lyrics are brilliant, the heavy "Revenge" with great bass playing and "Trigger". The lyrics on this album really make you think about many things. If you listen to the lyrics I think that many of you will get touched emotionally. If you listen to this album, let it take some time before you judge it, because I think it will grow on you. This is definitely one of the highlights of 1998. A true masterpiece that is highly recommended! It might be a future classic?
Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4 stars, solid! This is one of the best concept albums ever. I think it would make a great stage or movie production. A kids father is killed by a drunk driver. The kid seeks vengence, while the killer searches for peace, even wishing for togetherness in the afterlife. I'm not a religious person, not even close, but this disc moves me. Something about rising above the hate that brings a sense of self-awareness seldom explored in music. Powerful, emotional, expressive? Yeah, that and more. Salem Hill has never disguised their beliefs, but they've never shoved them down your throat either. They raise awareness and do it in a way that comes from the heart.

There are many strong tracks here, vocally, technically... So versatile. The Dream as some world beat tones that I found inspiring. Interlude is a short acoustic piece that Steve Howe would have liked to have written. Kansas in sections, partly Ragsdales bits, but more collective. Roger Waters delivery, with a better voice, in many sections. Even some Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep in sections. Overall, it's an amalgam of styles and influences that make this a standout.

Who would like this? Echolyn fans would enjoy the strong harmonies, Floyd fans could appreciate the lyrical content. Kansas fans could relate to the music, powerful, but not metal. Proggers on the whole could wallow in the concept, a concept well thought, well played and complete. No missing pieces.

Check out the download, it is only a small piece, but it illustrates the tone of the recording quite accurately. The recording is somewhat hard to come by, I've seen it going for 79.99 on e-bay, because Cyclops no loonger carries it, but go to Salem Hills website and order it there.

Remember.... Don't Drink And Drive.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars So far "Salem Hill" produced some poor AOR to average neo-prog music. But from time to time, there were hope of better things to come. I guess we can call "The Robbery Of Murder" one of these.

I particularly like the guitar sounds and the fine vocals. Melodies are not absent either ("When") and the work of David Ragsdale on the violin is more than welcome during the neo-prog "Someday".

Still, I believe that this band is highly over rated (just like their US fellow countrymen "Glass Hammer"). At best, they produced average music overall (even if during some short solo, they are quite convincing).

This being said, I consider this work as their best so far. But far to reach the masterpiece status, of course. A mellow ballad like "Blame" or "Trigger" are enjoyable but "Dream" brings us back into the most classic neo-prog mood, just as the later "Revenge" and its very classic synth solo la Banks.

The instrumental "Father & Son" is a poignant moment. I have to say that if they would produce more tracks of this caliber, they might justify some higher rating from my part. A wonderful and emotional jam between violin, keys and guitar.

Unfortunately, right after this, one has to bear the quite disgusting and slow-reggae oriented "To The Hill". Press next of course (even if Ragsdale's violin is again the best out of it).

This album started above my expectations. But the more I advance in this work, the more I am deceived. A song as "Revenge" has more to share with AOR/poor heavy rock than with symphonic prog.

Some fine acoustic guitar work for the "Interlude" (you know like "Horizons" from whom you might have heard) and the melodic and symphonic (at last!) "Epilogue" are the ingredients of this album which according my standards is worth three stars. A good album.

Review by progpositivity
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is a concept album based on a true story of a boy's father being killed by a drunk driver. It's dedicated to MADD and Paul McCartney. If your into concept albums this is a good one. For me it boils down to the music and I felt from track 4 to 7 it was pretty amazing.The songs before and after are pretty good but they keep this from being a 4 star album in my opinion. As I said earlier though, if your into concept albums and follow along with the lyrics I think you'll be impressed with this record.

"Overture" is the instrumental intro. "Swerve" is atmospheric with guitar. Reserved vocals after a minute. "When" opens with piano only. Vocals before a minute. It gets fuller as vocals come and go in this mid-paced track. "Someday" is just a great sounding track, I especially like the lyrics here. "Blame" is also meaningful lyrically. "Dream" is more upbeat. It actually reminds me a lot of the band JELLY JAM except for when David Ragsdale plays his violin.

"Father And Son" is my favourite. An instrumental that opens with emotional piano melodies. Violin late in this gorgeous track. "To The Hill" is atmospheric as a beat comes in. Vocals a minute in. Not a fan of this one. "Revenge" has a heavy sound to it and check out the bass. Vocals join in on this catchy tune. "Trigger" has piano, violin and reserved vocals. Not a fan. "Interlude" is mainly acoustic guitar. "Epilogue" opens with piano as reserved vocals join in. It gets fuller.

A good album, and a favourite among their fans.

Review by Warthur
4 stars This is a very capable narrative concept album from Salem Hill, with a sound reminiscent of less obvious neo-prog influences such as Discipline's Push and Profit and the more majestic portions of The Sentinel by Pallas. David Ragsdale's contributions on violin helps shake things up and distinguish the group's sound from the rest of the neo-prog crowd, whilst the actual execution of the concept is one of the better I've seen in a concept album.

The story is, at its heart, very simple - a man is killed in a hit-and-run accident, and whilst the drunk driver responsible is consumed by guilt the bereaved son of the victim plans to kill him in revenge - but the band do an excellent job of creating emotional snapshots of each of the major participants in the story. The plot is just interesting enough to sustain itself over the course of the album, whilst not being so complex as to be difficult for a first-time listener to follow. Even better, musically speaking there's more or less no filler, making this one of the better concept albums to come out of the neo-prog scenes.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Better days were ahead of Salem Hill.The ''Catatonia'' album was followed by the partcipation of the group in a major prog event, the Progday 97', in Chapel Hill, NC.The fourth studio album was Salem Hill's next step.Six months of recordings at England Studios and another concept story was the background of ''The Robbery of Murder'', released on Lazarus Records in 1998.It tells a story of a man, desperately hunting the killer of his father, featuring David Ragsdale of Kansas on violins.

Ragsdale is not the only link of Salem Hill with KANSAS.Finally the new album of the Nashville boys shows strong influences from the US Prog scene with KANSAS being the first band to come to mind next to reasonable comparisons with GLASS HAMMER and SPOCK'S BEARD.The arrangements of the group are much more elaborate and symphonic in nature with an appropriate space for more evident keyboard parts, while Ragsdale's presence adds a much needed color to Salem Hill's sound.''The Robbery of Murder'' contains excellent melodic parts, elegant and dreamy soundscapes and sensitive vocal harmonies to compete with the elite of the genre.Of course a few tracks, apparently following the concept, are still a bit more aggressive, with harder guitars in evidence, but even these are sounding more refined due to Ragsdale's superb violin textures.A fair dose of sudden breaks and some great, lush orchestral themes complete the fresh sound of the group, which eventually seems to head towards the right direction.Some bombastic passages with a deep atmosphere are not absent either and, as a result, ''The Robbery of Murder'' maintains a superb balance from the start to the very end.

The questionable potential of Salem Hill has finally grown into a mature and satisfying album.For all fans of modern US Prog in the vein of GLASS HAMMER or MAGELLAN, this is definitely a great addition.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Salem Hill should be much more popular in this site. Especially The Robbery of Murder, a strong history together with music. Carl Groves leading the band in this sad journey about death of a young in an accident. There is different melodies repeated through the songs like a guiding principle in the ... (read more)

Report this review (#917424) | Posted by sinslice | Thursday, February 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Upon first listening, I was distinctly unimpressed with this offering - a heart-rending concept but lacking absolutely any symphonic elements (bar the concluding track Epilogue), far too much guitar-driven AOR for my liking , and generally juvenile lyrics. But, reluctant to admit to having made a b ... (read more)

Report this review (#230743) | Posted by tbstars1 | Sunday, August 9, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of the saddest prog albums i have ever heard.It deals with a boy who is in a car accident with his father who dies.The boy has to deal with denial of his fathers death,anger and finally forgivness of the drunk driver who caused the accident.The best american prog album of the 90s. ... (read more)

Report this review (#6451) | Posted by James Hill | Sunday, November 16, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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