|Review & Interview
SALEM - Collective Demise
Label: System Shock / SPV
I have to confess, System Shock really seems to have the right touch for great Death Metal bands who can convince off the beaten track.
Xenomorph (Baneful Stealth Desire is still one of my favourite albums) and Trauma have been such examples in the youngest past.
And today the Israeli band (!!!) SALEM follows this tradition.
I didn't hear anything about them before, but with their fourth full-length album Collective Demise they deliver the full broadside for Death Metallers.
Already the first song Broken Yet United is a real punch in the pit of the stomach, as it's united sluggish and massive passages with speedy blast parts, yet moreover melodies are not neglected.
The entire material from Collective Demise sounds very fresh and unconsumed, something I miss a lot with all these melodic Death Metal bands nowadays.
The special kick are all these foreign influences like this grandiose female singing (no poser shit at all!) on Coming End Of Reason, which got really well-eked by the "normal" growls.
Especially the variety between fast and slow parts is very interesting, although it is not a "head" album but also can address the gut feelings properly.
Oriental tunes and interludes complete the manifold image of SALEM.
Anyway, I'm completely enthusiastic about Collective Demise, as I haven't listened to a melodic Death Metal band lately, who sounds so unconsumed, varied and fat as SALEM does! Thumb risen up steeply!!!
Metal made in Israel is probably not yet a trademark, but with realeses like Salem's Collective Demise our view will not only marvelling ramble to the North, but may also go into other directions. You can find Melodic Death Metal with a lot of different influences on Salem's latest record. It never will bore you. Those who want to learn more about this band and the scene in Israel should read on ...
Markus: Unfortunately Salem is not very known (at least I haven't heard of you before - sorry) in Germany. Could you summarize your career shortly and introduce yourself to our readers?
Ze'ev: Salem was formed in 1985 and we released 4 albums and a 7" picture LP: Creating Our Sins (December 1992), Dying Embers (7" picture LP) (April 1994), Kaddish (December 1994), were released by Morbid Records. A Moment Of Silence produced by Colin Richardson (October 1998) was released by B.N.E, and Salem's new release: Collective Demise (September 2002) is the first Salem offering for KMG/ System Shock in Germany. Earlier this year Salem signed a 3-album contract with this well-established label. Salem played with such known acts such as: Megadeth, Entombed, Rotting Christ, Cancer, Disharmonic Orchestra as well as headlining tours throughout Israel. Salem was featured on MTV. Europe several times and also on the German show: Viva. The line-up is: Ze'ev Tananboim - Vocals, Lior Mizrahi - Guitar, Michael Goldstein - Bass, Nir Nakav - Drums and Nir Gutraimen who joined us recently - Guitar.
Markus: Collective Demise is your 4th full-length CD. Please could you tell us some words about the first records and demos you've made over the years?
Ze'ev: Our first albums were relatively successful in Europe. In 1994, Salem video clip "The Fading" was on M.T.V on the show Headbangers Ball. Afterwards we were chosen on the magazine Kerrang that operated with M.T.V, as one of the best 10 promising bands in this genre. For more information about Salem, you can visit our web site: http://www.salemband.com
Markus: You're doing music for over 16 years now. How do you have changed yourself and your music over the years?
Ze'ev: Collective Demise is very aggressive, although it has a lot of melodies and harmonies. I think that Collective Demise reflects certain the adolescence of Salem, the fact that it's more aggressive and much faster distinguish it from our previous releases.
Markus: Which of your songs you have written is the most important to each member individually and why?
Ze'ev: Every member of the band is writing material, and in most cases We are all meeting, listening to it and choosing what we like, eventually we build songs, after that we are writing a lyrics to it. When the song is ready, We can change it , so a song is not really ready until we record it, So all the songs are important to all of us because we are writing them together.
Markus: With what kind of expectations and plans have you started writings to Collective Demise and do you think you have realized them?
Ze'ev: When we started writing Collective Demise we didn't know how it would turn out, the expectations were high, and we are satisfied with the results.
Markus: You've a lot of very uncommon Death Metal elements (female vocals, oriental sounds etc.) in your music. Do you think "normal" Death Metal is too boring or what's the main idea behind these elements?
Ze'ev: There aren't rules to write music, and how to perform them. I don't think metal music is boring, but I think you can add all kinds of things as long as you don't exaggerate. Also, we are living in an oriental country, and here, in Israel, all those things are very common, we think it's important to add those things to our music.
Markus: You're also mixing Death Metal with a lot of melody. Up to which degree are you influenced by the strong Swedish melodic Death Metal scene (in Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork …) and from what bands do you have your influences at all?
Ze'ev: I can't see the similarity between Salem style and the Swedish style. Salem melodies and harmonies built on oriental scales. The bands you mentioned are very good, but this isn't the style we listen to or influences us. Our main influence is life itself. In Israel it's impossible to ignore the news since it has a direct effect on your daily life and as a result you have songs. Another thing that inspire us are the Israeli music roots. In any case, all 5 of us writing the material, and we all like different bands, so when we eventually build a song, it sounds like us. My early idols were Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Motörhead … etc. The band that influenced me back then was Venom, and then came other bands like Slayer, Sepultura, Bathory and more.
Markus: I like Collective Demise a lot because it is interesting for the mind, but also very intense and much fun to listen to it. What's you're overall impression from Collective Demise?
Ze'ev: First of all, thank you for the compliment. As I said before, I think that Collective Demise reflects certain adolescence of Salem, we worked very hard for 18 months on this album to do the maximum and to feel complete with it.
Markus: What can you tell us about the lyrics, because they have very often an religious / apocalyptic frame?
Ze'ev: Our lyrics are influenced by life itself. In Israel it's impossible to ignore the news since it has a direct effect on your daily life and as a result you have songs. It's hard to cope with the fear of being somewhere crowded (like busses, restaurants, or even live shows) without knowing how it will end. The fact that innocent civilians are dying gives you an helplessness feeling. It is difficult for us to see a solution for it right now, but we don't know what tomorrow will bring - therefore we try to keep hoping. Also, Salem has released 3 new video clips from Collective Demise, the first one shows the absurd of suicide terrorists on busses in Israel, the second deals with the pain of the people who lost their loved ones, and the third is dedicated to the Israeli Metal scene, to the audience and it shows the relationship between Salem and the fans.
Markus: With Al Taster you have covered an old Jewish hymn with a text from the psalms. Do you got any trouble because of it with more religious people or is everybody happy with a metal version of it?
Ze'ev: As for now we don't have problems because the CD was just released. we did a clip for this song (directed by Nir Nakav - our drummer), and I guess we'll see the responses in a month or so. Anyway, Salem never compromised with our music and style, even if we had problems with the religious or with the government. we did have a problem when we did Kaddish, we had an argument because they thought this isn't appropriate to play Ha'ayara Boe'eret with Metal, This is a very sensitive subject and some people thought the music is too aggressive, but eventually we decided that it is appropriate to cover songs like that, and that is why we did it, after all we have the freedom of speech and creativity.
Markus: Collective Demise is your first record output together with System Shock. What are your first impressions about them and how do you think about Morbid Records (the previous label) in contrast to them?
Ze'ev: Collective Demise was just released, so I can't really say how is KMG work until now, but I'm sure they will do a great work like they did with Vader, Malevolent Creation, Krabathor, Master and more. I think we didn't get the right promotion with Morbid Records (it wasn't their fault) and we were very disappointed, but the times were different, there wasn't internet and the publicity methods were different. Back then, to do a promo to an album took a few months, today you can do it immediately with e-mails, mags on the internet … etc.
Markus: Where do you think is the main market for your CD?
In your home country or elsewhere?
Israel is not known as a big "Metal Country". What can you tell us about the scene there?
Ze'ev: : I think Collective Demise can be successful all over the world. With the right distribution you can succeed everywhere, and I think this is true for all kinds of music.
The metal scene in Israel has had its ups and downs. New bands come and go all the time. These days the metal in Israel is growing and a lot of kids listen to metal and support it and come to live shows. Some good bands are: Arallu, Nail-Within, Lehavoth, Untropia, Meleches, Orphaned Land, hand more. Almost every Salem's show is sold out. I try to help bands. I produced several bands like Arallu, Azazel ,Aztec, Betrayer and I just returned from Germany, helping producing Nail Within with Harris Johns. Also we have a great label here in Israel: Raven Music that support the metal.
Markus: Are you getting much impulses for creativity from other bands or fans in your region ?
Markus: Do you have a lot of possibilities to play live ?
Ze'ev: We have a lot of possibilities to play live. Salem shows has great energies. The audience knows and sing all the lyrics with me, and as I mentioned before, almost every show is sold out. The show is 80 minutes, and it includes songs from all of our releases. Every show is different because we have 4 CD's, and we try to give the audience something new every time they are coming to see Salem shows. In some shows we put video screen with Salem's video clips, or projecting the show.
Markus: The political situation in Israel is very tense at the moment. What do you think about it and how is, because of that, the atmosphere for a Metal band ?
Ze'ev: The political situation in Israel is very tense. That influence us and you can see it in our lyrics and music. It influence the metal in Israel because foreign metal bands afraid to come here. Also, if we have on the same day terrorist attack and a show, it is possible that the show will be canceled.
Markus: The Metal scene all over the world is coming closer and closer on the internet. How much are you using this medium to come into contact with fans from all over the world ?
Ze'ev: We are using the internet on a daily base. we get through e-mail fans letters, interviews, reviews etc. And we have a web site on the internet, which we update a few times a month.
Markus: The last words are belonging to you.
Ze'ev: Thank you very much for your support. Keep metal alive!
Thank you very much for answering the questions.
Nocturnal Hall - R
Nocturnal Hall - I