SALEM (ISR) - "A moment of silence"
[CD, BNE Records, 1998]
Israel presents many great underground bands in death/doom/black metal scene.
One of the firsts is Salem that released their debut demo in 1986.
With their Kaddish album they became more famous around the world although they had one album and an EP before it.
Kaddish was a very unusual and impressing album that took lots of attention.
After a long break they released the fascinating 'A moment of silence' in late 98, consisting of 11 enchanting songs.
That album is more melodic and there are different vocal types - sometimes quite brutal and sometimes an original clean tone- according to Kaddish. The songs are mostly in the vein of Kaddish's masterpiece 'Eyes to match a soul'. The album also includes the new version of 'eyes to match a soul' and a cover from Pink Floyd 'Hearts of the sun'. Generally the music reminded me a bit of Sirrah from Poland. I received that album too late but I couldn't stop the desire to tell you about this great album. I don't know about the promotion and the reactions to that album in Europe but it doesn't seem to be known much. I guess that's because they released their album from an Israeli label. Anyway I can't see any negative points to tell about this album, it is totally well done.
INTERVIRW with SALEM
Your latest album was released from an Israeli label. Why did you quit working with the German label Morbid records and sign to BNE records? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with an Israeli label?
Salem decision to leave Morbid records was strictly business oriented. The label owed us money and didn't pay and consequently we moved on, looking for a new label all over Europe. A few were interested but the best offer came to us from an Israeli label. They promised colin richardson, the best studio in Israel for the recording, the chapel in England for the mixes and we simply had nothing better, so we went for it.
What do you think about the metal scene in Israel? Are you in contact with any bands? And I mostly wonder about your views about Orphaned Land who are about to release a new full-length album after a long break.
The metal scene here has a few promising bands. I produced some of them like: Aztec, Betrayer and my latest production which is about to be released in a couple of weeks - Arallu. I also heard that Orphaned land is working on a new album. Israel is a small place and therefore one can not avoid knowing everyone else, especially if it's the same industry, so yes all bands here know their friends and foes, some prefer to get along and some don't.
In my opinion "eyes to match a soul" has a very special place from kaddish album and "the worst to come" from the last one. Which one of your songs are the most important to you? Can it be "eyes to match a soul" as you played it in two of your albums in different versions?
All songs are important to us. Each one of them reflects a different period of time, generates a different kind of a vibe and has it's own special aura. Salem is not a band that releases an album every year because we chose quality over quantity and if you listen to our three albums you'll notice that they are all different from each other but yet they are all still Salem.
How are the sales of "A moment of silence" outside Israel? Do you think it is promoted well?
We still didn't get the sales reports for "a moment of silence" but generally speaking we are not pleased with the way our label promoted the album. We ended up being the ones to mail promo copies to all the metal magazines in Europe. All of them gave us great reviews and still the label didn't distribute tons of copies abroad. A while back the label and the band had a certain situation that caused for a lot of tension to get build up and ever since we are not in such great a relationship as we used to have.
After releasing "A moment of silence" did you have a tour in Israel or abroad? Where do you think you had your best live performance?
Salem started playing live in Israel after the album was released, shows were great, some gigs are still to be scheduled and played and as for gigs overseas some offers were given, most of them denied for that or another reason and a couple are still being negotiated.
What influences you when creating your music? Are there any special bands that effected you while forming a band and making music? And nowadays which bands are you listening to?
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 like "who will comfort me now" which deals with parents who lost their son in a war etc. As far as band are concerned we like a lot of them but when we write music we really try to be ourselves and I think that whenever you hear Salem you know it's Salem unlike some bands who sound like others.
How did you come up with the idea of playing Pink Floyd's "Hearts of the sun"? Are you thinking about placing other cover songs in your albums or in concerts again?
We knew the original and thought it sounded lacking, and we thought we could supply that missing element so we went for it. Future cover plans? We don't really know yet. A new album is being written and I guess we'll have to wait and see.
How did you decide to work with Colin Richardson who is also producer of many bands like Machine Head, Carcass...? Will you go on with him in next albums?
That one we already touched on earlier.
What can you say about your music? Any words you prefer to use while describing your work? Why did you come out as a black metal band at first?
Well, we know we make metal. Now good luck trying categorizing it when you have on the same album a fast death style song "symbiosis", a funkier song "flames", a new wavish track or two "winter's tear" a pink floyed cover and the domm oriented "who will comfort me now". We broke out as black metal because that's what we did very early in our career...since then we evolved naturally.
What are the future plans for Salem? I hope a new album will appear in the near future.
As mentioned earlier we are working on a new album, plan to play some more shows in Israel and hope we'd get to go and play elsewhere soon.
Just like in Salem other Israeli bands meet with the problem of modifying members and also several of these bands have been splited. What do you think about this? Could the longlasting military service be the reason?
Salem's line-up stayed the same from 1990-1998. Then we got a new drummer and that's about it. In that sense, Salem has been and still is a very stable establishment. Of course the army here interrupts your life when you are 18 for three long years but if metal for you is a way of life and not just a phase in life then no one will be able to break you.
What do you do besides making music? In Israel can you make your own living only by making music?
It is possible to make a living here playing music. We chose not to though because of the simple fact that when you depend on your band to be paying your rent you will have to make some compromises regarding your band and your music and we are not into it. So the rent is being earned elsewhere and when we make music we are in direct contact with our inner selves instead of with our bank accounts. We are not 16 years old anymore, we don't fool ourselves by thinking we should get rich and famous because our band is so hot. We learned by now that metal is our way of life. If we ever get big, that's great but if not we are still having lots of fun doing it.
I think in your last release the clean vocals of ex-drummer Amir was very successful and was having a great harmony with your brutal way of singing. Why did you let him go?
Amir changed musically, Salem didn't fit him anymore and so we said good-bye nicely and we are still good friends.
In your last words do you have something to share with us besides those on questions? Thank you for your interesting interview. And for all our fans in Turkey - thank you so much for the support...keep metal alive.