Album Review – South of Salem / The Sinner Takes It All (2020)

This excellent UK outfit is ready to take the entire world by storm with an album full of cult anthems that have a truly original (but recognizable) take on the rock and metal genres with a horror twist.

Having spent the best part of a decade working on various musical projects supporting the likes of Iced Earth, The Damned, Wednesday 13, and The Birthday Massacre, the up-and-coming Bournemouth, UK-based Hard Rock outfit South of Salem has just brought to life their debut effort The Sinner Takes It All, an album full of cult anthems that have a truly original (but recognizable) take on the rock and metal genres with a horror twist. Recorded at Grindstone Studio in Suffolk, UK and produced, mixed, and mastered by Scott Atkins (Cradle Of Filth, Amon Amarth, Sylosis, Behemoth), the title of the album, according to vocalist Joey, guitarists Kodi and Fish, bassist Dee and drummer Pip, “represents the corruption connected to wealth and power. How in dark times the rich become more affluent and the poor become more disconnected. During the current pandemic, small businesses are going under and people are more reliant on their government. Human beings abusing others, when they should be helping one another. The sinners are truly preparing to take it all. Enough is enough!”

A Rock N’ Roll storm is about to begin in Let Us Prey, with its lyrics inspired by The Purge film series (“They call us sick but we’re feeling fine / Just counting down to the killing time / Tonight, tonight was made for us / We know we’re sick but we hide it well / On a murder mile straight to hell / Tonight we’re armed and dangerous”) while Kodi and Fish sound beyond insane with their riffs, followed by The Hate In Me, a modernized hybrid of Motley Crüe and Godsmack with a heavier twist where Joey exhales rage through his vocals while Pip keeps pounding his drums in great fashion. Then it’s time for the band’s guitar duo to slash their axes nonstop in the Hard rock extravaganza No Plague Like Home, the perfect soundtrack for a pub brawl with Dee and Pip bringing the thunder to the overall result, not to mention its kick-ass guitar solos, whereas the rumbling bass punches by Dee provides Joey a dense base for his introspective vocals in Pretty Little Nightmare, a song about the darkest side of love, ready to be played on any Rock N’ Roll radio station thanks to the dynamic and classic beats by Pip. After such introspective composition, let’s all rev up our engines to the sound of Made To Be Mine, where the fiery riffs by Kodi and Fish will make your blood boil, evolving into a melodious and vibrant sonority showcasing spot-on backing vocals and another excellent performance by Joey.

Piercing guitars and an 80’s-inspired vibe are the main ingredients in the Melodic Rock tune titled Cold Day In Hell, with Joey leading his crew with his rockin’ vocals in another song about obscure relationships, whereas in Demons Are Forever, featuring Alex Avdis (aka The AvD) of Red Method and The Defiled, we face a grim, eerie atmosphere generated by all band members while Joey delivers a somber performance on vocals. Furthermore, don’t forget to check the stunning official video for this song as it is intended to raise suicide awareness. Back to a more berserk and vicious mode, the quintet blasts the Punk Rock-infused Another Nail In My Coffin, blending elements from the music by The Misfits and Social Distortion with their classic rock sound, all spiced up by the song’s enfolding riffs, and keeping the level of adrenaline high South of Salem offer us all Severely Yours, a song about temptation in long-term relationships presenting a great job done once again by Joey with his raspy vocals while Pipi delivers classic beats nonstop. Finally, closing such excellent album we have one more punk-ish tune entitled Dead Hearts Don’t Break, dealing with negative thoughts and the way one relationship can contaminate all future ones, with Kodi, Fish and Dee being on absolute fire with their stringed weapons.

In a nutshell, South of Salem more than nailed it with The Sinner Takes It All, an album that will undoubtedly entertain any type of rock and metal fan, from the ones who love a good melody to rockers who enjoy some action in the mosh pit. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, to stream more of their music on Spotify, and above all that, to support those talented UK musicians by purchasing their debut album from their own Big Cartel page (and sooner than later from other retailers such as Apple Music and Amazon). Relationships are always tough, it doesn’t matter where you come from, your religion, sexual orientation and so on, and as there’s not much we can do about that besides trying to be the best person to our significant other every single day, why not doing that while also enjoying the top-of-the-line rock and metal music provided by South of Salem in their new album? I’m more than certain that at least your ears, your mind and your soul will feel a lot stronger and happier to the sound of their awesome creations.

Best moments of the album: Let Us Prey, No Plague Like Home and Another Nail In My Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: Pretty Little Nightmare.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Let Us Prey 3:24
2. The Hate In Me 3:35
3. No Plague Like Home 4:06
4. Pretty Little Nightmare 3:53
5. Made To Be Mine 3:41
6. Cold Day In Hell 4:28
7. Demons Are Forever 4:41
8. Another Nail In My Coffin 3:53
9. Severely Yours 3:15
10. Dead Hearts Don’t Break 3:35

Band members
Joey – vocals
Kodi – guitar
Fish – guitar
Dee – bass
Pip – drums 

Guest musicians
The AvD – keyboards and samples on “Demons Are Forever”

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