Beyond Salem Welcome to Machine

Beyond Salem’s latest release is a confusing CD featuring an odd mix of hard rock, stoner metal, and goth atmosphere, punctuated here and there by canned applause. Musically, much of Welcome to Machine is a well-performed throwback to the psychedelic rock and metal of the early ’70s — it’s even named for its Pink Floyd cover. When the cock rock seeps through though, or when effects verge on cheesiness (the "live album” pretence, vocal manipulation on the title track, etc.) it’s hard to take the band seriously, and maybe they don’t want you to. Yet there’s enough talent and hard-edged in-your-face attitude on the album to make you wish Beyond Salem had left the pretensions aside. Either way, when Welcome to Machine rocks, it really does rock. (Independent)