Salem Necessary Evil

Is there some reason this album is over an hour long? Because, let me tell you, I snuck a peek to see how much time was left while the first song was playing. That’s trouble. Thing is, this Israeli band are pretty cool, combining thrash, death and, at times, a bass-heavy groove. But it’s a heavy, oppressive sound delivered with some uninteresting vocals and problematic production — those are bass drums? At times, it rocks — the guitar solo in "Amona” is brief and energetic, the verse in the aptly named "Idol Worship” reeks of Morbid Angel — but at other points this just drags on. And speaking of "Amona,” the clean vocals on that track and "Hypatia” are grating as hell, but we’ll give them points for trying. The groove/death metal of "Strife” helps break up the monotony at the halfway point and there are good death metal riffs all over the place. "Once Upon a Lifetime” (track ten — five more to go after it) offers up some interesting Meshuggah-derived technical grooving, which works. I’d like this a lot more if it were an EP but as a full-length, I’ll probably never spin it again. More is more and life is short. (Season of Mist) (Season of Mist)