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Hail to the King of Salem, Baby

Here be ye cover.I didn’t even know there was a Salem, Connecticut, let alone a burly heavy rock duo who’d been collectively named ruling monarch of it. King of Salem is comprised of drummer Mike Petrucci and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli — who has played in Vestal Claret, Guerra and Earthlord — and are a sometime-studio project with three releases under their belt in their 11 year I got this image from salemct.gov. No, really, I did. I went to SalemCT.gov.existence, including the latest, the independently produced?Prophecy, which came out last month in a limited physical pressing of 100 copies each on CD and vinyl. There is a downloadable version as well.

Prophecy is more straightforward in its origins than either the doomy Vestal Claret or Earthlord, but retains an element of riff rock that comes through on tracks like the boozy “Bonny Monster.” There’s a definite ’70s influence in Tuozzoli‘s guitar, but his vocals come from somewhere more metallic. On opener “Blood of the Enemy” they might feel a little too up front in the mix, but on the semi-title track “The Prophet” (which one assumes is the start of Side B on the vinyl if the artwork gives any clue) they fit right in, so a balance is struck. Musically too, King of Salem stems from more than just one place. The short bursts of “Feudal Lord” are classic rock to be sure, but “Matter of Time” has a more modern, melodic, almost Southern feel overall.

Apparently it does nothing but snow in Salem.“Rack of What,” at the end of Side A, might be the closest the King of Salem comes to all-out metal, melding an Angel Dust-era Faith No More vocal arrangement with heavier riffs that start and stop, running into and out of each other with solid flow. The track isn’t doom, but its second half especially should have an appeal for anyone who’s found themselves hailing the mighty riff at one point or another. Finding its parallel in closer “River of Flames,” Prophecy ends on a note of unpretentious heavy rock that’s too East Coast tightly wound to be stoner but which works on its own level quite well.

Recorded in Tuozzoli‘s own Up Recording Studio by the guitarist himself, Prophecy is and isn’t just plain sub-metallic rock. There is little to ponder in terms of highly complicated techniques or sophisticated, overly done arrangements, but as an outlet for a less complex sound, it can have a beer with me anytime. I’m a sucker for well-done traditional songwriting anyway, and King of Salem have that and more on offer over the course of these eight tracks. For seekers of the underground rock, Prophecy is worth finding, digitally or otherwise.

Start at the front, end at the back. The Obelisk gives you the whole deal when it comes to King of Salem.

King of Salem on MySpace

King of Salem Website

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