If you're the kind of person that loves subtly crafted beats, insightful lyrics, and a gentle atmosphere, then most likely you'll hate this album. On the other hand, if you like to wander into vacant houses late at night, take baths in melted cheespuffs, and lather yourself with SPAM while watching the latest episode of Ghost Adventures, then you'll probably love Salem's latest album-"King Night."
"King Night" is about the album you would expect out of a genre called "Witch House". Listening to it is like taking one of those haunted house tours during Halloween where people jump out at you every time you turn a corner, fog machines churn out smoke all night, and a mix tape loops clanking chains and ghost howls in the background. Basically, subtley is eschewed and everything is thrown towards one goal-completely immersing the listener in the atmosphere of the album. For Salem this means lathering on thick, synth filled beats topped with Chopped and Screwed styled vocals-like if DJ Screw were reincarnated as a warlock.
Unfortunately, this overbearing and often tacky approach does more to remove the listener from the atmosphere than anything else. It's like with a B-grade horror movie where everything is so overdone that you can't help but rolling your eyes a little. Now, some of those B-grade horror movies do end up filling a sort of niche, but this isn't the case with "King Night". Maybe you could argue that there is a bit of that B-grade, made-in-grandma's-basement-charm to it, but for me it just ends being to dull and boring to ever achieve that. I mean in the end, a lot of the track just aren't interesting enough to make up for their shortcomings.
Being cheesy and creative is fun. Being cheesy and dull is not.
"Hound" is the track, for me, that epitomizes why the album fails as a whole. It starts pretty straightforwardly with a simple sci-fi synth melody and a Chopped N' Scewed drum beat, but 15 seconds into the track this timbale sounding drum loop comes in-high pitched, flat and thin. It's like if you were walking through that haunted house, when all of a sudden out of the fog machine smoke comes a gay pirate-the two just don't go together. So instead of establishing any sort of atmosphere, even an enjoyably B-grade one, Salem ends up shooting themselves in the foot.
There are some high moments on the album. To me, "Redlights" and "Traxx" both succeed in establishing a pretty unique atmosphere, envoking something similiar to the album's cover. But the production ultimately holds it back from becoming anything special. Really, it just sounds too BAD. Like not just cheesy, but actually bad-the drums, the mixing, the bass-all of it. If some time were spent giving some real depth to the beats, then there might be some real potential there.
I think as a genre "Witch House" has places it can go. It's appeal even makes sense to me-I mean, I enjoy a good B-grade horror film. But "King Night" is not the best best representation of what the genre can become. Instead, it ends up showing how, if the genre wants to succeed, it's going to be very challenging to find the right balance between being tiresomely tacky and endearingly cheesy, if that's what you want to call it.