Salem “Creating Our Sins + 1989 Studio Tracks” LP Out Now

Salem “Creating Our Sins + 1989 Studio Tracks” LP

-First NWN Pressing of 500 copies.
-First 100 orders will receive the blood splatter vinyl.
-3mm jacket printed on thicker carton stock.
-Trifold insert with bio, rare photos and flyers.
-Tracks 1-3: Creating Our Sins EP (1992)
-Tracks 4-9: bonus tracks

(Biography by C. Conrad)
Black metal’s rise in the late-1980s to mid-1990s was evident throughout the underground of much of Europe and the Americas. At the same time, the subgenre began to rear its head much more surreptitiously in other, more unpredictable pockets of the world. One of these unlikely locations was the Middle Eastern country of Israel, whose religious and fraught political history created an interesting backdrop for the emergence of Salem, the country’s first and most celebrated black metal band to date.
Salem’s genesis traces back to 1984, when members began playing in Tel Aviv under the band’s original moniker of Axe Metal. However, this incarnation of the band was short-lived, to the extent that the band never recorded or played live. Axe Metal’s premature demise was a result of the national military service requirement in Israel, which compelled founding member Ze’ev Tananboim to enlist while he was attempting to get Axe Metal off the ground. In fact, it was this very same policy that caused many other bands in Israel to dissolve before attaining any degree of recognition or longevity, since every eighteen-year-old male was required to serve in the armed forces. Fortunately, by late 1985, Ze’ev’s role in the military allowed him to live near his home, so he was able to begin to search out new band members.
Once a suitable lineup had been procured, the name “Salem” was chosen for the outfit due to Ze’ev’s fascination with the history of the Salem witch trials and the fact that he liked its dark and evil sound. Unsurprisingly, Salem shared many of the same primary inspirations as its contemporaries in the extreme metal scene. Among the earliest were Venom, Iron Maiden, Bathory, and Necrophagia. Other influences included Messiah, Death, Sarcofago, and Sepultura, as well as Sodom and Kreator’s debut albums. The composite result of these influences on Salem was a brutal, thrashing style of black metal, at least during the band’s initial period. Throughout these early years in particular, there were several lineup changes at drummer due to what the band has described as the fast pace of the music and the difficulty in finding proficient drummers in their style.
Salem found it difficult to record in their native country as a result of a confluence of factors. For one, there was a prohibitively high cost involved for a band of relatively little means. Additionally, the excessive volume and violence inherent to the music was not attractive to studios, nor was the fact that they sang in English. For similar reasons, playing live gigs presented challenges as well. There were not a lot of venues available for such an act to begin with, and in time the band and its audience became notoriously known for the violence and destructiveness that ensued at their concerts. For example, and as documented on the live “Destruction Till Death” videocassette, Salem’s very first gig at the ‘Cassibar, Tel Aviv’ included the arrest of a band member for having hit the photographer from a magazine for interfering with the performances of the guitarists. During another gig at the same venue, the band was told that it would no longer be booked due to the damage that resulted. The venue manager claimed that the band was responsible for inciting the crowd to violence. In yet another concert at the Penguin Club in Tel Aviv, the police came in response to a noise complaint. The police ordered the show to end, but the band continued to play in defiance.
These obstacles notwithstanding, Salem still managed to record a self-titled demo cassette in 1986, which was followed by the 1987 “Destruction Till Death” live demo, whose audio was taken directly from the aforementioned videocassette of the same title. The 1986 demo, adorned by a skull drawing on the cover which was rendered by a local artist and modified by Ze’ev to his liking, was circulated in very limited numbers and is an extremely rare demo to find today. The “Destruction Till Death” demo was said to be released as a recording of a live show precisely because of the reasons previously stated for which recording in a studio in Israel was impractical. The band has also stated that live versions of these songs were preferred for release because they were thought to better represent the band’s power and authenticity.
Following the release of “Destruction Till Death” and prior to the band’s next demo, “Millions Slaughtered” (1990), the band shifted styles towards a more mid-paced, atmospheric style of black metal, which was not dissimilar to that of their Swiss counterparts in Samael and Alastis. Like the previous demo, “Millions Slaughtered” was composed of ten live recorded tracks, but it also included two studio tracks that had been previously released on a promo cassette in 1989 along with two other songs.
Salem’s first label-sponsored release came in the form of the 1992 “Creating Our Sins” EP. Although a few Israeli labels had expressed interest in signing Salem, they had also wanted the band to sing in Hebrew, which simply was not going to happen. As such, the task to release this recording was granted to the German label, Morbid Records, who contacted the band and negotiated a deal after having been impressed by a demo. Morbid Records was initially only interested in releasing a CD version, which was the first of this format that the label would produce. However, the band wanted to make a vinyl version available to fans without a CD player, and Morbid agreed to do so in the end but limited the vinyl to 1000 copies. The vinyl MLP, which was the first extreme metal vinyl to be released by an Israeli band, included three tracks. “Masquerade in Claustrophobia” and “Creating Our Sins” were original to this release, whereas “Old Wounds” was an older track that was chosen as an appropriate accompaniment to the other two. These three songs were longer than most of Salem’s previous output because the extended lengths were felt to be a better fit for the lyrics that had been written. In addition to these three tracks, the CD version included the entire contents of the “Millions Slaughtered” demo as a bonus, which was presumably an incentive for fans to buy more copies of the higher-priced and newer format.
Salem was able to make some interesting connections with other bands in the international underground in spite of its relative seclusion in Israel. One of these established relationships was with Mayhem in Norway. At some point, Ze’ev and Euronymous befriended each other, and the latter even invited Salem to come live with them in Norway, which never came to fruition. Even more interesting is the story of the interactions between Ze’ev and Varg Vikernes of Burzum, which ultimately led to a very direct threat of violence from the latter. The recently-confirmed story begins with Varg having received a copy of a Salem demo around 1990. In correspondence with Ze’ev, he expressed admiration for the music but disdain for what he interpreted to be their anti-war/anti-genocide political angle. He went on to lament how Hitler had not “finished his job” and expressed hope that Saddam Hussein would fulfill his intentions instead. Ze’ev’s inflammatory response escalated the tension between the two, culminating in an Israeli national intelligence officer’s visit to Ze’ev approximately three or four months later. The agent asked about any possible enemies that Ze’ev might have had in Norway, as it turned out that Varg had sent him a bomb disguised as a cassette.
Following the release of “Creating Our Sins,” Salem went on to record five full-length albums between 1994 and 2010. Arguably, it was the brilliance of “Creating Our Sins” that led them to these milestones. Now this masterpiece is officially reissued on vinyl for the first time, nearly thirty years after its original release. Perhaps even more noteworthy is this edition’s inclusion of six bonus studio tracks that many will consider to be examples of Salem’s finest work. Four of these tracks were recorded in a single session in 1989, and the other two were recorded in 1990. As it turns out, there still remains a full studio recording from the “Destruction Till Death” era that has yet to be released or even heard by the public. Only time will tell if this recording will ever see the light of day and add yet another chapter to the history of Israel’s most significant extreme metal band.

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