The only preamble to the vicious experience that is ‘King Knight’ is a three-second static sample and a painfully slowed down ‘I love you’ (to the tune of the children’s song used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay), then your senses are hurled into a head-on collision with stinging synths, a relentless beat and the decidedly unholy strains of a children’s choir singing ‘O Holy Night’. And that’s just setting the scene for the next forty minutes. Salem have harnessed the darker aspects of rap, house, industrial and even classical music, concocting a nightmare world, a feverish dream, which is a claustrophobic tangle of sounds, at once restless, paranoid and heavy. Euphoric vocal samples and soaring chords trip over uneven beats in ‘Redlights’, but with the abrupt addition of rumbling prison cell clanks and menacing steam piston hisses on ‘Traxx’, everything goes queasy, racing pulse turning to cold sweat. It’s a terrifying and astounding album – don’t listen to it alone.

By Polly Rappaport

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