Sal - Conversations with my Therapist
Sal have been on my radar for what seems like years, always threatening to break out of the South Wales rock scene and find an international audience. Here they are, finally, with a polished product that could be the passport to wider recognition. The band blend the modern pop-rock credentials of bands such as Feeder with some proper, old school operatic metal sensibilities, so we get a lot more histrionics than we do from Feeder but a lot less guitar wankery than we did from Accept. If I’m honest I’d have preferred a bit more guitar wankery on this album.
They’ve certainly done the right thing in staying local when putting together this album as long standing Manic Street Preachers cohort Greg Haver has crafted a tight, powerful sound which is comparable to Gold Against The Soul - that being the closest the Manics came to producing a genuine, bona-fide rawk album. Opening track Get Your Facts Right sets the tone of the album with a brutal staccato riff fest which is not unlike early At The Drive In. Jekyll and Hyde keeps to a similar format but emerges as the most obviously commercial track on the album, boasting a chorus which could lay waste to even the most demanding Donington crowd. Don't bet against it as they just waltzed away with the award for best live act at the 2009 exposure music awards.
There’s light and shade on the album though and Demons allows the listener some respite from the barrage of unrelenting riffs and provides opportunity for Cat’s voice to shine. The subject matter is characteristic of the album and hints at a dark, unhinged undercurrent; one can only assume that making an album these days is actually cheaper than the therapist’s bills. There’s only one sour note for me in the package but it really does grate and almost has me looking for the number of a good therapist. The lyrics are often have an ‘unfinished’ air to them; the worst culprit by far being the atrocious Ordinary Guy which is so heavy handed and literal that it appears to have been scribed by an infant. If you can ignore the lyrics then this can be regarded as a really good rock album with great crossover potential. Certainly Devil May Care, which complements the emotional power of Everything Must Go with some beautifully melodic metal reminiscent of Somewhere in Time era Maiden, has already gained some high profile approval by being named as the official theme tune to the latest James Bond release. Ok, so it is the theme tune to the latest book rather than Hollywood blockbuster but you can't knock it.