There can sometimes be an element of pantomime with metal bands, especially the doom and black metal strands. So when a band states that they insisted on recording their debut album in Yorkshire because that was the last place in England that a woman was burned for being witch, you would be forgiven a smirk.

That’s certainly the case with Salem Rages’ debut Aspects of the Deepest Gloom, when you read the sort of nonsense above in the bumph. But once past that and into the music, this isn’t a bad CD at all. Its less Sabbath and Trouble than one might expect, more punk rock and new wave.

The rainfall and bell intro are quite doomy but that’s thrown off when they charge into One for Sorrow a short sharp ditty that has more than enough to tell you that there’s a bit more to them than hammy horror overtones. It’s more of the same with 13 Times, Deathtides and Black_White 2, and you fear the worst. Despite the occasional divergence they are pretty one paced, and so far so punk. But on the instrumental Smokescreen Afterlife, the band slows a bit and settles down into a Gothic groove. That’s followed by 1985 where they start to border on hard rock but that only lasts 48 seconds!

From there it’s as before; a bit predictable. Apart from the staccato semi spoken/shouted B.A.T.S. New Grave’s piano intro just delays the inevitable. Having said that, closers the Fall of Greatness is a gritty medium paced rocker while Purging of the Flowers goes all folky/doomy and metal, ending the album on a high.

The performances are good all round, though the thin production lets them down. It’s a solid debut, though at times there’s a sense of confusion; as if they can’t decide which direction to go in, with ideas not followed through, and the easy route taken.