Review Summary: Genuine creativity shoehorned into a genre-shaped box
Over the last ten years, many bands have been attempting to define their sound as a deft amalgamation of retro electronics and “core” genre influence, with Colorado newcomers ‘The Salem Ritual’ bringing their own mix of Deathcore, Downtempo, and Electronic music to the table. While the overall product ‘Parasitic Entity’ is a genuinely entertaining little EP, a blend of creative ideas, entertaining electronic compositions, and competent instrumentation are suffocated by inconsistent production, awkward songwriting, and frustrating genre tropes.
Downtempo has been the flavor of the month for Deathcore fans for roughly five years now, and while on its own the genre has some merits, its qualities completely detract from what the band was attempting to do here. Songs such as “The Thing” demonstrate this, as the sterile guitar production isn’t strong enough to justify the more simplistic chugging guitar based songwriting that comes with the Downtempo genre, and it makes the electronics, the best part of this EP, sound out of place and forced as a result. Not all is lost though, tracks like EP closer “The Mask” shows that the band knows the type of atmosphere they’re trying to create, with almost the entire track being filled with retro-styled electronics in the vein of ‘Crossovers Inside My Fingers’ helping to create a haunting atmosphere that’s entertainingly uncomfortable and eerie to listen to. The problem is that the Electronic side of this EP is so much better than the Deathcore side that it creates an almost eclipse effect where you wonder why they even bothered including the guitars at all; the harsh vocals are crisp and solid, particularly the lower register, so such a transition into letting the electronics take the forefront over the guitars would be an easy and welcome change to do.
At the end of the day what can be taken away from this release is that ‘The Salem Ritual’ is an ambitious project with plenty of potential, but is being strangled by the confines of one of its own genre influences. Hopefully the band’s next release will capitalize on the band’s stronger electronic songwriting ability and tone down the Downtempo influence to more tastefully used moments.