ALBUM REVIEW: South of Salem – Death of the Party

With a distinctly American sound and name, you might believe South of Salem hail from sunnier US climes rather than from right here in the good old UK. Only really notable for its beaches and a football team of intermittent quality, Bournemouth might not be a seething hive of metal activity but it is home to one of the best up and coming bands of the last few years.

Four years after their outstanding 2020 debut The Sinner Takes it All, South of Salem returns with the equally impressive Death of the Party (self / Spider Party Records), not in any hurry to deviate from their Murderdolls meets Avenged Sevenfold and W.A.S.P. path of destruction.

The riffs come thick and fast from the outset, the razor sharp pairing of Kodi Kasper and Denis Sheriff driving sturdy opener “Vultures” forward while frontman Joey Draper stamps his authority all over the hook-laden chorus with his gravelly mid-range vocals. Mid-paced banger “Static” sounds like Stone Sour meets Black Veil Brides in the best possible way, while the catchy as hell “Jet Black Eyes” and “A Life Worth Dying For” combine the heavier end of late eighties glam with a more modern vibe. 

The downbeat but authoritative “Stitch The Wound” is contrasted by the bristling pent-up energy of the uptempo “Left For Dead” while the emotionally charged “Hellbound Heart” opens with In Flames-esque keyboards before building the drama with a sequence of slow builds and releases. 

The rhythm section of bassist Dee Vower (heh, see what he did there?) and drummer James Clarke smash into the groove-loaded “Bad Habits (Die Hard)”, the punky cut ripping like classic Murderdolls. The title track is a fun blast of hard rocking energy complete with Marilyn Manson style cheerleader backing vocals while “Villain” is a brilliantly moody closer which closes out the record in style.

Boasting not only a punchy production but a seemingly never-ending supply of hooks and infuriatingly infectious sing-along choruses, South of Salem delivers more of the same crowd-pleasing anthems without ever repeating themselves. Guitar solos are expertly performed but never outstay their welcome, drums take centre stage when necessary, and Draper presides over the whole circus with absolute confidence. It might only be January but Death of the Party is already a genuine highlight of 2024 and sure to feature on many end of year Best Of lists.

Buy the album here:

9 / 10