Salem, it's hard to cope with fear

interview with Salem

If you have not heard of SALEM by now, you probably never realised that there is a small but fine scene for extreme music in Israel. SALEM were formed way back in 1985 and after a successful underground career including three demos, SALEM signed a contract with the german label Morbid Records in 1990. The two following albums sold over 40.000 copies world-wide, gave the band top votes in British Kerrang magazine and video rotation on MTV’s ’Headbanger’s Ball’. The album ’Kaddish’ featured a cover song called ’Ha'ayara Bo'eret’ (the town is on fire), a song that is being associated with the holocaust. This national controversy found its way to the Israeli parliament for a discussion of whether or not it is appropriate for a metal band to play such songs. This dispute was especially delicate for SALEM being on a german label.
The follow-up ’A Moment Of Silence’ was recorded with top producer Colin Richardson (Fear Factory, Machine Head etc.). Of course SALEM always proved their live skills, sharing stages with acts like Megadeth, Entombed, Ancient Rites, Cancer, Rotting Christ, Disharmonic Orchestra and more.
Having had good experiences with a german label, SALEM signed a 3-album-deal with KMG/System Shock in late 2001, and now you are listening to ’Collective Demise’, which is not only the most aggressive album of SALEM so far, but also offers a great variety of influences, reaching from the use of Afro-Cuban percussion over arabic Darbuka and female vocals that do not sound wimpy to the most sophisticated second guitar harmonies ever submitted to reel. ’Al Taster’ is also the first single and video off the album released in Israel. This song is a cover of an old Jewish hymn. Lyrics are taken from Psalms, chapter 102, verse 3. All the mentioned above is combined with heavy guitars that make some swedish bands suffer, and a raw and grim hoarse voice to frighten the shit out of people who think that there could not be heaviness coming from Israel.

Get ready for the COLLECTIVE DEMISE!!!

interview with Ze'ev on 9-10-2002

Please give us a short introduction of yourself?
Salem was formed in 1985 and we released 4 albums and a 7’ picture LP: ’Creating our sins’ (December 1992), ’Dying embers’ (7’ picture LP) (April 1994), ’Kaddish’ (December 1994), were released by Morbid recotds. ’ A moment of silence’ produced by Colin Richardson (October 1998) was released by B.N.E, and Salem's new release: ’Collective demise’ (September 2002) is the first Salem offering for KMG/ System Shock in Germany.

Earlier this year Salem signed a 3-album contract with this well-established label.

Salem played with such known acts such as: Megadeth, Entombed, Rotting Christ, Cancer, Disharmonic Orchestra as well as headlining tours throughout israel. Salem was featured on MTV. europe several times and also on the german show: Viva.

The line-up is: Ze'ev Tananboim - Vocals, Lior mizrahi - Guitar, Michael Goldstein - Bass, Nir Nakav - Drums and Nir Gutraimen who joined us recently - Guitar.

For more information about Salem, you can visit our web site:

Your from 1985 so why is Salem still around the metal scene?
We want to remain active as long as we feel that we have something to say and that there's someone who's interested to hear it .Salem try to be as much original and come up with good material cause we work a lot on the songs to make them interesting and have no rush to write songs that will end up being crap in the end. We will continue as long as we have support from our fans in Israel and worldwide.

Describe the evolution of the band in its existence?
Every Salem album is different, and every album represent an adolescence of Salem. ’Collective Demise’ is very aggressive, although it has a lot of melodys and harmonys. I think that ’Collective Demise’ reflects the main adolescence of Salem, the fact that it's more musicly unified distinguish it from our previous releases.

Do you think the scene has changed? And in what way?
The scene has changed because now days metal is more accessible, because of the internet, e-mail etc', everyone can read web-mags and hear new bands.

And how is the scene in Israel? Is it changed too?
The metal scene in Israel has had its ups and down, new bands come and go all the time. These days the metal in Israel is growing and a lot of kids listen to metal and support it and come to live shows. Some good bands are: ’Arallu’, ’Nail-Within’, ’Lehavoth’, ’Untropia’, ’Meleches’, ’Orphaned Land’, and more.

I try to help bands, I produced several bands like ’Arallu’, ’Azazel’, ’Aztec’, ’Betrayer’ and I just returned from Germany, helping producing ’Nail within’ with Hrris Johns.

Also we have a great lable here in Israel, ’Raven Music’ that support the metal.

When you support well known bands do you get respect from them? What were the best bands to play with?
We played with known bands, and we're in touch with them to this very day. I enjoyed playing with all of them, all of them are good people and great musicians.

Do you also have played outside Israel? What were your fav countries?
No, but KMG is planning for Salem a European tour on 2003.

Did you understand the commotion for the Ha'ayara Bo'eret song?
Salem never compromised with our music and style, even if we had problems with the religious or with the government. We did have a problem when we did ’Kaddish’, we had an argument because they thought this is'nt appropriate to play Ha'ayara Boe'eret with Metal, This is a very sensitive subject and some people thought the music is too aggresive, but eventually We decided that it is appropriate to cover songs like that, and that is why we did it, after all we have the freedom of speech and creativity.

Have the horrors of the WWII had any effect on you during your life? How do you deal with it?
The horrors of the WWII effected my family that lived in Europe that time, we lost a lot of family members. As for today, we remember, but the younger generation don't deal with it each and every day.

What about the stupidness of the war between the jews and the palestines?
Salem did ’Collective Demise’ because of this situation. Our lyrics influence by life itself. In Israel it's impossible to ignore the news since it has a direct effect on your daily life and as a result you have songs. It's hard to cope with the fear of being somewhere crowded (like busses, restaurants, or even live shows) without knowing how it will end. The fact that innocent civilians are dying gives you an helplessness feeling. It is difficult for us to see a solution for it right now, but we don't know what tomorrow will bring - therefore we try to keep hoping.

Are you involved in the politics in your town or country?

Does Salem has any message towards the listeners?
This is a good stage to say thank you to all of you for the support and for the good responses of the odience and the media

When are you going to pierce a cowbone through your nose?
I'm not a piercing man, i'm a tattoos man.

Why are you putting other influences in the music?
There aren't rules to write music, and how to perform them. I think you can add all kinds of things as long as you don't exaggerate. Also, we are living in an oriental country, and here, in Israel, all those things are very common, we think it's important to add those things to our music.

Do you think that is the reason to get more focus fom the press?
We create our music for ourselfs, not for the press. We use different instruments because we think it's creative.
Of course we are very happy if other people other then us like it!

Explain the title choice for Collective Demise?
’Collective demise’ is what we experienced the last years, and what may happen because of the suicide terrorists in the Middle East and the United States of America.

Think the lyrics are important for the band?
The lyrics are very important to the band. Every member of the band is writing material, and in most cases We are all meeting, listening to it and choosing what we like, eventually we build song, after that we are writing a lyrics to it. When the song is ready, We can change it, so a song is not realy ready until we record it.
In general and conceptual, all the songs in the album are refering to collective demise.

Kebab or Gyros?

Do you use the nowadays technology of computers to make the music?
We use the usual instruments to make music, but we use nowdays technology of computer for all the technical things when we recording in a studio.

Is it easier to modify the songs than back in nineties?
Technicaly, it is easier to modify songs nowdays, but if you are ready before you come to the studio, you don't have to modify quite a lot.

How do you see the future for recording an album? Will the CDs still exist in 10 years?
I think this is very possible that something new will appear. 10 years ago we had cassettes and records only...I can't say what will be in 10 years but who knows...

What is Salem doing in 2006?
I hope we'll do a European tour after releasing our 6th CD.

Do you feel the need to say some free promotional words?
I wanted to add that Salem has released 3 new video clips from ’Collective Demise’, the first one shows the absurd of suicide terrorists on busses in Israel, the second deals with the pain of the people who lost their loved ones, and the third is dedicated to the Israeli Metal scene, to the audience and it shows the relationship between Salem and the fans.

Salem shows have great energys. The audience knows and sing all the lyrics with me, allmost every show is sold out.

The show is 80 minutes, and it includes songs from all of our releases. Every show is different because we have 4 CD's, and we try to give the audience something new every time they are coming to see Salem show.

In some shows we put video screen with Salem's video clips, or projecting the show.
Interviewer: twansibon
Oct 9, 2002
Next interview: R.U.Dead? are dead

Share this: