Black dawns at Salem


Release year: 2022
Label: S’laughter Visions

Once more unto the breach! Continuing on our write-up’s of various S’laughter Visions releases we got our hands on recently, we now turn our attention towards Salem Alumni, a duo consisting of the late EJ Prophet and fellow Cerberus Clique member Oogie Boogie. I suppose it’s safe to say that with the untimely passing of EJ Prophet, this is one of the active clique’s projects which has reached its end.

As usual with S’laughter Visions releases, horrorcore of a modern variant is the name of the game. As usual, production, mixing and mastering duties are handled by Bank Hard Beats. As usual, other members of the clique such as Doc Gruesome and Lil Manyak appear on the album. If you read my review of Doc Gruesome’s and EJ Prophet’s joint album Four Horns (here) or Cerberus Clique’s debut album (here), you might guess where I’m going with this…

…And you’d be 100% correct. Indeed, this suffers from the same flaw as almost all other S’laughter Visions releases: it sounds too similar to most of what the clique’s put out. The trap-inspired horrorcore beats are very similar, the overall sound is very similar, and ultimately, the clique do themselves no favours by guesting so prominently on each others albums. I mean, I get why they do it, but it becomes counterproductive. As does rotating the same “outsider” guests on all albums: yes, both Sleep Lyrical and Stu J The Vamp make appearances on Black Dawn.

Judged on its own merits, Black Dawn belongs to the stronger albums of the clique, although perhaps not entirely consistently so. The album kicks off with a couple of strong, haunted horrorcore tracks. I’m particularly fond of Asmodeus, with samples of, I believe, Anton Szandor LaVey. Witches Sabbath kicks the album off in a truly eerie, ill-foreboding way. Towards the end of the album, Black Dawn takes a turn towards more personal, dark themes. Black Hole is a melancholy, spite-filled track about, I believe, mental health issues and dejection caused by them, whilst Smile appears to be a venomous tirade about a broken relationship.

However, in the middle of the album, there are a few somewhat throwaway tracks which don’t make the album worse, but neither do they improve it in any way. With a running time of 50 minutes, the album could have done with a few tracks less.

In other words, if you’re not familiar with other S’laughter Visions/Cerberus Clique releases, you might dig this a whole lot. Well, provided horrorcore of a more modern fashion is something you like. On the other hand, if you’re already more or less inundated with the “trademark” sounds of the label/clique, Black Dawn doesn’t manage to separate itself enough from that.

The end result is an album that is, as said, relatively strong judged by its own merits. But I’d still like to see more variation in the clique’s various projects. It’s probably a bit late to wish that for Salem Alumni due to reasons mentioned above – which is a damned shame, because I feel this project had a lot of realistic potential for achieving that.

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