By RACHEL REEVES
There’s a certain level of ritual to vinyl. From turning on the turntable to carefully removing the record from the sleeve and dropping the needle, there’s a level of engagement that simply cannot be replicated with digital streaming. The act of listening becomes an experience unto itself as the warm, full bodied sound fills the space and requires physical attention when it comes time to flip the record. Add in the often glorious artwork and informative liner notes and it becomes clear why vinyl has continued to persevere and gather converts for more than 70 years.
As fans of the New Orleans based soundtrack label Waxwork Records know, Waxwork have been celebrating and embodying this idea since they first opened shop back in 2013. Routinely releasing and re-releasing highly sought after scores and rare deep cuts, their range of titles span decades, genres and styles. While each release has its merits, it is their recent soundtrack release for Rob Zombie’s 2012 film THE LORDS OF SALEM that sent a shockwave of excitement through the vinyl soundtrack enthusiast community. Available for the very first time, this unique piece of wax casts a special spell and wonderfully acts as an extension of the film itself.
As far as first impressions go, THE LORDS OF SALEM makes a great one. Featuring new and stunning art by Robert Sammelin, the imagery both inside and out easily draws attention with it’s bright, sinister and evocative beauty. It also pairs extremely well with Waxwork’s fellow releases for Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, 3 from Hell, Halloween and Halloween II. All six featuring original artwork by Sammelin, there’s a continuity that obsessive collectors are sure to appreciate. Also included is a heavy art print that is perfectly sized for easy framing and display.
Once one ‘opens wide the gate-fold,’ the hits keep coming. Pressed on 180 gram ‘Satanic Rite’ vinyl, the record’s mix of Blood Red, white and Blue Butterfly wax creates a butterfly-like shape that is truly something to behold. Despite avid vinyl enthusiasts constantly debating plain black wax versus colored variants, Waxwork has always kept quality at the forefront and this gorgeous release is no different. While I can truly only speak to the copy I playtested, there were no pops, noise, volume shifts or playback issues to be found. Buttery smooth in execution, the individual tracks flow effortlessly between dialogue clips from the film, original cues by John 5 and Griffin Boice, and insert songs from Rick James, The Velvet Underground, Rush and more. An engaging listen from start to finish, the symbiotic relationship between all three audio features effectively transports you into Zombie’s unique vision of Salem.
Further adding to the release’s value as a companion piece to the film, the record comes with a lovely 16 page 12”x12” booklet of set photos from Zombie’s personal collection. Never before released, the images showcase the filmmaking process and candid behind the scenes moments. As the ultimate icing on the cake, the release features a bonus black metal album by Count Gorgann titled Corpse Eater: Satanic Misery Live for the Dead. A 2015 live recording from Black Forest Discothek, this bonus album is pressed on a 180 gram black wax and features a fitting and killer, etched B-side. Just like the special features on boutique blu-ray releases, Waxwork always takes special care to maximize your bang for your buck.
Continually proving why physical media still matters, Waxwork has even released a very special edition that comes housed in a hand built replica of the box featured in the film. While long sold out (and at a price point for only the most passionate of collectors), it is this persistent dedication to the fans, films and the format itself that continues to put Waxwork Records in a league of their own.
Want to sample a taste of Salem before pulling the trigger on the release? Check out ‘The Lords Theme’, ‘Three Sisters’ and ‘The Curse of Margaret Morgan’ on your favorite music streaming service. Also, who ever gets tired of hearing Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s ‘Blinded by the Light’?
THE LORDS OF SALEM vinyl release is currently available for purchase for $45 on the Waxwork Records site, and maybe even at your local record store!