Nov 9, 2010

Salome - Terminal

A guitarist, a drummer, a female vocalist and no bass, not the kind of set-up that is common among doom acts but Salome really don't need much else. Everything about them is kind of stripped-down even right down to the bland and extremely basic album art of their new album titled "Terminal." The center point to the band is Katherine Katz who just last year made her début as the third vocalist of Agoraphobic Nosebleed on their 2009 release Agorapocalyps. Agoraphobic Nosebleed gave Katherine and Salome a new renewed interest although Katz, guitarist Rob Moore and drummer Aaron Deal have dishing out this kind of schizophrenic, progressive doom for about 5 years now. The self-titled début flew under the radar for most people but seriously impressed others including yours truly but this new disc has the band progressing in ways that is unexpected. Not only is the album damn good, it builds upon the foundations created on the band's debut and pushes them to new levels of confidence and musicianship. Salome have also been building up their live reputation playing with bands such as Shrinebuilder and with this new material in stock now, that reputation should expand even further. A lot of bands within the doom scene play long droning sections or extended feedback intro's or outros but not many make it their main direction and the ones that do are usually about as exciting as watching toe-nails grow. Salome are one of those rare exceptions of a band that can take abstract musical ideas of the extreme and make it hypnotic and interesting.

At times this album may be too much to take for the average listener, the most obvious example is the 17 minute feedback-fest of "An Accident Of History", if you are easily bored or simply hate the abstract end of the doom spectrum, this will test your patience but it is really the only track that is hit or miss. The atmospheric album opening "The Message" is built around guitar noise that sounds naturally driven by distortion and volume rather than studio trickery. The use of effects comes and goes throughout the album but it used sparingly and most importantly in an atmospheric approach. It is not all abstract and experimental though, "Epidemic" and "Master Failure has some infectious riff-work coming from Rob Moore and seeing as there is no bass to fill-out the sound he does a mighty job keeping the sound nice and full. His guitar-technique drowns you with sound with riffs that soar over the top of some really impressive drumming from Aaron Deal. It has to be said however that apart from "An Accident of History", the album doesn't stray too far from the same sound and musical approach and at 66 minutes, it is a little long for my tastes but if you want to hear a band doing a lot with very little, then this a disc you must check out. "Epidemic", "Master Failure" and  "The Message" are the highlights for me and I must admit the album loses some of its luster 50 or so minutes in with the last two tracks sounding a little worse for wear.

I must talk about the bands focal point and that is of course Katherine "Kat" Katz, without her I doubt if this album would be nearly as good. She has so much going for her in so many ways from her guttural highs and lows that are truly frightening and it is real, not like the computerized effected vocals of other female "metal" vocalists. The realism behind her vocal performance is made even stronger by the lyrical content and you cant help but think they know what they are singing about, this is not fake folks. She also gives you the impression that if you did her wrong, she would have your balls for breakfast! This is a monumental vocal performance that deserves high-praise from everyone inside of the metal community, not just the doom-sludge scene. What is great about this album is Salome always seem to be teetering on the edge of something without never quite getting there, this fuels a certain level of tension and yes the band is kind of progressive as they effortlessly moved from bombastic sonic noise to carefully crafted moments of atmospheric rock. Needless to say fans of Salome will love this album and if newbies don't get it, they never will but who cares about them anyway ? This album is not perfect, like I previously stated, it is a little too long and would have flowed better without the inclusion of the 17 noisy, brain-f**k that is "An Accident Of History" but hell it kicks ass anyway, buy it............8.5/10
Salome @ MySpace
Profound Lore Records

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