without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Salome's Terminal is a violent, swirling, quasi-indecipherable near-masterpiece, an exponential outgrowth from the rather mundane trappings of traditional doom. This trio has hit the kill-switch with a record that will one day be regarded as evolutionary, an integral new facet in metal's forever branching family tree from which new growth shall emerge. Too bad the band had to implode in order for such a commanding step-forward to happen.
Compared to their debut and recent splits, Terminal bears impressive, nigh-impossible fruit. The band takes command of their songwriting, honing listener expectations with seamless integrations of experimentation. These songs sing their antecedents (Killing Joke, Swans, Godflesh, Eyehategod) without aping them, forcing those templates into new and heady stews of overpowering, toxic sludge. Compositions are formed at left angles, songs take divergent turns, and yet there is a distinct catchiness, a pattern to the process which keeps these songs in your head for days. Even the mindless swirl of 'An Accident Of History,' which admittedly drones on past the breaking point, harnesses a cohesive idea -- take the excruciating sounds of early Sonic Youth and Merzbow and feed them back into the post-metal machine.
And in this newly emergent era of sound-bytes, downloads, singles not albums, slick gloss and over-compression, Salome makes an unexpected throw-back to the concept record, the challenging listen that demands several uninterrupted listening sessions to digest. And by doing so they somehow manage to sound both forward thinking and retro – this album requires an old-school attention span for its entirely contemporary and progressive music making. This alone makes Terminal a very refreshing and powerful album that I suspect will have tremendous staying power despite the collapse of the band itself.
And for all my previous talk of pioneering female vocalists in extreme music, I must admit that hearing Kat now, I hear her predecessors less. Her voice, her command, her ability to juggle a wide vocal range has all improved in the last two years alone, becoming distinct, unique, and singularly powerful. She has become an entity alone -- one of the best vocalists in heavy music, period. Her voice is no longer buried in a muddy mix. It is stronger, more forward and the music benefits greatly from this emphasis. As the guitars unfurl and drums bash with staggered abandon, it's Kat's vocals which it draw it all together -- her voice is a laser point on which to focus when the entropy of structure sets in, when the songs lose their moorings and leave the listener fumbling in the darkness.
This sense of collapse is everywhere on Terminal, an implosion of heaviness that truly crushes and buries all it touches. From the hypnotic, mind-numbing heaviness of 'Master Failure' to 'Epidemic's near-senseless twists and turns, a jagged highway of strewn corpses unfurls. Not unlike the recorded output of Neurosis, Salome's Terminal is not meant for a casual listen. It's heaviness is not the comforting familiar that blankets most doom and sludge bands with an easy, lazy sound. There's dissonance and atonality everywhere, smothering 'The Unbelievers' as if it were an unwanted child. One I hope others will adopt now that Salome is gone.
Salome is a band which writes their sludge/doom with a very minimalistic approach. Simplicity is, of course, a hallmark of all doom metal, but they take it to extremes.
The riffs are just about as heavy as anything else out there (perhaps even the equal of Electric Wizard), and generally as slow as anything but funeral doom (although they go funereal a la Corrupted on "Epidemic"). The drums, too, are simple and slow, but the beat is kept perfectly, something that's more difficult to do at a slow tempo. The vocals are both strained screeches and very deep, slow death growls. Katherine Katz has informed me she does ALL the vocals--those are crazy low for a woman to be doing! Sometimes both vocal styles are present at the same time. There is no bass.
It sounds like it should be too simple to work, but for their absolute mastery of dynamics. They have a completely organic, unprocessed sound. It's incredibly sludgy, and they always make room for feedback to ring out, sometimes accompanied by sound effects. In fact, the 17 minute "An Accident of History" is driven almost entirely by feedback, with a few notes barely creeping into the song well after the five minute mark.
There are brief sections of faster tempo and the occasional guitar lead (see "Master Failure"), but mostly, this is sparse riffing and screeching. And every second of it is worth listening to. No matter how many times they play a riff (and they never overdo it), it sounds different each and every time.
The Verdict: Somehow Salome manage to make listening to feedback enjoyable, even to someone completely sober. Maybe it's because the riffs are worth waiting for, or maybe it's because they know how to manipulate the feedback in interesting ways. Maybe both. I recommend listening to it on some headphones with killer bass.
Sludge metal has lost touch with its roots. The fusion of slow tempo, bass heavy doom metal with hardcore punk’s shouted vocals and aggressive aesthetic makes sludge metal an acquired taste for most listeners. However, contemporary artists Kylesa, Baroness, Lair of the Minotaur, Old Man Gloom, Mastodon and the like have drifted from the sound originated by groups EyehateGod, Buzzov*en, the Melvins, Neurosis and Crowbar; sludge metal has lost a lot of its edge, becoming more accessible to listeners. Fortunately, there are still those whose music is faithful to the true Southern sludge.
Annandale, Virginia’s Salome is one such band. Their 2007 debut release, a split with the band Three Faces of Eve, was self-produced and limited to 666 copies, which wasn’t enough to spread their music to the world. The following year however, their self-titled album came out, featuring 4 songs that played over the course of 44 minutes, most of which was consumed by the colossal song “Onward Destroyer” which took up a whole side of the 12” LP. “White Tides” is another important track from Salome, as the band shifts from incredibly slow, heavy passages to faster, more hardcore parts, a perfect representation of sludge metal’s capabilities. A split with Thou followed in 2009, and then early in November 2010, Terminal, the band’s second full length album, was released on Profound Lore Records.
Terminal is Salome’s most ambitious release so far. It contains 7 songs, plays for over an hour, and leaves an impression like a wrecking ball leaves on a tree house. The slow crescendo in opener “The Message” provides a good introduction to the piece, which is soon followed by “Terminal,” a track worthy of being the title. Rob Moore’s guitar is tuned so low one would swear it was a bass guitar, but the band operates without a bass player. Aaron Deal’s drumming matches the mood of the song at every turn and offers style that requires years of practice. The vocals are spot on, full of dread and violence, scratchy growls and howls that drag on and on.
Midway through the album is the song “Epidemic,” and midway through “Epidemic” the band enters full drone mood, forgoing most musicality to create an ambient noise-scape which fills the range of the sonic spectrum, slowly quiets itself, and leads into the most devastating breakdown of the band’s career. “The Witness” is chock full of anger and would make an excellent ring tone. Then “The Unbelievers” slowly ends the record, a dirge for 2009.
This album would make a great Christmas present for anyone who wears a Corrupted t-shirt and thinks that Ufommamut is a great baby name. Salome is an enormous asset for heavy metal and one of the current bands worthy of recognition. Also, their singer is Katherine Katz (who is a member of Agoraphobic Nosebleed as well), and she is more metal than an I-beam.
*Originally written for Generation Next in the Santa Fe New Mexican*