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Terminal Excellence - 95%

vargvikernes2, November 21st, 2010

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*