Salome – Terminal Review

Originally written by Jon Eardley

To say Profound Lore Records has had an enormous year in terms of the quality of metal music they’ve helped get out to the underground masses is an absolute understatement. From the likes of superb offerings from heavy metal masters Slough Feg and traditionalists Dawnbringer to StarGazer’s latest work of blackened death metal, from the chaotic frenzy that is Blood Revolt’s Indoctrine to the melancholic and folky blackness that is Agalloch’s new opus, their catalog of bands is quite an immense and varied collection. And it’s with Virginia’s Salome and their latest release Terminal that they bring to you some southern flavored sloooowww n’ sludgy doom metal that shows us, once again, they aren’t afraid to dabble in more than a few of our beloved little sub-genres of metal.

Salome is a three-piece outfit that consists of female vocalist “Kat” Katz (who also lends her vocal talents to grinders Agoraphobic Nosebleed), guitarist Rob Moore and drummer Aaron Deal, who also provides the various samples/noises heard in and throughout Terminal. Detuned guitars combined with a meaty tone are suited perfectly for the sluggish riffs and single note vibrato bends that litter the album, and even when the pace picks up slightly not an ounce of their bite is lost. I’m not going to lie, however, because as heavy as this sound does come across initially, the absence of bass guitar is quite noticeable, and I will honestly never understand when metal bands choose to go without it. And I don’t think I’m nitpicking here. At the core this is still heavy fucking metal, and bass guitar is as important as the guitars and drums themselves regardless of style.

Short rant aside, the album’s seven songs are simplistic in structure but powerful in delivery, and with five of them exceeding the eight-minute mark, these are lengthy and somewhat taxing tunes to get through, due mostly to their repetitive, droning nature. But with this style the songs do exactly what they’re supposed to do, and they do it well. With the exception of the 17-plus minute noise/feedback track “An Accident in History” (almost unbearable to listen to unless you’re a noise aficionado), each of the songs follows the same formula of slow, crawling three-to-four chord riff progressions with the occasional rumbling moments of urgency. The interplay between guitar and drums on Terminal does a more-than-adequate job pounding home those slower, droning moments which make up the majority of this album, and when the tempo does pick up, the transitions are almost seamless only to be brought down to a crawling pace yet again with ease. All in all, the duo does a solid job of simply providing the canvas for Katz to paint her tales of morbidity and gloom.

And while her vocal attack in ANb is of a more caustic, aggressive and speedy nature, it’s obvious within the first few lines she spews out in nine-plus minute opener “The Message” that Kat’s approach here is the damn near opposite. These are long, stretched-out vocal lines that see her go from bestial high-end screams one moment to some low-end and brutish bellows the next, and thanks to good ol’ studio tricks, you sometimes get a little of both. “Angst,” “torment,” “suffering” and “agony” are words that immediately come to mind, and one has to be enthralled that such a small frame can produce such sounds vocally and be so commanding of your attention. Not to knock the performance of Moore and Deal, but Kat steals the show here and it’s when the vocals are present that these songs are at their best.

At the end of the day, I’m not sure if I can call this a must-have for even the most faithful of this style of sludgy, droning doom. There are obviously several bands that have come before and have perfected this sound time and time again, and all three members in Salome have obviously done their homework. With that said, those same devoted fans would probably enjoy much of this album as it does exactly what it’s intended to do, and that’s to punish the listener with their message of no-nonsense sludgy doom. Small knocks on this album aside, I do see a promising future for this band and look forward to seeing what they come up with next. And kudos once again to Profound Lore… from the looks of what they’ve already got planned for 2011, I’d say we are in for another fun metal ride.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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