By: Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann
Before Katherine Katz made her debut as the official third vocalist of Agoraphobic Nosebleed on their 2009 release Agorapocalypse, the Virginian scream queen had been quietly brewing a crushing doom project with guitarist Rob Moore and drummer Aaron Deal. The fascination metal fans felt after hearing Katz shred her vocal chords on Agorapocalypse sent them on a Google rampage, attempting to find information on the vocalist who seemed to come out of nowhere. Like me, they found themselves on Myspace, listening for the first time to a dark force known as Salome.
Salome gained even more recognition after the release of Our Enemy Civilization, their split EP with Thou. Soon they found themselves playing to sold out crowds with bands such as Shrinebuilder and Wolves in the Throne Room, a show which I had the privilege to attend early this year. With a year and a half of buzz having passed, the band has finally completed the new full-length album Terminal, which is set for a November 9th release on Profound Lore. Thankfully, fellow impatient metalheads at National Public Radio have put the entire album up for streaming until the November 9th release date, so I got to listen to the highly anticipated release a bit early.
Terminal is a very healthy progression from Salome's previous work, retaining the raw power and patience in transition which have become two of their most instantly identifiable qualities. The interconnectedness of the guitar and drums is still present as well, but with a heightened sense of awareness as the two musicians accent each other as if they were attached at the hip. Although Salome don't stray too far from their signature sound, Terminal instantly lets the listener know that they're in for something a little more experimental. As the opening track "The Message" begins, the theme of atmospheric noise is introduced. Unlike Salome's past work, in which their noise interludes relied mostly on natural feedback from huge amounts of distortion, this album shakes your bones with the additional use of delay and synth effects. The meeting of old and new noise tactics are shown prominently in "An Accident of History," which clocks in at a brain-melting 17 minutes.
The red light/green light progression of Terminal is reminiscent of the Pig Destroyer 2008 EP, Natasha, in which huge doom riffs and experimental noise display a musical tug-o-war throughout the album. And much like Pig Destroyer, Salome don't fail to deliver crushingly catchy riffs, prominently showcased on tracks such as "Epidemic" and "Master Failure." Kat's vocals sound as good as ever throughout the album, not only with her high gutturals sounding like her throat is beautifully filled with broken glass, but with a noticeable improvement in her lows, which don't feel at all lost within the cavernous low end of the guitar; something that doom bands tend to struggle with. Bottom line, this album will not disappoint Salome fans, and will most likely intrigue the new generation of down-tempo metalheads. So drop what you're doing and check out Terminal on NPR before its taken down on November 9th, and be sure to see Salome live when they begin touring again, its a spectacle not to be missed.
4 \m/'s out of 5
[Note From Editor: As of this posting, you can still stream this album in full over at NPR. Check it out and let us know what you think]