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Listening Party

Salome: Terminal

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When it comes to doom, less is more. Seems counterintuitive, but there it is—something about leaving big spaces in the sound helps those hammer blows of fate hit all the harder when they land. Salome has the big spaces down, but the less-is-more Virginia-based trio—vocalist Kat, guitarist Rob Moore, drummer Aaron Deal—somehow also manages to fill many of the voids with droning tones of feedback and hiss. The combo, as heard on Salome’s debut full-length Terminal, goes together like bricks and mortar, and is just as heavy.

The slow, gradual build of sonar pings and hovering-spaceship oscillations that introduces first cut “The Message” sets the stage for Moore and Deal’s lumbering downtuned riff and bash. Here, as elsewhere, Kat (who moonlights in Virginia grindcore project Agoraphobic Nosebleed) overtops the massive chords with her lime-gargling vocals, before Moore and Deal break into a lope and deliver a series of brutal, obsessive simultaneous strikes, like someone trying to break through one particular spot in your skull with a rock hammer. The song eventually devolves into cymbal washes, wavering hums, and effects backwash before the backline launches another furious riff.

Slow down, speed up, hold that chord, let that breathe a moment, speed up, slow way down, let slip the amp wash here and there—that’s how things proceed through “Master Failure,” “Epidemic,” and “The Witness.” Moore finds melodies among the riffs and power chords, and there’s a personality to Kat’s manifold guttural roars that’s often missing among her fellow Cookie Monsters. Live, the various squalling tones that bookend and break through the pieces must provide valuable tuning time, but they also prevent the bare bones here from feeling too spartan, and Salome clearly has some deeper attachment to them. Terminal breaks into untidy halves on the back of “An Accident of History,” a handful of chord salvos wrapped in 17-minutes-plus of feedback skree, electronic hum, high-frequency whistle, and late-night between-channels TV white noise. It’s atypical for a doom album, but then if you’ve made it that far, you already know whether you belong here or not. And somehow, it doesn’t seem like too much.

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