Somewhere in or around Chicago (my gut tells me Ravenswood) there is a coven of witches with impeccable musical taste who conjured Mount Salem from a smoking cauldron of black water. There is very little information available about the members of Mount Salem but the music they’ve created on Endless feels supernatural and triggers my overactive imagination. I’m not sure of the exact recipe the coven used, but it goes something like this: A heavy broth base of massive doom riffs, healthy doses of doped-up Muddy Waters electric Chicago blues, a splash of garage rock (from the darkest imaginable garage, built on an old burial ground), and a hallucinogenic pinch of occult rock psychadelia. And eye of newt, of course. Somewhere there’s a very sad pack of blind newts swimming aimlessly in a bog.
From the opening quote on “Good Times,” provided by none other than Charles Manson, Endless exists on a twisted, ethereal plain anchored by metallic heaviness while supporting the soothing vocals of their female lead singer. A minute into the song there’s already mention of burned churches, and with this musical accompaniment you can picture someone walking through the ashes enjoying the fragrance like floral incense. This is music that creates images, demands attention, and engages all senses. Endless is also accessible in the best of ways: It does not betray its heaviness with catchiness and melody. The riffs that carry these songs on their backs compare favorably to some of the best work by Sleep and Electric Wizard and feel like gentle giants: Huge in size and sound, but displaying soul.
Every song on this album is essential. Even “Mescaline,” the mid-album instrumental intermission, now a staple within the doom genre, is the perfect somber, dreamy departure from the heavy crunch of the rest of the record. Mount Salem has also already perfected what I call “psychedelic dirges,” where the keyboards and vocals dance slyly, even seductively, over ominous, heavily distorted breakdowns. It has all the same mystery and beauty of a Dario Argento horror scene, complete with the stylized bloodletting. Endless ironically concludes with “The End,” perhaps the best example of musicianship on the album, including every element of their signature sound, from smoky, goth blues to brutally loud, fuzzy stoner rock. This song will be my lullaby for a long time.
Endless feels like it’s trapped in the nightmarish head-space of a psychic medium on a bad trip. This is another album that I feel I could play for diehard metalheads and curious rock fans who may be unfamiliar with doom and receive enthusiastic responses from both. While the vocalist may sing that “this is the end of everything,” as a fan of heavy music I will gladly delay the apocalypse for a few more albums from Mount Salem.
Listen to the album here and support the band on their merch page: http://mountsalem.bandcamp.com/album/endless
And follow them on Facebook to learn more about their upcoming tour: https://www.facebook.com/MountSalem