If you want doom, you got it. Mount Salem is a band I found out through being a writer of this site. Right when I started listening to them, I wanted to see them live. On their Summer 2014 tour, they made a stop in Philly at the Kung Fu Necktie, a bar venue that hosts daily metal shows. I got to interview them (coming soon!), and they were a great bunch to chat with. They played on the same bill as three Philly-local bands: Ancient Creature, Ecstatic Vision, and Serpent Throne, the latter being the headliner. These four bands gave an interesting mix of doom, stoner, and other strangeness.
The venue itself is quaint, but very metal. They had all kinds of odd decorations around and the bathrooms were covered in graffiti and band stickers, likely encouraged by the owner. The stage was small, but very usable, and the venue had a very intimate feel. They even had a Terminator 2 pinball machine, which I tried my luck at.
An instrumental stoner/doom band, they opened up with only a handful of people in the crowd. In a twenty minute period they played two songs, typical of the genre. They had a very droney, but at times fast-paced sound. In addition, there was a keyboardist/programmer adding some weird effects. Trippy stuff, man.
I was disappointed to find out that Mount Salem played second. Being that they were the only band there to be signed to a major label, I expected them to be one of the last, if not the last, to perform. However, because it was Ecstatic Vision that organized the event, they were placed in second, which seemed fair enough. I really dig the band’s sound. Female-fronted doom metal bands have become a trend recently, but don’t be fooled, Mount Salem stands out. Great, Sabbath-influenced riffs with woeful vocals, and a hint of organ for good measure. The band performed well, but unfortunately, the vocals were on the lower side volume-wise, being over powered by the instruments. This happens way too often at live shows. Granted, I was wearing earplugs, but it should have been better balanced. Mount Salem played a six song set, half of which contained new tracks. The new material was intriguing, and got me excited for their next album. At thirty five minutes, it was enjoyable, but should have been longer.
The name fits the music for sure. They had two drummers, which evokes the Melvins. The singer looked like a younger Lemmy Kilmister in a Hawaiian shirt. They were all over the place musically, playing fast psychedelic rock, unusual for the genre. The drummers used unconventional percussion (for metal) such as maracas, and sounded very tribal-like at points. Like Mount Salem, the vocals were often drowned out by the instruments. The singer at one point played a keyboard flute thingy, which was odd. The sound was very unpredictable, and had me constantly wondering what they would play next.
Lastly we have Serpentine Path…I mean Serpent Venom…no, Serpent Throne, yeah, Serpent Throne. They are one of the biggest doom bands in the area. Like Ancient Creature, they opt not to sing on their songs. The sound is typical of stoner doom metal bands – Black Sabbath-esque riffs, with the weight of a thousand suns. Some of their riffs were almost direct copies of Sabbath, but who am I to complain? They ended their set with “Wheels of Satan,” a catchy galloping number that is fun to drive to. Also, I just found out that the directors of Last Days Here, the documentary about Pentagram front man Bobby Liebling, are the guitarists of the band. I would have said something if I knew that…
Though Mount Salem was the highlight for me, I enjoyed the eclectic mix brought in by the other bands. It is nice to see bands go outside the norms of the doom and stoner scenes, which have become more prominent, yet somewhat cliched over the past few years.