Originally released in 2013, Endless comprised the first six tracks the spankin’ new Chicago band Mount Salem wrote. That caught the attention of Metal Blade, who’ve reissued the release with two new tracks.
This powerful doom-rock quartet consists of guitarist Kyle Morrison, bassist Mark Hewett, drummer Cody Davidson and vocalist/organist Emily Kopplin, whose voice measures up against her contemporaries quite well. Placing her alongside the likes of Dorthia Cottrell, Uta Plotkin and Darcy Nutt is no stretch at all.
Not only does Mount Salem not sound like they’re from Chicago — although The Windy City’s doom-adjacent scene is pretty happening — they don’t even sound like they’re from this century. The atmosphere is such that the album feels closer to the groovy nature of the early ’70s with a dose of southern charm. It’s completely fuzzed-out and smoky as a hotbox at dusk somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line.
If you’re looking for influences, Black Sabbath is an obvious choice. Mount Salem channel that same ominous aura with big, slow, heavy riffs of doom as well as kicking their dark horse into a gallop. That vintage occultness being popularized out of Sweden (esp. Witchcraft) can be heard as well. And not to mention a little Electric Wizard.
Let’s get back to Emily Kopplin for a spell though. As an organist she adds another level of depth to a band capable of standing on their own anyway. The organs aren’t on every second of the album but those moments are just as powerful. Though when they are present it changes the mood just that little bit. Sometimes too, her organs stand as front and centre as her voice and this writer will never complain about that.
Kopplin’s voice beckons across the swampiness of Mount Salem’s laid back psychedelic doom with an irresistible sensuousness, a sweetness that acts as an aphrodisiac for the ears. It’s gorgeous as it is; there’s a bewitching quality that matches the general aesthetic of the music.
Unless of course this whole genre is not your bag, there’s really nothing not to like about Endless. Heavy riffs, ample mood, tasty organs, a bluesy soul with passionate solos, groove to spare and story telling, sing-along vocals make up this compelling listen. The most striking aspect is how, despite the infancy of the band and the relative haste in which the original six tracks were constructed, the chemistry between the members is astounding. Listening to the way things ebb and flow, subtly and deceptively morphing and mutating and feeding off each other, one gains a deep appreciation for their talent as a whole.
With this kind of songwriting talent, chops and the backing of a “major” metal label, Mount Salem are poised to do big things.
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