A few years ago, LA gave us not another glam metal act, but Salem’s Bend – a three-piece doom metal/desert rock act. With their debut self-titled record hitting the scene in 2016, they’re prepared to follow up with the slick masterpiece known as Supercluster. Doom metal roots are grown in soil similar to that of 1970s Judas Priest, keeping the atmosphere warm and dry with tinges of psychedelia tossed in.
Start/stop rhythm patterns were very common long before groove metal over-saturated them, and “Ride The Night” throws back to this, giving it the same feeling that Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” gave off. Thanks to the psychedelic injections, Supercluster steers pretty clear of darker passages, keeping the ride nice and bright. The only time it deals in black is near the end with “Thinking Evil,” one of the longer and more mysterious tracks. This fades into “Infinite Horizon” which contrasts the previous tune by glazing on the most psychedelic elements. It’s backed by what sounds like “Christmas” bells, and although it may be a bit tired sounding, it’s needed for the chilled build.
Speaking of bells, they aren’t the only intriguing percussion tactics used. A guiro (the ribbed, “fish” shaped instrument) is prominent during a lot of the solos and quieter moments on this to assist in establishing the dry and warm climate that I keep coming back to. “Heavenly Manna” takes that a step further by incorporating maracas behind the spacier, clean licks which jump all over the place. Quite a sturdy bridge, and one of the greatest moments on the entire disc. Not too many albums require this much focus in the percussion, but Supercluster definitely does.
Don’t miss the hidden track tacked onto the end of this titled “Beltaine Chant.” It retains the previously mentioned bells in place of the drums and acts as a solid, short closer. Ending on the epic “Infinite Horizon” wouldn’t have given off the same impression; not that it would be a bad one, but a different one indeed. An album with songs that couldn’t just be cut and shuffled around is a good indicator that the right decision was made.
Once again, I can say I’ve come across another album that works so well due to the placement and arrangement of everything. The atypical percussion, the softer licks, the heavy doom riffs, the clean vocals, and the dry atmosphere are all essential ingredients. Stitching it up in the right fashion and allowing for a smooth flow is what brings it to perfection, with psychedelic garnishes to prevent it from dipping too far into the haze of doom. Essential listening for fans of classic metal, doom metal, or desert rock.
Supercluster will be out on May 24th, 2019 through Ripple Music.