In the past few years, the underground sludge and doom metal scene in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has begun to really thrive. A newer band has emerged recently, having dropped their sophomore album in the back half of 2018, and it is a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh scene. Today we take a look at “Cultivating Mass” by East Pittsburgh’s Salt the Snail.
“Cultivating Mass” is mostly what one would expect it to be within this style of metal: dark, grimy, dense, and repetitious. The band proudly wear all the common trademarks of the subgenre, but where they really shine on this album is when they decide to step out of the familiar drone, implement melody, and pick up the pace. When the guitars step away from the power chords we see some really cool stuff happen, adding a very Adam Jones (Tool) esque style of guitar work. With lo-fi, yet clear production (the album was recorded in-house), the mix of everything really lends itself to the droning dirge the band are striving for.
Key tracks include opener “More Weight”, current single “Nightcrawlers“, and the rampaging “Blackmarket Powerviolence”. “More Weight” opens up with a simple yet effective melodic lead that sets the track quite nicely. The rest of the band kicks in to build up a giant wall of sound before crushing any sense of melody around the 4 minute mark with a descending chord progression. The vocals act as an instrument with its layered guttural shrieks and shouts. “Nightcrawlers” follows in a similar fashion, but in a much more haunting accord. Eerie vocal melodies with a repetitive riff that evolves and swirls around the track crawl at a glacial pace as it all unfolds. It is beautifully executed, especially with it’s punishing breakdown that closes out the track. “Blackmarket Powerviolence” completely flips the script. The band take off at a blistering pace with some fast and catchy riffage (not to mention another simple yet heavy as hell breakdown). The track also features some guest vocals from other vocalists in the surrounding area that pitch in to add to the chaos. Very chaotic and dense, short, sweet and right to the point……a welcome change amongst the album.
Salt the Snail offer us an excellent slab of doom and sludge on their sophomore album “Cultivating Mass”. I really hope to see these guys evolve as they show signs of breaking the mold for your typical sludge/stoner band. The songwriting is definitely there, it’s just a matter of riffing a little deeper and finding their niche in sound. Be sure to catch these guys on a stage near you and pick up “Cultivating Mass” today!!!!!