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June 22, 2024

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The Cult Of Speed (SmartFist)

By: Ernie Volkmann

Salvo describes their brand of Industrial Rock as "bludge", as in "hit with something heavy". Their super thick sound, quite honestly, is bludgeoning. Salvo has all the necessary elements - big guitars, distorted vocals, pumping drum machine, angry lyrics - but they have more to offer than just the what the otherwise pedestrian efforts now being played out by contemporaries such as fellow NYC stalwarts Clay People, 16 Volt and Acumen have shown lately. On their debut LP the cult of speed, the duo of Dan Krikus and Peter Auslan give most tired of all styles in the industrial genre a much needed shot in the arm.

Salvo brings to the table several techniques not usually explored in Industrial Rock. Nearly all the songs employ dual vocals, and both vocalists create a distinct persona for themselves. Auslan's low, Peter Steele-ish growl complements Kirkus' wail in most songs for an effect employed not nearly enough by the rest of the scene. "Guttersnipe", the best track on the album, shows this best. Auslan never tries to get very loud, instead he leaves it to Kirkus to lay out the loud chorus. Despite utilizing that bastion of alt.rock, quiet verse and loud chorus, Slavo weaves an impressive web by using what could eventually become the "Salvo sound" - dual vocals, excellent use of electronics, and (gasp!) psychedelic guitarscapes. Building and building, instead of focusing on a distinct guitar riff, the attention goes to Kirkus' screams above the guitar and squawking electronics. It is the psychedelic element, the final piece to Salvo's equation, that is their most creative. Instead of going for the big guitar solo and noisy finish, Salvo uses psychedelic, almost Floydian guitar that somehow doesn't feel out of place with the flowing keyboards. It's these things that Salvo does in keeping from sounding generic.

Possibly the most interesting spot the album has to offer is the mind-bending electronics on the closing track "Virtue". The sweeping keyboard line that starts it off is most impressive, but unfortunately not used enough. Ultimately, the best moments of this album are when the guitar isn't dominant. What makes "Guttersnipe", "Virtue" and the nice touch of gothic psychedelia on "Frogger" stand out is that Salvo proves it doesn't need the guitars to be effective. On "Face", the vocal-less opener, Salvo kicks up a Ministry style cloud of dust, but the song wouldn't be nearly as effective without the breakneck keyboards and loops running with it. As good as that may be, Salvo still can fall into that unfortunate pit as shown by "Modus Operandi", which rocks to much like Stabbing Westward for everyone's own good.

The cult of speed ranks as one of the better NYC debuts of the past few years along with Terminal Sect and Hanzel Und Gretyl. Salvo shows here that it has potential to make waves beyond the industrial scene - but that will only happen if they stay determined to be more than just another run-of-the-mill one dimensional band.

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