On several nights in 2013 it was a safe bet that if I was leaving a show sweaty, smelly, and with the onset of whiplash in my shoulders and neck from banging my head till muscle failure, I was leaving a Saltine show.
Article by Joshua Fitzwater
Photograph by Robert Escue
Just outside of the seven cities in Franklin VA resides Warren Holland. He is a father, hunter, pre-American patriarchal reformation married man, and quite possibly the best Virginia based metal vocalist for one of the most promising southern mid tempo metal bands around these parts. Now I should qualify that last long-winded statement. First I will let you know that Holland, on the occasions I’ve chatted with him (usually after his set and always after he has indulged in some celebratory green), is quick to say he is not trying to “make it”. He admittedly has told me that “blowing up” is not what this is about for him. With a youthful expression on his face, younger than his years, he will often follow such thoughts by speaking of his inner collaborative circle as “FAMILY” and I can sense strongly that these assertions of closeness, driven home with an almost professional wrestler type vocal inflection, are from his heart. I do, however, wonder how much of this quick insistence of contentment in relative obscurity outside of his local circles is not without, at least, some buried internal conflict. I can’t help but speculate that maybe it boils down to his family meaning more to him than the road. I would be willing to bet that there will be nights, if they haven’t already come, when Holland wonders, “what if?”
Holland’s throat shredding but effortlessly soaring vocal, reminiscent at times of the ascending but still tougher than nails approach of a late Pantera / Superjoint/ early Down era Phillip Anselmo, juxtaposed with the bands thick, groove, slow-and-heavy-as-it-should-be riffs which hark back to Iron Monkey and Acid Bath, make Saltine a threat to mark in the national southern metal/ sludge landscape. From mid 2013 until the end of the year I went to three Saltine shows, most notably their visceral sonic annihilation of the Norva on November 15th. There were no “off nights” vocally, and I would find out after Holland’s set on the night of the third show at the Jewish Mother that he was performing with a respiratory infection.
Holland, anchored rightfully so by the straight forward ACDC-esque drumming approach of Huck Meyers along with the tone enriching bass exploits of Eric Kitchen, often vocally begins songs with mid range stalwart screams highlighted by brief flares of raspy croons soundly in the pocket of warm, gritty, blues inspired riffs slung forth by himself and rhythm guitarist Kenneth Daugherty. I hesitate to refer to these beginning or building moments of Saltine song verses as ‘the calm before the storm.’ These verses are more like steady groove laden waves of swinging handgun fire that anticipate a sudden downturn in tempo which serves to accentuate the thickness of the guitar tone, inducing bitter beer face and bodily convulsions on listeners caught in the slow bombardment of gravity collapsing auricular sludge. And then all of this auditory density is violently pierced by the high-end siren wail that around Hampton Roads is conjured up best by Holland. This linguistic note, this wail, is pain personified. In this moment the indulgent nature of anger and bravado step aside and the simplicity of our hopeless, finite, human experience announces itself singular. It is at this moment that Saltine, with Holland leading the way transcends the genre, the medium, and briefly touches on what it is for one to be.
FOR MORE INFO ON SALTINE VISIT: www.reverbnation.com/saltineva
757E Zine is a bi-monthly music, arts, and culture magazine dedicated to local musicians and artists who are not afraid to push boundaries. 757E Zine doesn't strive to be "safe" but rather in touch with what is new and unique in Hampton Roads music and art.
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