Van Records (2012)
The San Francisco based metal trio Castle didn’t waste any time following up 2011’s “In Which Order” debut album, hunkering down to release “Blacklands” in a timely manner. The sound emanating from this act is more of an old school, doom-tinged traditional style with varying NWOBHM and American influences. The rhythm section of bassist Elizabeth Blackwell and drummer Al McCartney keeps the sound very simplified and locked into deep, dark grooves a la early Black Sabbath on winning cuts like “Ever Hunter” and “Storm Below The Mountain”. Guitarist Mat Davis layers his riffing with a hint of psychedelic nuances, building up the emotional tension during the impassioned title track.
I sense in a live environment Castle probably extend many sections of these arrangements for their own personal pleasure which probably provides more excitement for the listeners. Elizabeth also handles the microphone duties, her voice very Lemmy-like during a more rhythmically charging number such as “Curses Of The Priests” while Mat steamrolls your ears with a Schenker meets Rhoads performance. Occasionally Castle lay back into more of a 70’s hard rock vibe, and I think this is where the early Angel Witch or Mercyful Fate style riffing and soloing comes into focus- one of the better tracks coming near the end of the album as “Venus Pentagram” features Elizabeth’s passionate melody pleas against a plethora of mind shaking riff hooks.
I could see Castle touring with labelmates Vanderbuyst and bringing the younger generation a taste of what doom tinged traditional metal is about in 2012- taking away any of the backing tapes or Auto-tuning mechanisms and just allowing three members with amps cranked up to play what they feel. Another head banging release, “Blacklands” will get copious play in my quarters.
Rating: 4.5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe