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Blacklands

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Album Review

Judging by the conflicting influences engaging in friendly war games on the group's second album, 2012's Blacklands, Castle could really only be a product of San Francisco's eclectic underground music scene. Notwithstanding their association with heavy metal labels (first Germany's Van, now America's Prosthetic Records) and resulting penetration among metal consumers, the band's songs are typically assembled out of intriguingly choppy riff changes, surprisingly low distortion thresholds (i.e. very compressed), and conspicuous dark/light elements more indicative of the bandmembers' roots in alternative and possibly noise rock, more so than metal. Sure, it's undeniably heavy metal's fire and brimstone vernacular informing most of the lyrics, as well as Mat Davis' guitar staccatos (see the title track, "Dying Breed," etc.), fiery solos and infectious descending licks (showcased on "Corpse Candle"); but his far greater debt to the Melvins becomes apparent as soon as lumbering sludge beasts like "Storm Under the Mountain" and "Curses of the Priest" see him taking over from chief vocalist and bassist Elizabeth Blackwell. For her part, Blackwell's hoarse delivery is the spitting image of L7's Donita Sparks (note opening stomper "Ever Hunter," in particular) before revealing a greater melodic range on "Venus Pentagram" and others — not that this has much effect on the lo-fi vibe maintained throughout and the rather sloppy, off-the-cuff performances here and there. In other words, comparisons could be drawn to any number of Bay Area groups beyond the Melvins, including Ludicra, Saviours, and even Slough Feg, but, at the end of the day, Castle's aesthetic has a lot more in common with, say, Totimoshi than proper retro-metal partisans like Ghost or RAM. However you qualify it, much of the material works and should help expand the group's audience into other fan bases.

Customer Reviews

Great Album

This is their best album yet! It delivers on all fronts if your a lover of metal like I am!

Great Band

Awesome album from this great Bay Area metal band. Fans of Witch Mountain and Jex Thoth take note ….great female fronted, doom inspired metal! …and at only $5.99…no brainer.

Sounds like

Kelly Murphy, with silly lyrics

Blacklands, Castle
View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Genres: Metal, Music, Rock
  • Released: Sep 11, 2012

Customer Ratings