Written by: Blackie Skulless
Nothing really scratches an itch for the heavies like a solid slab of traditional doom with a monstrous boom. Castle have been around for a little while now, but they didn’t cross my radar until a friend suggested them, and their most recent effort Deal Thy Fate hooked me in an instant. Repeat listens only made me love it more. Every box is checked; intricate rhythms, strong solos, incredible vocals, and haunting structures.
With that, you can take it and run with it, or you can go absolutely nowhere, all depending on the songwriting. Thankfully, this department has been perfected. Guitar leads with bouncy energy reflected off crushing bottom riffage is the name of the game. You’ll also find all kinds of higher wails between the solos and the fretboard fun. Amazingly, they also manage to pack a lot into generally short runtimes for songs, cramming in endless riffs and licks that dance around the typical song structure. A darker shadow is cast upon this, but they never lose their accessibility.
Doom efforts usually focus most energy into the riffing, but I can’t stress enough how great the vocal range is here. For this style, a lot of them are surprisingly high pitched. Similarities to Budgie’s Burke Shelley can be found, particularly in “Hexenring.” The descending patterns in the chorus of “Wait For Dark” also hit hard, adding a neat contrast to the overall heavier stomp that captures that song. The layering offers so much to dig through, topped with a super rich texture.
Those textures and layering are a big part of what makes Deal Thy Fate so haunting, which fits the themes around the occult and witchcraft. The aforementioned “Hexenring” blends the higher vocals with Sabbathy riffing, psychedelic tinges and all the works. The way it fades into a cooler soft trail is such a nice touch to lead into the speedier outing. “Red Phantom” is probably the most intimidating track here, boasting some of the chunkiest riffs and harsher effects on the singing.
As if that isn’t enough, the accessibility of Deal Thy Fate remains firm, and a lot of rock ‘n roll excitement hides behind the walls. “Haunted” takes the explosive rhythm pattern and smooths it out to such a steady degree that it removes the edge, especially in the verses. The title track lays these on even heavier, maintaining a welcoming effect, despite an underlying terror tint. And “Skull In The Woods” loads on so many grooves, giving off some Blue Oyster Cult vibes thanks to the strong melodies in the bridges.
Truly, Castle has crafted what I view as a perfect record. They take the doom aesthetic and push it far beyond the genre norms, making it an exceptional disc full of horrors. There’s plenty of traditional metal, rock ‘n roll, and eerie vibes to go around. Even the final track, “Firewind,” manages to inject an epic feel, thanks to beefy voice projection, vocal harmony, and clarity over softer guitars. A harder second-half leading into creepy synths/effects couldn’t have been a better way to close this off. For those that haven’t ventured into this dark forest, be sure to prioritize that trip!
Castle - Deal Thy Fate was released Oct. 2018 fromRipple Music
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!