October 23, 2014

Castle - Second Coming / Labyrinth of Death

Written by Maxim Björky.

The difficulty of writing grandiose diatribes about two-song EPs hasn't stopped people from doing it before. The best is when a tech death EP –itself a combine-like exercise barely deserving to be labeled art— invokes a wheezing essay that reads like a vocabulary quiz. None of that here, ladies and gents. The two jams on this here Castle 7” are a nice snapshot of the forceful trad/doom hybrid the band has become known for, but they don’t justify my subjecting you to a measure-by-measure root canal of a review.

Instead I wanna talk about how incredibly underrated I think this band is and why people are bad at understanding why this band is good.

This EP combines a haunting cover of Alice Cooper’s “Second Coming”, a song whose only real downside is that it is less than 3 minutes in length, with “Labyrinth of Death”, a track from the full length released shortly thereafter. To my knowledge, Under Siege doesn’t exist on bandcamp and, all that being said, I’m gonna use this EP as a chance to preach from up on high for a couple of paragraphs.

First, this Alice cover is fantastic. It’s been a nice keynote in my recent rediscovery of his early work. “Labyrinth of Death” is a jammy Sabbath Vol. 4 type track with some nice grooves and hooks. Liz Blackwell’s vocal ambitions aren’t any more extensive here in terms of range but she’s still that hybrid of Ozzy and Leather Leone that makes this band instantly recognizable. Needless to say, the last full-length, Under Siege, really stuck with me. I find something peculiarly enticing about Castle’s ability to tap into Mercyful Fate, the aforementioned Alice Cooper, NWOBHM weirdoes Hell, a bit of Venom, and a few other vibes. It’s the sound of a time when evil was mysterious, sexy, left something to the imagination. At the same time, they don’t sound exactly like any of these; pack songs with plenty of jagged rock riffs; and demonstrate that songwriting lightweights they certainly are not. From what I know, they’re nevertheless playing club shows to 25-40 some odd people a night, as happened last time I saw them.

If ever there remained a flicker of doubt in your mind that public opinion remains a race to the bottom, this should be the end of it.

Thanks for letting me clear the air. Namaste.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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