Castle – Blacklands

By Gruesome Greg

Album number two from this Bay Area female-fronted doom trio. Funeral doom this is not—eight tracks spanning less than 36 minutes. From the upbeat (if none too uplifting) chugs and gleaming instro passages of the opener “Ever Hunter” through the piercing, haunted wails and jagged riffing of “Corpse Candles,” this is not your slogging bog-band doom, either. These guys maintain a steady mid-pace for the most part, but don’t let that deceive you: this is a gloomy record, indeed.

Incidentally, these folks played their first-ever gig over in Toronto, and as far as bands from ‘round here are concerned, this sorta sounds like Demontage and Blood Ceremony thrown in a blender, albeit with a bit of a trad/power metal blend that you don’t really hear from either—the bludgeoning “Storm Below the Mountain” probably wouldn’t sound too out of place at one of those Paganfest shindigs. (The title track even refers to pagan gods, so there ya go!)

Alas, even if an attempt to throw labels at this record proves futile, this is pretty decent stuff. Let’s just call it occult heavy metal and give’r another spin…

(Van Records)

RATING: 7.5

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.