Is it just me or are there a lot of great doom and stoner bands blooming all over the place? Castle have been drowning my ears with amazing occult doom for the past few weeks via their very recently released debut album, “In Witch Order.” I almost never mention other bands in my reviews unless it’s because of collaborations, but these guys channel some of Saint Vitus with more of an interesting upbeat accent as a twist to traditional doom. This album differs from what we have come to expect from doom these days in it’s song duration and pace. Basically, they kept the classic bluesy down-tuned guitar riffage and solid drumming while nixing the long heavy droning bass sections; mid-paced/slower tempos don’t last too long in any one song. That’s not to say that you don’t hear the bass. Oh no. You can hear and feel that baby pulsing in every song. Sometimes it feels like the bass is overlaying the rest of the instruments instead of just adding accents in the background; so it plays just as much a role in this band’s sound as do the other instruments.
Vocal work is a duo between, I’m assuming, Mat Davis (guitar/song writing) and Elizabeth Blackwell (vocals/bass). Elizabeth takes lead though and she seamlessly ranges from woefully hypnotic to dirty and aggressive. Lyrical theme is centered around the occult and horror with some historical references added in. Perhaps it’s just my choice of television programing shinning through, but I think this would definitely be at home as the soundtrack to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. That’s how much they were able to channel the ancient world; especially its mysterious and exotic spirituality. This album drips primeval preternatural gloom that traps you in it’s glorious muck. There are two songs that do that the most for me.
“Fire In The Sky,” the second track, arrests the attention with it’s heavy and very bluesy opening. This song delves into what it must have been like for nomadic per-historic man when they first discovered fire and began harvesting it. It’s a song about triumph in every way that gets the blood pumping for a battle whether it be metaphorical or literal. The chorus grabs you as much as the opening does:
Fire is power
Fire is might
Protects me every day and night
The feeling of triumph wanes as the album progress but the pace stays the same until we get to the ninth track, “Sleeping Giant.” This song is melancholic and enchanting with a very slight aggressive tone to it. The mental image they paint is of a very restless giant trying to find some reprieve in a world of utter darkness. Eerie, sad, and lonely image.
Aside from those two beauties there are two other songs that you should definitely keep an eye out for: “Lost Queen” which showcases Al McCartney’s drumming skills nicely and “Devil’s Castle” for a very dirty bass solo at around the 4 minute mark followed by an ethereal wordless chorus. But by no means should you skip over the other songs on the album. It’s a very solid doom release and I’ll be on the look-out for more from them.