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Castle - 'In Witch Order' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/61/ec/73/1402_CastleInWitchOrder_1309973625.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 06, 2011    
 
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Pure metal, pure genius.

"Have YOU ever thought of how heavy a Castle is?" ponders the opening line of Castle's biog. Well, no, is the easy answer. Like where whales buy dental floss, what mice like on their toast and why Meat Loaf is still allowed to make records, it's something I've never really considered. Although the final point does actually bother me…

Castle are a three-piece band from San Francisco who, if there's any justice in the world, we'll all be hearing more of in years to come. Dodgy biog aside, what you've got here is a songwriter – in this case a rather talented guitarist called Mat Davis – who's written some classic-sounding heavy metal songs with solid backbones, huge riffs and fluid solos. This guy is a man of great talent, believe me, and the exciting cocktail of songs he's cooked up – eleven cuts, all done and dusted in 44 minutes – hit you straight between the eyes.

From the biog's florid hyperbole ("thrash velocity", and "scorching psyched-out riffs", for example) I wasn't sure what to expect, but was hooked from the off as 'Descent Of Man' kick-started things. As a rough point of reference Castle's material sounds not unlike the early songs written by Mercyful Fate or the youthful Metallica, songs written to bang that head that doesn't bang, and in bassist/vocalist Elizabeth Backwell and drummer Al McCartney Davis has found the perfect collaborators to bring his compositions to life.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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With lyrics inspired by the works of William Blake and Charles Baudelaire the songs are heavy – very heavy in places – but never sacrifice their souls to a wall of noise. Backwell's vocals drip with post-punk attitude and McCartney thunders away in the background, pounding his kit to within an inch of its life, but the band never lose control and Phil Manley's soft-touch production has left a rough edge to Castle's sound and given the album a one-take-no-dubs ambience not unlike a lot of my beloved early NWOBHM recordings.

Songs like 'Total Betrayal' and 'Shaman Wars' are riff-driven onslaughts to the senses, and in album closer 'Devil's Castle' the band work their socks off to come up with something that could easily sit comfortably on the second side of Metallica's 'Kill 'Em All'. It all sounds delightfully and devilishly retro, and is all the better for it. It's pure metal; it's pure genius. Kings of the Castle? You betcha!

John Tucker

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