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Album Review: Under Siege by Castle

Stitched PanoramaThirty minutes.  That’s all it took for Castle to come in, make their siege, and completely conquer anything else I had planned on listening to for the past week.  In thirty minutes, Castle delivers one of the most concise, beefy, and enjoyable records I have heard this year.  And due to its quick run time and incredibly catchy songs it makes for a record that I just want to listen to over and over again.  The clichèd saying ‘all killer; no filler’ rings incredibly true here.

Following up 2012’s outstanding Blacklands (which landed on my list of favorite albums of 2012), Castle have taken their doom metal laden hard rock style to the grinding wheel and polished out one hell of a diamond.  Infusing a bit more of a traditional heavy metal feel with their groovy and slightly quirky riffs and an even better sounding vocal performance by Liz Blackwell each track on this record is so well done any of them could easily work as a lead single.

Castle (1 of 1)Throughout the record you will hear some heavy influence to classic metal bands like Black Sabbath, Manilla Road, Candlemass, and Iron Maiden, yet through some great songwriting and top-notch production nothing feels verbatim nor just another retro band that can’t stop worshiping the bands of days yore.  Songs like the opener ‘Distant Attack’ deliver a direct assault of galloped riffing and barrages of solos as the unique and sultry voice of Ms. Blackwell is constantly delivering catchy vocal hook over catchy vocal hook.  And then you have tracks like ‘Pyramid Lake’ and ‘Powersigns’ where mood and direction is always in flux while never meandering away from their intended purpose of rocking your fucking socks off.

I really have to commend the massive step in lyric writing on this offering.  While not incredibly poetic, each track excels in the story-telling department.  The words really add a nice punch to the music as they work in tandem to create some detailed and moody settings.  This especially rings true on what is easily my favorite track on the album, ‘Labyrinth of Death’.  Here the strut of the rhythm section, the winding of the guitars, and the lyrics about, well… a labyrinth of death, really work to suck you into an inevitable bout with the Minotaur.  And it all comes to a culmination as the mood takes a darker turn as the chase nears its end.

I can not speak highly enough of this record nor stop listening to it.  Concise, catchy, outstanding performances, incredible songwriting, and overall a damn good feel; what else more could one ask for.  Go grab this album now, you can thank me later. 5/5

You can stream Under Siege here courtesy of Terrorizer.

Under Siege releases May 16th, 2014 through Vàn Records in the EU and May 19th through Prosthetic Records in the USA.

Roundtable Retro Review: N.O.L.A. by Down

95_nolaLabel: Electra Records

Release Date: Sept. 1995

Songs: 13

Genre: Sludge, Stoner, Doom, Southern Metal

Studio Albums: 3 studio albums, 2 E.P.s

Location: La., USA Read the rest of this entry

Album Review: Earth Diver by Cormorant

a2140768649_2When take a gander at some of the reasons some of my favorite bands have remained my favorite bands over the course of decades one reason always seems to take the forefront.  The ability to grow and evolve, not afraid to make dramatic changes, while remaining true to a core sound or style that initial made me a super-fan in the first place.  These kind of bands give me something to look forward from release to release as I know I am going to get lots of new alleyways and avenues to explore.  They keep their career fresh and I get a variety of albums to listen to (unlike just more or less needing a single album that sums up the bands catalog) all with different experiences contained within.

Enter Cormorant.  A couple of years ago when they released their sophomore album Dwellings my ears picked up on the unique blend of blackened prog rock tinged with hints of classic metal and instantly became a super-fan of the Bay Area band.  As par for the course, since I liked their current record so much I ponied up the cash for the back catalog expecting more of the same that was on Dwellings.  To my delight, their debut album Metazoa was a much different beast than the record I was spinning ad nauseam, yet was still very much a Cormorant affair.  They just needed a third record to prove they were the real deal and not just a fluke and they were pretty much guaranteed a spot in my coveted Realm of Upper Echelon Bands.  I was very much hoping this would happen.  Then tragedy struck; Arthur Von Nagal, the bands front man, lyricist, vocalist, bassist, and major songwriter contribute made the decision to leave the band to pursue in a career of video game development (FYI, that really freaking awesome Walking Dead game that won all them awards, he was on that team.  Go play games made by TellTale, their all great!).

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Roundtable Review: Between the Madness by VanGough

a0236553750_2Label:  Nightmare Records

Release Date:  Out Now

Songs:   12

Genre:  Prog

Studio Albums:  This is their 5th release

Location:  Oklahoma, USA Read the rest of this entry

Round Table Review: The Mother of Virtue by Pyrrhon

12 Jacket (Gatefold - Two Pocket) [GD30OB2-N]Label: Relapse Records

Release Date: Out Now

Songs: 9

Genre: Tech-Deth

Studio Albums: This is their 3rd album

Location: NY, USA

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Streams of the Week: Metazoa and Dwellings by Cormorant

band_logoI know I haven’t held back my love for the Californian prog metal band Cormorant ’round these parts.  So it should also be no surprise that I’m well-hyped for the release of their 3rd full length album, Earth Diver, next week.  In preparation for the new album, I decided to give their past material a good listen to better hear how they evolve into the new record.  I popped them in last week and pretty much nothing else has found its way into my ears since, especially the album Metazoa.

When I first heard Cormorant it was right around the time the hype machine was promoing their 2nd full length Dwellings and I instantly fell in love with the album.  From the heady lyrics to endlessly engaging musical compositions it has become an album I listen to more than regularly and has been aging more than well, getting better with each listen.  Unfortunately, while I still owned Metazoa, I never gave it the attention I gave Dwellings and therefore was never really firmly grasped by just how freaking outstanding it is.  Revisiting it in a more lucid state has allowed me appreciate how terrific and unique it is.

Compared to Dwellings, Metazoa has a folkier, more aquatic feel compared to the raw and earthen sensation I get from the former.  Tracks like ‘Uneasy Lie the Head’ bleed that battle feeling I get while listening to bands like Moonsorrow and strong melodies heard on tracks like ‘Blood on the Cornfields’ have an almost Iron Maiden goes death metal touch to them.  Seriously every track on the record is diverse and filled with power and passion.  And the same could be said about Dwellings from the horror it weaves with the retelling of a genocide (based on a true story) in ‘Junta’ or the terror of being lost in outerspace on the tune ‘Unearthly Dreamings’ (which at the same time paints a picture of beauty and wonder).

Pretty much, if you dig on prog metal bands like Opeth and want something in the same vein that is wholly original I behoove you to dig into Cormorant.  If you find yourself digging on these albums, you should totally get them (they are ‘pay what you want’ so free if you are really strapped for cash, but I highly recommend the physical CDs as the art and packaging are outstanding and well above par for your average CD release) and pre-order the new one so it’s ready to go next Tuesday.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Roundtable Review: Reflections by Ferium

Reflections CoverLabel: Transcend

Release Date:  Apr. 7th, 2014

Genre:  Groove/Death Metal

Studio Albums: This is their debut

Location:  Haifa, Israel

Recommended for fans of: Lamb of God, Pantera, Black Dahlia Murder



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Round-Table Review: Pray to the Devil in Man by Dread Sovereign

LP-Gatefold TemplateLabel: Van Records

Release Date:  Out Now

Genre:  Doom/Sludge

Studio Albums: This is their debut

Location:  Dublin, Ireland

Recommended for fans of: Primordial, Candlemass, Manilla Road, Sunn O)))



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