Dark Castle - Spirited Migration
Whether or not the glory days of Doom have come and gone is anyone's guess. The days of bands like Candlemass and St. Vitus owning the label are more or less over, and the stylistic divisions of what is coined "true doom" come in all shapes and sizes; droning doom ala Earth or Sunn0))), depressive doom ala My Dying Bride or Funeral, or stoner doom, which is where I think Dark Castle may fit. I'm not entirely sure why, but there's a very real sense of psychedelia and mysticism that permeates their debut LP Spirited Migration. It exists in every down-tempo riff, every moment of synthesized noise, every growled utterance of lyrics. In the process a suffocating atmosphere is created, and it is here that the album succeeds by leaps and bounds over so much other doom metal.
The band is two members strong, who go by Stevie (guitars/vocals) and Rob (drums/vocals). There is no bass, only synthesized, grinding notes to fill in the space between axe and hammer. Beyond the obvious doom-oriented songwriting, there is a very strong post-metal feel ala Isis or even Neurosis, especially in the tempos and textures. Opener "Awake In Sleep" is tormenting, a more concise and purpose-driven idea of some of Sunn0)))'s work, for a fair comparison. The vocals are all low, visceral growls, perfect for the music. The melodic breaks on "Into The Past" bring to mind Mastodon when they slow things down, and that comparison rears it's wonderous head numerous times across the album. The title track is an interesting spanish-style guitar interlude, of sorts. Might be an interlude, might be the most engaging piece of atmospheric and thought-provoking music on the album. What sounds more like an interlude is the violent, hodge-podge of sounds and effects of "Weather The Storm", which is at once devious, intensely creative and overly assertive, like something out of Scott Kelly's worst nightmare.
This review might not to the album total justice; most of the songs have much to offer in the way of singular moments of incredible ingenuity and songwriting prowess, all managable under the defined post-doom style Dark Castle incorporates. It's a trip of an album, where you'll have to give it all the attention it deserves or let the really rewarding moments pass you by. These sorts of albums always seem to sit well with me when balanced correctly, and Spirited Migration balances the challenging sections with the eventual rewards so well that one, three, ten spins of the disc won't be enough for doom-heads to get their fill. These guys have instantly made a name for themselves.
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