Tuesday 16 April 2024


Medieval fantasy doom metal is how Brooklyn's Castle Rat describe their music and judging by their videos they certainly dress the part, the respective members utilizing a mix of over the top makeup, headdresses and masks to reflect the medieval fantasy side of their image. Image is all well and good but if you do not have the musical chops to go with that image then basically you end up being just a novelty and Castle RatRiley Pinkerton (vocals/guitar); Henry Black (lead guitar/backing vocals); Ronnie Lanzilotta III (bass) and Josh Strmic (drums), are no novelty, this is a band who more than deliver on the doom metal part of their self-description as their debut release "Into The Realm" (King Volume Records) will attest to.

What Castle Rat describe as medieval fantasy doom metal will probably come across, to those of us who have been listening to music from the dark side since we could strap on a pair of earphones, as sitting at the more occult rock end of the doom spectrum, in other words a little more bright and melodic than it is dark and thunderous. First track out of the bag "Dagger Dragger" is testament to this lighter breezier dynamic its bouncy hard rock/proto doom groove, not unlike something you might expect emanating from a Blood Ceremony or a The Devil's Blood release, has a chunky semi-galloping gait that supports clean powerful vocals telling lyrical tales of daggers and demons. "Feed The Dream" follows and finds Castle Rat mixing proto-doom with its more traditional equivalent to come up with a groove that is as dank as it is delightful, especially when twinned with Pinkerton's slightly slurred vocal melody. We are offered a moment of respite with "Resurrector" a brief but highly enjoyable solo piece featuring bassist extraordinaire Lanzilotta III. Its all hands onboard again for "Red Sands" the tale of a wearied warrior set against a backdrop of atmospheric doom/occult metal that boasts scorching lead work from Black and Bonham-esque drumming from Strmic. We get another moment to catch our breaths with "The Mirror" a serene and tranquil dual acoustic guitar piece that leads into the equally serene but slightly less tranquil "Cry For Me", a soaring torch song/lament that showcases not only Pinkerton's vocal power but also her fragility, it is stunning. "Realm" is up next, another short mood piece that is similar in feel to the previous "The Mirror" but this time with the electricity turned on. The band pack a hell of a lot into penultimate track "Fresh Fur", a doomic rocker with an air of off-centredness in both its vocal and musical delivery, so much so that its just under four minute duration feels like twice that, something you won't find us complaining about. "Nightblood" brings proceedings to a close with a song that once again blurs the lines between traditional and proto doom, a full on assault on the senses packed to the rafters with top performances from everyone involved.

The dressing up and make-up may lead some to expecting Castle Rat to jam grooves not too dissimilar in flavour to that of Swedish occult rockers Ghost but they would be wrong in their assumptions, Castle Rat's music, although sharing some of Ghost's melodic qualities, is a much harder and heavier affair that takes its influences from Black Sabbath and the bands and music that Sabbath spawned. It has to be said though that there has been a certain amount of hype circulating around Castle Rat but it is justified hype, these guys can really play, they have great songs and their debut album "Into The Realm" is an absolute banger on every level.
Check it out ......

© 2024 Frazer Jones

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