Castle Under Siege

CastleUnder Siege
Castle are a wonderfully strange classic heavy metal band. Their music expertly captures the energy of traditional heavy metal with just a hint of the smokiness of doom and spookiness of the occult metal revival — which is to say they favour catchy and compelling riff structures, richly fuzzy tones and well-placed broad strokes in their composition. Conceptually, however, Castle are disarmingly smart; their cover art is the work of Russian Symbolist painter Denis Forkas Kostromitin, and Under Siege explores the ways in which life is a battle to be fought in unexpected ways.

This is not a record about picking up a greatsword and slaying your enemies, but rather the ways in which caustic interactions will attempt to blunt your kindness and bend your moral compass. It's a siege of the mind and spirit that Castle explore in this latest offering, and they do it with grace and intelligence. In terms of execution, Under Siege is also a marked advancement for the band, building their fortress on the fertile ground between Mercyful Fate, Cirith Ungol and Slough Feg. The songwriting is smoother and the transitions are exceptionally well placed; Elizabeth Blackwell's vocals have both more emotion and a slightly grittier edge that suits the subject matter perfectly; and the smoky-yet-precise production is bang on. (Prosthetic Records)