Published Jun 04, 2015With a name like Castrator and song titles that include "Honor Killing" and "The Emasculator," the five-piece death metal act are forthright and aggressive about their musical and political agenda. Having just released their debut EP, No Victim, on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, these women gleefully explore revenge fantasies against rapists and expound upon the horrors many women endure. But for all the blood and severed dicks in their lyrics, at the core of Castrator dwells something even more powerful than vengeance: friendship.
"It's so much fun to cooperate with women," vocalist and founding member of Castrator, M.S., tells Exclaim! "It's unfortunate how women are [often] pitted against each other, it's so much better to get along and make things together. There is a sisterhood in the metal scene."
M.S. is acutely aware of how difficult it can be for women to gain a foothold in metal, whether as fans or musicians, journalists or support crew.
"It's no wonder that a lot of women quit the scene soon after joining, and it's sad. It's important to support women; I think that's why that there are so few women in the metal scene, because they're not encouraged to keep going and get better."
Theirs is a friendship forged in shared peril as much as shared vision. The members prefer to be semi-anonymous within their roles in Castrator; their vocalist prefers to be addressed by her initials, M.S. While this is in part an aesthetic choice, it is also something band members do for safety. In addition to her creative life as a metal performer, M.S. works in the videogame industry, and neither has a particularly great track record when it comes to outspoken women
M.S. and her compatriots formed Castrator as a reaction to a world they saw as overwhelmingly hostile towards women. Initially the brainchild of M.S. and drummer C.P., they felt that the best reaction to the negativity was to band together and start pushing back. "Women in metal tend to stick together," M.S. says.
Despite the challenge of distance — the group's bass player is from Florida and their guitarist is in Norway — a deep camaraderie and shared vision draws them together. "When you find a kindred spirit you just wanna hold onto it and like make it work somehow," M.S. says.
The all-woman lineup allows M.S. and her bandmates the freedom to tackle subjects that might have been taboo within other projects.
"There are just so many things we could talk about as women in metal and just women in general in society," M.S. explains, "and when I see all these atrocities going on in the world against women, I get so angry and I want to talk about it. My other bands aren't necessarily a good place for me to do that, but in Castrator, I feel like I can get out all of those things that I want to say, from a female perspective and not feel judgment from the guys in my bands. With other women, they get it."
The result is not only some well-written, compelling death metal, but also a shockingly fresh take on a genre often criticized for the clichés of its subject matter. Horror, abjection and violence from a woman's perspective remains a shockingly underutilized source for grotesque material, which Castrator enthusiastically mines.
M.S. sees a future that is both ugly and bright, with unlimited source material for Castrator to draw upon. "Because we're not following in the footsteps of 100 bands, we kind of are on the forefront of a new area. There's so much we could do with it. I feel like this is just the beginning for us."