At A Loss
Company: At A Loss Recordings
Genre: Doom, sludge
Reviewer: Raising Iron
Well worth the time vested
Crawling forth from the most primeval of Florida's swamps is Dark Castle, whose blueprint for sludge-lathered doom was on full display with 2007's Flight of Pegasus. Now, in 2009, the framework for their bog-infested fortress has been erected via their first full-length, entitled Spirited Migration. What kind of migration is taking place is anyone's guess, but the fact that it IS spirited is not up for debate, and therein lies the charm of this essentially two-person outfit.
For those who dare to traverse the murky depths of one of metal's most coagulated and prohibitive of genres - that being doom/drone/sludge – there are treasures to be unearthed, but damned if you don't have to work for it. This is where Dark Castle have already set themselves above and somewhat apart from their peers as they churn with plenty of up-tempo moments and afford the listener a slightly more accessible experience than most other bands lurking far below the surface of this befuddled and muddied brood. The eight songs here afford plenty of spacious troughs for the instruments to foment, which offers a nice contrast to the density of the guitars and drums, and this is displayed no better than on the fifth (and incidentally instrumental) track, "Weather the Storm" and the title track, which roots itself in a bassy, acoustic blur of attitudes as it crescendos into the follow-up track, "Growing Slow" (indeed!).
As is characteristic of this breed of metal, there is an oppressive monotony that seeks to rear its horrid head; but Dark Castle, using plenty of dynamic tempos and the occasional *gasp* melodic riff (?!) coupled with the mercifully short running time of thirty-seven minutes, avoid falling prey to its devices. On a final note, the vocals are a bit buried, guttural, and garbled as all get-out (just the way we like it?!), and the production is thick and claustrophobic, purposefully so I'd presume.
Letting one self sit with eyes closed and absorbing the dissonance of such an affair as Dark Castle's Spirited Migration can be quite cathartic, and well worth the time vested, just remember to allow yourself a preservative, lest you get swallowed.