With “Blacklands” the female fronted 3-piece once more attempts to marry many different styles of metal in a straightforward fashion. The emphasis is given on the 80’s true metal yet the execution is quite heavier and sounds a bit more modern. Billy Anderson is the man responsible for the production and I would say, once more he did a decent job.
I am afraid this album will be classified as Occult Doom Rock which lately starts to be the standard term for any band that has female vocals and scary cover art. One more time I will insist that although there are many Doom elements and yes, there is enough dark atmosphere, the result is still far from being called Doom or Occult Rock in the way COVEN for example defined it. As you might have guessed CASTLE has nothing to do with modern acts that fall into this category (e.g. THE DEVIL’S BLOOD).
Songwriting wise, “Blacklands” sounds at least two times more interesting than the band’s previous album. Probably it is because it contains a couple of strong hits this time. For example “Ever Hunter” and “Blacklands” (the title track) are two addictive songs. Stylistically, it is identical to the bands debut “In Witch Order”. I would say that “Blacklands” can be heard by anyone who likes heavy metal, yet I am not so sure that this album will be much appreciated by the die-hard (or even not so die-hard) Doom fans.
The overall result is descent and everything is well done yet, CASTLE once more failed to convince me. Elizabeth’s voice still sounds one dimensional and at the same time most of the compositions sound too generic. Besides the two aforementioned hits “Blacklands” didn’t really give me much to remember. The positive thing is that CASTLE seem to get better with every album. This leaves a promise for the future.