Dark Castle - _Surrender to All Life Before_
(Profound Lore, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
A metal band with a frontwoman is not uncommon. What is uncommon is when the female vocals are guttural and retain the gruff qualities usually associated with the male species. Arch Enemy's Angela Gossow is usually the first discussion in female singers, but Dr. Mikannibal of Sigh and Dana Duffy of Mythic can be added in as well. Stevie Floyd from the Florida doom two-piece Dark Castle is usually not mentioned in these discussions, mainly because Dark Castle is relatively new. Dark Castle's selling points, however, rarely rest on the band members' gender, as the music becomes a sexless exploit into the depths of chaos and fire. _Surrender to All Life Before_ is Dark Castle's follow-up to the excellent _Spirited Migration_ and steps up to be one of the more jaw shattering releases of 2011.

Dark Castle's style of doom can be as light or thick as it is needed to be. Much like any great doom record, there exists a certain push and pull rather than complete dominance. Dark Castle is very much, in spirit, a part of the southern sludge / doom revival which is seeing the style grow in various directions. Because doom is relatively close to the brooding village of goth, Dark Castle clears away the underbrush and finds shortcuts which connect the two. Aside from all the guttural screaming, there are moments of avant-ambiance conjuring spirits of Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and the early '80s British goth scene. If the depth of voice surprised you, wait until the singing bowls and piano.

Dark Castle, however, is not a goth band. _Surrender to All Life Before_ works in the same respect as _Spirited Migration_ did two years ago, as there are points of cationic terror mixed with an air of ambiance. Tracks will be paired with each other as contrast, as exampled by the synth heavy "To Hide Is to Die" introducing the world ending "I Hear Wind". Despite the degree of intensity, there exists a raw approach to making music, as Floyd's singing and Shaffer's structure are caught between performance and pure annihilation. The passion in this record never feels contrived, as Dark Castle sweats vigor and youthful energy.

Despite the album running light at 34 minutes and a directionless closer, Dark Castle's music more than makes up for the trip taken. At points it feels like the band is capable of greater things, which never speaks against the current record but to the band's future releases. Stevie Floyd is a lovely and warm individual who just so happens to be capable of freezing one's blood with an inhuman scream. This Floridian duo have stumbled onto something scary and intriguing in _Surrender to All Life Before_. It is my only hope they nurture what they've found and let it grow into the future monster it was intended to be.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/darkcastlemetal

(article published 26/6/2011)

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