Review Summary: Hardcore-infused black metal created with the intent of leaving stereos lying in “Mounds of Ash”.
In recent times, there seems to be a gradual shift away from isolationist black metal projects. You know the ones – a guy recording in his parents’ basement, trying to be Darkthrone “kvlt” while missing the point entirely and churning out un-listenable static and screeches on a four-track recorder. A reason for this stylistic shift in artistic preference could be attributed to Profound Lore Records. This record label can do no wrong lately; providing a haven for creative, musical progression and releasing contemporary classics on a consistent basis. It is currently the pinnacle of underground elitism. From Wolves in the Throne Room’s ecological battery to Ludicra’s sociological commentary, there are a myriad of ways in which black metal may be sculpted in the hands of its creators; majority of which being birthed through Profound Lore Records.
This leads me on to one of the most cataclysmic of creations coming from the Profound Lore stable - New York trio, Castevet. This band creates a blistering hybrid of Deathspell Omega’s black metal alchemy, mixed with Remission-era Mastodon and Aaron Turner-style vocals.
“Mounds of Ash” begins with “Red Star Sans Chastity”, bombarding the listener with Isis-like vocals on top of a vortex of riffs and thumping double-kick beats, all accented with cymbal flourishes that crash like plates at a Greek restaurant! The vehemence of this song, buckles under its own weight and culminates in a blur of static as it implodes on itself; it is the aural equivalent of being eviscerated by the propellers of an aeroplane.
This track is a perfect representation of what this album has to offer; inventive blast-beat patterns coalescing with hardcore-infused black metal riffage. The drums are given the position of being the lead instrument, as they catapult the riffs skyward into the “Grey Matter”; thus drawing comparisons to Brann Dailor’s approach behind the throne of Mastodon. Hardcore bears its teeth through the Botch-ian discordance of “Stones”, while the parallel to Mastodon rears its ugly head again on instrumental piece “Wreathed in Smoke”; sounding like “Ole Nessie” off the Remission album. However, the real surprise here occurs through the slowly emerging sounds of a trumpet adding a regal touch to the track. There is something about brass instruments combined with this style of music that adds a level of unique melancholy to the proceedings (also see Ihsahn’s “After” album). A lingering note from the trumpet bleeds into the heaviest and final track “Harvester”; which poses as an apt finale to the musical mushroom-cloud that is “Mounds of Ash”.
Castevet’s influences are apparent yet the grace of their work avoids accusations of being derivative; structures are fluid and the transitions are nailed with the dexterity of master craftsmen. It’s an unholy trinity of black metal, hardcore and post-rock. The album as a whole does not contain one standout track; it plays out as one solid composition with each hymn smoothly interpolating similar musical ideas to form the sum of its parts. With this grandiose debut, Castevet breathe new life into the fetid lungs of the black metal genre.
Evolution and advancement never sounded so good!