"Survival is threatened / Exhausted by gravity now / There is a need to live with ease / Widespread flowering consciousness" -Dark Castle, "Into the Past"
That lyric is a mission statement. The two professional tattoo artists in Dark Castle get that heavy cannot be an end in itself. It must be a means to transcendence, or its equivalent in a downwardly direction. They get that heavy is as much about space and texture as it is about the amp you use, or how many layers of stacked guitars you've recorded. The songs on their debut Spirited Migration forge mammoth edifices of heavy, tear 'em down in 7/4 and weep among the rubble.
"Into the Past"
Yet tower-toppling is just the half of it. Melody garlands the riffs of "Awake In Sleep" and "Into the Past," turning murky sludge into elegant chord voicings, not unlike Samothrace's debut (reviewed here). Dips into post-metal atmospherics sit alongside one interlude's mystical modes on Turkish acoustic guitar; another interlude floats through space on Rob Shaffer's synths. Dark Castle's bass-lessness is hardly noticed with harmonies as dense and dynamic as guitarist Stevie Floyd's, and drumming as deceptively tricky as Shaffer's. The relative emptiness of the sound works to the band's advantage anyway. Tone and feel triumph over bottom-end. With a thick, live production by Kylesa's Phillip Cope, Spirited Migration has plenty of both.
"Words reduce reality / To something the human mind can grasp / Which isn't very much" -Dark Castle, "Grasping the Awe"
That lyric is also a mission a statement. Three songs on Spirited Migration feature between one and four simple phrases as lyrics, while two others are entirely instrumental. The terseness is purposeful. Many of these laconic phrases contain profound spiritual insight. Like early Mastodon, Dark Castle's hoarse growls are hurled against their music, stoking these songs instead of tying down their structures. Dark Castle gently tugs at the edges of doom metal's cloak.