San Francisco heavy metal cultists CASTLE are set to release their third album „UNDER SIEGE“ on May 16th via Van Records (Europe) and May 20th via Prosthetic Records (US) . „Under Siege“ was recorded at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, CA during January 2014. The album was produced and mixed by Billy Anderson and stands on the next level above and beyond its predecessor „Blacklands“. While Castle retain their heavy hand of writing darkened and sophisticated songs within the realms of classic metal, „Under Siege“ pushes that unique sound further with the confluence of punishing riffs and hauntingly melodic passages complimented by Liz Blackwell's full blooded vocals. Blackwell adds,
„On this record I wanted to summon the powerful and unrelenting feeling I get while playing live. I was casting out demons and stating my position in life.“
Between the hard boiled epic of opener „Distant Attack“ and the Motorhead-esque closer „Evil Ways“ „Under Siege“ shows shades of Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath all the while playing to Castle's musical strengths of the sinister and irresistible. Liz Blackwell, also the bands bass guitarist gives further insight on the new material stating:
„We wrote this album in Los Angeles, San Francisco and in the mountains of Northern California… it's a California record. We drew from the heavy sounds of those places to write these eight electric witch hymns of death and doom.“
Once again the band collaborated conceptually with Russian symbolist painter Denis Forkas Kostromitin for the striking album art, guitarist/songwriter Mat Davis explains
„The theme of the record came out of the first track we wrote for the album ' Labyrinth of Death'. The path is a war fought in darkness. Living life under siege is Total Awareness. Kindness a golden thread. Denis was a maestro at capturing that in one image, the perfect visual to Castle's music and lyrics.“
Back in 2006, the god-forsaken and wind-swept coast of Northern California's San Francisco Bay was the backdrop for the beginnings of a sound recording project by guitarist and Castle founder Mat Davis. Mixing deconstructed heavy metal riffs, the dissonance and angularity of African music and the hypnotically textured and haunted melodies derived from progressive German bands like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, Castle's sound was born – Davis adds, „It was the thought of taking the heavy metal music I grew up on from the late 70's and throughout the 80's and putting it through a prism that included world music, electronic music and anything trance-like and without changing the instrumentation, change the way I came at writing metal. That was the original idea, it was to me at the time, modern and new and most importantly, inspiring. It kept me writing on my own for years.“ The culmination of that period would become Castle's debut „In Witch Order“ but not before Davis met writing partner and vocalist / bassist Liz Blackwell in 2009. At Blackwell's urging, Davis recruited longtime collaborator and teenage friend Al McCartney to fly in from Toronto and lay down drums on what was shaping up to be recording sessions for the band's first album. Without ever having played a show, the three worked on and off during 2010 at San Francisco's Lucky Cat Studios with engineer Phil Manley, guitarist of Trans Am and The Fucking Champs, at the helm. Halfway through the recording the band ran out of money and with only a handful of songs finished they sent off a hand-screened demo to potential labels. Germany's Van Records who the band had known of via the Devils Blood responded with enthusiasm. With the labels support Castle was able to finish the sessions and release „In Witch Order“ in the spring of 2011. With its doomed sound and sprawling riff-centric trance state firmly in the cult zone the record took the underground by storm and garnered the band accolades with Metal Hammer Norway's album of the year as well as Roadburn Festival’s “Newcomer of the Year“.
Playing sporadically as a bi-coastal band throughout 2011, Castle entered the studio again February 2012. This time with noted aural overlord Billy Anderson at the helm. Written in a 3 month burst at the end of 2011, „Blacklands“ would again deliver a bold statement to the metal underground. With its sonic upgrade and tightened song writing the blow was sharper and lasted longer. Described by Metal Hammer UK as “a tough alloy of purest classic metals — doom, thrash, epic and power — charged with arcane mysticism.” the album was also nominated for JUNO (a Canadian Grammy) for „best hard rock/metal album of the year“. After releasing the record in Europe in May 2012 via Van Records, the band went on its first tour of Europe and garnered the attention of US label Prosthetic Records who signed the band that summer and released „Blacklands“ to the rest of the world in September 2012. Over the next year the band would go on to play close to 200 shows touring Europe with Intronaut, playing the prestigious Roadburn Festival and London Desertfest in 2012 and touring the US and Canada multiple times both as a headliner and support alongside bands like The Sword, Witch Mountain and Gates of Slumber.
During the summer of 2013 the band took a short break from touring and entered Pro Gold Studios in Toronto Canada with Canadian rock icon Ian Blurton to record two songs; Alice Cooper's „Second Coming“ from the 'Love it to Death' album and an original, „Labyrinth of Death“. Released as a Europe only limited edition 7“ (Van Records) in February 2014 the band will be heading to Europe in April for a three week tour in support of the release with select dates alongside UK doomsters, Conan and an appearance at the Berlin Desertfest.
Castle will continue on the road with a US headlining tour scheduled to coincide with the worldwide release of „Under Siege“ beginning May 16th, followed by a tour of Canada and a return trip to Europe in the fall.