Castle Freak: Still Rotting

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Castle Freak: Still Rotting
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Castle Freak: Still Rotting
Death Metal, Grindcore, Horror Punk
Tridroid Records
October 7th, 2014
Release length: 11:35
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Castle Freak was born in 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Originally composed of drummer Pierson Roe, guitarist and vocalist Andrew Gigan (Angelcrust, live member of Cape of Bats) and Blaze Reichert on bass, the foundation began to quake not long after cemented into place. Blaze eventually parted ways with the group, allowing bassist Dylan Zdanavage (Krieg, Slutlust) to join the ranks shortly after the self-titled 2012 demo was released. In 2014, Zak Carter was brought into the fold, turning the unit into a four-piece being described as “grinding death punks.” But does this band crush the listener’s skull in without remorse, or is this a far more painful torture spread across just over eleven unbearable minutes?

Much like the gritty founders of the style back in the eighties, Still Rotting sounds exactly as the title depicts. Five vile and putrefying songs wrapped lovingly in a Horror themed world. “Beneath These Streets” starts off the festivities with an audio sample taken from the trailer of the movie C.H.U.D., setting up the concept to the opening track. Some bridges carry a bit of a Horror Punk touch, as does the So-Cal heavy guitar solo, spacing out the creeping Doom-laden Death Metal passages and unsettling tighter, faster riffs and drums that appear after a few bars. The main problem here is the screaming vocals, which just sound painfully executed, even forced.

Thankfully this clears up for “Sickening Corpses” and it’s far more suiting harsher rasp approach. The audio also sounds different, both slightly lower in volume and a little thicker. While a bit odd, it almost seems necessary to make the Grindcore foundation come off a little more decrepit in comparison, leaving the Punk elements to once again be found in the guitar solo, though this time it’s the only location. “Sherm” sounds about the same, though this one really does lay into the blast beats to allow some excessive grinding.

And then there’s the flip side of Still Rotting. “Caught in a Casket” takes a few seconds to kick in with an audio sample that is a little louder than the music itself, more so than on “Beneath These Streets,” not to mention the vocals seem lower in volume, sometimes almost impossible to make out what is being said. But this one’s glory, really, is the music. It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the rich buzzing that compliments the Swedish Death Metal style hooks and infectious grooves from the bass and drum kit. While not as disgusting or vile as the previous two, it’s just damn catchy from start to finish. But it all wraps up with “Rotting,” a mixture of varied tempos that find some Black Metal influence. The melodic chorus, however, is a little more upbeat, as if somehow going over-the-top like the chorus of “CDS” by Faith or Fear, with a very serious attitude behind it.

While the nostalgic glasses being used for the Death Metal revival movement are getting worn thin at this point, Still Rotting acts as a superb throwback to the genre with a nice little Punk twist a lot of bands paying homage to the likes of Autopsy and Repulsion seem to be grossly neglecting. Sure, “Sherm” is a little more generic Grindcore than it should be, the screams on “Beneath These Streets” are pretty hard to sit through, and the degrading volume level does make it hard to hear the vocals by the end, but what the band gets right greatly outweighs these faults that, in a way, also represent the analog glory days of the genre in their own right. Still Rotting is meant to be heard on cassette, but if you miss out, the digital version sounds just as raunchy and equally dispicable.


01. Beneath These Streets – 3:21
02. Sickening Corpses – 2:03
03. Sherm – 1:01
04. Caught in a Casket – 2:08
05. Rotting – 3:01
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Castle Freak
Castle Freak

Digital review copy of this release provided by Tridroid Records.