Castle - The Highline Bar, Seattle, USA, 29th March 2013
It's Friday night and I'm back at The Highline in Seattle's awesome Capitol Hill neighborhood. This time it's for dark, spooky, heavy, Castle. Their sophomore album, Blacklands, was nominated for a Metal Storm Award in the Best Heavy Metal Album of 2012 category and thanks to you readers, it did quite well in the voting. If, by chance, you have not yet checked out this band, start absorbing their unique sound as you read this:
Before the show started I met up with Castle founder and guitar player Mat Davis. We sat on The Highline's patio for an interview and took in one of those rare nice spring days in Seattle. In the interview, found here, Mat talks about the tour, the inspirations and processes behind the band's unique, dark sound, and what's in store for the future.
Between the interview and the show I had time for an awesome chat with touring drummer Rae Amitay about her experiences playing with the likes of Mares Of Thrace, Woods Of Ypres, and her new band Thrawsunblat. That interview coming soon! This was turning into quite the memorable evening so far: two interviews with two awesome people.
After great local bands UBIK and Spacebag, it was time for Castle to take the small stage. Most of the audience had taken their smoke break and the floor was nearly empty as the band started - yet within seconds the crowd moved in, drawn like magnets to the metal on stage.
Elizabeth Blackwell, bass and vocals, is tall and gorgeous but she's quite thin and at first the large white bass that glowed against the backdrop of her black t-shirt almost seemed too large. But no. As soon as she started playing, however, she deftly handled the instrument with an ease most bassists can only dream of. It was a thing to witness. She was a force of nature on that stage and the modest sized audience was captivated.
Rae Amitay on drums provided a solid foundation on which the other two moved freely. Mat and Liz had an excellent rapport on stage, 100% into their intense music yet at the same time showing how much they obviously enjoyed playing together. Being a solid performer on your own is great, but when someone else is on stage doing the same thing and you can feed off each other, that's what it's all about. They would play on their own sides of the stage, Mat using his wild hair effectively, and then the two would come together closer, play facing each other while looked in very serious and engaged looks.
The sound in the club was not great that night, and it was hard to make out some of the intricacies in the music, as well as, at times, the vocals. But enough shone through and the reserved audience seemed pretty mesmerized, giving approving head nods.
I'd hoped for a larger audience but knew early in the day that this was a slim chance. You must forgive Seattleites: it was a really beautiful day. Seattle's weather is mild, never too hot or too cold, but with no real seasonal structure. It is often drizzly and grey with nice/clear days happening randomly that reveal the region's stunning beauty, and making the other grey days all worth it. I read somewhere, a long time ago, that the reason Seattle rates so high amongst American cities with the highest depression rates is not because of the long strings of grey days and the isolation the dreary weather can cause. No, this study showed that it was the guilt Seattleites feel on these random warm, nice days if we don't spend every second outside and make it, like, the best damn day ever. See, due to the lack of real seasons, we've been systematically conditioned to believe that each nice day may be THE LAST ONE EVER and we must spend it all outside. So next time the sun comes out, forgive the Seattleites you know for going completely ape shit.
In short, the club was not packed. But the fans that were there were supportive, into the music, and digested each note. I was happy to be one of them and suggest that YOU be one of them in the future, whenever you can. Castle heads to Europe in a few days, hitting several different countries before playing the mighty Roadburn Festival. All you lucky bastards going to Roadburn: catch their set. After Europe, the band heads back to the southwestern US in late May and plays through June and July.
I believe the setlist was as follows:
Descent of Man
Storm Below The Mountain
Knife In The Temple
Written on 01.04.2013 by
Susan appreciates quality metal regardless of sub-genre. Metal Storm Staff since 2006.
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