Castle Rat - Into the Realm

Castle Rat – Into the Realm (Album Review)

Castle Rat band

Heavy Metal and medieval themes go together like the sun and moon, earth and sky, wind and water, sound and fury, and so on and so forth. Factors that cannot be denied, some of the most beloved bands to unite these two worlds into one include Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Manowar, Hammerfall, but also early work from Cirith Ungol or Manilla Road. A short list of some real Heavy Metal’s boldest warriors, crossing the moat and looking to be invited to the round table are a newer act calling themselves Castle Rat.

An interesting name for a band, Castle Rat possesses a theatrical aura surrounding both their onstage appearance and sound. Something you may expect to emerge from the European region, instead this band comes from the unlikely place of Brooklyn, NY; but with as authentic a feeling as you could ever hope for. Coming together within the last 5 years or so, Castle Rat is led by The Rat Queen (portrayed by Riley Pinkerton on guitar/vocals) who is on a mission to expand and defend “The Realm” from those who seek to destroy it. A solid foundation for a storyline, this persona of The Rat Queen is joined by The Count (Franco Vittore on lead guitar), The Plague Doctor (Ronnie Lanzilotta III on bass), and The Druid (Josh Strmic on drums). Cloaked in masks, makeup and attention-grabbing costumes, if these types of elements do not appeal to you, what is beneath it all is a rich construct of music that will. 

Something you could listen to alongside Lucifer, Ghost, or Ruby the Hatchet, Castle Rat do not imitate, but come across as wholly their own. These ideas presented to strike your curiosity, now Castle Rat prepare to unleash their debut full-length album Into the Realm. Set for release on April 12, 2024 through King Volume Records (a label focused on more outside the norm Heavy Metal music), there are many interesting factors to indulge in about this album. For starters, it was recorded in an abandoned Philadelphia church. Rather unique, the band temporarily converted the space into a studio for a few days and amidst the decaying structure, including stained glass windows and distinctive architecture, they laid down the tracks which would become an album. A bold factor, regardless of what your personal belief system may be, there is unquestionably something haunting about being within the hallowed walls of what once was a place of sanctuary. Clearly taking in Pinkerton and her band, what you get with Into the Realm is a collection of songs which enchant in the most fantastical fashion.

Very much in the category of Doom Metal, Castle Rat also could lay somewhere in the valley of traditional Heavy Metal too… but all with a very supernatural twist. Difficult to illustrate entirely, when listening to Into the Realm you almost feel as if you have left the material world and have been cast off into another dimension. What this means is the music is ethereal at times, but also extremely thick in a groove that is anything less than premeditated. This in mind, tracks like “Dragger Dagger,” “Feed The Dream” and “Fresh Fur” are just a few of the most striking moments amidst the album. However, the nuanced musical segues like the solo bass “Resurrector,” before “The Mirror” later on, are really the glue that hold this all together. With this, perhaps the most stunning of the entire collection is the slowly building beauty of “Cry For Me.” Truly magically, it is something which you really need to hear for yourself to appreciate.  

Overall if you are a fan of music that has a flair for theatrics, does not adhere to modern recording techniques or trends, and is simply artistically satisfying, then you are going to love Castle Rat. Something for traditional Heavy Metal lovers, it is not outlandish to also say that fans of Classic Rock will find something to love here as well. Exemplified by the vocal talents of Riley Pinkerton (who channels elements of some of Rock’s most engaging vocalists such as Stevie Nicks or Linda Ronstadt), Castle Rat hits all the right chords in the chamber of your heart. That is why Castle Rat is an act you must check out, and Cryptic Rock gives Into the Realm 5 out of 5 stars.

Castle Rat Into the Realm
Castle Rat – Into the Realm / King Volume Records (2024)

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