By Andrew Bansal
August 20th 2016, Complex, Glendale CA: San Francisco stoner/doom trio Castle released their fourth full-length album ‘Welcome To The Graveyard’ earlier this year, and embarked on an extensive, exhaustive US headline tour, which started on June 15th, had nearly no off-days, and came to an end nine weeks later, last Saturday August 20th at Complex in Glendale CA. Headlining an event put together by Church Of The 8th Day, Castle played this show with support acts Caustic Casanova, Trapped Within Burning Machinery and Taarkus. For those in LA well-versed in underground heavy music, this was an all-killer, no-filler lineup, and an eagerly awaited event, and as it turned out, far above and beyond just another stoner doom show.
LA six-piece Taarkus began proceedings at 9:15 with a highly impressive and captivating set. They created quite an indelible first impression at the Griffin two weeks prior, and in a room and on a stage that suited them better, Taarkus put on an even more powerful performance here at Complex. Dual female vocals, mellotron and flute stand out as the most striking and unique features of their sound. These elements paired with the conventional instruments make Taarkus a band to expect and hear a lot from in the foreseeable future, and one thing is for sure, they’re not going to be playing first on a four-band bill for too much longer.
Doom quartet Trapped Within Burning Machinery, whose vocalist/guitarist Zak Esparza also plays guitar in Taarkus, served as the next local opener for the show, turning up the heaviness quotient severalfold with their massive tunes. Boasting of highly competent extreme metal vocals leading from the front and instrumental arrangements that punctuate long crushing segments with brief melodic interludes, Trapped Within Burning Machinery perform their music in a manner that never fails to mesmerize. This band is doing everything right to rise above the current crop of stoner doom bands, within LA and beyond.
Changing the pace and vibe of the show to a large extent, Washington DC rock trio Caustic Casanova, on their own extensive US tour much in a similar vein as Castle, took the stage next and presented a noticeably eccentric set of what could be described as organized chaos, the kind of musicianship fans of acts such as Faith No More, Melvins, Refused and Boris could easily appreciate. Caustic Casanova definitely came across as the oddball band of the lineup and may not have been a savory cup of tea for everyone in attendance, but showcased undeniably great musicianship and ripped the stage to shreds. Overall, the band created a positive impression and proved themselves to be an act certainly worth seeing again. (Check out Caustic Casanova’s tour dates on our Bands On Tour page).
And lastly, Castle took the stage at 11:50 and for nearly an hour, poured their hearts, bodies and souls onto this stage to present their brand new material as well as older selections via their classic three-piece setup with Liz Blackwell (bass and vocals) and Mat Davis (guitar) at the forefront. Purely from a musical standpoint, much in the same way it’s a mystery as to why certain bands are rated highly and have as large of a fan-following as they do, it is almost inexplicable to determine the reason why Castle isn’t one of the biggest bands in their genre. Such is the unmistakable flow, craftiness and power in their musicianship, specially evident when performed on a stage like this, Castle are without doubt one of the easiest bands for a heavy music lover to appreciate and enjoy, and those that wisely chose to attend this show loved every moment of it. Very few would have complained and most would have stayed if the band’s set was any longer than it eventually was. Castle as a live band is nothing short of pure magic, and with their ever-expanding repertoire through consistently released new albums, they’ll continue to be an unmissable act.
Overall, an evening that met and exceeded all expectations, overflowed with top-class musicianship, and treated attendees to a higher quality show than many others that drew larger turnouts at this venue.
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