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Album Review: CASTEVET Obsian

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It's been three years since Castevet unveiled their debut album, Mounds of Ash. The record received widespread critical acclaim and helped solidify the legitimacy of Brooklyn heavy metal at a time when the borough's music scene was associated largely with pretentious hipster coke heads. Castevet never received the attention bands like Tombs and Krallice received, but they've been equally important in developing the now-thriving Brooklyn metal scene. On the band's sophomore album, Obsian, Castevet retain much of the sound from Mounds of Ash, but add some new elements to keep things fresh.

Right from the start it's clear that Obsian is going to be a departure from the fairly straight-forward post-black metal found on Mounds of Ash. Album opener, "The Tower," initially sounds like the band is revisiting the familiar territory of their debut – and, to some extent, they are – but it quickly becomes clear that Casevet have moved even further away from easily digestible, centrist heavy metal.

If you've heard Mounds of Ash, you aren't going to be blindsided by any radical stylistic changes, but there's definitely a new level of technicality on Obsian that wasn't present on the previous album. It's not so obvious on "The Tower," which is mostly galloping, shoegaze-influenced post-black metal riffing, but this is a dense album that benefits from repeated listening sessions.

Obsian isn't as complex or challenging as the new Gorguts album, but there's still a lot going on under the hood. The guitar frequently takes a back seat to Nicholas McMaster's bass (which sounds like it's strung with steel cable and manages to be simultaneously crushing and elastic), and it's not uncommon for this to happen seamlessly multiple times in one song.

The second track, "Cavernous," is a good example of this guitar/bass interplay. Initially "Cavernous" sounds similar to "The Tower" with chugging guitars propelling the song forward. But, occasionally, the bass is allowed to come forward and bounce around chaotically for a bit before slinking back to the rhythm section. "Cavernous" is also notable for the brief progressive section toward the end of the song. Its presence is a little jarring compared to the rest of the piece, but the band makes it work.

The third track, "The Curve," is similar in structure to "The Tower." It's not a great track, but it serves as a nice bridge between "Cavernous" and "As Fathomed By Beggars and Victims": the album's two craziest songs. "As Fathomed By Beggars and Victims" begins with an acoustic guitar prominently featured in the mix. Initially this isn't unusual because the opening part of the song is fairly mellow. But, once the pace and intensity of the song picks up, the acoustic guitar is allowed to remain and even take part in the shredding. The presence of the acoustic guitar in the midst of blast beats and Andrew Hock's throat-shredding screams is an interesting production choice and it imparts an almost classical feel to the song.

After "As Fathomed By Beggars and Victims" ends, Castevet begin the final third of Obsian with what amounts to almost 4 minutes of ambient music. The album's titular track isn't anything spectacular, and it's existence really only serves to slow things down for the final song. "The Seat of Severance" is much slower than the rest of the songs and it sounds like it's heavily influenced by prog. It's also the only song on the record with clean singing courtesy of drummer Nick Podgurski. It's definitely the black sheep of Obsian, but it's a nice way to wind things down after the previous 30 minutes of endless rage.

Obsian is out now on Profound Lore Records. If you're looking for something that's aggressive and primal but still complex and interesting to listen to, this is the album for you. You should purchase it immediately. Below, check out live footage of Castevet's record release show in Brooklyn the past Friday (10/25) courtesy of Metal Injection contributor Frank Huang.



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