We first caught wind of Castrovalva back in 2010 after hearing the whirlwind of sound and noise that was their debut album We Are A Unit, and getting sucked into their world of distorted bass and manic vocals. A busy touring schedule may have set back the original plans for getting another album written and recorded in 2010 by well over a year, until now, so will Castrovalva’s follow up You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend have been worth the wait?
For those not familiar with the band, Castrovalva are one of those bands hard to pigeonhole into a well known genre without creating ever more complicated and bizarre sub-sub-genres to fit a unique-sounding mix of influences. To try and make some attempt, imagine the sort of noise that could be created by a manic bassist fond of distortion effects, a heavy hitting drummer and a seemingly schizophrenic vocalist that can’t decide whether to growl like a metal band or scream at the sort of pitch only dogs can hear. To give some reference, perhaps consider a band like Lightning Bolt with a groove and logic to them, with added vocals and you may be somewhere near what will burst forth from your speakers on cueing up You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend.
Initially, the album starts off as a somewhat predictable step onwards from We Are A Unit. It keeps to a fairly similar formula, while at the same time perhaps adding the level of refinement that a couple more years on the road will supply. Once getting past the intro of opener Best Friends Go To Purgatory the band take a short run up to reacquaint you with the roar of distorted bass guitar and the somewhat unique sound of Leemun Smith's vocals. It then launches full speed into In Our Prime, a track that initially starts off exactly where We Are A Unit left off before being turned on its head with a range of new influences not all apparent before, most obvious with the dubstep-style synths appearing in the breakdown, sounding instantly at home within the world of Castrovalva. These influences crop up further throughout the album with synth led breaks in tracks like Donut almost giving us a moments rest from tracks like the relentlessly charged Dining With The Pope or The Blood Of An Englishman. Both those tracks possess so much energy that they leave you spinning as the band skips on to the next track – with most of the albums tracks clocking in at around three minutes or less, by the time you've got your bearings the band are off in a new direction only briefly pausing to take stock in between.
If you were a fan of the first album then You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend comes highly recommended – it takes the sound of We Are A Unit and builds on it to broaden and enhance the sound for the better. If you are new to Castrovalva I am not entirely sure any text based description of the band can do full justice to You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend. I can only recommend a quick trip to their Facebook page to check out the track I Am The Golden Widow which was posted online as a sample from this very album.
You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend by Castrovalva is out on the 1st October 2012 through Brew Records.