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Live Report: Castle, Knight Terror, and Sanhedrin

The hair was flying large last Monday night at Saint Vitus: abundant, propulsive, and never-ending. Headbangers were in such abundance that I spotted some EMTs caring for some people’s necks towards the end of the show. This was a true banger for sure, with three absolutely crushing bands: two Brooklyn-based behemoths in Sanhedrin and Knight Terror, and the San Francisco-born groove doomers Castle.

Sanhedrin opened things up in waves of occult mist. The band echoes Iron Maiden by way of nifty proto-punk inspired attacks which warmed and burnt up the club just right. Lead singer and bassist Erica Stoltz was divine: a light amidst the darkness. Her soaring pipes reverberated across the hearts of all attendees, illuminating and direct. Guitarist Jeremy Sosville (also of Black Anvil) was a dream from the distant past: all thick old-school riffs and 1970s psychedelic freak-outs. Drummer Nathan Honor was smooth and mighty throughout, the full band a unity of purpose and spirit. This is a group that writes songs that are real, inspired, and dimensional. You feel the metal with Sanhedrin, whose recent record, A Funeral For The World, is a goddamned must for anyone heading out on the open road.

Knight Terror was grimy and succinct: a fusing of old-school death and black metal techniques. The band got in there, set its weapons up, and proceeded to rip the shit out of everything in sight. There was speed, total function, progressive slimy-type interludes, and an overall arch to the group’s procession. As straight-up as this trio was, there was some massive art theory attached to their overall spread. Music like this is made for the live experience. Old-school death metal especially, which counts on its rawness and slightly battered feel to pour out most fluently in a live setting. Knight Terror is a relatively young band, and certainly destined for more crushing extensions. I’m looking forward to their first full-length.

Castle felt like the rocking-est ship in the entire universe. Instant whiplash ensued as soon as bassist and singer Elizabeth Blackwell and guitarist Al McCartney locked together. Castle explodes forth with its doomish, old school, classic heavy metal approach. There’s some real infectious vibrancy to their stripped down and centered riff-and-blast ways. The band really captures occult too, not in some “trying to be occult” way, but in a real “road-weary, let’s pull some witchcraft out of our asses just to survive out here” sort of way.

I saw Castle a million years ago in the back of some record store in Asheville, and since then they’ve become even more of a confident, enlightened, and infinite band. Like Stoltz before her, Blackwell has some gigantic pipes, and each melody and chorus to a Castle composition has a completeness that a lot of heavy metal songs just can’t seem to pull off. Her spirituality makes the songs last, makes them circular, makes them real. Castle twirled the crowd into infinity twice over. Then, of course, they jumped back on the road for more. As Stoltz shouted out in Sanhedrin’s opening set, “and the hardest working band in the business… Castle.” A group without compromise, a group with real sound.

—Christopher Harrington

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