I feel it necessary to begin this review with a confession. I used to hate this band. I know that sounds a bit strong, but I couldn't stand them. Its only recently that this band clicked with me. I went from not being able to listen to them, to listening to them on repeat, almost over night. In order to give a strong opinion on this album, I purchased the band's debut and spent a week constantly listening to that, and then the same with this. This is the band's second full length album, which builds on a darker, more serious tone than its predecessor, but does that work for this band?
The opener to this album sounds like nothing the band has done before. It sounds like a wild hybrid of Bristol rockers Turbowolf and the Beegees after a night sniffing glue. Insane in a word. This track works great as an opener, but feels slightly misleading as almost everything that follows sounds very different. Especially the track it leads directly into, "In Our Prime", which is certainly the craziest track on the album, and one of the most bizarre/diverse songs I've heard in a long time. The lyrics to the first half of the song are screamed into your ear holes without relenting. Without warning, the song takes a sudden drop for vocalist Leemun Smith to spout off about "pussy" and how the crowd can "sing along with this bit". This was extremely unexpected and caught me off a guard a little but certainly gets you in the mood for what's to follow.
Following In Our Prime is the stand out track of the album, lead single, "I am the Golden Widow". The track opens with only vocals, singing a tune reminiscent of Mr Sandman by The Chordettes before kicking you in the balls with a fast paced drum, bass and scream assault. The song writing here is the best of the band's work so far, throwing your brain about with noise rock antics and a seamless transition into a pop chorus that you will find virtually impossible to scrape from your brain. I struggled to get past this track for a while as I constantly clicked it straight back to the beginning when it reached the end.
But this is Castrovalva, and things don't stay as simple as this for long. Before you can process what's happening in your ears, you have reached track 5, "Donut". This is where things become surprising. To begin with, the track seems nothing out of the ordinary and fits the flow of the album perfectly, but following the line "tut tut tut you f**king Donut", the track "drops" into a dubstep breakdown. This truly was the last thing I was expecting to happen on a noise rock album. Undeniably, this shows that the band is very diverse and can be puking up noise fueled rock one minute and getting down with the kids another. I'm a big hater of dubstep, so this doesn't appeal to me at all, but it works well as something different.
A wide range of influences can be heard throughout the album, including noise legends Lightning Bolt, Death From Above 1979, Blood Brothers and even electronic driven group Hadouken. But I have struggled to find any current band that's creating anything remotely similar to what this three piece have created together. This album is certainly not for the faint hearted, but at the same time, is accessible to a large audience due to its use of different genres. Fans of modern post hardcore can enjoy it at the same times as hip hop and dubstep fans can enjoy the lyrical content and the use of synths/keyboards. That's not to say this album is flawless, but it's certainly pretty special and one that i'll be surely revisiting many times and hope to catch them live some day soon.