Reviews : Albums : Storm the Castle, "The Free of CHARGE! Demo"

Storm the Castle, "The Free of CHARGE! Demo"
Storm the Castle
The Free of CHARGE! Demo
2006, Demo
Storm the Castle, "The Free of CHARGE! Demo"

I have to admit, I came into this one with much different expectations than I should have - but a band with the name Storm The Castle!, a cartoon barbarian on the cover of the copier paper CD "booklet" (what do ya want for free?) and a song titled "Lost in the Goddamazon" had me expecting fist-pumping, beer-swilling, horns flying, joke-filled anthems galore. I was expecting Fear meets Hammerfall or something… what I heard was a decent take on mixing '80s battle metal with a tinge of modernism via a smattering of dissonant chords and a post-grunge pop punk rock sensibility minus the big hooks. Vocals are mid-ranged and mostly clean, though they get snarly at times. Dude doesn't have an impressive range or powerful delivery, but he isn't an embarrassment. Cadences remind me of Maynard from Tool, but that's really grasping for a comparison. The vocalist comes off as being disconnected much of the time, which makes it hard for me to get excited about what he's singing about. That said, I’m far too old to be a disenfranchised teen, so I'm probably missing something intrinsic. The Neanderthal sense of humor I was anticipating is absent, in its stead is a sardonic take on life disguised in old metal trappings.

Musically the band breaks out the usual Maiden-inspired harmonies and gallops with some quick runs and the aforementioned staccato dissonant chords. Each track is comprised of several sections that don't always blend together very well, but at least they're trying to keep things interesting. Most songs and sections fall into the mid-pace, though things quicken on occasion or slow into trudging doom. I was expecting a much more balls-out and breakneck attack with some massively catchy choruses (such as "Die! Die! Die! Kill! Kill! Kill! Storm the mother fucking castle you cunts!!!" or "Drink! Drink! Drink! Swill! Swill! Swill! Pound the mother fucking keg, you bastards!"), so this was a surprise to me and my expectations. Since you're forewarned, it won't be news to you and perhaps you'll be able to better appreciate the Voivod-ish tact that they utilize in their song structures. The final cut combines the Maidenisms with a wacky Primus-meets-Nick-Cave thing that even features some 'core back-up screams at one point - pretty interesting - definitely not what I was expecting from a band that seemed like they were gonna be yelping about killing and drinking blood from the chalice of wonderland. Am I too hung up on what I wanted to hear, or what?

Production isn't great, but it is a demo. Everything is audible and represented (two guitars, bass, drums and vocals). Sounds to me like they used real drums sans-triggers, but I dunno - I just don't have an ear for drum machines. The kit is wicked dry, the guitars and bass sound good. Vocals are mixed pretty well for a demo, a bit in the background, but that's okay by me since his voice isn't going to win him any awards. All in all this is an interesting "up 'n' coming" band with a diverse take on metal and rock, so if diversity is your bag, give 'em a shot - you can download the entire EP from their site. Definitely check out "The Day Roscoe Got His Big Boy Britches" if nothing else - it's goldurned wacky, y'all.