Dark Castle - Surrender to All Life Beyond Form
Profound Lore Records
Doom Metal
9 songs (33:49)
Release year: 2011
Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Charles
Despite their name fitting better on a third tier black metal band, Dark Castle’s Spirited Migration was one of the most characterful funeral doom records of recent years, approaching the genre with a rare artfulness. Lumbering riffs mingled with oddball psychedelic or folk elements, producing a sense of otherworldly melancholy that gets stronger with every revisiting. Thus Surrender to All Life Beyond Form continues in a largely similar vein, albeit perhaps flushed with a little more colour than its spectral predecessor.

Indeed, the opening title track here shifts violently between tempos, feeling turbulent and aggressive in a way that was only ever suggested before. In addition, the female vocals have been expanded, on occasion giving the delivery of the lyrics a high-pitched yowling quality which contrasts unsettlingly with the more usual scratchy rasps. As an opening statement it feels more alive, and more combative, than the grimnity to which we are accustomed with the band. Add to this the weird Zombi-referencing To Hide is To Die, or the harrowing avant-garde weirdness of closer A Depth Returns, and it seems that the sound here is somewhat expanded.

Nonetheless, differences should not be overstated, and in truth this remains a very similar album to Spirited Migration. Dark Castle’s hallmarks remain omnipresent: lurching, retching funeral doom riffing, delivered in jarring time signatures (e.g. Seeing Through Time), and the enigmatic feel that pervades all the band’s work is again heightened by frequent diversions into quieter meandering. One song here is called Heavy Eyes, and this seems to sum up the band neatly. Not because they are boring- though if you aren’t prepared to invest your attention in their music they may well prove to be so. No, instead, their riffs on this song (as everywhere else) seem to rock back and forth slowly but precipitously, and a weird, quasi-clean guitar arpeggio forms a sickly mesmerising ostinato. It evokes an uneasy drowsiness.

Dark Castle is one of the doom world’s most distinctive bands and Surrender to All Life Beyond Form deserves the attention of anyone interested in the genre’s quirkier reaches. It isn’t the most earth-shattering funeral doom release of the year- that honour surely goes to Esoteric’s Paragon of Dissonance. But it is evocative and powerful nonetheless, and hence recommended.

Killing Songs :
Surrender to All Life Beyond Form, Seeing Through Time, Learning to Unlearn
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Dark Castle that we have reviewed:
Dark Castle - Spirited Migration reviewed by Alex and quoted 84 / 100
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