Release Date 12/04/2010 (Brew Records)
By Chris Gilliver
Whether Castrovalva took their name from the Escher lithograph or the Doctor Who series is unclear. What is certain is that this band’s output, which sounds like it’s been brewed up in Satan’s oily tar pits to bubble out through one of BP’s catastrophes, is as murky as hell.
“We Are A Unit” is a bizarre mix of metal roaring and riffing, Bee Gees style falsetto and hip hop. It frequently sounds like a stoned, uncontrolled jam that’s as unfocused as a mind filled with THC. And yet there’s something bizarrely captivating about this album (which is why I’ve returned to review well over a month after its release).
The distorted bass constantly surges and amazes with its driving relentlessness. The band’s sound is largely characterised by the brilliant interplay between this instrument and the lead singer, who is in himself wildly entertaining. When he screams, “I robbed your brother’s Pokémon, yeah, and I robbed his Pogs” on “Hooliganz R Us” it will have you in stitches – it is a rare thing for a metal band to be so comedic.
Coming in at under thirty minutes, it’s a short album too. This is a positive thing. Castrovalva know how not to over the fine hand they’ve been dealt.
In all this is a fascinating listen. Not something I would ordinarily listen to, but I can appreciate quality when I hear it, and Castrovalva have it in spades.