Dark Forest - 2010 - U.S.A.
Ceremonial Castings wanted to do something different with this album, they wanted to give something they thought fans would enjoy and they did that by putting together some of their old demos, bootlegs and b-sides. What they didn’t know was they were also releasing some of the most crushing black metal that I’ve heard in a long time. First, if these are b-sides and bootlegs, it’s hard to tell because the production is really well done. Second, whether you call them symphonic black metal or “American Deathphonic black metal” these guys know how to bring the two genres together and make it extremely brutal.
With the opener and titletrack, Lord Serpent (aka Jake Superchi) unleashes a wrath with his vocals that sounds like it came rumbling out from the depths of the underworld itself while Old Nick (aka Nick Superchi) brings in his symphonic keyboards. “Barbaric is the Beast”, which is also the name of their album from 2006, is savage with crushing drums from Bloodhammer and a ferocious combination of low growls and high shrieks along with some shredding riffs supplied by Jake.
On a side not I would just like to say that it is impressive that both Jake and Nick are direct descendants of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the music but it’s still pretty impressive. The combination of keyboards and guitar are really well balanced on “Serpents Kiss” making it both haunting and atmospheric. “Hymn of the Wolf” is a captivating instrumental that is comprised mainly of keyboards and drums that gives a very symphonic, dream-like quality to it. “Propagating the Witch” is a live track that holds a massive amount of energy that starts out with a chugging rhythm before it goes into full force.
“Beast in Black” is an excellent album that shows off some of their older works that you haven’t had a chance to hear before. Ceremonial Castings knows how to combine melody with intensity, symphony with pure blasphemy. They don’t jump on the metal bandwagon like some others unfortunately have; they’ve taken their own sound and filled with a ferocity that has been missing from the scene for some time. You need to check this album for yourself though; you definitely will not be disappointed.