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Into The Realm

I have mixed feelings about a band that does doom metal with this much conviction.

Robert Rackley
Robert Rackley
2 min read
Into The Realm
The Rat Queen with a piece of Castle Rat merchandise.

I don’t want to, as the kids say, yuck anyone’s yum, but I’ve got to admit to finding most metal somewhat silly. There are so many overused tropes associated with the genre. The chunking power chords, double bass drums, and cookie monster vocals all make for a limiting set of constraints. Concepts are so on the nose that it hurts. Bands will have names like “Rotting Flesh” and their album cover will literally be someone with rotting flesh.

Metal was an important part of my formative years, but it was a mixed bag. I’ve always felt a little bit like it could be left along with other staples of the angsty teenage period.

Then into my ears comes Castle Rat, with all their earnest devotion to high fantasy doom metal cliches and well-worn Sabbath riffage, and somehow, I find myself honestly enjoying it. There are dark and magical stories to go along with the songs. The band members play as a vampire, a plague doctor with mystical potions, and a druid. Then, of course, there is their charismatic leader, the Rat Queen (AKA Riley Pinkerton, playing a character inspired by Frazzetta paintings — be still my beating heart).

In the hands of a less competent band, all the theatrics would be nothing short of embarrassing. Castle Rat handles it all with relish and somehow manages to pull it off. In fact, they do it perhaps a little too well. The band is clearly committed to the act. I have to confess to having some sense of discomfort at the celebratory paganism mixed with a kind of D&D LARPing. Maybe it’s because I grew up during the Dungeons & Dragons satanic panic in the 80s (I very much remember parents who refused to let their kids play the game). Nevertheless, as an Orthodox Christian, I find myself unable to embrace the concepts with the degree of devotion that they seem to inspire in many of their fans.

I’ve long held to a policy of letting myself listen to music that may not conform to my beliefs, as long as it isn’t antithetical to them. This instance borders. Perhaps this is a true example of what is meant by the phrase “guilty pleasure?”


Castle Rat have been moving units with the launch of their debut album Into The Realm but don’t seem to be touring to cash in on its success. I can’t help but think they are leaving money and exposure on the table.

Noise

Robert Rackley

Orthodox Christian, aspiring minimalist, inveterate notetaker, software dev manager and paper airplane mechanic.


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