It’s been awhile since I’ve last heard from west coasters High Castle. Their previous release, You’re on Your Own Way, was a one-sided 12” back in ‘09 through Zum that was littered with spazzy post-punk goodness. However, since then things have been kind of quiet, which seems a bit odd to say when putting that in context with their music. Although, maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places to begin with. But all of that doesn’t really matter now as the band has returned with their debut full-length Spirit of the West to be released this month once again through Zum.
A lot of what made their previous EP so good is put to fine use here on Spirit of the West. While incorporating the same general rousing brand of thorny post-punk, the band has seemed to have decided to expand some on their typical minute to minute and a half template they had been previously working within. It’s nice to see, and with that, High Castle choose to lay down some serious riffing among their quick and pissed approach. They chew up two to three minutes with ease by simply letting up some while still coming off as motivated and contentious as ever. I’m also finding myself really digging the production and guitar tone of the album. It seems rawer than anything they’ve done yet and greatly adds to their general feel of discontent thanks in part to it. The drums have a very natural live sound to them and putting them as far up front as they are, they turn out to be pretty much the driving factor here with an absolutely punishing pounding attack for all eleven tracks. I’d hate to say I’m surprised by this, because everything up until this point from High Castle has been quality, but this album rips in a way I wasn’t expecting I guess. Plus, I really had no idea it was coming out. A nice step up, no doubt.