Saturday, September 24, 2011

Built On a Weak Spot- "Spirit of the West" LP review


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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zum Anniversary Show Review

Zum Anniversary Show with KIT, High Castle, Core of the Coalman, Dunes, and More

Categories: Over the Weekend

"The night's pinnacle act was undoubtedly High Castle, which played with unmatched precision and intensity. Spastic and frenzied, the Oakland trio unleashed a prototype of punk experimentation made only for the strong of heart. The band smashed out squeaky screamed call-and-response vocals, tight pounded rhythms, and guitar work that moved from heavy and brooding to screeching weirdness in seconds. The performance fell somewhere in between chaotic and ordered. If you haven't seen this band yet, do yourself a favor and do so."

High Castle


High Castle: Wailing, beat-driven punk band


August 05, 2010|By Michelle Broder Van Dyke

  • web link
    High Castle
    Credit: Dalton Blanco

This beat-driven punk band - whose name was inspired by Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle" - came together in 2007. The plan was to be a pop band, but instead they churn out raw and rough stuff. All three members sing - or, more accurately, shout - together in a cacophonous harmony on top of scuzzy guitars and pounding drums.

The Oakland trio's EP, "You're on Your Own Way," was released by Zum records; Saturday's show is a 12th anniversary party for the label. The second-to-last track on the EP, "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?" opens with confrontational drumming that melts into a sludgy rhythm topped with the band's three-way wails. The band's "Small Town Gay Bar" is a fuzzy mess of smashing tom-toms and fuzzed-up shrieks.

We're looking forward to High Castle's first full-length.

Lineup: Shaggy Denton, drums and vocals; Wilson Drozdowski, bass and vocals; Erin Allen, guitar and vocals.

Check it out:,,

Next gig: 7 p.m. Sat. $10. With Core of the Coalman, Kit, Dalton Bros, Huts, Mincemeat or Tenspeed and Dunes. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakland. (510) 444-7263,

- Michelle Broder Van Dyke,

SF Bay Guardian
“If Mincemeat or Tenspeed's noise Ouroboros encircles hardcore, their Zum
labelmates High Castle (note the initials) use it for rocket fuel. The band
shares the bill for tomorrow's show at the Stud Bar with Mincemeat, but invites
comparison with late-1990s punk, though it's hard to point to a single band.
Easier to call out the signs: the trio takes their name from a Philip K. Dick novel,
sings in unison without harmonies, features aggressive but rhythmically elastic
drumming, and named their best song "Filth." Fidelity-wise, High Castle's debut
12" You're on Your Own Way sounds damp and fuzzy, like the band (all three
members are So Cal natives) is trying to thrash their way to heat. Though the
band's lo-fi production style sounds rote, the way they're pulling inspiration from
neglected corners of underground rock gives a different impression.”
- 1/27/10 Brandon Bussolini


Thrasher Magazine
Nov. 2009 issue
"The new High Castle 12" EP is pretty brutal throughout, metal and HC tinged,
but it still finds these weird little spazzy, jazzy grooves in spots. Maybe it's art
rock? Whatever you want to call it, it's geting some turntable time, and with a
song titled 'Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?' I think you get an
idea where they stand. It's on Zum Records, and I think it's the band's debut."
– Wez Lundry’s “Strange Notes” column

Brontosonix Review

Brontosonix (
Chris Sabbath

“After much anticipation back here on the farm, San Francisco's High Castle
finally lays waste to our ailing domes, hurling shambles of seared bomb shrapnel
and noisey, mangled debris in our direction with their 12" debut, You're On Your
Own Way. Then again, we wouldn't have expected any less from a group of folks
who've reigned destruction up and down the Golden State in bands such as Child
Pornography, Duchesses, Saboteurs, and Work, but amongst all, the Castles
are definitely numero uno in our book these days. Pressed in a small batch of

500 copies, this saucer of blistered wax offers seven, fierce blasts to the gods
of scuzz, as the three melt a sheet of blown fuses and cracked speaker cones
over an ash-coated landscape of damaged jams. As drummer, Shaggy Denton
massacres her kit, bruising and bashing away in a Boredoms-like hallucination,
as Wilson Drozdowski unloads a hail of rusted bass, all but swallowing his mic as
he howls into it. Same goes for Erin Allen, who as guitarist/singer, spits electric
venom from his fried amp, lashing his callused fingers down the frets, while
screaming above the blackened crust. Songs like "Solomon" and "No Mind" are
caked in filth, all barbaric and churned out with a frayed intensity that flashes
back to the heyday of '90's underground punk, when Unwound and Red Scare
were still ruling the roost. Gotta say many thanks to George Chen and the rest of
the Zum stable for once again delivering the goods at 45RPM.”

Tome To The Weather Machine Review

You're On Your Way

Finally, the Tome is bringing some noise. While the Tome output has mostly centered around some pretty quiet, pretty pretty bands and musicians, with Crawf's last "Throne of Bone" post and the new High Castle EP, the Tome is about to be flooded with some long overdue ear canal destruction. Hailing from San Francisco, High Castle is a three-piece unit that has a sound equivalent to a giant shark destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in just one bite. High Castle play punk-rock in the way it was meant to be played, loud, short and with the energy of an ADHD 12 year old. Taking cues from a earlier-noisier Times New Viking, High Castles dual vocals are cloaked beneath a downright vicious wall of noise that does not leave an ounce of space for ponderous drum breakdowns or half time chord progressions. It is all go all the time. The drumming has the same kind of depth and in your face brutality that keep bands like Unwound and Lightning Bolt blowing young kids minds today. High Castle is punk rock stripped down to the bare essentials. The guitar provide a necessary underpinning of discordance and distortion while the true heroes of the band, the drum and the voice, go to town all over what used to be your nice new stereo. "Frentic", like Jimmy Stewart on crank is a take away point. Loud is another. But with all my talk about loud and frentic, High Castle makes it a point to wrap all of this within one killer pop hook after another. "Are Fixed Gear Tricksters the New Rollerbladers?" gets my vote for song title of the year.

Ryan H.
September 3rd, 2009