There’s getting to be so many cosplay metal bands around now that it’s almost a rarity to see a band with no image. CASTLE RAT goes all-in on the dress-up aspect, but in a pretty low rent way, with very home-made looking get-ups good for a quick trip to the RenFaire. Almost all of this band’s interest is going to center around the statuesque Red Sonja-looking frontwoman the Rat Queen aka Riley Pinkerton. With chain mail brassiere, thigh high boots and an enormous mas of red curls, she cuts a striking figure without a doubt.

Is the music any good or is it all imagery? The band plays a low-fi kind of sword and sorcery doom metal in the vein of early SABBATH and PENTAGRAM and it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. The retro production does capture that early ’70s vibe well. The songs plod with occasional speed ups and some Iommi-ish guitar jams. The album is relatively brief and we get three short mood-setting instrumentals that don’t do an awful lot.

Two things raise my interest in CASTLE RAT. The smoky, languorous vocals of the Rat Queen are downright sexy and give a bluesy touch. Once in a while, she cuts loose with a high pitched wail, which is very effective because it isn’t overdone. And then the real standout moment of the album is the ballad ‘Cry For Me’…yes, I said ballad. These songs are almost never my favorite part of an album, but this one is a strong exception. It is one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard and Riley’s vocals are outstanding. It does heavy up significantly at the end. It’s a fantastic moody tune that dominates the album and you should check out the ultra-cheap cosplay video for it on Youtube that’s already gotten the band a ton of interest.

Other cuts like ‘Dagger Dragger’ and ‘Fresh Fur’ are OK if you like retro doom metal, but they’re nothing that will move the needle. Into The Realm is a pleasing listen for fans of retro doom and ‘Cry For Me’ is excellent. Whether we need another band playing dress up is highly debatable.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality

Into The Realm
King Volume Records