Many self proclaimed albums these days can end up nothing more than a collection of singles with the odd filler tracks thrown in yet somehow in-between drinking, smoking and eating sandwiches, Castor Troy have managed to create something much more. What we have here is a well thought out and coherent ‘proper’ album. Don’t let the fact that there’s only 9 tracks fool you, this album is a dynamic, introspective journey with a kick-ass soundtrack.
Although the heavy-rock genre might not be to everyone’s taste, it’s their melodic nature that makes them more palatable than most to doubters. ‘Chapter One’ eases you in with some trippy, arpeggiated & reverse guitar riffs before you’re met with Foo Fighers style drums kicking seamlessly into ‘Winter Lights’. The thick, layered guitars of Michael Fulcher produce a wall of sound that makes up the solid backdrop for Benn Gibson’s vocals.
First impressions of Gibson’s vocals are reminiscent of a Northeast tinged cross between Kasabian front man Tom Meighan and a less heavy version of James Hetfield. More of a singer than a screamer, Gibson delivers his glass half empty lyrics with passion and conviction. It’s not until 3rd track “Undevided” that things really start to ramp up, not just vocally but with the whole band showing heavier influences, delivering riffs similar to Sepultura & featuring some stunning and presumably caffeine induced double-bass drum pedal action from Gilks.
Just as I found my head nodding and contemplating just how hard these guys must have rehearsed in order to be this tight, a sudden change of direction and pace throws a curve ball. The deliberate simplification of instrumentation on ‘Nineteen’ allows for crystal clear lyrics immediately drawing attention towards an important story. For such a relatively young band, they’re not short on poignant lyrics such as “you either grow up fast or live your life alone”. As the story unfolds so does the song. Much like Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ this song starts small and goes large, and then some. The guitar solo on this track deserves a special mention, as do the boys at Blank Studios, who’s production skills add to the mind-blowing sound of this track.
‘Nineteen’ is without doubt the stand out track on this album. The piano is a hauntingly beautiful addition at the end.
The lyrics on this album surely speak from bitter personal experience and at times are painfully honest, making ‘Across the Water’ the perfect remedy for anyone who’s had a significant argument or breakup.
This is not what you would call a feel good album, but it is not designed to be. Their debut album ticks many of the boxes that makes a good rock album, but what makes Castor Troy special is that within each song lurks a number of surprises. Songs like ‘This is not…’ and final track ‘The Condemned’ are more like 3 songs in one, full of twists and turns, Castor Troy cannot be accused of being predictable. There has been a clear vision for this album, expertly crafted and brilliantly executed.
Reviewer: James Clarke