Album: Exitium – EP
Rubble. Ruin. The world around you lies in shambles, as if a monstrous hand picked up the globe between its fingers and squeezed, turning towering monoliths to mankind’s sophistication into puny anthills. The entire world as you know it has been reduced—decimated in both size and life—to a wasteland. It was no divine intervention, nor was it a byproduct of climate change or war. It was the debut EP by downtempo devastators, Castiel. Exitiumstands true to its meaning—Latin for “ruin”—as it completely annihilates the listener’s sanity without remorse. Castiel crush everything in their path, using monstrous low timings, relentless vocals and barbaric breakdowns to cave the listener’s skull in and reduce their brain to a bucket of ooze.
Not since Traitors’ self titled EP has a downtempo deathcore band so excellently added girth and heft to every aspect of their instrumental dynamic. Each and every note played, drum pounded and cymbal smashed sounds like it may bring forth Judgement Day, echoing in the listener’s head like a dozen cannons firing non-stop. Percussionist Peter Cerne is especially guilty of this—from the first second of “Mind/Less,” his kit is as loud and aggressive as an entire fleet of battleships firing their whole arsenal in unison. Even Cerne’s snare is deep and abusive—a perfect compliment to his low, beefy kick drum. Cerne’s kick drum works in excellent unison with the pulsing, punishing grooves from Walter Islebe’s bass guitar to provide a low end that is prolapse-inducing at its softest. “Y.D.W.Y.B.” Is an excellent example—with gritty, ferocious breakdowns that make brilliant use of Castiel’s booming, low end. However, to say Exitium’s low end is defined entirely by Cerne’s drumming and Islebe’s bass would imply that guitarists Cerne Lois and Thomas Fellnerare soft and fuzzy—which they definitely are not. From the first grisly chug of “Mind/Less” to the last ringing low note of “Exitium,” Lois and Fellner are monsters, nothing more and nothing less. Even when Cerne’s kick drum is roaring along at a blistering pace on “Y.D.W.Y.B.,” the duo’s fretwork stays low and ominous, crushing the listener with a riff that sounds somewhere between a breakdown and a slam.
Much akin to Lois and Cerne’s relentless riffing and crushing chugging throughout Exitium, there is no moment where Castiel’s vocal effort gives the listener anything close to a break. Frontman Martin Schlemitz is a sinister, surly voice of misanthropy and hate, delivering sermon after sermon of putridity and malevolence. His range—oscillating from shrieking screams to guttural growls—is just as impressive as his incredible stamina and striking energy. “Mind/Less” has an incredible opening scream that exemplifies all of Schlemitz’s surreal talent in a low, visceral gurgle that spans what feels like years. “Faltering” and the whimsically named “Scene Kids” go on to showcase Schlemitz’s stuttering, intense flow—as he barks syllable after syllable with perfect placement and in breaking stride as if it were easy. Finally, “Exitium” sees Schlemitz at his most understandable, ending the track with brash, hate-filled lyrics that will stay ringing in the listener’s head for eons, filling their entire body with malice.
Castiel’s approach to heavy is comprehensive—they leave no stone unturned in their efforts to bludgeon the listener senseless with bone-busting breakdowns and organ-melting slams. True—they might not reinvent a genre that has become incredibly popular in recent years, but they do the next best thing. Exitiumreminds listeners why they got into heavy music in the first place—every scratchy slam and crushing chug hits harder than the last, and the vocals feel like they’re the bastard child of Luke Griffin and Tyler Shelton. “Scene Kids” is a picture perfect amalgam of slam death and downtempo deathcore which brings more heaviness to the table than most bands could even hope to deliver in an entire EP—let along the album’s sinister, spooky conclusion that serves as the idyllic combination of everything that Castiel have spent the past seventeen minutes throwing at the listener’s face.
If ever an EP could truly live up to its name, Castiel’s does on Exitium. Nearly twenty minutes of spine-bending heaviness and mind-melting brutality, Exitium is ruin incarnate, and it will not stop until the listener is sentenced to the same fate.
For Fans Of: Traitors, Bodysnatcher, Acrania, Feign.
By: Connor Welsh