Warpstone – Into The Phantasmancer Castle (Self Released)

Thursday, 8th May 2014
Rating: 8/10

The “occult metal” of Warpstone is one that pleasantly transcends genre tags (try as we may to compartmentalize). Taking some progressive notes from many different sources with quite a bit of success, their debut, Daemonic Warpfire, was featured in our first Bandcamp round up here at DR. After a successfully crowd fund for a physical release, here we are, ready to receive round two. If it does one thing, Into the Phantasmancer Castle takes the already progressive palate of Warpstone and expands it, alongside a few moments of fine-tuning.

For the uninitiated, a few keynote reference points for Warpstone could be Opeth, Enslaved, Cormorant, Amorphis, and Cynic. They must use an industrial-strength blender to take the progressive death and black metal baseline with an emphasis on clean vocals over the growled/screamed ones, add some ‘70s-inspired riffs and tone, mix in some acoustics and occasional occult atmosphere, and top it all off with some old school thrash and classic metal vibes. Whatever their formula, by golly it does work wonders. With the huge range of influences, it never feels overbearing or as if they are simply skimming the surface with their approach. This is layered and full of depth, that while initially gripping, it gets better with time. Whether it’s the acoustic opening of “Emerald Anthem”, the blackened fury of “The March,” or the catchy chorus of “The Virtuous and the Goatlord” (gotta love that title!), there’s never a shortage of reasons not to revisit this album.

Other than a few small tune-ups that effectively tighten the band’s sound, this explores much of the same playing field as Daemonic Warpfire. It should also be stated that when a band falls upon a sound that’s truly their own, why not reap the benefits? Along with some eye candy artwork courtesy of Paolo Girardi (who also designed the artwork for their debut), the doors should be wide open to receive Warpstone with open arms, provided enough people are in the know.

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