A couple of years ago, I went back home to México for a month. I needed time away from the UK (and the PhD) and was missing home a lot. One of my best friends only enjoys music of the heavier disposition and while we were driving around in my old ’98 Cavalier (top gem of a car), she asked if I had something that would suit her ways. I tried a couple of bands, they all failed. Then I said “fuck this, drop Castrovalva on her”.
She felt Dresden-ed afterwards. We went for beer and hot dogs after playing ‘Bison Scissor Kick’ and she asked me to define Castrovalva in one swift sentence. So I said : A very blunt caveman’s club to the cerebellum. That suited her inquire and she ended up buying We are a Unit. (update: no she hasn’t. Goddamned freeloader).
Flash forward a couple of years, a colder than usual summer and a brickload of ace singles released slowly and Castrovalva have a sophomore album titled You’re not in Hell, you’re in Purgatory my friend. I called my friend and she asked me to describe them again. The caveman has found flint and obsidian and made a sharp-as-a-katana spear and is 86ing woolly mammoths.
My friend says I should reduce my caffeine intake. My heart agrees.
So, new Castrovalva. You know it will be loud, you know it will be confusing to some, befuddling to others and strangely alluring to those who’ve tuned in to their particular chaotic brand of music. The insufferable, stiff upper lipped critics who demand “art” will run back to whatever beige rock they crawled out and the rest of us will fight for the last carton of pineapple juice.
Yes, I’m quite sold on this album. We start our Dantesque journey with ‘Best friends go to purgatory’, a psychedelic-then-heavy track relishing on the staple sounds of Castrovalva. The eerie fog of war dispels to a full blown attack, courtesy of ‘In our prime’, an utterly brutal song from these cabrones. Equally strong is ‘I am the golden widow’, partially paying tribute (I think) to The Chordettes‘ ‘Mr. Sandman’, only on a nightmarish lens. The always reliable drumming is at its strongest in this track. ‘Dining with the Pope’ is a bit more straightforward, but still diabolically fierce. Also, this.
All the tracks released in the last year are included here, so besides ‘In our prime’ you get ‘Señorita’ (¡a huevo!), ‘Donut’ and ‘She tastes like medicine’. There might have a couple of overdubs here and there (particularly ‘Señorita’, with a heavier synth that’s loveable), and I suspect ‘Donut’ is re-recorded, but they are pretty much as fun as you remember.
You’re not in Hell, you’re in Purgatory my friend will never let you catch your breath. It never lets go of its frantic pace. ‘The Cavalry’ even goes a bit prog and spacey! ‘A vulture’s eye’ seemed to be a quiet goodbye, but it’s more akin of shaking hands goodbye with a live wire.
Castrovalva. Fear them (in a friendly way), because for all the softer yins out there, they are loud yangs spinning things out of control. You’re not in Hell, you’re in Purgatory my friend will be out October 1st, in CD and green clear Vinyl.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López