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Castle Rat > Into the Realm > Reviews > The_Nose_of_Coney_Island
Castle Rat - Into the Realm

Sonic Scents of Sorcery, or There's a Rodent in my Redoubt - 80%

The_Nose_of_Coney_Island, May 14th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2024, CD, King Volume Records (Digipak)

In his office at the back of the legendary Steeplechase, Park Inspector Ivan Nostrilovich Sniffalov, famed Nose of Coney Island, sat poring over a stack of recently released NWOTHM recordings. "Hmmph," he harrumphed. "These newfangled vinyl contraptions have given me quite some pause for thought. What exactly is the point of recreating sounds that were judged somewhat marginally acceptable in their own day? Why do so many of them insist on giving themselves names like Bludgeon Demon, Merciful Solicitation, and....ahem, Castle Rat?"

He pulled the record out of its jacket, noting the slightly dodgy, if vaguely alluring, cover art that depicted a well-formed young woman posing in front of a crumbling old castle. "Mmm", he opined. "Nice chain mesh brassiere." He placed the disc on the Victrola and gave it a good crank. From the horn of His Master's Finest came a mix of lightly distorted power chords. "Humph", he noted in a nasal voice, "A bit of Pentagram-lite to start this show?"

The track in question, "Dagger Dragger", spread itself out in a shimmering, mid-paced haze of Sleep-like tempo shifts, never really reaching a memorable denouement. Still, the voice of lead diva Riley Pinkerton McCurry, somewhat melodramatically billed as "The Rat Queen", conjured up echoes of Sonja Kristina and that nicely nerdy girl from Smoulder. As the stylus dragged further through the miraculous sound-laden disc, other tracks, such as "Cry for Me" and "Fresh Fur" put the good Inspector in mind of bits and pieces purloined from such disparate sources as Lucifer's Friend, Blue Oyster Cult, and even Uriah Heep.

Although the musical information encoded therein contained nothing of great originality, it did seem to offer a solid portion of tightly plotted riffs, chordal themes, and acceptable, if slightly anticlimactic, conclusions. Several instrumental interludes served as plausible bridges between a series of mid-tempo compositions of reasonable length. All in all, the Inspector was satisfied, if not flabbergasted, by the commendable effort the "Rat Queen" and her compatriots had cobbled together on a (seemingly) shoestring budget.

His revery was suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door. In came the postman with a fresh stack of vinyl. "Look here, Sniffalov. The talking frisbee makers really value your opinions!" "Indeed, good Sir," replied the Inspector with a generous wave of his hand. "The production on this particular disc, quite spacious and clear, yet oddly uncompressed after the modern fashion, really gives it a ring of authenticity. Although, perhaps through being too clever by at least a third, it will probably fail to reach platinum status."

"I see," replied the postman as he surreptitiously pocketed a sleeve of cotton candy from the Inspector's desk. "So, you give this newly minted bit of shellac the coveted nod of approval?" "Indeed, my sweet-toothed friend," Sniffalov replied as he replaced the disc into its cardboard sleeve. "I see great things in store for this particular artistic endeavor. Or, at the very least, the girl with the sword can gain a solo residency, perhaps alarming young maidens into the arms of grateful boyfriends in the nearby Tunnel of Love."