Zorn - Castle of Death [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Castle of Death [EP] (2018)


Zorn's big accomplishment is successfully merging hardcore and goth. Neither genre usually lends well to other- goth is usually based in ambiance and slow dread while hardcore roots itself in rapid pummeling. Zorn have found a way to merge the two on their Castle of Death by playfully embracing both styles.

It’s clear that despite the serious nature of the lyrics, the band is having a lot of fun. “The Conjuror” opens with what sounds like an acid spit that could have come from 1992’s Doom video game. As the band twists and howls through the track, surely there is reveling in anguish, but like many of the best scare-meisters, the band is doing the darkened thing for spookiness as much as they are fun. Even Bauhaus and the Misfits were somewhat self aware, and that’s what elevated them from their contemporaries and copycats.

It doesn’t hurt that the music itself is constantly shifting and evolving. It’s rooted in hardcore abrasiveness, but the band loves to swirl around in gothic spirals, vanishing here, only to explode again a few moments later. Wisely, they also keep mixing things up, even though the EP doesn’t even break 10 minutes. Every track seems to have three or four movements that, instead of sounding like a band trying to prove something, sounds like the band trying to pull back the reins on a creation let loose before them. The acoustic intro and Tales from the Crypt sonic scene setting on “The Alchemist” finds the band proving that they’re as much about composition as they are texture.

Hellblazer/Intergalactic Queen” is probably the heavy hitter with its first and second sections that are riff heavy and ready to thrash. Then, when the shifts into “Intergalactic Queen,” the spidery march and manic vocals finds the band looking to the stars and contemplating the cosmos- something rarely down in goth or hardcore. Here the band is at their most interesting and playful.

Despite their darkened affectations, Zorn have a bright future. This band is perfectly weird, but they’re not weird for the sake of being weird. They have a certain whacked out vision and are able conjure that though their source material and own ingenuity. Very exciting.