Wednesday 2 January 2019

Metal Castle - The Desolation of Marmaduke (2018)

Country: UK
Style: Folk Metal/Comedy
Rating: 5/10
Release Date: 24 Dec 2018
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives

I have to admit that Metal Castle got me to raise a few smiles here but I'm surprised that this joke has lasted for five albums. Maybe they felt they'd overdone it a little in 2016 with two albums and an EP, so let it be until 2019 for album five. "Album six, coming soon but not too soon," they sing towards the end of the last track.

For all that this bunch of reprobates from Hastings call themselves a folk metal band, the most obvious comparison I can conjure up is to chap hop characters like Professor Elemental, Poplock Holmes and Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer. Just like those chaps, Metal Castle sing about such quintessentially English topics as cakes, tea and beans, not to mention murder and nemeses, all in a conversational manner with odd instrumentation. Was that really a kazoo? I think it was.

According to their admittedly skimpy wiki, the band are comprised of Lord Malcolm Swims, Admiral Neville Claxon, Lady Sallyhorse Weatherspoons III and Clive Anderson MP. Their purpose in life, since their founding in 1964, appears to be to oppose the former ally, Marmaduke Lems, leader of the Evil Marmaduke Empire, and his army of gronks. It seems that they haven't quite managed to defeat him yet, title of this album notwithstanding.

Needless to say, this is notably silly stuff. Of the thirteen tracks on offer this time out, four are skits and three constitute a longer epic about a conflict between Metal Castle and a band of dark magic wizards. They describe their sound as a "tea-fuelled heavy metal disco turbo polka experience" even though it's clearly rooted in folk metal. Musically, they are capable, which does help, but the music really isn't the point, as is made obvious by song titles like My Tummy Hurts and A Pocketful of Beans (Made a Man Sad Today) and lyrics that explore the possibilities of last minute cake delivery.

It's impossible to separate the music from the comedy, even if you don't speak the English language, so this is a comedy album not a folk metal album. It's for those metalheads who would be into Alestorm if they weren't so relentlessly serious about everything. Maybe this fifth album was a response to No Grave But the Sea for Dogs, which replaced all vocals with barking, because Metal Castle couldn't let themselves be outdone on the silly stakes.

Just like Mac Sabbath and Okilly Dokilly, Metal Castle do what they do well but it's really not going to be for everyone.

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