CEREMONIAL CASTINGS – Salem 1692 (MMXX), DLP (Gold/Oxblood)
Formed in that fateful year of 1996, CEREMONIAL CASTINGS were a band of the times, a band later behind the times, and now a band ahead of the times once again. Many will belatedly be aware of the name CEREMONIAL CASTINGS due to the membership of future UADA founder Jake Superchi, alongside his brother Nick Superchi, who were later (and once again now) joined by drummer Matt Mattern. The band crafted a canon of symphonic black metal that was admirably ambitious and often brilliant but all too often overlooked. Until their eventual demise in 2014, CEREMONIAL CASTINGS created nine full-lengths and just as many demos/Eps that were all released on their own label. Their album covers were often graced with artwork courtesy of the masterful Kris Verwimp, who also created the band’s logo.
Of these, it's arguably 2008’s Salem 1692 which is the most beloved of all CEREMONIAL CASTINGS recordings and the one which is most emblematic of the band’s “Bewitching Black Metal.” By this point, the band’s albums were easily topping an hour-plus in length, as their songwriting had become more ambitious as well as their lyrical themes in kind. Salem 1692 is distinct in this regard in that the lyrical theme directly ties into the Superchi brothers’ family history. As Jake explains, “Since the beginning of this band in 1996, this was the album we always wanted to make, as we have a deep tie to the events in Salem of 1692. Growing up just west of Salem, my brother Nick and I learned all about the events at a very young age, including that we are in fact direct descendants – however many great-grandsons – of Judge John Hathorne, who had sentenced the witches to hang. It is said that one of the girls who was hung had cast a curse on our family's bloodline.”
While it is still unclear whether CEREMONIAL CASTINGS have officially returned from the grave, this new re-recording of Salem 1692 sounds exceptionally fresh, richly detailed, and fully conveys the mysticism so crucial to their aesthetic. It’s as immersive as ever, if not more so due to the richly kaleidoscopic sound – organic, analog, but not once sacrificing any of the otherworldliness which endeared CEREMONIAL CASTINGS to so many. And now, in 2020, as more ancient and classicist styles of black metal take hold with a new generation, “symphonic black metal” need no longer be a dirty word: this re-recording of Salem 1692 is poignant proof of the subgenre’s inherent power to transport the listener to forgotten realms and dimensions far, far away from modernity.